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Open Courseware: Changing Education FOREVER

Bonk (2009) defines open courseware (OCW), as the “placing of free content on the Intenet for anyone to use. OCW offers free, searchable, and open access to university resources and course content” (p. 163). The open education movement started in 2001 when MIT announced that they were making “most of its courses freely available on the Web” (Bonk, 2009, p. 163).

One of the things that I think is most excting about the Open Education movement is that through the Open Education movement, people from ages 16 and up, are allowed to study and participate in courses that they are ACTUALLY interested in. The Open Education movement, through the use of MOOCs (massive open online courses), give people the ability to access quality material that they might not have had access to due to other circumstances or barriers.

McNally (2012) asserts that open education eliminates the barriers to learning (geographic, financial, and academic) and I cannot agree more.  By allowing open education courses and resources, we are allowing people who might not have the financial freedom to go to school because they have other obligations to begin to pursue their dreams and their goals through these couress.

However, as we say in my household, “Nothing is free in life but a headache.” As beneficial as these courses and resources are to everybody, what happens to the educators and people that create these courses and resources for everyone to see? It also brings up the point with the future vision of education- what will happen to teachers? In an interview, futurist Thomas Frey (2008) stated that “teaching will transition and become more of the iTunes model” (6:32). This is something that personally makes me nervous because as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, my course is being cut and jobs are being eliminated because districts want to spend their money elsewhere. With the Open Education movement, I wonder what would happen to teachers like me. I don’t see Foods being able to be taught online only due to the necessary labs that would have to be conducted. I also wonder in regards to challenges, what would happen if more people utilized MOOCs and the entire education system became obsolete? 

My students are mesmerized by technology and sometimes I find it difficult to connect with them because their focus is not there. In order to engage my students more my learning activity is a menu creation project that incorporates Skype Classroom and a menu creation program on the Internet.

The learning activity is divided into multiple parts. The first part of the activity is the hook or initiation into the activity. Students view the video on YouTube titled, “Open Your Own Restaurant” (The StartUp Path, 2011). This video gives students ideas about what to think about when working on their project and gives the teacher a way to introduce the topic to the students. The second part of the activity is the re-teaching and re-learning about the elements of menu design and what types of considerations need to be kept in mind when starting a restaurant and planning the menu.Prior to using Skype Classroom, students will go on the Internet onto http://www.schedulefly.com/rou/ and view various interviews with restaurant owners who give different insights about what helps when opening a restaurant, whether it be training, duties and/or responsibilities, and how to work your business. While students are viewing the videos, they are required to take notes on important points they might find useful for their project. After individually viewing the videos, students will come together as a whole class to collaborate to create and organize questions that they will like to ask the restaurant owner that they interview on Skype Classroom.Once students have created the questions for the Skype Classroom chat with a restaurant owner, the conversation will be able to be held. During this time, students will ask the restaurant owner the questions they came up with and is ultimately an open conversation between the owner and student, with the teacher as a conversation facilitator only. While the conversation is occurring, students will once again be taking notes, writing down any important points that they might be able to use in their project. Once the conversation is over, the class will come together and discuss what they found interesting about the conversation that they had with the restaurant owner. After the conversation, students will individually begin to plan their restaurant name and menu. The menu will vary depending on the type of restaurant that the student wants to open, however, the student must include prices for their dishes, just like they would if this was a regular restaurant. The entire activity will take place in the classroom and a computer lab. The main items needed for this activity are a computer with Internet capabilities, a webcam to be used for Skype Classroom, and a projector and SMARTboard.

What are your thoughts- do you think Open Education resources could ever be available for a class, like my Foods course, that requires a hands-on lab portion?

 

References

Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.

Frey, T. (2008). Futurist Thomas Frey on future trends in education, jobs, transportation [Video file].

Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWVvLwR5bVA  

McNally, M. (2012). Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open educational resources (OER) have to offer [Video file].

Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2IPOgl0ZE8

Wikipedia. (n.d.) Food Technology. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Food_tech_room_Marling.JPG