Category: Distributed and Open Learning

Open Educational Resources and Online Learning

Over the last several weeks the discussion of online learning and open educational resources have circulated. Before taking the course (Open and Distributed Learning), I had never heard of open educational resources. However, open educational resources are used all the time by everyday teachers. We search content through Pinterest and follow teacher blogs in order to get idea from others. Now, these are sites that are used daily and are unlikely to shut down due to the vast majority of people using them and the sheer amount of content that is covered.  When considering how open educational resources are used, Katie Gosa on TEDxUTA sums up the bright possibilities that can be achieved specifically at a post-secondary level in her talk on OER.


In going through this course though, I have learned that open educational resources generally shut down within the first 5 years. Sometimes due to lack of publicity about the site or maintenance or even lack of funding. Yet, the thought of having an online platform where people can share resources without providing a ton or even any personal information seems like a no-brainer.  Even the discussion of whether something is truly open or not is complex. Some believe that a resource is not open unless there is unrestricted access to the information with zero need for any information from the user. This is to say that in order to get the information you want, you would not have to provide an e-mail, username, you would not even have to create an account. Others, on the other hand, believe that open resources include sites that require usernames, passwords and an e-mail address. I would side with this argument as it seems utopian to run a website without any information from your demographic using the site.

With the idea of website usage in mind, the thought of online learning as a type of educational resource is one that provokes many thoughts. Online learning provides a freedom that is unlike traditional school. You are able to access classes anywhere (possibly at any time), you are able to be anywhere (as long as there is internet access) and you can connect with people around your country or even the world. This type of easy connection allows for broader learning capabilities. People in two vastly different places can collaborate over a project focusing on the same thing, yet the two people will provide varying perspectives on the topic. This again seems like a walk in the park. However, whenever technology is involved we have to consider the limitations. Limitations can include no wireless access, no internet access, lack of laptops or tablets, increased self motivation to attend classes and a lack of personal connection with others.  Could the increase of technological use inhibit the exposure to the outside world such as being in a classroom or even being outside. This is to say that there could be an overexposure to screen time.

Therefore, when considering the use of online programs within education I believe there is a place for it. In doing my masters, it is a wonderful way to fit in my higher education that works around my schedule and does not require me drive to a classroom. I also believe there is room for these types of programs in high school and university,  but elementary school is where the plot thickens. I am unconvinced that an online program would work for students at an elementary school level.  There are aspects that can be used within elementary schools but the basic foundation of elementary school is to learn basic curriculum skills along with social emotional skills. Using a computer to connect with others, I think would not contribute to that social connection piece the way a classroom does.

Matt Miller, in his Don’t Buy the Book: Cultivate, Curate and Go Open TedX talk, speaks eloquently about the beauty of successful integration of technology into traditional teaching. I appreciate that he highlights the difference in terms of book versus technology role out in the school system. We have had years upon years to cultivate our understanding of books and how to use them within education. We even have librarians and library technicians to support us in our search for incorporating books into our classrooms. Yet, when technology came into the mix, it felt more like a need to integrate quickly without giving teachers time to learn how to use technology effectively.

Overall, throughout this course I have learned about open educational resources, privacy measures and the positive and negative effects that technology through online learning can create. Clearly there are limitations to online learning but in many situations there are also benefits. All in all, online education with a mixture of traditional classroom exposure seems to be the happy medium in my mind.

