In an ever expanding digital ecosystem for learning, Open Educational Resources (OER) have emerged. OER were introduced to higher education in 2001 and have become part of the tertiary learning landscape (Weller, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt & McAndrew, 2015). More recently, the kindergarten to year twelve (K-12) education sector has begun exploring the potential uses of OER. Teacher librarians are educators and information specialists, therefore they have the skills and knowledge to be leaders in the discovery, curation and promotion of OER in their schools (Welz, 2017). This case study aims to explore what teacher librarians, in two different countries, know about OER and how they are supporting teachers to integrate OER into their teaching. The case study is guided by the following research question and sub-questions:
What beliefs do secondary teacher librarians in Australia and the United States of America (USA) have about Open Educational Resources (OER) and what strategies, tools and OER repositories are they using to discover, curate and promote OER to teachers in their schools?
Are secondary school teacher librarians in Australia and the USA aware of OER?
Do teacher librarians share a common understanding of the definition of OER?
What are the barriers and benefits for teachers in using OER?
How is access to OER changing the role of teacher librarian?
How do the strategies, tools and OER repositories used by secondary teacher librarians differ between the two countries?
OER and Teacher Librarians
The researcher is a teacher librarian and acknowledges that her professional experiences may shape her analysis and interpretations. The researcher identified two main objectives of the case study:
To personally gain a greater understanding of OER in the K-12 education sector through the lived experiences of teacher librarians.
To share teacher librarian’s stories of OER with the wider teacher librarian community.
There are several definitions of OER, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) describes OER as any educational resource that is openly available to educators and students without the requirement to pay royalties or licence fees (Butcher, 2015) and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation define OER as
Teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge (Weller, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt & McAndrew, 2015).
OER meet the 5Rs framework whereby users can retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute content (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). The most common framework for open licensing is Creative Commons whereby the author “seeks to retain copyright over that work, but agrees – through the licence – to give away some of those rights” (Butcher, 2015, p. 8). The growth in OER has been facilitated by web 2.0 technologies that make it easy to repurpose and share digital resources (Butcher, 2015). It is clear from both definitions that OER have the potential to transform educational practices.
Teacher librarians are uniquely qualified within schools as both educators and information specialists. Teacher librarians are experts in finding and collecting authoritative resources in print and digital formats to support the curriculum. Teacher librarians have the skills to evaluate information and the tools to curate it for teachers and students, therefore teacher librarians can be leaders in OER and provide professional development for teachers (Welz, 2017).
In the USA the GoOpen initiative was launched in October 2015 to encourage school districts to use openly licensed educational resources to fill resource gaps in the curriculum and as an alternative to expensive textbooks. (Valenza, 2016). There is no such initiative in Australia, however many government education departments and the non-government sector are beginning to license their resources under Creative Commons (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). OER adoption is far from mainstream, it is an evolving area that can be challenging to navigate (Throgmorton, 2017).
A literature review of OER use in K-12 schools and by teacher librarians was conducted using the Charles Sturt University Library, Google Scholar and internet search engines. Scholarly articles were scarce for the K-12 education sector and literature featuring the Australian context were rare, indicating a void in the literature. A recent United States Department of Education campaign called GoOpen (to encourage the use of OER) was noted in the literature and served as the impetus for further reading, and the curation of useful resources using the curation tool Pearltrees . A case study timeline was proposed and used to manage the case study process.
After the literature review, a research question was proposed and went through a collaborative peer review process using the collaborative tools Flipgrid and Voicethread. Feedback on the viability of the research question and the data collection methodology was provided. The research question was refined several times after feedback, and the data collection process was altered.
Data Collection and Metrics
An exploration of what teacher librarians in Australia and the USA are doing today in their schools with OER was of interest. Consequently, a descriptive case study was chosen because it can describe a phenomenon in a real-life situation (Yin, 2014). To gain an understanding of the phenomenon, a qualitative research methodology using multiple sources of data (Baxter & Jack, 2008) was identified as the most appropriate way to explore the research questions. Two data sources were chosen, short semi structured interviews with six teacher librarians as shown in Table 1 and document analysis of six LibGuides (digital library content management system) as shown in Table 2. It was thought that short structured interviews would allow the teacher librarians, three in Australia and three in the USA, to tell their story and the analysis of online documents (LibGuides) would show what is currently happening in the digital space of three school libraries in Australia and three school libraries in the USA.
