Monday, January 27, 2014

Getting Started with OER

Well, ok, I'm not exactly "getting started" with OER, but I am excited to be getting started with the OER Fellowship. Having worked in alternative high schools and developmental ed for the past almost-20 years, I've learned to plan my classes in a way that accommodates a range of students - including those with limited financial means. That has meant looking for project materials, handouts, and texts that I and my students can get for cheap or free. The growth of online OER materials has been both a blessing and a curse - the number of high-quality, completely free resources is great, but doing the research and sifting through materials is time-consuming.

I currently teach in the Adult Basic Skills department; my classes are noncredit and tuition-free - a great deal, but it also means that students do not have financial aid to help with textbooks and other materials. For the reading class I taught previous terms, students were required to buy a $38 textbook, and for many students even this relatively inexpensive text was a burden. This term, I'm teaching math and I feel that it's really important for students to have a textbook. Students need a reference they can turn to outside of class, and they need problem sets they can do for practice. In addition, they need to develop the skill of reading a textbook because they will be expected to do so in future classes. For math, this is particularly important. Reading a math text requires a different skill set than reading a history, reading, or even science text; with a class text, I can teach students how to use the text.

This leads to my goal for the Fellowship: I plan to create a completely OER Math 4 (algebra) course for ABSE. My plan is to create a course covering basic algebra concepts (number sets and patterns, solving equations, functions, graphing, polynomials) and utilizing OER resources for text, practice exercise (both on paper and online), tutorial videos, and some assessment. I'd like to use a mix of materials developed by others and materials that I create. I already have several OER sources that I use regularly; I hope to find additional resources to add to my resource library.

I anticipate some technological glitches along the way, and I know that student access to Moodle and other online resources varies. I also know that I'll need to build time into my course to teach students how to access and use the materials I'll provide them. I have some concerns about my own time - I often have lofty ambitions for creating or gathering class materials that don't match the reality of my available prep time.

I'm really looking forward to concentrating on this goal this term. Here we go...

No comments:

Post a Comment