How to think about openness and open resources in education? Am I able to, as a teacher who spends hours preparing the teaching materials, stop screaming “mine!” like a child?
Education is a relationship of sharing. We share our knowledge and experience with students while their share their ideas with us. The exchange of thoughts works only in an open environment that provides room for reflection on the learning process. Thus, education is per se about sharing and openness. However, those of us who are working in academia, know how vulnerable our work is toward the sharing practices — the constant fear of when to share and with whom my research ideas, plans, preliminary results that they will not be stolen. Is this the same case with the educational material that we produce? Or can they be shared to inspire others?
I am now thinking about my learning and growing process as a teacher. Many of the ideas I have implemented in the classroom were inspired by the work of others. And I am still searching for the new ideas, activities and learning materials that I can adapt for my teaching. Education is about sharing, which does not mean to give away. Each student group will react differently to the same material, and each teacher will apply the same activity in a slightly different way. Thus, by sharing our educational practices and materials as teachers, we do not need to worry that we give them away. They are staying we us, we can still use them. However, and what is more important, there are other teachers and learners who can benefit from our work and enjoy the learning process in a novel ways.
In this place, I want to mention a great initiative, supported by the International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA), of open educational resources (OER) in the area of visual literacy — a place where teachers across disciplines and levels of education can find lesson plans and share teaching ideas related to visual literacy. This is a recent initiative, but extremely important, and I think it is the time that I am going to contribute to it as well. You can find more about it here.