Monday, May 2, 2011

Open Source as Experiential Learning

As a librarian I’m increasingly aware that free information isn’t always quality information. This isn’t to say that our colleagues who have crafted quality open education resources (OER) aren’t doing work that enriches academia. It’s that word “quality” that always brings me back to the main controversy that members of the WWCC faculty face when it comes to adapting open resources for education. The amount of time it takes to find and adapt sources largely rests on the problem of quality.

A recent article by Mary Grush in Campus Technology inspired me to see the resources that our library purchases on behalf of our students as a type of OER. While the content in the library isn’t free, resources are already paid for and thus aren’t associated with the costs of textbooks. From that perspective they are OER as far as students are concerned. Grush’s article focuses on the idea that OER can be student generated content. Instead of passively engaging textbook information by reading it, students are required to actively experiment with course topics by finding library materials that explain major themes and then work together to examine the resources found.

Libraries are a vast collection of experiential learning tools which include books, databases, audio-visual materials, and people who connect students to active learning through interaction with their own curiosity. Grush quotes Trent Batson of the Association for Authentic , Experiential, and Evidenced Based Learning (AAEEBL,) “Textbooks, in whatever form, are almost always assigned by the teacher, thereby robbing the student of an important learning exercise” (Campus Technology, March 2011, p. 50). We know that students connect more with information and lessons that arouse their innate curiosity; using your library as a jumping off point for your student to build their own open education resources can be one layer in building their abilities to answer their own questions and to be the kind of learner that won’t settle for secondary information.

For more information on using your library to create learning resources that are free to your students please check out the Affordable Learning Solutions Website. Also, check with your local librarian who can help you to decide whether this kind of learning might work for you.

1 comment:

  1. Quill:

    I am not certain that your statement, "From that perspective they are OER as far as students are concerned" is entirely accurate in terms of copywrite and Fair Use laws. The library has purchased those resources for a specific use, and while students can certainly quote and attribute those resources, they cannot compile those resources into an open access resource suitable for redistribution without permission of the copywrite holder.