I just had a piece published by Info Week about open educational resources, advocating for the position that all publicly funded educational resources should be openly licensed.
After it was published, someone wrote to ask me about how I would respond “to someone who would object to the idea that OERs and online distribution of curricular materials alone will provide a comparable education at little to no cost. What about the cost associated with providing instructors?”
Good question and one that is often raised. Below is my answer.
“For a long while, I too worried about the issue of quality instructors and how that influenced content delivery and learning. More recently, though, I have shifted my own thinking on learning and have come to appreciate the richness of a more constructivist and peer learning driven model. It isn’t all about the expert instructor transmitting knowledge to learners.
Also, from a more pragmatic standpoint, I’ve seen learners thrive in situations where there isn’t necessarily an instructor leading the process. With regards to learning, I don’t think there is any one model that works for everyone. In my opinion, OER is one solution that can provide great value to a great many though.”
Now, don’t get me wrong — in K-12 education, I feel strongly that the number one predictor of learning success is the teacher. I would never argue that a teacher isn’t essential to the learning process in schools. But, having said that, I don’t believe that learning necessarily has to happen in schools or with a teacher. More and more learning happens in informal spaces. We should support as many avenues for as many types of learning as possible.
And, bottom line, open licensing publicly-funded resources facilitates that. This kind of policy provides whole new avenues for informal learning In formal spaces, it also could free up additional dollars to better compensate hard working teachers.
What do you think?