Experience in school libraries (years)
Table 1 Interview subjects
A High School
B High School
C High School
D High School
E High School
F High School
Table 2 LibGuides documents
Fourteen structured interview questions were developed to address the research questions and fit into a thirty minute time frame. Voicethread and Twitter were used to obtain peer feedback on the interview questions and this resulted in some minor changes being made. A spreadsheet titled LibGuides Document Analysis Checklist was created for the document analysis of six school library LibGuides.
The researcher approached members of her personal learning network (PLN) using email and Twitter and asked for their participation. Recruiting three Australian teacher librarians was an easy task but it was more challenging finding three teacher librarians from the USA. A connection from the USA, made during an online global collaboration with between Charles Sturt University (Australia) and Rutgers University (USA), recommended two potential subjects from her PLN. Twitter was also used as a recruitment tool but proved to be unhelpful despite the use of relevant hashtags and handles of influential people in the school library community. The third interview subject was approached via an email address listed on a blog post.
Interviews were scheduled to occur within one week from September 11 to September 17. Two interviews were conducted in person, three using Google Hangouts and one using email. The email interview was a compromise after a last minute interview cancellation from the USA. Audio of all interviews were recorded using the voice memos application on the iPhone. The length of interviews ranged between twenty five and forty minutes and provided sufficient data for analysis. The interviews were transcribed into a Word document and uploaded to NVivo (software for qualitative research). A code map (See Appendix F) was created and the documents were coded according to the code map words.
Six LibGuides were selected randomly from the openly accessible LibGuides Community for analysis, three from Australia and three from the USA. The LibGuides Document Analysis Checklist was used to record evidence of OER.
Teacher Librarians Beliefs of OER: understanding, attitude and role of the teacher librarian
It appears from the six teacher librarians interviewed and the document analysis conducted that teacher librarians have been aware of OER for some time, however only more recently has the term OER become part of their vocabulary. All teacher librarians shared a similar understanding of the definition of OER as educational resources that are free and available online, as summarised in Table 3. This understanding mirrors the UNESCO definition of OER mentioned earlier (Butcher, 2015). Of the six LibGuides examined, the term open educational resources or OER was absent. OER resources found were referred to as free educational resources or as Creative Commons resources. The link OER has with Creative Commons licensing and less stringent copyright restrictions indicated that in this case, teacher librarians are able to distinguish openly licensed works from the “broader swathe of content on the web” (White & Manton, 2011, p. 4). This link was also mentioned by Steven when he described OER as a “silo of open resources that educators can use freely and can remix and reuse for whatever they need for their class” (personal communication, September 15, 2017) and Caroline said that OER “does not have copyright issues attached to it, it has the share-alike element of Creative Commons” (personal communication, September 11, 2017). Although the OER movement began in 2001, it is still in its infancy compared to other educational movements (Weller, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt & McAndrew, 2015) and therefore the terminology may not be well known.
Aware of OER term (years)
Keywords used to define OER
Attitude towards OER
Educational, Creative Commons, share
Free educational resources
Free online resources
Free open resources for reuse and/or remix
Free online educational resources created by teachers
Table 3 Interviewees’ awareness of OER terminology and attitude towards OER
The teacher librarians’ attitudes towards OER were overwhelmingly positive but some did express reservations. For a summary see Table 3. Michelle said “I think it is a case-by-case scenario” (personal communication, September 13, 2017) and Max said “I am weighing up what is commercially provided and what in a sense is free and freely available” (personal communication, September 12, 2017). The ability to share educational resources “by teachers for teachers” (Kelly, personal communication, September 16, 2017) was important to Steven, Caroline and Kelly. Overall, the interviewees felt that, when chosen wisely, OER added valuable digital content to the curriculum that can be “interactive, current, dynamic and relevant” (Kompar, 2016, p. 58). The adoption of digital learning environments in schools is the “perfect storm of change” (Johnson, 2014) and could make OER a more attractive option for the course needs of teachers than traditional resources such as textbooks.
Teacher librarians have a great deal of experience finding and collecting print and digital resources (Welz, 2017). Teacher librarians are educators and information specialists, so they possess the skills to evaluate information, curate it and present it in a meaningful way for teachers and students (Throgmorton, 2017). It is not surprising that when the following question was posed, what is the teacher librarian’s role in OER and why?, that the interviewees spoke of the aforementioned qualities and skills of teacher librarians. Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017), Michelle (personal communication, September 13, 2017) and Caroline (personal communication, September 11, 2017) all stressed that teacher librarians are information specialists who understand the curriculum and can therefore support teachers who may be time poor by finding and evaluating relevant OER. Kelly believes teacher librarians should be “at the forefront of openness and advocate for OER” (personal communication, September 16, 2017) by hosting professional development to raise awareness of OER. Her opinion is shared by academic, Joyce Valenza who has called upon teacher librarians to be ready to take up a curation mandate for OER as it gains momentum from the GoOpen campaign (Valenza, 2016). Similarly, Caroline said teacher librarians are experts in copyright and should be advocating for ethical use of intellectual property. OER provides an avenue for having “tough conversations with teachers about open licensing and copyright infractions” (Throgmorton, 2017). Research by White & Manton (2011) has indicated that professional development can promote the values of sharing, reuse and intellectual property by showing teachers the benefits of OER rather than coercing them to use them. Also related to the teacher librarian’s role are the strategies they employ to curate and promote OER and these will be discussed later in this report.
