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Motivation for Open Education

January 19, 2009

Motivation in itself is an interesting topic. Why does anyone choose to do anything? The question here is why would one choose to participate in open education. There are a number of ways to think about this. I am approaching this entry in an attempt to answer the following: why would someone choose to contribute their educational materials, items and content he or she has created and/or collected, to the open educational resources movement?

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do find some resistance among faculty to do this – to allow their course materials to be used in a way that might make them available to other instructors to teach the same class. The value in this scenario is placed on the materials, not on the instruction. The instruction however is critically important to the learning process. Who hasn’t been enrolled in that class where the subject matter was interesting, the materials engaging, but the experience overall unsatisfying due to the specific style, techniques, approach, etc. of the instructor? And the other extreme, when the material is not particularly interesting or engaging on its own, but is brought to life somehow by an amazing instructor.

I reviewed the following documents and invite you to take a look as well.

Possible Incentives to Participate in Open Education Initiatives

Participating in something larger than oneself.

  • Life in academia can be, well, isolated. The opportunity to add to a larger collaboration, a larger knowledge base, in intriguing and gets back to basics in a way – focusing on knowledge and learning, not on profitability and credit. Important to note I think that open resources often do credit the author. So this participation doesn’t have to be anonymous.

Actively staying current and connected.

  • Meeting the expectations of today’s tech-savvy students is part of this movement. Creating digital versions of materials that can be easily accessed and shared is an important step toward adding to the open educational resource collective.

  • Wiley (2006, p. 7). includes this great Deming quote: It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Making a change is a choice. One must make a lot of decisions regarding change – how to change, when to change, etc.These decisions exist when moving toward open education.

Engaging in the ultimate collaboration effort.

  • Joining an open education effort is in some way collaboration on a very large scale. Creating formats of your work that can be added to existing collections, databases, etc. means connecting your work to that which has come before and encouraging the expansion of your work to that which will come after.

Showing and telling.

  • We want to tell people about what we are doing, right? We want to show others in our field and out what we are involved in and how important it is. Contributing to open education resources is a way to disseminate work to a greater extent than an article or conference presentation might achieve. The goal is the same though, to inform others with the same or similar missions. Accessing others’ work in this way, in turn we might hope to be informed by what they have done.

Donating to a good cause

  • The UN Commission on Human Rights addresses, although not completely clearly, the right of everyone to education. Adding to open education resources could result in a teacher or school in some other part of the world (remote, impoverished, in conflict) accessing instructional materials not usually available, both in quantity and quality. Availability of such resources may even help students/learners who don’t have access to formal education, but may be able to access open educational materials in some other way.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2009 10:40 am

    I like how your take on this assignment was so different from mine. Listing out the motivations as bullet points is a helpful way to organize them.
    Your opening also got me thinking more about the actual concept of motivation. In the Department of Second Language Studies (University of Hawaii at Manoa), an entire seminar course is offered on motivation and language learning. I haven’t taken the course, but I know enough about the topic to say that the strength of a given motivation (however that can be measured) is important, not just the existence of the motivation. At least, that is the case for learning a second language, and we can imagine that it would also apply here. So we might ask how strong a motivation any of these bullet points are for a person. Which ones have you personally found to be powerful for the instructors that you’ve worked with?

  2. mvenable permalink
    January 19, 2009 11:53 pm

    Thanks for your response, Betsy! I am still learning a lot from the faculty I work with regarding being “open” with course materials. They often come from a perspective different from my own. I think getting credit, in some form or fashion, is important to motivation in this context. Giving credit to everyone involved in a project, especially those who provide content, is a part of the contract my group uses (Subject Matter Expert Memorandum of Agreement) for each course. This documents up front who will be involved in the project and how acknowledgement will be made. I also encourage these faculty members to write about their experiences with a course development project – sort of the “show and tell” incentive I listed. I like your mention of the strength of a particular motivator in this context … could make for interesting research questions.

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