What about the teacher? Open educational resources et al

Ferreira, Giselle (2008). What about the teacher? Open educational resources et al. In: EADTU 2008 Conference, 18-19 Sep 2008, Poitiers, France.

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As I began writing this proposal, serendipity struck in the form of two conversations about Open Educational Resources (OERs), one with a colleague in my own institution who has a respectable track record in innovative uses of educational technologies, another with a freelance learning facilitator engaged in full-time voluntary work. 'Without a teacher, learning is difficult and, often, impossible'. 'It took me six months to find my way around something I could have learnt in a week, if I had some stepping stones'. 'Even strongly motivated groups of learners quickly collapse without a teacher'. I was reminded of another colleague's view, of OERs as 'a modern version of a library'. In a world in which marketing and media discourses are strongly represented in widespread ideas such as 'content is free; it's a matter of editorialising', what is the role of such a library? Crucially, is there anything left for the 'teacher' in this scenario?

This paper presents a reflection on those conversations, which form part of my current ethnographic research in the area of engagement with OERs. The initial findings are consistent with previous work that has highlighted the role of contextual elements in shaping a learning resource, suggesting the need to understand the assumptions upon which OERs are built as a sine qua non for meaningful re-use. The discussion suggests that the definition of OERs should be extended to include, put simply, 'the role of the teacher', even if this needs to be reinvented in multiple, perhaps not yet imagined, ways.

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