Challenges of OER: Barriers and benefits
Teacher librarians from both countries identified time constraints as the most significant barrier for the adoption of OER by teachers. Teachers have many demands on their time and to learn about OER requires a substantial time investment, at least initially. Traditional resources such as textbooks are seen as an easier option because they have already been through a review process, whereas OER need to be evaluated individually by teachers (Steven, personal communication, September 15, 2017). Another barrier commonly mentioned by interviewees from both countries was lack of awareness of OER by teachers (Tanya, personal communication, September 20, 2017). Caroline was concerned that many teachers are using resources unethically because they do not understand the licensing conditions of copyright and Creative Commons (personal communication, September 11, 2017). Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017) thought that teachers with limited information and communication technology (ICT) skills might be overwhelmed by the vast number of resources available and hindered by less than user friendly search interfaces. Max’s concern is validated by research conducted by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) that found the “main barriers to the mainstreaming of OER [is] user’s capacity to access, reuse and share OER” (2017, p. 8) and by Thompson (2016) who states that user experience design of OER platforms needs improvement so that teachers and students can find content easily. Steven says a way of overcoming these barriers is for teacher librarians to “go out and advertise the services we can offer…with our flexible schedules [we] could be part of the solution” (personal communication, September 15, 2017). Collaboration with the classroom teacher, embedding OER into lessons and leading by example are methods Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017) and Caroline (personal communication, September 11, 2017) use to raise the profile of all library resources, including OER, to their teachers.
The teacher librarians identified three benefits OER could have for teachers. Firstly, OER provide an alternative to using textbooks that can date quickly and are often expensive. Secondly, the flexibility of open licensing allows teachers (and students) to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain content using the 5Rs Framework (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). Thirdly, the teacher librarians from the USA noted that many OER are created by teachers and are aligned with curriculum standards so they are ready for immediate use. These benefits, coupled with a digital learning environment or learning management system, provide teachers with a myriad of options for delivering digital content and for designing courses if they have the necessary ICT skills (Kompar, 2016) and support.
Strategies Employed by Teacher Librarians: OER discovery, curation, promotion and repositories
Connected educators cultivate personal learning networks by forging relationships with the people they interact with through Twitter and other social media. A PLN can offer support and advice when required (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). The most popular tool for discovering OER in this case study was Twitter, closely followed by blogs. Michelle commented that personal recommendations by members of her PLN were highly valued because she was aware of their reputation and trusted their judgment (personal communication, September 13, 2017). Tanya follows educators through Twitter and blogs and looks to her PLN for recommendations and advice when searching for OER (personal communication, September 20, 2017). The JISC-funded OER Impact Study (2011) also found that peer networks and offline recommendations were important and suggests that educators with a social model of knowledge (such as those interviewed for this case study) may be more comfortable sharing and reusing OER. Kelly (personal communication, September 16, 2017) and Max (personal communication, September 12, 2017) also suggested that reading scholarly articles was a good way to discover and learn more about OER, while Steven found it easier to go directly to the repository OER Commons as a “one-stop-shop” (personal communication, September 15, 2017).
According to Joyce Valenza teacher librarians have always “been around to tame the information flow, to facilitate discovery and knowledge building” therefore “digital curation is a translation and amplification of our traditional practice” (2017, para. 11). The teacher librarians in this case study use a variety of curation strategies to organise, annotate and present carefully selected resources to their teachers and students (Kanter, 2011). LibGuides and the library website were favoured as curation platforms and the place to house custom built research guides, also known as hyperdocs, for particular topics or courses. Learning management systems such as Google Classroom and OneNote were also utilised to share resources with faculty (Michelle, personal communication, September 13, 2017) and “to go where the kids are” (Steven, personal communication, September 15, 2017).
