Before this week’s reading I was familiar with Open Pedagogy because we discussed this concept in Technology and Learning- specifically Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC). I had never heard of this concept before the Technology and Learning class. I graduated college in 2011 when online education was still fairly new and there were not as many resources as there are today. For my blog post this week, I read “OER: The Future of Education is Open” by Lisa Young, Una Daly, and Jason Stone and “Textbooks, OER, and the Need for Open Pedagogy” by Jesse Stommel. Both argue that there is an ethical and economical component to Open Educational Resources (OER) and that they are ultimately the future of education. Both articles struck a chord in me because I remember feeling very thankful that I was an English major due to the cost of my books compared to other majors like math. I also majored in psychology and would sometimes share those textbooks with my friends so that we did not have to pay the full price. OERs challenge the status quo of our current educational practices and force us to reckon with who has access to higher education, who has the power to disseminate this information, and what the future landscape of education should look like.
Both articles helped me understand what an OER is and how it benefits students, but Stommel’s article helped me view OERs on a deeper level because he states “textbooks are a social justice issue.” I was very privileged in that I did not have to worry about buying a textbook versus eating, but this is a reality for a lot of students. I can’t imagine choosing my major because of the textbook costs, but this article made me realize how that is a very real situation for many students and that it shouldn’t be this way. Some of the statistics really surprised and frankly appalled me, specifically that, “the cost of textbooks has increased over 1000% in the last 40 years (3 times the rate of inflation). Over a shorter frame of 10-20 years we’ve seen other non-academic books actually go down in price while textbook prices have continued to go up.” Couple this with the rise of college costs and the amount of student debt that young people are taking on- it’s quite frankly very frightening. It’s especially a double-edged sword because in our current society, most jobs require a college degree. However, most people have to take on massive amounts of debt to obtain these jobs and the return on investment (ROI) isn’t always beneficial. Stommel also challenged why professors choose textbooks and brings up the question of whether certain classes even need them. This requires some creative thinking and essentially more work for professors, but if they can take the time to get to know their students and think more about whether required texts will actually help students learn, it could help students both financially and intellectually.
In a professional context, our organization could use OERs in multiple ways. I went on MIT’s Open Courseware website and immediately found a potential learning activity. Many of our leaders have been in clinical roles and may not have learned business fundamentals. There are business classes in areas such as accounting, finance, and health care management that could greatly benefit new leaders or employees who need to refresh these skills. There are also classes that could help our leadership team stay current in best practices such as “Business Model Innovation: Global Health in Frontier Markets.” Healthcare is an ever-changing field and classes offered through OER could help leaders think more creatively and learn from the challenges and successes of other organizations.