Exploring and Evaluating Open Education – MOOCs & OERs

This week we are asked to explore and evaluate open educational resources (OER). As an educator, these freely open and readily accessible educational resources are an excellent method to expand my knowledge and skills to assist me in life and in my teaching practice.

An important concept of OERs is the potential for anyone to have open and free access to the latest information provided by experts in their field representing top universities. In particular, the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlight examples of universities providing courses that help to educate individuals and professionals in regions of the world needing education on such topics as health care and water treatment processes. UNESCO poignantly sums up the importance of open education:

“Free information is a fundamental human right, and OERs make it possible for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about the world around them and access the tools they need to improve their lives and livelihoods.”

Exploring MOOC as an Open Educational Resource

I was intrigued by the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Indigenous Canada from the University of Alberta that my EC&I 831 classmate, Jacqueline Bampi, shared on Twitter. As a citizen of Canada and as more curriculum is becoming indigenized at my school, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, I think this will be an excellent starting point for me to begin learning more about Indigenous perspectives and worldviews.

To enroll for the free course, the University redirects you to Coursera, which I found to be an easily navigated online platform that offers courses taught by instructors and professors from the world’s top universities and educational institutions. Although Indigenous Canada is a credit course offered by the University of Alberta, it is also offered by Coursera free or, for a small fee and upon completion, a course certificate is awarded. This certificate can be shared by the learner on professional networking sites and to potential employers.

The value Western culture places on formal education is well known, so I am unsure of the value prospective employers or other educational institutions would place on a course certificate at present. I am also curious about the language we use when talking about courses completed through OERs and MOOCs? If I were to share that I enrolled in the Indigenous Canada course offered by the University of Alberta, I am sure most would assume it was for credit. I am certain our way in which we express our engagement in university courses will now change to differentiate between a non-credit and credit course.

This week I successfully completed the first week’s lesson in Indigenous Canada and found it informative, engaging, and well designed. This course is mainly taught by video, with interaction via multiple choices questions throughout. These videos are presented by elders from Indigenous communities and scholars in this field, which brings legitimacy to the lessons in my view. As a visual learner, the videos worked well for me. However, for those that prefer text-based information, a full transcript is also provided.

Originally, I didn’t see how I could use any learning materials from this particular course in any courses I teach. However, as I type this, I remember that in Organizational Behaviour we discuss cultural diversity. What better way to showcase Indigenous culture and ways of knowing other than to bring in experts from the University of Alberta through its online course!

Other Online Educational Resources

I searched Khan Academy for resources I could use at the post-secondary level and found economics. After watching a few videos I have to admit I was not as enchanted with them as the Indigenous Canada course or the economics videos posted by YouTuber mjmfoodie, who is Dr. Mary McGlasson, Economics faculty at Chandler-Gilbert Community College near Phoenix, Arizona.  Here is one of her videos:

Contrast her work with a Law of Demand lesson posted on Khan Academy. (posted below). To be honest, as a learner and instructor, I would much prefer watching Dr. McGlasson’s video as it provides a sound and relatable introduction for learners. Khan Academy, on the other hand, is much more technical and the narrator relies on a lecture format.

That is not to say Khan Academy’s version is not valuable. It would be an excellent study aid for students who have a basic understanding of economics and certainly when they are completing assignments. In my view, however, it isn’t an appropriate method to use as an introductory lesson to students. Furthermore, I do not see Dr. McGlasson’s video any less valuable as an educational resource just because it is not hosted on a credible education website.

How OER and MOOCs can be Promoted

This week I have had an opportunity to dive into a pot of gold in terms of additional or alternative educational resources, and perspectives, to bring into my classroom. Now that I know more about MOOCs I am sure to share it with my colleagues in hopes it can enhance their teaching practice. I also see value in suggesting it to be a topic at our one professional development day and at one of our quarterly faculty staff meetings.

I also believe sharing interesting and valuable OERs or MOOCs on social media, as Jacqueline had done, will be an excellent way to promote open education.  It had me looking!

Thanks for stopping by!


2 thoughts on “Exploring and Evaluating Open Education – MOOCs & OERs

  1. Sounds like the MOOC was very successful and sounds very interesting! I have also found the same issues with Khan Academy. Although I rely heavily on it for my own learning, I struggle to want to show the videos to my students because of the lecture format. Why show my students a video of a guy doing an example on the screen, when I could do the same example for them? They tend to zone out and then I need to reteach or answer questions anyways. So I agree that a more visually appealing format would be handy!


  2. To be honest, I never thought of showing Khan Academy to my students even before looking into it as I was told by colleagues it was more for the self-direct student in getting help for homework. However, from last night’s discussion in class, I see that this can be beneficial for a flipped classroom setting. Would you agree?


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