We all carry a certain amount of hope in us. When we don’t see our efforts fulfilling enough, we instil hope that some divine intervention shall assist us to pass through the modern world Bermuda Triangle. The crisis has been in education where things have been caged for a few and there remains a vacuum to be filled.
Education wasn’t invented per se for business. It must not have been a commodity to be sold exclusively for money-making. But the world today has got divided into three worlds. One is the old school that still believes in Education for the Welfare of Mankind. The second is the crowd that has targets to make money out of anything. Like any other thing, organised education has ended up as their ‘side-business or the main occupation that is facilitating good dividends. The third segment is the one that is hanging between the two. In the confusion of serving or surviving, this humongous lot of people who are entering education as Edupreneurs and look ambitious as well as enthusiastic are dwindling between the money-making for survival and establishment of quality education with an acute sense of accountability.
The utopian side of education is that everyone who opens an institution or creates a resource is contributing to the learning of mankind. Every business starts with a strategy. They bring in ‘freebies’ and when they have enough ground to grab clients, they turn into an economic model. This is what happened to Online Learning. The MOOCs that were defined as the way they should have been, are no more accessible in the Open World. There is nothing wrong in making money to survive and sustain but the disaster has been on the part of those who could contribute, being self-sufficient, but have shirked away from their responsibility.
The utopia turns dystopia and by dodging away, millions of ‘knowledge storehouses’ have gone to the wilderness. Being in the silent woods, they are waiting for something that attracts them back. The advancement of technology has given access to contribute to everyone but the hurdle is their ignorance of platforms and projects they can contribute to.
Open Educational Resources (OERs) come here in the picture. With a much-felt need for intervention and collaboration, the global village of Open and Online Learning has found solace in Collaboration and Contribution. The celebration here is of the OERs and the Hope they have instilled into Learning in an age of sheer Business and Profit Making. OER are indeed changing the paradigm of education towards inclusive and comprehensive learning.
We see a website that sells their contents, we see institutions that charge hefty fees and we see individuals who are highly priced as presenters. On the brighter side, we see web-portals that share their contents as OERs, we see organisations and academic institutions across the world establishing their OER Arms, and we also see great scholars and experts bringing their knowledge to the world without any financial gains involved. This education might be making the ‘copyright’ world prone to plagiarism but to secure the future of education, this openness is required.
OER is a better world than the world we live in today. ‘God made the country and man, made the town.’ It is like a village where community service, sense of belonging and contribution, accountability and joy of sharing is leading the masses. There has been a transformation in the way the internet behaves now. On the web, we have a significant amount of ‘OERs’ or Open Source Resources available for usage. These are reliable and widely used. These are developed by trusted people and organisations and their CSR has got a meaning now.
Wikipedia is not just one thing to be known to us. The 21st century’s second decade is leaving us with stand-alone resources and platforms that have moved much beyond the intention to share. We see ‘WIKI’ as a helping hand to education. Massive Open Access to Learning is what the main motto of OERs is. This is the HOPE that is keeping learning alive in this age of closed-doors policymaking.
There is a platform, established in New Zealand, known as (OERF) OERu – the Open Education Resources University. This virtual platform turns real when it signs a Memorandum of Understanding with enthusiastic institutions and brings thousands of resources, curated by globally established experts, to the students and teachers with the ease to use them freely. OERu is one platform that one must visit. OER Commons and the ‘Wiki’ gives us enough space to share our resources with the world. On the OER Commons, we can contribute web pages, modules and our own resources.
There has been a common observation that there is nothing new on the web now and students end up downloading the same contents year after year. We had stepped backwards in contributing but the OER Movement and Global Collaboration have brought back the momentum that can rejuvenate learning. Teachers, who feel that they are, have something beyond the scrutiny of the offices and auditors, where they can contribute. It does not require some policy change or policy support and it is even free from the greed to get Academic Performance Index points.
One does it for oneself. Like, Arts of Art’s Sake and Learning for the Sake of Learning only! However, the dividends make you stand out in the crowd. When I am able to reach you and you seem appreciative of the competence I might be possessing, the credit goes to that 'step ahead towards OERs and Innovative Learning'. The results will be visible in your students and peers who shall be motivated and awakened by you.
It proved the easiest thing for me to join the OER Movement as there are no demands. What I can do and wish to contribute is what I should be doing. The image, article, blog, video, presentation or even a single sentence that one can send to the world, without ‘Any Strings of Copyrights/Money/Restriction Attached’. The impressions of the movement and the scope of learning it carries have given me a significant amount of motivation to stay connected to this journey.
It is important to acknowledge the entry of OERs into mainstream education. Governments, Policies and private organisations (Education and non-education) are coming together to make this new-age Digital Literacy and Learning Renaissance a shared reality. The All-inclusive Goal of education can be accomplished through this holistic 'not-for-profit' collaboration.
Image Src: Wikipedia