Open education is definitely the wave of the educational future. It opens learning to groups of learners that would otherwise be left by the educational wayside. As Charles Vest discusses, “openness in Higher Education is the true spirit of education, democratization, and empowerment” (2010). This idea, this spirit of democracy and empowerment, was one of the driving forces behind MIT’s 2001 decision to place the content of all 2000 of its courses online for free access and use. As the internet expands and more and more people worldwide have meaningful access to the technology necessary to make open education an option for them more and more reliable resources are becoming available for use. Whether you are seeking online course content or an online textbook there is a site for that and there very well may be an app for that as well.
MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching), based out of California State University, is an online resource library of peer-reviewed higher education teaching and learning materials. Its goal is “to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the quantity and quality of peer reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty designed courses”. Not only is it a place for students to go to grow and learn through excellent resources posted by educators from all over the world it is also a place for educators to come together and learn from each other thereby improving the quality of the material being taught and shared as well as the pedagogy of the educators sharing the material. It carries materials from a number of different areas from academic support and workforce development to the arts and humanities and tools from animations and simulations to drill and practice and online courses. Each of the separate discipline communities include links tips to improve teaching both with and through technology as well as the people involved in the community, learning materials that have been uploaded and reviewed, resources and professional journals and organizations outside of MERLOT and a “showcase” link that highlights favorite sites or winning learning materials or online content. This would be an excellent site both for myself and my students. I could send my students there to look up materials to supplement their learning. I would also be able to bring materials from the site into my teaching thereby expanding everyone’s knowledgebase with fresh information and research while knowing that the material has been vetted and peer reviewed before I ever saw it. It would also be a great resource for me as a first time teacher to gain tips and tricks and build up my pedagogical knowledge by learning from many different colleagues from around the world.
Project Gutenberg is a free eBook site that currently carries 42,000 different books. I have been following Project Gutenberg off and on since the 1990s when the goal was to digitize as many books as possible in order to make them more easily available to the masses and preserve old and fragile volumes for posterity. The historical meaning behind calling it Project Gutenberg was not and never has been lost to me. This project was the first of its kind just as the Gutenberg Bible was the first of its kind. They started out in the simplest of ASCII text formats and have moved up as the internet and technology has improved to HTML, PDF and other formats that make it possible to download the book of your choice to your eReader of choice. This is a wonderful site and a wonderful project that allows books and reading to be brought to the masses with little to no cost. As an educator this is an excellent resource to send students to for free versions of great literature. This would be especially useful to me as an English Literature teacher by giving my students a place to get the books for free rather than paying exorbitant prices at the bookstore for a hard copy that many may never open. As the history teacher I would like to be this would be a great place to send students for eBooks that supplement their understanding of the time period we are studying. There is much that can be gleaned and understood about a society and its leadership and thought patterns through the writings of its authors.
MIT TeenTV (Producer). (2010). Open education for an open world [Video file]. Retrieved from http://video.mit.edu/watch/open-education-for-an-open-world-5788/