As we have seen above, the diversification of approaches to teacher education and development coupled with the speed of change in digital technology suggests that OERs focused on digital literacies have considerable potential for contributing to provision. The findings of the DeFT project also indicate the need to acknowledge issues related to open practices within the teacher education curriculum. OERs, we suggest, could be particularly useful to support the professional development of trainees and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs). In some quarters there may be a need for some work to dispel misconceptions and to demonstrate how resources can be shared to maximise the benefit to both creators and users. For example, by releasing teaching resources into a well-respected educational repository, teachers and trainee teachers could receive professional recognition from a wider community of practice and useful feedback which could in turn improve their practice. By licensing these materials with an appropriate Creative Commons license, they would remain in control of how the resources are (re-)used and re-purposed; and they could also collect information from the repository about views and take-up. We found that, the responses from student teachers we interviewed pointed to a widespread culture of sharing – especially within the immediate network of peers:
I have shared my resources with my course mates in a Facebook group. I have also shared them with the department at my placement school. I did this because I use others’ resources so I think it is fair to share myself, (PGCE student).
I think sharing good practice is a good part of developing professionally and using tried and tested resources- adapting them, differentiating them, reinventing them – saves time and often improves the quality of learning for students when I have run out of creative ideas! (PGCE student).
I have contributed resources a couple of times…to TES because it is sharing with other teachers. That is something I would like to do more of. It is such a big help, not having to reinvent the wheel, (teacher).
In these ways, sharing was seen as an essential part of professional identity with clear links to continuing professional development, based on the impulse to enhance and improve practice. At the same time, while both teachers and students were happy to share resources within their immediate network (i.e. peers on the course; teachers on placements), they had a number of reservations when it came to releasing their resources openly online and sharing them with a potentially unknown audience:
I am always willing to share my resources with other members of staff in school and have done this on a regular basis at my current placement. I have shied away from sharing materials online contexts, however, as I always feel a little protective of the things I produce because I invest a lot of time in making resources, and don’t feel entirely comfortable at present to make it freely available for anyone to download. I like knowing who is using it! (PGCE student).
Other disincentives for sharing were related to copyright, with some project participants openly admitting that they wanted to ‘avoid the hassle of figuring out copyright stuff’ and assumed that sharing within the network of their peers bypassed the need to address these issues. Some believed that copyright was irrelevant if resources were shared for educational purposes and reasoned that ‘nobody would bring it up… they are not going to go back to someone’. Others went as far as to argue that if resources are available online then by default they can be reused without regard for copyright as evidenced in the following quote:
That’s the one thing that I have not really thought about, I mean the images that I use, I think if they are freely available to get online, and if you can to listen to it on line – that might sound really bad, but that’s my impression, then surely they are free to use (PGCE student).
The above exchange illustrates a number of misconceptions related to copyright and sharing open resources – such as for instance that copyright is irrelevant if resources are intended for private and/or educational use. These misconceptions need to be addressed so that teachers can model good practice and take full advantage of benefits offered by Open Educational Resources (see resources below).
European Commission (2012) EUGuide: Can I lawfully copy images and texts I found on the internet? Last accessed 3/11/2012 at: http://ec.europa.eu/archives/information_society/eyouguide/fiches/6-ii-a/index_en.htm
For References see 2.6.6 References / Links to Further Resources