Easy as OER

Image of megaphone on chalkboard

Erika Aparaka

Gratitude, and hope were the themes of the 2017 Open Ed conference this past October. The experience conjured memories of my kindergarten days. Every morning I looked forward to seeing teachers and friends and participating in the dynamics of school life. The grade school years, particularly early elementary years, are a time when learning the importance of sharing with classmates, expressing gratitude for kindness and friendship, and discovering hope for the future. The education community works to foster these values in each generation of students we serve. The OER community seeks to share high quality resources, express gratitude to contributing members of the community, and cultivate hope for the future of OER and their role to increase accessibility and equity for all students was apparent during the event. From Kindergarten to conferences, the idea is the same: share, be grateful, and have hope!


As familiar colleagues and new acquaintances and I attended sessions and networked, it became apparent to me. We were a lot like kindergarteners. Here we were, learning new things, sharing ideas about them, letting our peers know we appreciate their efforts, and leaving with hope that the message and importance of OER will continue to grow and gain impact. I reflected on my experiences with OER. Like many who encounter the term OER, I didn’t understand what the acronym meant. However, over the past year as the OER fellow and working with amazing individuals passionate about the work, I realized I experienced OER far before I recognized their impact on the education community. Any time I borrowed or created a resource as a teacher or parent. Any time I reused, remixed, or revised material, I was using OER.


The 2017 Open Ed Conference marked my final major conference as the OER fellow with CCSSO. While there, I had the opportunity to present with my colleagues from the New America Foundation, Kristina Peters and Lindsey Tepe on the progress of #GoOpen across the country. I participated in a panel discussion on OER and equity. We covered equity, accessibility, and inclusion. The panel challenged both attendees and panelists to continue to examine what assumptions we make about resource availability around OER as well as understanding OER.


The students we serve are individuals with individual situations and as we’ve seen in discussions around OER, personalizing OER is a key aspect--and benefit--of using open resources. This goes beyond how we think about resource creation, but also how we make the resources to serve students with diverse needs and support educators to meet those needs. We need to increase our discussions around how we make OER accessible to students with special needs and/or special circumstances. Race, gender, SES, and transience are important considerations to remain cognizant of as we propel the OER movement forward. In other words we need to share relevant resources, be grateful for opportunities to increase equity, and spread hope through OER’s promising potential to make a high quality education a commodity available to everyone.


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