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Week 3 Reuse in action

Week 3 Reuse in action

This week you are invited to stay in the loop and:

  • unpack the process of adaptation
  • discuss ownership of reused resources
  • reflect on and share your own practices.

3.1 I teach, therefore I adapt

The following quotes have been taken from conversations with educators discussing whether they create their own resources or reuse what they find online.

‘Free resources allow me to be more creative with my classroom time. I mean, lesson planning wise, if I am strapped for time then I am able to pull up a resource someone else has already made. But I do still like to use my own as well, just so I know that I am the teacher in the room.’ (English teacher)

‘Sometimes when I’m looking online I’ll find something and I’m like “that’s great”, I’ll just kind of use that with my students. But then there’s other times I’ll see something online and I’m like, “that’s an interesting idea, I hadn’t thought about it that way”, and sometimes I’ll take it and modify it so it works better with my students.’ (Math teacher)

‘I see something online and think “that’s pretty good but I know how to do it better” and so I take what I see, modify it and improve it and make it for my students.’ (Math teacher)

‘I had to create a lot of my own stuff because the textbook that we have is … oh my, it’s terrible, it taught things in weird orders and so one of the German teachers and I who were at school sat down and really started with objectives and what we wanted students to know, and then how are we going to divide that up, and then (…) what is a good method, what kind of topics work to explain these concepts, what vocabulary goes with these concepts, so we created our own vocabulary list and so on. I created my own practice for grammar because it’s all intertwined and nothing I have ever found was done the way I wanted it to be done.’ (Language teacher)

‘Okay, sometimes I will take pieces from each module; for example, some modules I can’t really adapt, I can’t take them and change them but what I can do is … let’s say there’s a certain module that would be 85 to 90 minutes for the students to complete and the only piece that I wanted them to get out of it was the second section, so I was saying “Go online to this module and just focus on the second section”.’ (English teacher)

‘I look for free online resources that help me to be a better teacher and so I look at different things. I focus on how we are teaching the children. I’m not looking for free worksheets, so that’s the least of my concerns, I’m looking for activities and projects that promote deeper thinking – you know, just to better my teaching, in general. So I will maybe look and find an instructional video that’s maybe 2 or 3 minutes long that gets to the point better than I could and I use it, or I look for lessons and if they are for Grade 5 or for Grade 3 I don’t use all of it, I just adapt it, I take out what I don’t want and rearrange it.’ (Primary school teacher)

Activity 1

Timing: Allow 30 minutes.

Having read what some other teachers do, now think about your own experiences.

  • Do you normally use a resource as is or do you adapt it?
  • What do you gain from using materials created by others?
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3.2 What do you change?

‘Anything and everything in an open educational resource can be changed as long as the conditions of the open license are met. The modifications or changes you make can be fairly minor or major depending on what you need to do to make the resource work for you. That is the beauty and power of open educational resources. You are in charge of the resource. You have been given permission to change it ahead of time by the original author. Take advantage of it. They want you to.’

The paragraph you have just read was adapted from one of the sections in the Adopting Open Textbooks course created by colleagues at BCcampus, exactly from here. If you were to check the original, you’d realise that the only changes we’ve made were to substitute the words ‘open textbooks’ with ‘open educational resources’. While their course focuses on one type of OER, open textbooks, this course refers to any type of open resources. That’s why we changed it: to make it fit what is being explained here. And it works. Thank you, BCcampus, not only for writing the perfect paragraph but also for releasing the course content under a CC BY-SA licence, so that it could be reused and adapted, as we have done.

Assuming that you adapt the open content you find online, what kind of changes might you want to make? The following list has been reworked from Why remix an Open Educational Resource? written by Liam Green-Hughes under a CC BY licence.

  • Mix OER with your own material to make something richer.
  • Adapt the material to make it more accessible for people with different disabilities.
  • Insert culture-specific references to make a concept easier to understand.
  • Translate it into another language.
  • Correct any errors or inaccuracies.
  • Insert more media or links to other resources.
  • Chop it up into smaller chunks that might be easier to learn from, or could be reused elsewhere.
  • Change the target educational level.
  • Change the format to make it work in different learning environments.
  • Insert a different point of view to that originally given in the material.
  • Adapt it for a different audience.

Activity 2

Timing: Allow 30 minutes

What kind of changes have you made when you adapt a resource to use in class? Take a few moments to think about it.

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3.3 About ownership

In his blog post It’s not reuse, it’s adaptation Martin Weller reflects on the concept of reuse and what adaptation means for different people.

He writes:

‘So why is there this discrepancy between our findings [indicating high levels of adaptation] and the commonly reported dearth of reuse? Maybe it’s semantics? Reuse is perhaps a very OER specific way of putting it, and people aren’t sure if what they’ve done counts as reuse. Or maybe reuse sounds cheap, like stealing, whereas adapting has connotations of improving, taking ownership of, being active.’

Activity 3

Timing: Allow 30 minutes

After reading Martin’s post and reflecting on your own practice, do you think that reusing materials created by others implies losing ownership of your own teaching?

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You can move on to Week 4 Making connections.