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Discuss the difference between online educational content and openly licensed educational content

Openly licensed educational content, or OER (open educational resources) means that educators can share, adapt and edit high quality, free educational resources. Whereas online educational resources are materials that are online but may require you to buy them and has restrictions on how you can distribute and modify the materials. Some examples of OER’s could be notes from a course, textbooks, tests or videos, all of which you could use, edit, distribute to your hearts content. In contrast, an example of an online educational resource could be a worksheet that you purchase off Teachers Pay Teachers. Through purchasing educational tools through Teachers Pay Teachers, the educator only has permission to use the materials with their own class and, typically, does not have permission to edit the material. Another example of an online educational resource is the Smithsonian Education site. When someone puts openly licensed educational resources online, they are released under some type of license which allows whomever is accessing that OER the free use, distribution, modification and sharing. Most importantly, ONLY openly licensed educational resources contain the “5R permissions”, meaning that you have permission from the creator to “retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute.” ((   Although not all OER’s are digital, the majority of them are. When searching for openly licensed educational content, educators need to look for the license. One of the most popular open licensing systems is Creative Commons (CC).

As school districts are shutting down schools, the way I have to teach my students is through online tools. I have been spending the last few weeks exploring what tools can be used to help the continuation of student learning and I have been able to send out a few links to various websites where students can play math games, read current event articles and respond to a story. However, most of my students have never accessed these sites before, therefore navigating the materials proved to be extremely difficult for a lot of my students. I have found myself reflecting on section of Crosslin’s article of Effective Practices in Distributed and Open Learning where it states, “communication is a foundational element of educational theory; without clear communication, learners can feel confused and discouraged.” As I gave my students their online tools, I did not clearly explain to them how to navigate (the tools), why these online tools are useful to us and how they will aid our learning. This was a major learning curve in how I will teach my students online in the upcoming weeks.

Review the OER using the evaluation guide found in the tutorial, provide a brief comment on this process in your post 

The OER that I chose was the website youcubed which is a mathematics website. Upon evaluating this website, it is clear that youcubed is a prime example of what an OER should be as it checked off all the boxes in the evaluation guide. Youcubed website is governed by a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License”.

It was interesting to go through a website that I have used over the past 3 years to assess if it was a true, authentic openly licensed online educational resource. I never realized how many “boxes” there were to tick off to assess an OER. However, with that being said I am not surprised that youcubed website scored so high as it contained lesson plans, videos for both teachers and students (which included subtitles), access to courses taught by Jo herself, materials for educators to adapt, and much more.

Amidst the covid pandemic, youcube recently released a new tool called youcubed at home. This is an addition to the youcubed website where students and parents can go online to find math activities that relate to the real world. In addition, all of these math problems are written is simplified language so both students and parents can understand what the question is asking. Furthermore, youcube has offered a free, online helper who is available 24/7 to answer questions. Through adding in a support person, youcube has started to make their site more accessible to all types of learners.

Discuss how you might use OER in your own life or professional work.

Within the past month, our entire country has had to switch over to online teaching, something that no one was 100% ready for, or at least I wasn’t ready for. When looking for ways to best communicate with my students, I found that our school district had already purchased Microsoft teams, an online app that allows for group video chats, a platform for discussions, a place to assign tasks and more that I am still learning about! I feel fortunate to have read the article Creating Online Learning Experiences, since it lays out the best practices to set up an online learning community. One of the key aspects that the article lays out is that you should create “lessons that focus more on active engagement and less on passive content consumption”. This really stood out to me because some of my students cannot even access computers, some families have to share a computer between 5 people and some of my kids are struggling to find a place to wash their clothes. This data, that I collected from my students last week, showed me that I would need to create an online learning environment that wasn’t too rigorous and had components that my students could do anywhere. In addition, I have been forced to practice my own growth mindset, as flexibility is a key aspect of learning how to do online teaching. I find myself having to send out multiple emails, apologizing for incorrectly giving instructions, or telling parents that our video conference will have to be delayed for a day. This entire experience has taught me that you can not predict what will happen and that sometimes you just have to go with the flow and do the best that you can. As Paul Arden once said, “failures and false starts are a precondition of success. Failing is normal. It is just a short breakdown before striving to a successful future path and gateway. We learn from mistakes and gain the experience through foul and stressful steps.”

Below is a picture, sent to me by a student, of my classes first attempt at a video conference call through the app called Teams.

Reflection #3

As I recall my online learning experiences, I realize that I have a lot of them. Some of my online experiences have ranged from good, bad, funny to frustrating. Yet, as I reflect on one of my most memorable experiences, I am taken back to only a few weeks ago when my grade 6/7 class used the online social media platform of skype to connect with a NASA scientist.

Image result for nasa

About 4 weeks ago, my class had just been wrapping up their Solar System unit and one of my students had asked if she could do a project on NASA. I of course agreed, and off my student went, doing her own research and ending up creating a really cool video of a day in the life of a NASA scientist. After presenting I was able to surprise my class with a skype session with my friend Jenni who has worked for the past 4 years at NASA. Through skyping, Jenni was able to show my students her office, the tools and technology that she has been working with as well as answering all my student’s questions. The skype call lasted only 30 minutes, but it sent waves of excitement through the classroom. All my students could talk about for the rest of the week was the call with the NASA scientist they had. I even had several of my students come up to me to express how they want to become materials engineers when they grow up!


What I love so much about online platforms such as skype is that it provides people from all around the world to connect with each other. Through using skype, my students were able to engage with real life problems and talk with a professional who they otherwise never would have met.

Upon reflecting on the past few weeks of learning, I found myself drawn to reading, and then rereading the theories of communication, more specifically that of dramaturgical communicative actions from the Learning and Teaching as Communicative Actions theory. This type of communication, in my opinion, is freeing for students as it allows for more student creativity and freedom. Although I can sometimes stray towards the strategic communicative actions, I like to put the “teaching” back on my students and get them to come up with a question that they are passionate about and provide them with the tools they need to find the answer. I love this method of teaching because I am always pleasantly surprised at the work and artifacts that my students produce. Without placing limits on students, I believe that they will soar and actually teach us something.

In connection with communication, I believe that it is extremely important to pre-teach my students which digital tools/resources are valid and how to filter through information. A key aspect in one of our readings from last week is the importance of understanding that “media is not neutral or objective in how they convey knowledge”. I find that this message is one of the most important things that I need to teach my students, especially since they are growing up in the age of digital technology and they are surrounded by people trying to influence them.

Within my class we recently have had a talk about the media’s perception of the COVID 19 and how some media outlets are spreading false information. We took a look at some accurate article about the virus, found on the OER currents4kids as well as some articles that were untrue. We had a talk about how media can influence your perspectives, so it is important to know where the information your reading is coming from.