Discussions about the future of OER often seem to center on issues of promotion and tenure and on finding viable business models for for large-scale projects. While these are certainly issues for which solutions need to be found, our desire to institutionalize and commodify OER must not crowd out consideration of the pedagogical opportunities that OER can provide to graduate programs.
We are in an age in which graduate programs are thinking about alternatives to the dissertation and Digital Humanists are calling for project-based scholarship for graduate students. Work on OER can facilitate this new kind of graduate training, creating a focus for discussions of content as well as curricular design, and providing hands-on experience in issues of CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) for a generation of teachers who will be expected to work increasingly in online and hybrid formats.
Rather than focusing exclusively on single-author articles and monographs, couldn’t graduate students also collaborate on materials for classroom use? Think of the vast array of materials that such an army of graduate students could produce, and the praise it might garner from legislators seeking to lower the cost of higher education. Think about the “knowledge ecosystem” that this small change could help create, and the ripple effects that a cohort so young could have over time. (See Making Collaboration Easier to watch Rich Baraniuk talk more about the knowledge ecosystem.)
What do you think? Could embracing Open Access and technological literacy as integral parts of graduate studies better prepare both the future professoriate and the growing number of alternative academics being produced by our graduate programs?
Jonathan Perkins is the Director of the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center at the University of Kansas. His research interests include Computer Assisted Language Learning, instructional technology and faculty development.