#OER and #STEM

Educators are well-known for being easily distracted–we adopt a “new” or “innovative” method or strategy or tool for teaching, and we become strong advocates for it until the next innovation arrives. (In recent months, I have collected recollections of colleagues whose memories support the conclusion that some of us have been using these methods consistently for more than a generation even as they have been reintroduced as innovative multiple times.)

Two innovations that seem to be lasting longer than others (a sure sign an innovation is based on sound theory) are open educational resources and STEM education. Open education resources refers to the collection of materials created by educators that are released under copyright licenses that allow others to use them without paying. The community that produces open materials will recognize the landscape is more complicated with varying degrees of openness, but in general, the open community continues the centuries-long tradition of educators to share their best intellectual works with students and colleagues.

STEM refers to those “interdisciplinary” lessons that promote learning about science, technology, engineering, and math; many all arts to the collection as well so the acronym becomes STEAM. Some of us are trying to extend “design and construction that scales” as well as economics relevant for manufacturing to this collection, so the acronym becomes STEAMM.

Both OER and STEAMM innovations are grounded in “high-quality educational materials.” If OER are unclear, difficult to use,  inaccurate, irrelevant, or easily forgotten, then they cannot be considered to be high-quality. Educators, of course, are not likely to continue to use them. STEAMM subjects are based on some widely-accepted ideas and methods. Through STEAMM, we approach Newton’s Laws of Motion from a different perspective that is common in traditional science eduction (for example), but an accurate representation of those ideas is vital for successful STEAMM education.

The Eastern Iowa Community Colleges provides an excellent example of #OER that promote sound #STEAMM education with their collection of Engineering Technology: Simulations for Learning.


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