An Open Educational Resource Supports a Diversity of Inquiry-Based Learning

Catherine Anne Schmidt-Jones, International Review of Research in Open, Distance Learning, Feb 01, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Today I bring to you links to four of the articles in the latest edition of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. This first paper examines how people are using open educational resources (OERs). "Most reported accessing individual modules on their own initiative, as part of a specific, immediate inquiry, rather than responding to institutional directives or following entire online courses." Part nway through the paper we read an interesting and important question: were learners self-directing out of choice or need? As the author notes, "over half of the self-directed learners reported that they had not received as much formal music education as they would have liked. Money or cost was the most common reason given." So self-directed learning becomes not the preferred alternative, but for many, the only alternative. Not that this is necessarily bad - self-directed learning has a long history. As the author concludes, "Dewey (1938) has stated: There is, I think, no point in the philosophy of progressive education which is sounder than its emphasis upon the importance of the participation of the learner in the formation of the purposes which direct his activities in the learning process."
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