Monday, February 22, 2016

Why is #openeducationwk such a BIG Deal in the World of Education?

by Laurel Tokarczyk

It’s a time to explore, a time to learn, a time to share. Open Education Week, coordinated by the Global Network for Open Education, embraces the idea of openly sharing education and educational resources among all educators. In technical terms, we’re talking about Open Educational Resources (OER). If you strip away all that education aims to accomplish, the bare-bones concept entails sharing ideas and information as a method for teaching and learning. Sharing is anything but a new concept, so why should the experience be limited to the student-teacher relationship? Educators are not alone, and sharing educational resources among individuals all around the world in the education community embodies the goal of Open Education Week.

The beautiful thing about education is that it’s truly unbounded. Concepts are not finite; there are many different ways to explore a skill, idea, or piece of knowledge. Learning limits exist only when the vast world of educational resources is inaccessible -- but that is very much a thing of the past. As technology only becomes better and better, so does education. The Internet offers a limitless, and now well-organized, collection of open educational resources that cannot only be accessed, but also modified, fine-tuned, and even collaborated on. The key term in the Open Education movement is “Open” -- and the goal for educators, when exploring the thousands and thousands of available resources, is how to best weave them into a workable web for students.

Just as no two students are the same, neither are the resources necessary to connect with those individuals. The ability to access a vast repository of videos, images, formative assessments, presentations, graphics, simulations, and just about anything you can think of opens the door for being able to reach every individual student, and to build a community within a curriculum.

In order to build a community within a curriculum, it’s important to first establish a community outside of it. Open Education Week strives to establish just that, with events taking place both on-site and online. Participants can get involved in several different ways. Video submissions, resources, self-hosted events, online discussions, and educational webinars are just a few methods for you -- yes, you -- to take part in Open Education Week. Want to see who’s on the agenda to present? There are just a few things you need to know. All of the action will be taking place March 7-11, online and just about everywhere around the globe! Events will cover a wide array of topics, all centered around OER and the #GoOpen initiative, a campaign created by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology “to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials.”

Open Education Week will feature webinars by more than 20 not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and universities through the Open Education Week website ( Spider Learning, Inc., is eager to take part in the discussion by hosting an online webinar, “Weave Your OER Web,” which will be held Monday, March 7, 2016, at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Bill Taylor, the CEO of Spider Learning, Inc., will discuss how OER can be implemented in a classroom setting, how they can be harvested from a variety of sources, and how they can be altered and used by others through Creative Commons licensing.

Creative Commons, a nonprofit that encourages the legal sharing of creative work through transparent licenses and language, will also be hosting an online webinar Monday. “An Introduction to: Creative Commons, Open Educational Resources & Open Policies” will be presented by Dr. Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons. Dr. Green will discuss new OER projects and examples of how the open licensing of resources has helped in the effort to deliver a higher education as a basic human right.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education will present “OET Tech Tuesday: Planning your #GoOpen Strategy.” A panel of school district leaders who have transitioned to OER will discuss their experiences developing #GoOpen strategies and how the use of OER has impacted their school districts.

Other webinar presenters include the Open Commons Consortium, the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education, and California State University.

Where would the world be without learning? In the words of George Washington Carver, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” It is in the philosophy of Open Education that the freedom to utilize knowledge is the key to education. Freedom and education are at our fingertips, and the ultimate goal is to understand how to attain them.

Don’t forget: Join us Monday, March 7 at 1 p.m. EST for the “Weave Your OER Web” seminar. Join us here. See you then!


Laurel Tokarczyk is a Quality Analyst at Spider Learning, Inc.

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