Regardless of their country of origin, the teacher librarians in this case believed talking to individual teachers directly was the best approach for promoting OER so that specific curriculum needs could targeted using a blend of OER and commercial resources. Speaking at faculty meetings and conducting professional development were other strategies preferred by the interviewees. Evidence from the JISC-funded OER Impact Study also suggests that “staff development activities provide an effective avenue to promote the value of sharing and reuse” (White & Manton, 2011, p. 27). Caroline also highlighted that it was important that teacher librarians are OER role models and “do it and create content by example” (personal communication, September 11, 2017).
Research by the Commonwealth of Learning (2017) found that there was a low awareness of OER repositories amongst stakeholders. The teacher librarians and the LibGuides analysed in this case indicate that teacher librarians are more aware of OER repositories than those stakeholders. The number of repositories named by the interviewees and listed on LibGuides did however vary between individuals. F High School explained Creative Commons but did not provide curated lists of OER, whereas all the other schools did. Common repositories were used in both countries, alongside more locally specific ones. Repositories that were not strictly OER and contained licensed or copyrighted material also featured and emphasised the need for careful curation by teacher librarians. Table 4 lists all repositories mentioned by interviewees and featured on LibGuides.
Country of interviewee or LibGuide
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
(provided for personal, non-commercial use but retains copyright)
Please note: Image or Audio repositories are indicated by an asterisk *
Table 4 Repositories mentioned by interviewees and LibGuides
Conclusion and Recommendations
Openly licensed OER give teachers a flexible alternative to many commercial resources and the potential for personalised learning in a blended learning environment (Butcher, 2015). OER complement existing print and digital resources but can be difficult to find and must be carefully evaluated. OER is an emerging global phenomenon in K-12 education and of interest to connected teacher librarians who are writing blogs, conducting webinars and writing articles to encourage other teacher librarians to embrace OER and become leaders within their schools (Valenza, 2016). The teacher librarians in this case are connected educators who do not yet consider themselves OER experts, but are willing to learn more about OER and confront the challenges of what can be a confusing information landscape for teachers and students. OER provides opportunities for teacher librarians all over the world to redefine their role and be the OER experts in their school. “We need to advertise and talk it up and we have to be willing to go where the teachers are” (Steven, personal communication, September 15, 2017). This case study recommends that teacher librarians take the lead and play a vital role in advocating for the adoption of OER by collaborating one-on-one with teachers, conducting professional development and by curating high-quality content that meets the diverse needs of their school communities.
Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study Design and Implementation for Novice Researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544-559. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol13/iss4/2
Three years ago in my first blog post for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age (INF530) I wrote that I was “nervous but extremely excited to get my masters started” (Malbon, 2015, para 1). The nerves never really went away, but with each subject I gained more knowledge and my confidence as a modern learner and digital scholar increased.
For the remainder of this post I will reflect on the above three attributes of a modern learner in the context of being a student of INF537.
The final assessment for INF537, a case study with a topic of my own choosing, is the culmination of my learning over the last three years. Case study research is an iterative process and drew on the design thinking skills I developed in Designing Spaces for Learning (INF536). The topic of my case study, Open Educational Resources (OER), was inspired by the reading I did for my Digital Scholarship Interpretive Discussion Paper . Through research I wanted to learn more about the potential OER could have for the kindergarten to year 12 (K-12) education sector that I work in. My case study showed that as a teacher librarian I can play a pivotal leadership role in advocating for OER use and can assist teachers to use them.
Social (i.e. connected)
Prior to starting this course I was already dipping my toes into being a social learner by using social media and cultivating a PLN. Early in INF530 I was introduced to Connected Learning and the idea that knowledge and expertise can be derived from various avenues and through supportive networks (Ito et.al., 2013). During Knowledge Networking for Educators (INF532) I reached out to my PLN via Twitter and connected with experts on digital curation and was thrilled when they not only helped me but shared my digital artefact with their own networks.
I was very fortunate this session to be involved in an online global collaboration with Rutgers University in the United States of America (USA). Julie Lindsay facilitated asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for us to connect. This collaboration gave me the opportunity to use Flipgrid for the first time to share my thoughts on being a connected educator. I was able to connect with a library hero of mine from the USA, Joyce Valenza. I look forward to participating in more global connections for informal learning and hopefully in the school library too.
With my case study I asked for help and feedback, and reciprocated when classmates reached out. I have developed a “feedback toolkit” of Flipgrid, Voicethread, GoogleDocs and Twitter that will be useful in my workplace and for lifelong learning.
