One of the most exciting and promising aspects of open education is that everyone can be a teacher. That same premise leads to the biggest challenge of open education, making sure the information is of a high enough quality.
As Bonk (2009) states, “the sheer volume and type of teachers at the ready will skyrocket” (p.367). The type of information and the access to it will be easier. Masters of trades will be able to share their tips, tricks and know-how to whoever wants to learn it. Gone are the days of information only being passed down from generation to generation within a family. Now the whole world can be that family. With blogs a farmer can explain a new way to harvest or a software engineer can explain a new way to code something to eager learners without even stepping into a classroom. Literally anyone who wants to can become a teacher at almost any level. Hobbyists to trade professionals can share their knowledge using any of the open education resources.
Though this a great positive, it can also lend itself to some challenges. As Bonk (2009) also points out that “Anyone using the Web for learning purposes recognizes that there is the pervasive issue of quality.” He goes on to site websites like Wikipedia as a prime example. With anyone being able to post to this site and others like it, it is important for the learner to decide what information is quality and what isn’t. Other types of resources may also lack a level of quality that a learner is desiring putting the learner at a distinct disadvantage.
As open education resources become more mainstream, learners better understand how to find the authentic quality information while teachers will better understand what learners look for while searching for information. It will be fun and interesting to watch how this trend develops over the coming years.
In my learning activity, open education and open education resources (OER) will prove to be valuable to the process. Using new sources for information is key component to making sure this learning activity is successful. As described above, there will be opportunities for members of the learning communities to become the “teacher” and explain about their processes or methods. Also described, the learners will have to decide for themselves if the information being provided is of a certain quality or is of any use. Learning community members will also use other OERs such as YouTube videos, Wiki pages, and general Internet information as tools to expand their potential knowledge and skill set.
To my readers I ask you this, will open education ever become a formal enough learning and teaching tool that it can be used as a primary tool in credit or degree seeking courses? Or will open education just be another tool to compliment traditional teaching strategies?
Here is great, quick reference website about open education and open educational resources:
Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open. 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741: Jossey-Bass.