The Good and Bad of Open Educational Resources


Today there are so many ways that technology facilitates learning both in and out of the traditional classroom. Open educational resources (OER) are one type of technological advance that is likely to flourish over the course of many years to come. And why wouldn’t they? Like countless other things in our society that are just a Google search away, education can now be obtained in just a few clicks of your mouse. One of the greatest benefits is accessibility to anyone who has an Internet connection. OER is accessible to any one regardless of social status, past academic success, or income. Students of any kind – young, old, non-traditional or international, have the ability to access a free education. Of course with anything that elicits public interest and demand, there is competition. Where there is opportunity for financial gain, there is commercialization. While some educational institutions are in competition to be the best, biggest, and most well known, for others it has become a personal mission to improve education for all (Bonk, 2009). Although there is controversy in this area of OER, “any technology trend opening the world of learning today will increase its momentum and power” (Bonk, 2009, p. 391).

As with any great and shiny new idea, there are often disadvantages as well. One of the challenges with OERs is copyrights and licensing. Although contributors to OER hold the copyright to their material, they still can still fall victim to someone abusing their material, let alone having it misconstrued or criticized. And, “What if people share knowledge that is confidential, improper, or unauthorized?” (Bonk, 2009, p. 377).   Tracking someone down for unlawfully using your work is no easy task. Obtaining the proper copyrights and licensing can be cumbersome and time consuming for both the contributor and for instructors looking to use someone else’s work. The technologies we have today makes sharing information quick and easy, but just because it’s easy does that make it our civic duty to share? Some people think so. These are valid questions instructors should consider before contributing to OERs.

What are your thoughts? Educators: Would you consider submitting to an OER? Why or why not?


Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Related information is the leading online Global Directory of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Here you will also find links for higher education MOOCs and K-12 MOOCs.

Is Dental Education Ready for MOOCs? From

An update for the design of my learning activity…

Seeing as though I have no experience in formal teaching, it has been challenging to design a learning activity for the final project. I’ve decided to go back to my original idea of having the focus be on toothbrushing techniques. I’m planning to have the students create a video to post on YouTube of their experience providing patient education to a friend or family member. Students will post their videos with a private link (unless the student and friend/family member choose otherwise). Then they will post those links to Blackboard for classmates and the instructor to gain access for viewing. The creation of novice videos on smartphones is likely something familiar to most students. Bridging activities in their personal life with school will hopefully be a fun experience for the students and promote metacognitive thought in order to complete the activity.



Teaching Strategies for Today’s Learners

It seems that everything and everyone demands our attention.  We are busy people, as teachers and students we need to be efficient in our actions, engaging and effective.  That’s asking a lot if we rely on old pedagogies.  I’ll discuss three teaching strategies for engaging today’s learners in a traditional face-to-face class, hybrid and online class environments.

bored classIn a face-to-face or traditional classroom, direct instruction is provided in a teacher-centered environment, usually in the form of a lecture. “The professor uses the lecture as a motivational tool, hoping to transmit a love of the subject matter or at least enough curiosity to inspire the student to continue studying outside of class” (Bates & Watson, 2008, p. 39).  It isn’t always possible for the instructor to inspire students in a way that keeps their attention. Especially since the instruction is goal-based which often means that lecture is delivered in a “one-size-fits-all” approach. With teachers holding the active role in class and students in a passive role of listening, there is only the charismatic nature of the teacher and the subject matter to keep a student interested. It’s no wonder that lecture tends to be one of the least effective ways to teach. By using active learning class time can be more productive and engaging. Miller and Metz (2014) cited “both faculty members and students believed that active learning would increase student enjoyment, motivation to learn, performance on exams, board scores and retention of information” (p. 250). Active learning allows students to participate – albeit quietly, but they have the opportunity to provide feedback about information presented which like tests, can indicate students understand and what needs clarification.

collaborative learningThe hybrid or blended-model classroom enlists active roles from both the instructor and student. To me, this seems to be a very modern and realistic approach to learning. The instructor delivers lecture and supplemental material on the web, which allows class time for students to interact and learn from each other. With the instructor in roles as the “guide on the side” and “sage on the stage,” students take on the active role in the classroom. In this scenario, collaborative learning, a.k.a. cooperative learning is a great model for teaching. “Google Hangouts allows hybrid students to “move around” the classroom, just as a FTF [face-to-face] student might move from one small group to another in a bricks-and-mortar classroom (Roseth, Akcaoglu & Zellner, 2013, p. 57). Technology is plentiful for this type of interaction. Furthermore, it’s practical and fosters engagement and creates experiences for more meaningful learning.

light bulbIn an online learning environment students are the active players and instructors are the “guide on the side.” Online learning calls for “more clearly and integrally woven self-regulatory support mechanisms in learners” (Crawford, Smith & Smith, p. 136). Students’ activity in online classes is pivotal to success in this environment and often involves guided-inquiry or inquiry-guided instruction. This approach is particularly good for online learning because courses are already utilizing the internet, which is of course, a very useful tool in finding information.  Bates and Watson (2008) cited “Students learn on their own by observing the phenomena, asking questions, allowing time for inquiry, or conducting activities and experiments” (p. 40). This is a natural approach to learning in today’s society. How many times have you wondered something and gone to the internet to do a GOOGLE search? The key to learning is not only knowing the right questions to ask, but also knowing where to find the answer and how to use it in a problem-based situation.

Questions for you…

Of the three teaching strategies I suggested – Active Learning, Collaborative Learning and Guided-Inquiry, which of these do you see as the most effective teaching strategy? Do you agree with the methods I have proposed?


Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008). Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from:

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008). Course student satisfaction results: differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments. [Article]. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Miller, C. J., Metz M.J. (2014). A comparison of professional-level faculty and student perceptions of active learning: its current use, effectiveness, and barriers. Advances In Physiology Education 38(3):246-252. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from:

Roseth, C., Akcaoglu, M., Zellner, A. (2013) Blending synchronous face-to-face and computer-supported cooperative learning in a hybrid doctoral seminar. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning. 57, 3, 54-59. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from:,ip,cpid&custid=s7324964&db=aph&AN=86052109&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Additional Resources

Here is a link to “Making Lecture Capture Work Lessons From the Pros.”  It discusses how Lecture Capture technology can be used for flipping the classroom, which frees up time for active learning.

Here is a research article “Longitudinal Analysis of Student Performance in a Dental Hygiene Distance Education Program” which compares students in a F2F classroom with distance education students.

Constructing more thoughts about my learning activity…
In my past post I had discussed doing a learning activity to educate dental hygiene students about toothbrushing techniques.  Although this information is important, I think it may be more interesting to do a learning activity for determining clinical attachment loss.  I’d like to incorporate active learning and collaborative learning by using Lecture Capture (possibly) to deliver the lecture and Edmondo for collaboration on the subject.  YouTube videos may also be used for supplementary information and may be something students can share through Edmondo.  I don’t know a lot about either technology at this point, but these are some of my preliminary thoughts.

Professional Learning Communities and Communities of Practice to Support Teaching and Learning

Communities of Practice & Professional Learning CommunitiesProfessional Learning Communities (PLC) and Communities of Practice (CoP) can be used to support both learning and teaching. PLCs and CoPs are similar in that members within each of these groups share a common vision or goal. Specifically, CoPs are defined as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger-Trayner, n.d., para 2). PLCs are “teachers [who] meet regularly, setting goals and committing to a shared educational vision (Adams, 2009).

PLCs support teaching by reducing time spent on lesson planning and development of learning activities though the collective intelligence gained through shared experiences among group members (Adams, 2009). Basically, a PLC’s goal is to ensure that students are actually learning, not just getting taught. Aha! Now that is a novel idea! PLCs support learning by focusing the teacher’s attention on the student’s learning (Adams, 2009). PLCs are also helpful to new teachers by introducing them into an established framework for “tried and true” methods of teaching. One huge benefit of participating in a PLC is timesaving! Nobody wants to reinvent the wheel if there’s a perfectly good one already working. PLCs offer support to instructors looking for solutions though open discussion of what works and what doesn’t. This means that members in the PLC need to be honest with each other and trust the information that’s presented. Teachers can then use this information to create lesson plans more efficiently with the comfort of knowing that it works.

Community of Practice - imageCoPs support teaching and learning more unintentionally, where learners and teachers are often intermingled (Wenger-Trayner, n.d.). Information shared within a CoP enables individuals to make personal connections, “engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other and share information…that enable them to learn from each other” (Wenger-Trayner, n.d.). This type of community meets informally either in face-to-face or more often than not, they “meet” in online discussion forums through virtual networks. CoPs share a common interest or goal, and maintain communication for the purpose of progressing their field of interest.

Technology is making it easier and easier for anyone – young, old, educated or not, to be able to participate in CoPs. PLCs too are no longer confined to the four walls of the school. Educators can learn from teachers across the world. Social media such as Facebook allows groups of like-minded individuals to collaborate in groups with similar interests. Learning is no longer “consumption driven…As such, individuals can contribute to the knowledge-building process instead of passively consuming prepackaged knowledge and information” (Bonk, 2009 p. 328). Today’s technology can “personalize, customize, and individualize learning…foster learner exchange, collaboration, and the design of new course content and information” (Bonk, 2009 p. 328). Technology as a whole has greatly enhanced the population in members of such groups. Technology can help to put the pieces together. Information from around the world can be “repurposed with hyperlinks, added context, discussion forums, pictures, and other media…that can evolve and expand” allowing for long-term global documentation (Bonk, 2009 p. 335).

The passive roles students used to play are much different than in years past. Now students are “actively making choices about which Google video or current TV episode to watch. Which ones to share. Which ones to comment on…subscribe to…the choices are endless” (Bonk, 2009 p. 328).


Adams, C. (2009). The power of collaboration. Instructor, 119(1), 28-31.

Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wenger-Trayner, E. (n.d.). Intro to communities of practice. Retrieved from:

Creation of a Learning Activity

I have been thinking about a learning activity to teach dental hygiene students different toothbrushing techniques and how to identify which technique is best for a patient’s dentition, age and dexterity.  From this week’s lesson about CoPs and PLCs I think students will find it helpful to seek information from CoPs.  A few CoPs students may utilize in this activity is the Facebook group Dental Hygienists Talk and AmyRDHListers, but the most obvious and accessible one would be their classmates.  As for technology use in this activity I am planning to use Flipped Classroom using YouTube and Gamification to supplement the learning activity.  YouTube videos can show and instruct students everything about toothbrushing techniques – when to use it, how to do it, and why specific techniques should be used. Games can be used to practice the techniques and test their comprehension of when each technique is most applicable.

Additional Information

I found this research article about the need for dental hygiene faculty development by using communities of practice. I think this is a great idea!  A Model for Cultivating Dental Hygiene Faculty Development Within a Community of Practice.

Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner have a great site dedicated to communities of practice.  Their mission “is to find and work with people and organizations who share our interest in learning and who are determined to improve the learning capability of the social systems in which they live.”

What is a Professional Learning Community? An article by Richard DuFour, Three big ideas guide this school reform effort: commitment to student learning, a culture of collaboration, and a focus on results. Published in the May 2004 issue of Educational Leadership.

Questions to Ponder… 

Are there any professional learning communities for dental hygiene education? And if so, are they specific to one institution, local, or national?  Should there be more emphasis on building communities of practice for dental hygiene education?