During this course I have strived to go beyond the required reading and participate in discussion forums, online forums and the unofficial backchannel, Twitter. I have used countless videos sourced from YouTube, Ted and PLN recommendations to help me understand difficult concepts. Using a blend of open resources and Charles Sturt University Library pay-wall resources, I have taken initiative for my learning and taught myself how to use many different web 2.0 tools along the way. I am a digital scholar who uses participatory network technologies in my daily life for entertainment and to learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). As a teacher librarian I want to model these skills and help educate colleagues and students to become digital scholars.
As I said in my first INF537 blog post , I appreciate that throughout this course I have been given numerous opportunities to pursue my own interests and encouraged by my academic mentors to be a digital, open and networked scholar” (Weller, 2011). My masters may be over but the knowledge and skills I have gained will be applied now and into the future.
Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Retrieved from http://clrn.dmlhub.net/
We are living in a world of abundant information that flows through global and social networks with relative ease and low cost to individuals. Gone are the pre-digital days where information was scarce and difficult to access (Weller, 2011). Increasingly people are using social networks and participatory internet technologies in their everyday lives for entertainment, to connect with others and to learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Digital technologies, web 2.0 tools and dynamic networks have the potential to alter the scholarly practices of academics and teachers. It is argued that “the foundation of academic life – the scholarship on which everything is built – remains surprisingly unaltered” (Ayers, 2013 p. 27), however there are signs that “scholarship is opening, and with that openness comes new ways of working” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 2). Digital scholarship is an emergent concept, where the scholar employs digital, networked and open approaches to their work (Weller, 2011). The cultural change from traditional scholarship to digital scholarship is not without tensions and barriers that include, but are not limited to, the legacy model of publishing, entrenched institutional policies, and the traditional epistemologies of academics and teachers who lack network literacy.
Scholarship and Digital Scholarship
According to Boyer, scholarship is the generating and acquiring of knowledge through research or teaching and involves four functions: discovery, integration, application and teaching (Veletsianos, 2012b). Unsworth describes the basic functions of scholarship as discovering, annotating, comparing, referring, sampling, illustrating and representing (Weller, 2011). These activities can be carried out in a traditional analogue manner or enacted using digital tools and workflows. Contemporary scholars are using technology, to varying degrees, to undertake the scholarship activities that Boyer describes. It is important to note that the mere use of digital technologies does not equate to being a digital scholar, a commitment to social practices of openness and connectedness is required (Goodfellow & Lea, 2013). Scholarship practices are not confined to higher education, many secondary school teachers are connected educators (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012) that engage in the activities described by Boyer (Greenhow, 2009). The cultivation of a scholarly life online is an empowering choice that some academics and teachers are making (Greenhow, Robelia & Hughes, 2009) but the entrenched norms and policies of academia (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010) can make it difficult. The concept of digital scholarship is relatively new and “the contemporary academy is buffeted by two contemporary tendencies: commercialization and democratization” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 8).
“Abundance and openness are the context of contemporary scholarship, and Boyer’s typology is the guiding principle for how we think about impact” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 121). Boyer’s functions of integration, application and teaching are impacted by the key trends of open publishing, open educational resources and open scholarship. Digitisation and the production of digital manuscripts facilitate open publication (integration), public engagement and open scholarship is enabled by social networks (application), and open educational resources and open approaches have the potential to change teaching (Scanlon, 2014). Katz also asserts that openness “presses in a strong and positive way on all of the scholarships named by Boyer” (Katz, 2010). It is “argued that open practices contribute to more equitable, effective, efficient, and transparent scholarly and educational processes” (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, p. 167). However the debate over open scholarship “bears the certainty of messy understandings” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, p. 75) and tensions between past practices and emerging open practices (Lupton, Mewburn & Thomson, 2018).
Integration and Open Access Publishing
Alternatives to the traditional academic publishing model are now possible, firstly with the digitisation and amplification of print journals and secondly with the development of open access publishing. The traditional model of twentieth century scholarly publishing is still firmly entrenched (Weller, 2011). While the business models of newspapers and music have been disrupted in the last decade, no such revolution has occurred in higher education publishing (Weller, 2011). Academic publishing is big business and relies on academics providing free labour (research, writing and peer review) and relinquishing copyright in exchange for publication. Scholarly publishing began in the twentieth century when information was printed, scarce and restricted to the academy (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016). A small number of scholarly publishing companies now dominate the print and digital market and make big profits (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016). Commercialisation of knowledge is one way of re-establishing scarcity and exclusivity (Weller, 2011) in an age of abundant information sources.
The scholarly publishing business model has survived because of the following factors: scholars have been acculturated into it, the journals are considered high quality, a scholar’s publication record is tied to tenure and promotion, dissemination is ensured and curation occurs through libraries (Weller, 2011). Traditional publishing outputs are valued more highly by institutions and a cultural shift is required so that additional digital scholarly outputs are recognised for recruitment and promotion purposes (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010).
