To Share or Not to Share: A Teacher’s Take on Open Education

#ECI831

There is something to be said about the beauty of sharing. We teach our kids at a young age that the right thing to do is share with others. As we get older, the concept becomes even more prevalent in our lives. Sharing our time, resources, and wisdom with the people around us is vital.

Just a few weeks ago, I was half way through baking a pumpkin loaf and I realized I was missing an ingredient. So what did I do? I asked my neighbour if she could share some cinnamon with me. Without a question, she was over in minutes to deliver my missing ingredient. After she dropped off the ingredient, she ended up staying for a while to talk about her life and catch up on mine, which all started with the fact that she was willing to share with me.

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Sharing builds community. Sharing develops connection. Sharing inspires creativity.

As teachers, aren’t these the themes that we want to reiterate to our students? If we want to encourage our students to share with each other, then as teachers, we need to lead by example.

As educators, we can share our knowledge, ideas, content, and resources through Open Education. According to Blink Tower, Open Education matters because it is “a global movement that aims to bring quality education to teachers and students everywhere”.

To be more specific, Creative Commons states that Open Educational Resources are “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation, and redistribution by others”. In other words, when people are willing to share online what they created, they are contributing to the benefits of Open Education.

There’s no doubt about it: having access to so many resources and opportunities online has made my life as a teacher and my classroom environment WAY better. When it comes to planning lessons for my students, I have the ability to use online sources to help me teach rich and engaging lessons. When I need ideas or inspiration, I reach out to others for help online. All thanks to Open Education.

With everything, though, there is give and take.

As educators, it’s our responsibility to give back to the online community. In a video called “Sharing: The Moral Imperative”, Dean Shareski asks a thought provoking question- “Why would we hoard good teaching and learning?” Shouldn’t we be a part of the sharing process? I, for one, was challenged by this statement.

In the past, I have felt hesitant to share my ideas online. Here are some things that have gone through my head:

  • “my work isn’t good enough to share”
  • “what if others criticize it?”
  • “what if someone had that idea before me?”
  • “I worked too hard on this to just give it away for free”

Have you ever had these thoughts?

Self doubt is expected when it comes to sharing online. It just comes with the territory. However, the benefits of Open Education far outweigh the downfalls or negative feelings. When we are able to put our selfishness aside for the betterment of society and share what we have created, along with using what other educators create, we will see that, like Curtis Bourassa says, “teachers can and will make a positive difference”.

In my journey of learning about Open Education, I have come to realize that I have so much more to share. I want to contribute more to the online community of educators with my ideas, lessons, and talents. I have to agree with Matteo when he says “we should be a lot more mindful of the fact that we have benefited so much from others posting online, that we should ensure we set aside some time to share things we have created as well”.

So, now that I am motivated to share more online… how do I go about doing that? I have decided to start a list of some of the ways I know how to take part:

1. Blogging
First of all, blogging is a great way to learn from other teachers on specific topics or content, and share your own learning. Blogs are an informal way to get your message out there. Did you teach a cool science lesson to your students? Blog about it! Did you find a new strategy to teach in literacy? Blog about it!

Kathy Cassidy is someone who used blogging as a way to share what happened in her classroom so that other teachers can be inspired. Even though she is now retired from her classroom teaching role, her ideas still remain on the internet for others to learn from. Blogging allows your story to be told to countless people online for many years to come.

2. MOOCs
Did you know there is a way to get a high quality, free education, in the comfort of your own home? A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), can “provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale” that are completely free for anyone to enrol in. I had the opportunity to take part in a Digital Citizenship MOOC (DCMOOC) in 2014. I was motivated to learn skills around Digital Citizenship, so I was excited to join the community of life-long learners. At the end of the course, I created a video to demonstrate my online learning and inspire others to join a MOOC too.

3. Google Drive
I know it seems simple, and somewhat informal, but Google Drive is a great way to share resources as a teacher. Whenever I want to collaborate with other educators on a project or lesson, I use Google Docs or Google Slides. With its “View Only” feature, it allows other people to view and copy your resource without editing it. If you are looking to edit and collaborate with others, there are accessing levels within Google Drive that allow you to do so. David Boxer lays out the accessing levels clearly in his blog post, “Access levels in Google Drive when Sharing: View, Comment, and Edit”. There are many teachers who use Google Drive to share their ideas and lesson plans, and Aaron Warner does so in such an effective and productive way. Most recently, he organized an Election Resource for other Middle Years teachers to use. He has the ability to update the resource as he adds more links and lessons, and shares the new content through Twitter. Sharing through Google Drive is a way for educators to gain knowledge and discover new lessons in an accessible way.

These are just a few of the ways you can engage in Open Education.

What are some other ways you share your ideas online? Do you use Open Education to gain knowledge and ideas from others? How are you contributing to it?

We have an amazing opportunity to make a difference in education, but not just in the buildings we teach in. The beauty of Open Education is that we have access to people all over the world to teach us, to inspire us, to collaborate with, and to share with.

So, if you’re still wondering: to share or not to share? Be the neighbour. Share freely, create connection, inspire creativity.

-Amanda

5 thoughts on “To Share or Not to Share: A Teacher’s Take on Open Education

  1. I agree with you and have thought “what if others criticize it?” when I have shared my resources. However, I realize that I do the same thing with materials that I have sourced offline or online. I think that’s part of the process. You can take resources and ideas from others and adapt or “remix” them to make them something that works for you. So, if others find any value in what I have shared and can take something from it, by all means, please do.

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  2. Like the fact that you mention opportunities to share globally which we definitely have the power to do like never before. I have had the great opportunity to meet and share with teachers from around the globe. These new ideas and perspectives have been invaluable to me and I know sharing what we do around here has an impact in regions we never dreamed of. Great blog. Thanks

    Like

  3. I have also felt the hesitation of sharing my things online with much of the same statements going through my head. I think the lack of confidence I have stems from so many excellent ressources online and me not thinking I’ll ever be able to achieve the same quality. With that said, sometimes a simple ressource, regardless of the quality of the effort that was invested into it, might be the RIGHT one for the RIGHT person at the RIGHT time. It could be the missing link in someones knowledge and if I have help unlocking that potential, it’s worth it. I’ve had comments from people in Europe watching my YouTube chemistry tutorials that I had an explanation that the could finally understand. Although it was not my intent to help them, it turned out I had something they needed and a way of explaining things that resonated with them.

    That hesitation can be debilitating, but surpassing it can be liberating.

    Like

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