Open Educational Resources: From the Fringes into the Mainstream

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Zeren Eder

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Open Educational Resources - Potential - GrowthThe Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators, and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended, and digital learning. This week Dr. Kim Grewe, OLC Institute faculty for OER Part I: Exploring Open Educational Resources and OER Part II: Implementing Open Educational Resources, joins us to answer our questions about open educational resources.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC?
The Online Learning Consortium has been a leader in online teaching and learning for almost as long as online learning has been around. Not only does OLC have a long-standing reputation for quality, but the mission pillar to provide access to quality e-learning resonates strongly with me. Issues of access and inequity appeal to my community college sensibility. It is an honor to be affiliated with this great professional organization whose goal is to make quality online learning available to all.

The other thing I enjoy about the OLC is the people. My OLC colleagues are not only dedicated and innovative, but they are also just a lot of fun to be around. They are open and welcoming. The people make the organization. I love being around the open-minded, inclusive, and fun OLC professionals who share my passion for education and online learning.

OLC: You facilitate OER, Part I and Part II for the Institute. What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the courses you teach?

My Facilitation Style
Workshop participants must do just that: participate! Without you and your valuable experiences and perspectives, the workshops are nothing. While I recognize that you are looking to me for expertise in OER, it is your experiences and perspectives that breathe life into the workshop and make our learning experience personal, unique, and memorable. The more you can engage in the workshop, the more valuable a learning experience it will be for you.

OER, Part I: Exploring Open Educational Resources
For those who may just be getting started exploring OER, this workshop is the one for you. It is a hands-on workshop which provides the nuts and bolts of finding, evaluating, adopting, adapting, and licensing open material. Participants will be provided valuable practice and discussion around these individual tactics for incorporating OER into a course.

OER Part II: Implementing Open Educational Resources
For individuals who have been charged at their institutions with implementing OER at the course, program, or institutional level, this workshop is the one for you. Participants will work on drafting their personal implementation plans for their courses, programs, or institutions and leave this workshop with a draft of an OER implementation plan that has been peer-reviewed by other participants and me.

OLC: How did you become engaged in OER? How do you see this field evolving?
I have always been committed to the mission of community college, particularly the access and equity strands. We meet students where they are and try to help them get where they are going. Almost everyone has a chance to succeed at community college and get on a path that will lead to other opportunities. For these reasons, I see community colleges as the great equalizers in our American society. OER, which reduce the cost of attending college for students, fits nicely into the community college paradigm.

As a college professor, before I even knew what OER were, I was supplementing, and in some cases, substituting publisher-created resources with resources I had created myself or I found freely available online. I understood that students did not need to spend money on expensive books in order to be exposed to high-quality learning resources. This led me on the path to OER.

OER has become a social justice issue for many, closely tied to the idea of an affordable college education and issues of inequity in American society. People are so passionate about the topic, especially as it relates to student homelessness and hunger, a phenomenon that we now know is far more pervasive, impacting far more of our students than we had previously understood, thanks in part to the great work of Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab at Temple University. I think the movement will continue to grow. We will see more institutional policies and government legislation around OER, and as this happens, it will be interesting to see if OER can retain the sort of radical, on-the-fringes kind of reputation it has cultivated thus far in higher education. What happens when the non-establishment alternative becomes mainstream? We already see the industry driving the research and the definition of OER. Instead of textbooks, we now have platforms in existence and being developed that curate OER materials for students. Granted, the cost of these services is less expensive than traditional publisher-created textbooks at the moment, and these platforms do provide a needed service. But should the people in these industries drive the direction of OER conversations and OER research? Or should our students and their immediate educational needs lead the conversation? How do we get students more involved in Open Education? These are important questions to me, ones worth exploring more deeply, ones that will drive my future research endeavors around OER.

OLC: Tell us about research or a work project in which you are currently engaged.
I am currently working on turning my dissertation into a book. I want to tell some of the students’ stories more in-depth and on a more personal level.

OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?
It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd.  This was a fascinating study about teens networked lives and their reliance upon social media to maintain and/or supplement these networks. The chapters are organized around different issues that underpin youth engagement with social media. Many chapters deal with fears and misconceptions about youth and social media both. There is intersection between this topic and online learning. The chapters regarding inequality and illiteracy are of particular interest to me as both an online educator and OER advocate. By the way, danah boyd openly licensed this book and has made it available online for free. If you are interested, you can read danah boyd’s thoughts about open access in this PDF: What’s Behind the Free PDF of “It’s Complicated” (no, no, not malware. . .)

Jeffrey Selingo’s MOOC U: Who Is Getting the Most out of Online Education and Why? I’m sure most of you know the answer to this question. Selingo uses three case studies to make his point. It’s a quick and interesting read.

OLC: What’s one of your favorite quotations?
This one by Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

I also like this one (and it’s on my Facebook profile): “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.”

OLC: How can people connect with you?
I’m on Twitter @Kim_Grewe

About Dr. Kim Grewe
Kim Grewe is an educator, scholar, online learning enthusiast, and champion of open education. With teaching experience from middle school to community college, Kim currently works as an instructional designer at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), one of the largest and most diverse community colleges in the United States. At NOVA, Kim is often involved in initiatives around Open Educational Resources (OER). Kim sees OER as a potential transformative force in global education and indeed has enjoyed collaborating with colleagues from around the United States and the world as both a presenter and attendee at conferences such as The Open Education Conference and OE Global.

Kim has much experience as an online student and instructor. She earned her second master’s degree in educational technology from San Diego State University in a fully online program. Kim is QM certified and has led several QM online workshops, as well as other professional development workshops online, including the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Teaching Online Program (TOP). She has also taught literature, composition, and creative writing courses online for various community colleges.

Kim has especially enjoyed conducting research around OER, both as an OER Research Fellow and a VCCS Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow. She recently completed her dissertation, a qualitative study which explores the impact of OER on students’ deep approaches to learning. Kim graduated from Old Dominion University with a PhD in Community College Leadership in December 2018.

Kim is currently obsessed with the NBC show The Good Place and the ontological questions driving the plot and relationships in the show. Finally, a TV show for an education geek like me. Who knew philosophy and ethics lessons could be so entertaining?

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