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How to Get Educators to Embrace Open Resources

Open Education Resources (OER) are changing the way people learn by providing a greater amount of tools to help them along the way, but the potential of OER could be further maximized if more educators became involved. Education Insider takes a look at what might be getting in those teachers' way and how they can be encouraged to further embrace the OER movement.

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By Jessica Lyons

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Not Totally Accepting?

In an October 2011 article in The Guardian, author Eliza Anyangwe notes that while many in the world of education will share their research with others, they aren't as likely to show others their 'educational resources.' According to Anyangwe, some concerns those academics have include not getting credit for their work and how time-consuming the actual process of sharing might be. As educators debate whether to join the OER movement or not, there are some things they should keep in mind.

It's Not a Competition

Anyangwe noted there can be a 'hands off' attitude among professors when it comes to letting others see and use their teaching materials. Although these feelings can be understandable (educators can spend a great deal of time putting together their information and lesson plans), it's important to remember that education isn't a competition. It should instead be seen as a field where collaboration is key, so that learners and teachers all over the world can benefit.

Make it Easier for Educators

Between creating lesson plans, conducting classes, grading assignments and meeting with students, teachers at all levels have a lot on their plates. Many may find it more difficult to add on the task of getting their materials ready to be used as OER, but there are a couple ways this process could be made more manageable for them. First of all, schools could reward teachers who are willing to contribute to the movement by making sure that their schedules have a block of time specifically for OER work.

Another option could be hiring people specifically to develop these resources. This might be easier said than done when schools don't have extra funds, but where there's a will there's a way. Really interested institutions could pursue grants, such as one through the Hewlett Foundation, that might help make this development a more affordable endeavor.

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Pay it Forward

As the organization Teachers Without Borders notes, it's important for teachers to not just take materials to use but to also share some of their own. It's a situation similar to 'take a penny' jars - you throw in a penny when you have one to help someone else out knowing that there could be a time you need to borrow a penny yourself. Educators could appreciate OER more if they know that the time and effort of contributing their materials could also result in them receiving resources that can help in their own classes.

Giving Credit Where Credit's Due

Teachers Without Borders also points out that, when teachers do use OER in their classrooms, it's important they properly attribute its creator. If teachers get in the habit of doing this, other teachers might not have as many concerns over not receiving credit for their hard work. They could be more willing to share their resources if they know that, no matter who ends up using them, they'll maintain the right credit.

Focus on the Rewards

One thing that could encourage even more teachers to join in on the OER movement is the many rewards they could enjoy. First of all, the more resources being contributed, the greater the chances that any given educator could find useful materials. On top of that, educators could gain a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that they're helping people around the globe gain access to helpful materials. They likely joined the education field to help others learn, and they'll be able to reach far more people by sharing their materials.

Want to know some of the best OER out there? Check out the winners of the 2011 Education Resource People's Choice Awards.

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