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Research Reviews

Open education literacies for K-12 teachers

Posted on 05 Feb 2015 with 0 comments
Digital literacy Educational leadership Innovation Open scholarship Teacher capacity

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The ever-evolving nature of technologies and ubiquitous learning landscape have facilitated a movement towards ‘open education’, a concept encompassing initiatives such as open educational resources, open scholarship, open access publishing and open courses. In other words information and learning resources are shared, available for re-use and readily at one’s figure tips. The challenge facing practitioners is to understand the value of open education, and to effectively integrate open resources in their teaching.

Developing Open Education Literacies with Practicing K-12 Teachers, a paper by Royce M Kimmons, articulates the findings of a study undertaken by researchers at the University of Idaho. The researchers sought to help K-12 teachers develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become effective ‘open educators’. A series of technology and open education summer institutes for K-12 teachers were organised with over 100 participants participating in a 3-day workshop, representing all grade levels and a variety of subject areas. Participants were assigned to a professional learning community (PLC) that was focused on their subject area and/or specific grade level. The focus of this program was on learning about issues related to ‘open education’ such as copyright, creative commons, and creating and mixing their own resources (p. 73- 74).

The study explored five key questions:

  1. Did participants have false confidence or misconceptions related to open education concepts (e.g., copyright)?
  2. Did participant self-assessments of open education knowledge grow as a result of the institute?
  3. Did participant takeaways match initial expectations or change as a result of the institute?
  4. Did time teaching have an effect on participants’ expectations, knowledge, or evaluation metrics?
  5. What specific evaluation items influenced participants’ overall evaluations of the institute? (p.74).

Data and feedback from this study was collected via two online surveys, one conducted before the course and the other immediately after its completion. Analysis of data revealed that participants highly valued the course with 44% of the participants indicating that it was the best professional development experience they had ever experienced (p.80).

Findings and implications of key questions explored

1. False Confidence and Misconceptions
Pre and post survey data yielded significant differences on how participants evaluated their knowledge of open education and concepts such as copyright, fair use and public domain, suggesting that their initial self-assessment might have been based on false confidence or misconceptions (p.81).

2. Knowledge growth
Participants reported knowledge growth as a result of the course in every domain (copyleft, open education, public domain, fair use, copyright and Common Core) (p.82). It’s interesting to note that participants ‘changed their initial ratings of themselves on knowledge of copyright, fair use, public domain, and open education between the pre-survey and the post-survey and rated themselves lower on prior knowledge after having experienced the institute’ (p.85). Through focused activities participants were able to reflect that their knowledge and understanding of open education concepts were not sound.

3. Expectations and takeaways
In relation to expectation and takeaways the author notes that perceived importance of open education and professional learning communities (PLC) increased throughout the course, while importance of technology integration and skills decreased. Further, deducing that in order to achieve open participatory learning environments, teachers need opportunities that allow them to experience collaborations with other teachers in an open manner.

4. Time teaching
Analysis of data did not reveal that time teaching had an impact on participants’ expectations or their evaluations of the experience. As the author states, veteran teachers responded just as positively to the learning activities as did their less experienced counterparts (p.86). It’s also noted that veteran teachers indicated greater perceived knowledge of the concept ‘fair use’ than the novice teachers. Again, the author questions the validity of this knowledge given the fact that training on issues such as copyright and fair use are not commonly provided therefore it may be a case of these teachers developing a false sense of confidence due to use of material.

5. Influences on overall evaluation
The report indicates that facilitated collaborative learning activities with other professional educators were considered the most important in creating a positive open learning experience (p.87). It also mentions that if open education leaders are serious about helping K-12 teachers develop essential literacies to use, create and share open educational resources they need to understand what learning experience they value.

In short this paper provides food for thought for providers of professional development courses to consider a range of learning styles and learning activities to ensure the needs of all their participants are accommodated. Additionally, teachers need training to develop ‘open education’ literacies if they are to effectively participate in the ‘open education’ movement.

Research Report:

Kimmons, R.M. (2014). Developing open education literacies with practicing K-12 teachers. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 15, no. 6. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/download/1964/3178


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