Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Use of Digital Repositories for Enhancing Teacher Pedagogical Performance

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Use of Digital Repositories for Enhancing Teacher Pedagogical Performance

Article excerpt

Introduction

Development of Open Educational Resources (OER) and their use is a major issue in the future of education worldwide. Organizations and institutions have engaged in various projects, studies and conferences aimed to promote OER and the principles of open access to education (Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007; Butcher, 2011; Downes, 2007; JORUM Team, 2006; Thomas, 2012).

The continued growth of open educational materials in online repositories (OpenDOAR, 2012), which Hylen (2006) defined as "digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research," contributes to the trends of sharing and reusing learning material and reflects a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of teaching and learning (Yuan, Macneill, & Kraan, 2008). These learning resources contribute to the accessibility of education, particularly in places and for populations with limited educational means. They also encourage a culture of flexible and collaborative learning, creativity, and collaboration which are necessary in the current era of dynamic information. This potential can be fulfilled when reuse of learning materials is encouraged, along with permission to use them in new and varying ways: customizing materials to the learning process; correcting materials; improving materials; adding to materials or removing from them; and combining multiple sources (Friesen, 2009; Hilton, Wiley & Johnson, 2010; Hylen, 2006).

The greater use and availability of digital technologies and open licensing seems to be generating wider acceptance for OER within individual and institutional teaching practices (Lane & McAndrew, 2010). However, despite such progress and despite the potential of OER to offer many benefits in teaching and learning, studies show that the reuse of the learning materials and their adaptation to user needs is relatively uncommon (Hilton, Lutz, & Wiley, 2012). Some claim that many educators are unaware of the growing repository of open educational resources, or that they are not convinced of their usefulness (Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2007). In addition, concern exists that the abundance of information presented within the repositories will lead to confusion, inconsistency, and wasted time in the search for information, given the lack of a unified system for registration, licensing, and a catalog of learning objects (Nash, 2005), as well as the lack of appropriate tools for evaluating the quality and credibility of the materials and their management. Furthermore, even an OER of the highest quality is not useful for learners if its materials cannot be adapted to the learners' own context (Richter & McPherson, 2012).

Although many resources are promoted as high quality and freely accessible, the critical threshold in OER usage has not yet been reached, and OER's potential is not being fulfilled (Andrade et al., 2011; De Liddo, 2010; Hilton et al., 2012). However, it is impossible to ignore the educational revolution taking place worldwide, based on an online interactive collaborative culture in which educators develop educational resources and make them accessible and available on the web free of charge. Colleagues share successful pedagogical concepts in the belief that each of their peers ia entitled to freedom of use, design, improvement, and distribution of educational resources indefinitely. Educators, students, and others who share this belief are part of a global effort to make education more accessible and more efficient.

This paper focuses on the teachers' communal attitudes towards OER, their OER usage, and their training in this regard, with an emphasis on the examination of local (school) repositories to uncover the use of these repositories in assisting teachers' pedagogical work. We aim to assess whether implementation of a school-based repository (in contrast with the global repository openly available online) increases the use of learning materials. …

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