First Online EdCamp

Last Tuesday was my first experience with an online Ed Camp. I’ve been to several Ed Camps before but certainly never online. In some ways I found this style to be more efficient. You didn’t have to sit through the opening remarks that lasted an hour while everyone gathers their coffee, biscuits and makes sure they’re going to the same session as their best friend. Instead, this Ed Camp was more efficient. It allowed for us to have personal input in what we wanted to discuss. It makes me wonder, if Ed Camps send out a form to people to determine what possible options are before sending out the sign up would their be more interest and engagement? Although I enjoy Ed Camps as a style of learning, I often find that I am forced to pick at least one session that doesn’t interest me much but becomes a time filler in my time table. A possible downfall to the Ed Camp was that, at least in my group, we didn’t branch out to other discussions. It was difficult to know when to leave or how to hop from one session to another. Perhaps that has more to do with my knowledge of the program we used versus the easy capability of it. Never the less, it is something to consider. The discussion of my session was social media. This seems to be a topic that is a discussion in an abyss. What I mean to say is that there is a vast number of benefits and a dauntingly large number of down falls to using social media within the classroom.  We’re in a day and age that promotes social media and yet, educators seem to be under the “public eye microscope.” One false step and immediately you’re on the defense questioning every choice you made around using social media. The over arching understanding from my group was that despite the growing interest in social media, there is still no rules surrounding how to use it. Furthermore, because there’s no regulations there’s also no security for educators. Overall, it was determined that the scale of social media usage does not easily tip from one direction to the next.

Education vs. Technology?

This week we have been discussing the idea of technology within education or, in some cases, technology versus education. Technology is meant to enhance learning and yet it feels as though it has been pushed upon the everyday teacher to learn more and more. Technology is not being used effectively in a lot of cases because there is a lack of knowledge of the teacher or a lack of time. Should it be the teachers responsibility to be researching technology applications on their own time? It that a fair way of implementing technology? Is that even a good way of doing it? There are so many boarders to cross when bringing technology into the classroom. Yet, it is an absolute necessity. In Ontario, they have suggested that students must take at least 2 online courses in order to graduate. Although the idea is somewhat progressive, is it being forced upon students without proper planning? Will teachers be able to provide the same engaging content to students when they are using an online platform? Are those teachers going to be trained in how to use various programs well enough to teach students? Will there be a difference in compensation for teachers who now have to triple their class size simply because their class is provided online? There are so many questions that surround this topic. The idea of technology being the main form of education is a difficult pill to swallow and makes me question whether it is the best form of education, or simply the most convenient?

The Digital Era

Through this weeks readings it has become more apparent than ever the amount of information that companies receive from our use of technology.  I was never aware of how much information companies mine from accounts such as social media. Even when being made aware, I wondered to myself, would I stop using social media? What is my information even good for anyways? Does it really pose a threat to me? Or are they finding information such as how many people in a certain area access social media accounts? All these questions came pouring into my mind. Although at the end of the day, I didn’t read a single thing that truly made me quiver in my decision to use social media. When we connect this knowledge to the idea of open resources, it then makes me wonder how much data is collected from those types of sources. In the grand scheme of things, there’s not enough common knowledge out there to persuade people to be mindful of technology use. Most average, every day people don’t even know that their data is being used at all.

Inclusion Through Technology? Perhaps Not

We have been discussing how technology can inadvertently exclude students. For example, all elementary students are required to fill out a form determining whether they can have their photo taken. On top of that, it includes whether a photo can be published on a public site. This idea of inclusion has continuously popped up in my mind as I have gone through teaching. When it comes to technology, there are often many varying opinions. Some people love technology and its social media connections. In comparison, some people are skeptical and avoid it all together. Teachers can often run into the parent that does not give consent for their child to be online or to be published online. The common phrasing is “you never know who will see it and how can anyone control where it ends up?” This makes it difficult when you try to mold the two sides together. Often times students are excluded from activities that require their picture. For example, during Halloween or a Christmas activities. Furthermore, exclusion can happen when technology is unavailable to a family. This often happens in rural areas but it does occasionally happen in urban areas also. How do students get report cards if they are only provided online? Many teachers are only available through e-mail, so how do parents get in touch with them when they don’t have technology or are unable to visit in person during certain hours?  All these situations are ones that occur daily in teaching. There is a constant back and forth between technological progression and conscious awareness of exclusion.

