OER from the bottom-up perspective – engaging teachers as ambassadors?

In the workshop about OER in practice about educators’ involvement at the LangOER conference in Brussels, there was an engaging discussion about how to increase OER awareness with teachers. The four short presentations about OER in different contexts lead to suggestions of what vital policy recommendations are need for teacher training.

First, the moderator Anna Skowron from Jan Długosz University in Poland presented the pilot course Going Open with LangOER, which was a successful initiative run in the seven partner countries of the LangOER network for a large number of teachers. The result from the pilot project set up by the Polish team was a handbook being used by teachers. From investigating the OER situation in Poland, there were some noteworthy reflections to bring back: Although there are a number of vibrant OER initiatives in Poland, when you scrape the surface it turned out that they were not OER after all. Also, there were national initiatives on open text books but they are not implemented in schools. There is an ambiguity as far as the terminology of “open” and “OER” is concerned.

The next speaker was Linda Bradley from University of Gothenburg who presented the Swedish version of the Going Open course and lessons learned. For the teachers engaged in the course, learning about OER was an eye-opener. Many teachers are really interested in knowing more about openness, open licenses and what is actually possible to share online.

The third speaker Vaiva Zuzevičiūtė from Mykolas Romeris University in Lithuania, presented the Going Open course in Lithuania. It attracted a large cohort of interested teachers. Instead of the 25 teachers that were invited, they ended up with 70 teachers! This shows that teachers are very interested in what OER can bring to teaching and learning, something that was manifested by one of the participating teachers being interviewed saying that it is necessary to “cut down the talking about using technology and instead get to work”. In the Lithuanian study it was clear that teachers need hands one materials that they can use directly in class.

The fourth and final speaker was Florentina Costea from The Arman Community from Romania, displaying a good practice example for lesser language e-learning investigating the Arman/Aromanian language. The OER movement can facilitate connections and spreading materials about a very small language, particularly in this case, where speakers are located in various places throughout the world.

The policy recommendations brought up, concerned how OER training within initial teacher education and continuing professional development programmes could be increased for teachers via online platforms. We discussed how it is possible to facilitate teacher and support staff training in the creation, adaption and use of OER. One solution could be to work more on the bottom-up perspective, with teachers as ambassadors, engaging teachers to be more active. However, the sustainability question still remains. Who is going to update and maintain the materials produced?

Author: Linda Bradley – University of Gothenburg

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