Open Education: Be the Change

Yesterday increased my passion for open education.

 

Having just taken a course that incorporated many tenants of open education, including open educational resources and open pedagogy, I was already sold on it. This course had been the best course I had taken BY FAR. I loved learning in the open, increasing my personal learning network on Twitter, interacting with students and faculty on Granite State College’s facebook page, and blogging about my learning experiences. During this course the way I thought about learning and my coursework changed. I went from a student who was very focused on getting assignments right and getting A’s to one who desired to take risks, learn new things, and see growth in myself. Working on projects that were meaningful and would benefit others was so much better than writing another paper that only the course instructor would see meant I put so much more time and energy into them. This translated in higher level thinking and an exponential increase in learning.

 

So while I had a great experience with open education, I’m not sure how much effort I would have put in to advocating for it. And then I went to the conference yesterday. From the fascinating keynote speaker, Bryan Alexander to the creation of our own advocacy plans at the end of the day, I saw more and more reasons why we should put time and energy into this growing movement.

 

I was on the student panel, sharing my experience with open education and yet I was inspired by hearing the other students talk about their experiences with open education. They were all so articulate and passionate about how much their learning benefited from open ed. It was extremely sad, and yet incredibly motivating, to listen to one of the students talk about how she had to sell her car in order to buy textbooks her first year of college. Other students shared how they used free Open Educational Resources (OERs) and how much that helped them. I loved the variety of disciplines that were represented by the students from biology, to interdisciplinary studies, to education, it was clear that open education can benefit so many students.

 

The response to the student panel was encouraging. The faculty and staff at the conference communicated how vital it was to hear from the students and how much they valued our contributions. Hearing our stories seemed to give them a shot of motivation to put the effort into advancing open education, it certainly did that for me.

 

Today, going back to traditional coursework and writing another 3 page paper summarizing my readings for the week that only my instructor will read was challenging. But I will persist where I am and be hopeful for the future of education- that more and more open pedagogy will be infused into the learning experience and make a huge impact on the level and quality of learning for our students.

 

As an educator myself, I am now determined to be part of that change.

 

A special thanks to Carolyn Cormier who was my amazing instructor last term, and who has encouraged me tirelessly. 

(Open Education: Be the Change was put on by the Academic Technology Institute at University Systems of New Hampshire)

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