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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.

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