Increasingly, secondary schools are demanding that teachers engage in professional learning that involves research and the gathering of evidence to substantiate practice but “paywalls make it almost impossible to engage with scholarly writing” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 84). With printed journals, secondary school teachers could visit academic libraries to do research, however licensing restrictions are placed on digital journal databases that prevent anyone outside of the institution accessing them. The current publishing model does not encourage lifelong learning, with secondary school teachers, university graduates and any other independent learners locked out of accessing scholarly literature (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016). The control over scholarly information and knowledge by universities is being challenged by the digital age (Katz, 2010). Open access literature is freely available on the public internet, free of most copyright and licensing restrictions and provides an alternative source of scholarly literature for academics, secondary school teachers and the general public (Weller, 2011). While access is free to readers, ‘author pays’ models exist for some open access journals, which are less than ideal, but due to economic factors in this time of transition to openness (Weller, 2011).
A number of issues are placing pressure on the traditional publishing model. Digital technologies provide lower barriers to the publishing and distribution of scholarly literature, whereas traditional publishing is a very slow process. Publishers make substantial profits from the voluntary labour of academics and then sell the material back to them via their academic libraries. Despite efficiencies gained from technology, subscription costs have increased and titles are bundled together leading to costly duplication and budgetary concerns for libraries. The sum of the aforementioned issues is known as the journals crisis (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010). Also being questioned is peer review, a long-standing quality control mechanism. Other networked-enabled avenues for assessing quality, such as post publication review, are being tested but scholars must be prepared to challenge the status quo for them to gain momentum (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b). Early adopters of digital scholarship, who are often self-taught (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016), are challenging publishing conventions and “sharing their work more freely through online avenues” (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, p. 169). Evidence from numerous studies indicates that open access journals receive greater readership and more citations (Weller, 2011). Research bodies are changing their policies and “have set out mandates relating to open access” (Weller, 2011, p. 146). Governments who fund universities from taxpayers are also calling for greater transparency and access to knowledge created by academia (Veletsianos, 2015). “OA [open access] demands a collective and inventive redefinition of the ecology of scholarly publishing” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 69).
Application and Social Networks
The internet and information communication technologies have provided scholars with the ability to engage in local and global networks to extend their communities outside of the institution (Katz, 2010). Tools such as blogs, wikis, social networks, social tagging sites and content-sharing sites are part of the ecosystem of participatory learning (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b). By leveraging social networks and social tools for scholarship purposes, academics are finding “new ways of engaging with publics beyond the walled-in academy (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 8).
Informal publishing does not have the lag time of formal publication and because it is open, access is democratised (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b). For digital scholars, blogs “function as a way of disseminating content, expressing opinions, keeping up-to-date and remembering, writing, interacting and creating relationships” (Kjellberg, 2010, para. 54). Informal publishing can also be achieved using social bookmarking tools. Educators (secondary or tertiary) can provide carefully curated multimedia resources to their students whilst also establishing an online identity and modelling digital scholarship practices to their students (Greenhow, 2009). These tools are also social and encourage interaction and collaboration; something that traditional publishing cannot do easily (Wesch, 2014). Therefore, social scholarship is the connection of formal scholarly practices with informal web 2.0 tools to share, collaborate and converse (Greenhow, 2009).
Scholars and educators have appropriated social network tools such as Twitter and Facebook to build personal learning networks and communities of practice. Academics and secondary teachers can participate in conferences remotely through Twitter feeds, Slideshare presentations and recorded sessions on YouTube. Skype and Google Hangouts allow for low cost communication and global connections over vast distances. YouTube and Flickr provide academics and educators with content, as well as the capacity to create their own content freely. Fast and cheap technologies that are outside of the university or secondary school’s control are increasingly being utilised in education and research because they are flexible and personal (Weller, 2011).
The transition from traditional scholarship to digital scholarship requires new skills, competencies and a willingness by scholars to engage in new practices. Depending on the individual, learning new digital skills can be either exciting or intimidating. Even academics that have always known the internet do not necessarily know how to use it for scholarly activities. Many early adopters of digital scholarship practices have been self-taught and have been willing to experiment. Some institutions provide workshops but for many scholars and teachers but formal training opportunities can be difficult to find (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016) thus a participation gap exists with some scholars and teachers able to navigate networked spaces and others without the required literacies to do so (Veletsianos & Kimmons. 2012b).
