By Nadia Mireles
A few years ago, a professor taught a climate change course, reaching about one hundred students per semester. One day, he thought: “If I could upload this course online, then not only would my 100 students have access to it, but others as well.” So he did. And this is what happened…
Ana sent the course content across the country to Alex, who was studying climate change. Alex found it so interesting that he forwarded a copy to his friend Lulu in Africa.
Lulu was developing peer-to-peer courses with Phillip, so they remixed the content with other resources and created a new course about the impacts of climate change in Africa. Alan, a participant in the course, shared the content with Gaby, who was studying environmental policy in Latin America.
Gaby brought the content to her class, and together, they translated it into Spanish. After that, Gaby’s professor shared it with his other classes. Mayra, another student, shared the content with her father, who passed it on to his colleagues.
Gaby’s professor also forwarded the content to David, a colleague in the UK, who was researching climate change. He updated some of the data, adapted it to his study and published an article in an open journal. Researchers from all over the world were able to read the article.
David sent the updated content back to the original professor. By then, his course had reached so many more people than his one hundred students!
Years later, many schools had begun to follow the example and opened access to their content. Governments began promoting the use of open textbooks and students began saving money on books. Other innovative universities began to open access to entire courses, making them available to participants from all around the world.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that can be reused, redistributed, remixed, and revised. OER are accessible to everyone—learners, teachers, researchers, parents, workers, citizens—to you. OER are accessible through OpenCourseWare (OCW).
Everyone has the right to be educated, yet only a few have access to school. In the future, there won’t be enough teachers and schools for everyone. OER help increase access to, improve quality of, and reduce the costs of education.
Truly open education is that which treats knowledge as a public good. Now you know. OER can provide everyone the opportunity to learn.
You can see a video of this story.
* Nadia Mireles is currently a consultant in E-learning and Instructional Design at the IDB, where she supports the design and development of various online education programs for Bank employees and also the region through INDES. Previously, she collaborated with the Universidad de Guadalajara as head of the language self-learning center and then as head of the Unit for the Promotion of Internationalization, where she was responsible for implementing the Universidad de Guadalajara’s self-learning centers, in addition to carrying out language learning projects with technological support.
Nadia has a double master’s degree in E-learning from the Universidad de Guadalajara and the Universidad Oberta de Catalunya. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education (through a distance-learning program) at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her areas of research include the “open access” movement and open educational resources in Latin America, e-learning trends, Web 2.0 tools, and social and informal learning.