Open the Web to Open Education

Just like Elizabeth I too had no idea who Aaron Swartz was and didn’t hear anything about him in the news when it was happening in 2013. After watching The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz I was actually almost speechless. I couldn’t pinpoint the emotions that I was feeling.

My heart was pounding for the last 15 minutes of the documentary and I didn’t know what was going through my head. It was extremely powerful, eye-opening, heartbreaking and inspiring. It really made me think about what the internet is all about. It made me think twice about who “runs the internet”, “control’s the internet” and “own’s information on the internet’. I think that the freedom Aaron was fighting for is the freedom we need in order to move forward. If information is being censored or kept private without public access, we don’t know who is missing out on that information. Jack Andraka is a perfect example of the reason why information should be free for the public to access. Why should information be used to make powerful people, companies or government more powerful? Who gets to decide who can access material? Is it fair that you should have to pay for information that could easily be accessed on the internet if set up that way?

Danah Boyd took a stand and decided to boycott journals that were locked-down and encouraged others to do the same. She suggest several ideas to increase the availability of scholarly journals and articles. As a current student I think this is fantastic and fully support her ideas. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to complete a research paper and have limited access to articles that would fit into your paper perfectly if you didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for them. Why can’t we share information more openly?

The Open Education Movement is gaining ground. Open education allows for students to learn what they want from resources that are updated by teachers, students, professors and other professionals that can be changed at anytime. Students no longer need to rely on a textbook and a teacher to learn “facts” and regurgitate information back to the teacher. With open education and open resources learning doesn’t boil down to fianancial issues either. Students can keep up to date with the most current information rather than read from an outdated textbook. With information and technology changing so quickly it is so easy for information to be outdated. With open education resources it is easy for information to be updated and kept current.

Like Carla I am also interested in finding some Open Education resources for the high school level. I have used Teachers Pay Teachers before but it isn’t free and it isn’t creative commons. I came across OER Commons which is an open education resource site that allows you to search by subject for resources. I didn’t explore it in depth but it looks like it will be a great resource to come back to. You can add your own content to share on the site and you can join groups that have other members in them. Best part is that it appears to be free! I have often thought about contributing to TPT because I have used some material from the site and thought why not give back. But I don’t really like the idea of people paying to use my information. Before this class I really didn’t like the idea of people using my lessons or information at all to be completely honest. How selfish of me right?! I don’t know why I have always held back when it comes to sharing. But I think what holds me back are people who won’t share back. I will share with you if you are willing to do the same for me. With creative commons we can all share and remix as well which creates bigger and better lessons. I think that I will start looking at ways to make my lessons free and open for people to use and make changes to suit their needs. Before I can do that I need to figure out where my school board stands with me sharing me lessons. In a staff meeting last year TPT was brought up and our admin told us that we are unable to put lesson plans up because our plans are considered to be property of our division. I never thought much about it until now, but that doesn’t make any sense. How is the division able to take credit for the work I have done? Maybe the person who passed on the message was misinformed. Does anyone know anything about sharing your own lesson plans on TPT or any other site and copyright issues with divisions or maybe even the STF? I may have heard the conversation wrong, but I remember thinking it sounded odd.

I have found that in a lot of my searches I am coming across university level resources or American standards based resources. It would be nice to find some Canadian resources as well. The Open Educational Resources: Resource Roundup includes a list of different open ed resources for different subject areas but most seem to be American based again. If you have any Canadian resources I would love to hear what you have found. I am mostly interested in high school math but would also check out any accounting, finance or computer based resources.

As for the open access/education movement do you think we are headed in the right direction? Where do we need to go from here? How will we get there?


One thought on “Open the Web to Open Education

  1. Hi Ashley – I watched the Aaron Swartz documentary last semester, and it was certainly a pivotal video in my learning. Aside from his personal story and how he was working for a cause in the technology field, I think it was equally educational to consider what it means when we ‘lock up’ our revered knowledge. I think it speaks volumes to the privilege many people have that are completely unaware of, while many others are placed at a distinct disadvantage – that is what was the biggest AHA of the documentary to me.

    As for your question – I’d like to think we are heading in the right direction, however, if we don’t work to educate all of our students and children from a young age about digital citizenship, we may stagnate the progress of OER. After all, if we aren’t making children aware of the inequalities, why would they know/want to share their creations to be built upon when they could make money from it?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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