Teaching and Open Educational Resources
“It is arguably in Boyer’s fourth function, that of teaching that we see the biggest impact of digital technologies and open approaches” (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010, p. 40). Openness in teaching is being facilitated by open educational resources that rely on authors and creators (who may be digital scholars) being generous and sharing their intellectual property (Wiley, 2010). Open educational resources are free and use licenses (usually Creative Commons) that allow users to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute while also acknowledging the intellectual property of the creator (Wiley, 2010) or are in the public domain and free of copyright restrictions (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b).
In 2001 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open CourseWare (MIT OCW) initiative made course materials available online and from this the open educational resources movement grew (Weller, 2011). Open educational resources are diverse and include curriculum, courses, textbooks, videos, podcasts, multimedia and any other materials designed for teaching and learning. Open educational resources reside in dedicated repositories and on the open web (Butcher, 2015). Higher education, K-12 education, cultural institutions, public broadcasters, not-for-profit organisations and individuals contribute to a growing pool of digital open educational resources. The quality of educational learning resources can vary. Weller (2011) categorises open educational resources (OER) as big and little OERs. Big OERs are created by institutions with a teaching aim for a project or course, located using a portal and of high quality. Little OERs are low cost resources created by individuals that may or may not have educational intent and are hosted on various web 2.0 platforms, thus little OERs require more time and effort to both find and assess for educational quality (Weller, 2011).
The lecture hall or classroom is just one node of learning available to students in a participatory network age. Lecturers and teachers are not the only source of knowledge for today’s students (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010). Academic content is available in different modalities freely and openly online. While universities and schools currently hold social capital and the prestige of degrees and certificates, they are being challenged by informal digital, networked and open approaches to learning (Weller, 2011). Will this challenge lead to significant pedagogical change or minimal adjustments in teaching practice?
Technology alone will not transform scholarship, “the ideal of openness is intrinsic to digital scholarship” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 8). Current and emerging information communication technologies and network effects enable academics and teachers to use “a bricolage of digital practices” for scholarly purposes (Daniels & Thistlewaite, p. 132). However, entrenched institutional policies can make the transition from traditional scholar to digital or open scholar difficult. “Paradigmatic shifts in the ways that we think about education, knowledge, learning, teaching, and research” (Veletsianos, 2012b, p. 181) are required so that the best elements of openness can be realised in an ecology of abundance.
Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age. Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259. doi:10.3102/0013189X09336671
Goodfellow, R., & Lea, M. R. (2013). Literacy in the Digital University : Critical perspectives on learning, scholarship and technology. Florence: Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1461123
Lupton, D., Mewburn, I., & Thompson, P. (2018). The digital academic: Critical perspectives on digital technologies in higher education. [Kindle version]. New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com.au
Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter Hall, L. (2011). Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (1). Bloomington, US: Solution Tree Press.
Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012a). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766-774. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001
Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012b). Assumptions and challenges of open scholarship. 2012, 13(4), 24. doi:10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1313
Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar. [Kindle version]. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com.au
According to Boyer, scholarship is the generating and acquiring of knowledge through research or teaching and involves four functions: discovery, integration, application and teaching (Veletsianos, 2012). Unsworth describes the basic functions of scholarship as discovering, annotating, comparing, referring, sampling, illustrating and representing (Weller, 2011). These activities can be carried out in a traditional analogue manner or enacted using digital tools and workflows. Contemporary scholars are using technology, to varying degrees, to undertake the scholarship activities that Boyer describes.
When I included this paragraph in my digital scholarship interpretive discussion paper it prompted me to reflect on my own digital practices. How have I enacted these functions in my own scholarly activities at CSU over the past three years?
Produced a learning module (collaboratively) for teacher professional development
utilised a variety of open resources developed by other educators
My studies at CSU have contributed greatly to me being an open, digital and networked scholar (Weller, 2011). Before my studies, as a teacher librarian, I was already sharing openly online (mainly in the area of curation) and had begun to develop a personal learning network (PLN) but I have been exposed to so many more possibilities in the last three years.
Is your experience similar or different to mine? What tools would be in your digital scholarship toolkit?
What search methods, tools and repositories are teacher librarians in Australia and the United States of America using to discover Open Educational Resources (OER) and how are they curating and promoting OER to teachers in senior secondary schools? Do the strategies employed by teacher librarians differ between countries?
Description of the project
Open educational resources (OER) were first embraced by higher education institutions at the start of the 21st century (Kompar, 2016) and have been used in many secondary schools over the last decade. School librarians are experienced at identifying quality resources and are perfectly placed to be leaders in the discovery, curation and promotion of OER. With the introduction of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the United States, OER has become a key initiative for resourcing the curriculum (Welz, 2017) but I do not believe this is the case in Australia.
