#intro2opened What can be better than free?

If you were to go and checkout at the grocery store, the textbook checkout line, or your amazon order and it gave you a notification that said ‘congratulations, your order today is free,’ I bet you would get pretty excited. At least, I know I would, as would any other reasonable person who likes to save money. This is essentially what happens when you use OER. Schools, faculty, and students get to walk out of the textbook line for free! That in and of itself is exciting, but what if there was something more exciting? Well, there is something that’s more exciting than free, and it’s open.

The reason that open is even better than getting something for free is because you have permissions to alter that material to best fit your needs. Whether you are a faculty member who wants to tailor the text of the course so it is more applicable or a student that likes to mix resources together and share their remixes with fellow students, open means you get free resources and more!

In order for something to qualify as OER, you must have permission to alter the material to be able to use it most effectively. The key tenets, or 5 R’s, that qualify a material as OER are the ability to:

  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute

This is what gets me excited about OER. It’s the adaptability, customizability, and ability to improve quality of resource use and instruction. Pawlyshyn, Braddlee, Casper, and Miller (2013) conducted a cross-institutional case study and asserted that ‘creative use of OER offers tangible benefits in student success and retention, resulting in measurable performance increases.’ Why wouldn’t faculty be using resources that not only lift financial burden from students but also could result in improved learning outcomes? I think that we can talk about cost until we are blue in the face and as much as faculty should care, and do care about burdensome costs for students, they don’t really care. I understand, and I know faculty that would never sacrifice quality for a few bucks saved, but I think it’s more than that. If we discussed with faculty the ability that OER have to improve teaching and learning, I think it would be a completely different discussion that would garner the attention of those that select the resources at their institution, those that could be the champions of OER.

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Fresh Starts & Digital Identities

Here I find myself on a new blog, in a new space, and with a new digital identity. As a graduate student in an educational technology program, not having an online portfolio and presence would be outrageous. In fact, I’m going to get graded on this site for an introductory class to the program. Although I am no stranger to the digital sphere, or whatever [insert number here].0 we’re adding to the end of the word web to describe how connected we all are to each other and the internet, I am a stranger to the academic sphere of the web. Prior to creating this site, my digital identity has undergone ebbs and flows of personal, student, teacher, private, public and in between. I felt like my digital identity was fragmented in so many ways and like I was one person in this space and another in a separate space. Although there is nothing wrong with this, it felt like everywhere you looked there was a different version of ‘me’ on the internet. I felt the need to consolidate and patch together the fragments of my online presence. Although grateful for all of the spaces I have been privileged to participate in to varying degrees of formality and commitment, I look forward to merging all my previous digital identities into that of graduate student and future scholar. I’m excited about a new space in which to explore, share research, connect, and participate meaningfully in the world wide web community.