Similarly, it is necessary to consider the idea of where information goes once it is provided online. When using technology and resources within elementary schools it is difficult to track where the students information ends up. There aren’t any particular regulations around these issues. Even when it comes to teachers using technology or online media, there lacks regulations. When a teachers wants to implement a specific program such as My Blue Print (within my district) it comes with a very specific agreement with those who manage the data collected. However, on open sites such as Flipgrid, Twitter or even Instagram there is information that is collected and not tracked which makes it difficult for teachers to use those types of sites. Therefore, it is imperative that districts, teachers and administration work together to create regulations around technology so that both students and teachers are protected.


Funes, Mariana & Mackness, Jenny. (2018). When inclusion excludes: a counter narrative of open online education. Learning, Media and Technology. 43(2). 119-138.

Caines, Autumm & Glass, Erin. (2019). Education before Regulation: Empowering Students to Question Their Data Privacy. New Horizons.The Technologies Ahead.  94-95.

Traditional, Online or Both?

I have been learning about the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER’s) and online platforms such as MOOC’s. MOOC’s are available online courses that anyone can take that doesn’t cost any money. The essential discussion that has been brought to my attention about these concepts is the idea of money. Where does one get the money to fund a program such as a MOOC? Given that these courses and resources are free, it stands that no one truly profits off of them? In a society so driven by money, is it possible that these online platforms could become as common as traditional classes? When I say traditional classes I mean specifically the face-to-face classrooms. These concepts are hard for me to wrap my mind around because I am a teacher within a traditional setting. The thought of not having to pay to further my education, or not coming out of my undergrad with little to no debt is a very enticing idea. I simply cannot wrap my head around how these programs will be funded. These programs seem to be short lived because the economy runs off of money so the idea of “free” education seem more like a fantasy than reality. Although, I believe that these course could provide a lot of good to people, especially those who can’t afford the education at a post secondary level.  In class we discussed how other countries provide free education at all levels but in order to pay for this, the every day person pays higher taxes. It makes me wonder, whether their societies benefit more from having citizens who are better education through their free education? It’s difficult to say whether money will continue to be the driving force of our education system or could it transform into online learning platforms.

More questions than answers

In reading this week’s articles I have realized how much I didn’t know about education. I am a mainstream, public school third grade teacher. My knowledge of online education components is extremely limited and thus I feel as though I am walking through a corn maze with only the leaves to guide me. Throughout the readings and the discussion with my colleagues I’ve realized a few key issues that online education faces. First, the general lack of value our province and country put on education.  There are many countries where students are provided with free education in order to create contributing citizens. It’s interesting that our province provides little in terms of educational support, other than student loans, when it comes to post secondary education. I wonder if many students in high school and after, feel as though education is not worth the price tag, we put on it? I am curious as to whether open education would become more popular if it was more financially accessible to all people? Moreover, online schooling has a further stigma of being viewed as ‘lesser’ because it can be cheaper. Could the removal of monetary restrictions serve as a reinforcement of the use of open learning platforms? Second, students are losing out on opportunities within education because of monetary greed versus sharing of ideas. Ideas, especially within online platforms, are not shared as willingly because eventually someone realizes they can make money off it. What type of disservice does that provide our students especially when it comes to textbooks and sharing of resources? Thirdly, the idea of silence within online platforms. For this purpose, silence refers to the idea of being unable to track students’ interactions with the content. If a teacher does not know how a student perceives or engages in the content, then how are they to inform their practice to aid the student, if needed? I found this one especially difficult to grapple with because my assessment is largely derived with observations and interviews with my students. I watch how they interact with an activity and often their behavior allows me a window into their strengths and struggles. Through these observations, I can determine whether my assistance is needed or not. Also, when doing interviews with my students my ability to observe and question their methods is a way of determining their understanding. Thus, silence can mean so many things to a teacher when they are observing. Yet, in an online learning platform this may not be available to me. My practice, understanding and comfort level would be at risk. I am curious as to how teachers understand or combat the so-called silence within an online platform. How does a teacher track a student when there is little to no tracking of their interactions with the content? These are questions and thoughts that were provoked through my reading and discussion. Needless to say, I have more questions than answers.