The technology which I have chosen to discuss is open content. The Horizon report (2010) describes open content as “a growing movement that focuses on sharing and re-usability and thrives on the ready availability of a wide range of educational content.” (page 15) Open content would make resources freely available on the web. Opencontent.org describes the advantages that are featured by open content:
1. Reuse – the right to reuse the content in its unaltered / verbatim form (e.g., make a backup copy of the content)
2. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
3. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
4. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixed with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend).
In the Horizon Report (2010), the importance of open content to teaching, learning and creative expression include the ability of teachers to revise their course quickly and inexpensively, access to resources with an Internet connection, and providing a source of support for life-long learners.
The reason that I chose this technology is because I feel that it is very pertinent to elementary education in Saskatchewan. I am the vice principal of an elementary school in Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, Canada. The reason that open content is useful to elementary education here in Saskatchewan, is we are implementing new curriculum. It is also important because the education system, and teachers in particular, are constantly trying to do more with less. School budgets are being cut on a regular basis and yet teachers are expected to maintain a high level of proficiency when delivering curriculum. It is also important because it helps level the playing field for students in terms of digital inequalities.
Our new curriculum in Saskatchewan poses some challenges for teachers that open content can address. We are expected to teach using an inquiry based strategy. This is a new strategy for many teachers. Teachers in the twilight of their careers have taught by regurgitating information from the front of the classroom. A steep learning curve lies ahead for these teachers. Open content will allow teachers the ability to find examples of units, lesson plans, and assessments for which they can model. It is a way that teachers can learn from other teachers. The ability to access these resources acts as a form of collaboration or a professional learning community. There is work being done in the North East School Division on their Curriculum Corner where teachers submit units, big ideas, assessments, and lesson plans that teachers are able to access and manipulate to meet their needs.
Schools are required to teach new strategies and plan new units with fewer and fewer resources. It is difficult to teach with a significant lack of relevant resources. Text books and subscriptions to on-line resources are very expensive. These resources may already be available on-line. Open content will allow teachers to be able to create, access, and share information for implementing content in their curriculum. Educators have begun to produce information and share them on-line. Based on the design of the curriculum website, this is also a priority for Education Saskatchewan. There are presently more and more sites becoming available to teachers that allow them to access the resources that they require to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Websites such as Digital Saskatchewan which allow you to use and manipulate images, movies, and sounds that are free to borrow or share. The Learning Resource Exchange for Schools and folksemantic are also wonderful websites for sharing content.
Open content also levels the playing field for our students. They have the ability to access a wealth of information. Many of the curriculums here in Saskatchewan require students to locate sources and evaluate information. These are important life skills for students can use to find pertinent information. Students do not need expensive memberships and are able to have information available to them away from school. Websites such as PBS and Wikipedia are valuable resources. Eszter Hargittai (2003)suggested that there are five components to consider when analyzing digital inequality (p. 10). One of these components, autonomy of use, can be addressed by open content. Students will have the ability to access more resources through open content. Prairie Spirit School Division and Good Spirit School Division have compiled on-line resources that fit the content of many areas of the Saskatchewan Curriculum. These are all valuable sites that allow students to have access to resources that will help them be more proficient in their classrooms. These resources may encourage students to become lifelong learners.
Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafer, S. (2004). From unequal access to differentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality. Social Inequality, 355-400. Retrieved from http://www.eszter.com/research…uality.pdf