Expected outcomes of the project
Provide teacher librarians, that may or may not have experience with OER, insight into how other school librarians are managing the evolving area OER. It is expected that a range of strategies, tools and repositories will be identified and described. The use of OER in Australian and American school libraries will be explored and any differences in adoption of OER will be explained. The project hopes to encourage teacher librarians to be leaders in supporting OER and Creative Commons initiatives in their schools (Welz, 2017).
Case study plan
Literature review – Week 5 and 6 Conduct a literature search to learn more about the history and current use of OER in higher education and secondary education. Look for recent and current examples of strategies, tools and repositories being used by teacher librarians in secondary schools. Gather documents such as library websites, Libguides and curation tools to examine.
Prepare interviews – Week 7 Formulate questions and prompts that will generate conversation about OER with interviewer and interviewee.
Recruit participants – Week 7
Recruit six teacher librarians/school librarians (three from Australia and three from the United States) from my professional learning network to interview. Arrange a mutually convenient time to conduct interviews in person or using Google Hangout or Skype.
Conduct interviews – Week 9 and 10 Record or use screen capture to capture interview for transcription purposes.
Write – Week 11, 12 and 13 Integrate data from documents and interviews and write-up case study.
During colloquium two with Mike Hourahine of Think Global School, the following question was posed, what is the purpose of education? Mike refined the question further and commented that the purpose of required secondary education is essentially to prepare students for university, whether they are suited to it or not. This comment resonated with me because I have been contemplating what school could be like without the constraint of assessment for tertiary admission. Mike believes it is important that students learn how to learn, learn about themselves and be able to collaborate, and Think Global School attempts to do this by building changemakers.
I had not encountered the term changemakers in K-12 education so I went looking for examples other than Think Global School and found the Ashoka Changemaker Schools website. Like Think Global School, they want students to thrive in a modern world and find solutions to complex problems. According to the information on the Ashoka Changemaker Schools website (n.d.), a changemaker is:
an active contributor
wants to make a positive change in their community
actively solves problems
They also identified the skills required to be a changemaker:
I could not find any evidence of schools in Australia promoting themselves as changemaker schools. However, I do think some schools attempt aspects of a changemaker curriculum using project-based learning or through extra-curricular programmes. I have come across students who are aspiring changemakers within our social justice programme, however this is an extra-curricular activity and not part of the curriculum.
Changemaker schools are re-imagining education despite the challenges. This video explains more about the movement and the challenges they have faced.
I am sharing this subject with some familiar people who I have interacted with in online meetings, forums and Twitter, and collaborated with using wikis, shared documents and Google hangouts. I have enjoyed the participatory aspects of my studies immensely and have learned so much from my peers as well as the subject coordinators. Feeling isolated is a common complaint about online learning but I believe my decision to make myself visible, contribute in the forums and reflect openly on my blog and Twitter has mitigated this feeling, and instead I have felt connected to people who I have never even met in real life. Does this make me a modern learner?
The first guest colloquium with Bruce Dixon founder of Anywhere, Anytime Learning Foundation and Modern Learners discussed what it is to be a modern learner today and whether schools are meeting the needs of modern learners. Along with Will Richardson he has produced a white paper 10 principles for schools of modern learning to help school leaders reimagine, redefine and transform student learning in schools. The general consensus amongst participants was that the current Australian school system and some international systems are too dependent on testing and assessment to truly meet the needs of modern learners. Bruce advocates change in the current model of schooling so that schools can develop students who are “deep, powerful, curious, agile learners” (Richardson & Dixon, 2017). In the colloquium he elaborated that modern learners are inquiry-based, social learners (connected) and self-directed. I think that according to the aforementioned quote, I possess the attributes of a modern learner. During the colloquium Bruce suggested that we learn best when learning is relevant to our context and and I have appreciated that I have been given agency to direct some of my own learning experiences during this course.
I am excited that I have been given an optional extra opportunity (along with INF532) to connect with a class at Rutgers University in the USA. Although this commitment places additional demands on my time, I believe this online global interaction will be very worthwhile. It will put network learning into practice for me, expose me to new tools, ideas and people.
Google Hangout for CSU/Rutgers University Online Global Interaction
The depth of discussion that has already taken place in the INF537 forums and during the colloquium has been a bit overwhelming but I am doing my best to keep up and contribute. The subject I did last session was not as interactive and participatory so I am grateful that this cohort of modern learners is so giving and dynamic because discussion really helps my understanding.