Open learning is described as learning that occurs in a shared and transparent manner in which others can reuse, revise, remix, and/or redistribute the evidence of learning with others. (Graham, 2016) Ironically, at the beginning of this school year, I came across the CK-12 Foundation, an Online Education Resource (OER) that is described in the text as an option for open learning. I asked other teachers in my department if they have hear of it, but they didn’t. I was intrigued and interested in using this resource.
The first impression I had of this OER was that it is great to have an electronic text for quite a few subject areas. One of the activities our district was planning was reviewing the mathematics curriculum. I was excited to see if I could use this resource and determine its viability. I choose a statistics text to test. I was impressed with the variety and thorough content. My students were set up to use the text and so I began to use my interactive whiteboard to review and teach the content from the text. The first few sections were taught with no hitch. It was great to see that each section had practice problems for students to do to understand the content. I soon realized some issues. Some of the practice problems contained material that didn’t get covered in the sections we just reviewed. In fact, some of the problems were for later sections of the text! I noticed that the version of the text I choose originally didn’t have a teacher edition with solutions, so I choose what looked like a similar one with solutions. It was beginning to be clear that the videos in the various lessons were vital to view because it contained new material for that section. Our district’s Internet policy severely restricts online videos, so it was almost impossible to view them. I began to have a sour view of this new resource and discontinued its use and passed out traditional hard copy texts.
Well, now that I know what an OER is and its applicability/use, I can see how these various texts were revised, edited, and redistributed. I think if I knew this at the beginning of the school year, I would have been a little more understanding and worked through the “issues”. I think this would be a great open learning option, now that I understand what open learning entails. What I really needed was professional development. Interestingly, a review of this OER states that any district wanting to use free, quality teaching resources partnered with Wikimedia Foundation and Stanford University can rest assured it is quality content. (Provini, 2014) This was my initial reason for using CK-12, and I feel if I was provided proper guidance and direction on how to use this resource, I could have had much better success.
Another OER I have become familiar with is Khan Academy. According to a report funded by SRI International, this OER is used a practice tool, an intervention, an enrichment activity, and accountability tool to monitor student progress. (Murphy, 2014) I have used this resource in this manner with one of my classes this year and have had more success with this one. One of the features of Khan Academy that I like is the student’s ability to choose their content. If a student needed a review, a challenge, or just practice, they can select the appropriate section for that. It is very learner centered. In fact, it is so learner centered that I felt I had no control over their content. I could recommend topics for study, but could not enforce its practice. Something I was not familiar with in a traditional math course.
There is much promise with open learning, if all involved with using their resources are knowledgeable in its application and use. I was not familiar with one and gave up, but the other one proved successful in its implementation. I feel a blended learning method would provide the best learning environment for students to increase achievement and success in school in the 21st century.
Graham, Lee et al. Open Learning In K-12 Online And Blended Learning Environments. 1st ed. Print.
“Research on the Use of Khan Academy in Schools,” Robert Murphy, Lawrence Gallagher, Andrew Krumm, Jessica Mislevy and Amy Hafter, Menlo Park, CA: SRI International
Provini, C. (2014). Site Review: CK-12. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/site-review/ck-12.shtml