Monthly Archives: November 2013

I teach, therefore I reflect (and change)

During the few weeks ahead of OpenEd13, in preparation for my talk, I spent time interviewing K12 teachers in the US about their use of open educational resources (OER) in the classroom. As part of my work with the OER Research Hub Project I’m researching the hypothesis that OER use leads educators to critically reflect on their teaching practice. What follows is a thread to weave my slides below.

My personal view has always been that teachers reflect all the time, OER-ing or not: we (and I throw myself in the mix) may not keep a diary, or pause and think hard about how the class/tutorial/seminar went, but in the thick of it we know what’s working, what’s not, what needs to be fixed: adapt, colour, reshuffle, attack from a different angle or dump. We are constantly on the lookout for ideas to teach better, to engage students better, to help them learn better. Take, for example, flipped educators: the OERRHub survey in the spring of this year shows that a majority of respondents has over ten years of teaching experience but has been flipping the classroom for less than two. What moves an experienced educator to try something as bonkers as shifting direct instruction from the group’s learning space to the individual learning space and leave herself with forty minutes waiting to be filled with bags of creativity? It’s not because she hasn’t been doing a good job so far, but because word out is that flipping the classroom works. It is through reflection that we become agents of change. My conversations with teachers from the project’s two K12 collaborations –Vital Signs and the Flipped Learning Network, evolve around one question: How has your use of OER changed the way you think about teaching? In a sliver of stories of change (or not) that I have yet to analyse, I give you the voices of an English teacher resisting the all-knowing Oz of her past; a Math teacher who basks in bringing multiple perspectives into the classroom; a Statistics teacher who requires his students to co-create the curriculum because it belongs to the world; and a Math and Social Studies teacher who uses a science program because it makes learning real for her kids. My hunch is still there: OER use doesn’t necessarily make better teachers; it’s just that the door to resources is wider than it used to be.

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