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August 15, 2011 / rudyrubio

Understanding Teacher Skills and Support Through Research

Research for the Education team has focused specifically on open educational resources (OER) and professional development: how are teachers using OER, what impact have OER had on teaching and learning, and how can ISKME enhance teachers’ abilities to use OER through professional development workshops? As expected, it was not difficult to measure whether there has been a change in the number of teachers using OER in their classroom: we can ask teachers before the workshop and in the months since if they are using OER and count the numbers accordingly. However, the numbers that express these findings share only a small portion of the story; rather, it is the nuanced answers to open-ended questions that have provided a much richer illustration of how powerful OER can be in the classroom.

Including open-ended questions on surveys provides teachers with the opportunity to elaborate on answers that might otherwise omit context, reasoning, or justification. Several teachers have commented on how empowered OER have made them feel by giving them the opportunity to take control of the curriculum materials. Many have openly expressed interest in becoming leaders and advocates within their schools and communities for delivering these resources to colleagues. The extent to which teachers care about one another and feel a sense of community is truly pervasive in their answers. Even our solicitation for honest and constructive feedback on how to improve our workshops, for example, is often framed as helping ISKME to not only improve its workshops but also to continue to serve fellow teachers – future participants – in the best way possible.

Through our research, we’ve been able to capture the growth of OER use among former participants as well as a growing interest among teachers to share their knowledge and resources with colleagues and to construct a wider, more supportive community. This has provided tremendous support to continue our work and help teachers to build on their own success.


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