Reflections on topic 2

6554315179_69fbac133f_zThis topic was really an eye opener for me, and I learned a lot that I can use in my future teaching. Before this I had no idea that:

  • I can search for open material on Google, just by changing the advanced settings. I had no idea about this, and it’s such a great tool. This advanced search function is something that I will share with my students in every way that I can!
  • There are lots of open textbooks online. I had no idea that there were so many! And that they were good.
  • I can take online courses, for free, in lots of different subjects. I even found my own subject, physiology, in several courses.

I will definitely start using open educational resources in my teaching, but I think that it will take some time to fully incorporate all the new tools into my teaching. I feel hesitant to share my work with others because I am afraid that others think that my work is not good. And it is scarey to open myself up to critique from others when I’m supposed to be the teacher who “knows best”. I realize that this is not a good reason and getting critique about my teaching, even if from people that I don’t even know, can only improve my material thus making the learning process better for my students. As researchers, we get this type of input all the time when we submit manuscripts and get, sometimes very harsh, comments back from reviewers.

Online open textbooks is a great tool that I wish that I could tell my students to use. I notice that students do not to buy books to the same extent as before for several reasons; they are expensive, heavy and rigid (once you buy one book you have to stick with it because you can’t afford to buy another one) and they spend a lot of time searching for information online instead. If they could spend the time reading instead of searching, they would learn much more. Unfortunately I could not find an open textbook that is detailed enough for my medical students, but I’m sure that this might come and I will keep my eyes open. One idea would be to have the students start writing an online textbook that each new class could edit with their own knowledge.

As a researcher, I feel ambivalent about open access publishing. On one hand, open access publishing allows for many individuals around the world (especially in developing countries) to read your publication. On the other hand, how can the developing countries publish if publishing costs are almost too high for researchers in industrialized countries? Also, how can we know that the journals are serious? I get emails every week from journals that want me to submit manuscripts and it could be for a field in which I have not performed any research. There is a grave danger of open access publishing failing because of commercial interests generating unserious journals that publish any manuscript that the authors pay to publish. This will destroy the peer-review process.

An alternative to the peer-review process is peer-review after something is published. This is not a secure method because what if only an author’s collaborators comment on the manuscript and therefore not pointing out incorrect conclusions or methodological flaws? Or, on the other hand, what if only competitors comment and modify an open access article?

There are many great open access tools both for teaching and research, but we have to use our digital literacy to determine which are good and which are not. Additionally, we need to teach our students about the tools that are good.


Creative Commons guide.

Hilton, J. (2016). “Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions.” Educational Technology Research and Development 64(4): 573-590.

Robinson, T. J., et al. (2014). “The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes.” Educational Researcher 43(7): 341-351.

Find free to use images on google


8 thoughts on “Reflections on topic 2

  1. alastaircreelman

    Great idea to start writing your own textbook with students contributing and building on each other’s work. A challenge to administer and supervise but it would empower and motivate the students since they know that their work will be used by others rather than just being read by a teacher and then archived.
    I think OER introduces the concept of peer review to teaching. It’s ironic that it is so central to research but there’s no trace of it in teaching!
    As for Open Access I agree about the level of academic spam (I get at least one a day) but there are plenty of OA journals that are properly peer reviewed and are free to publish. I’ve never paid to be published. Have a look at the National library of Sweden’s (KB) site on OA for guidance (in Swedish)


    1. ellinorkenne Post author

      Thanks Alastair. KI wants us to publish in open access and I agree that it’s a great thought, but for the journals in our field it does cost to publish in decent journals. Hopefully this will change as OA becomes standard in publishing (which I think it will).


  2. patomella

    Maybe in the future these OA journals that we need to publish in will also be for free, that would be great for everyone, since knowledge could then be for free for everyone to share not just to consume.


  3. malinlarssonlindback

    Loved you reflections Ellinor! I completely sympathise with the teacher fear of exposing and also your concerns about the cost of publishing ending up on the individual researcher or the (under financed) institution which would make the possibilities to spread knowledge unequal. I think we all have to contribute if we want to make sure that openness really work for the sake of democracy.


  4. zaaronl

    This topic was an eye opener for me as well when I took the ONL161 course last term. It’s a new world that opens up! Nice to hear that you want to start to use OER in your teaching. Start with just trying something and then you can build on this.


  5. Karolina

    great to read you’ve learnt so many things! When you first discover OER and you fall in love with them, this is love for years 🙂 I doubled Alistair comment about writing textbook by you students – great idea. A group of maths students at mu uni started to write open textbook for their peers. This is still under construction but as far as I know for them this is great learning activity (in maths = how to explain some abstact theory to younger students) but also they learn a lot about copyright and CC so they gain digital competency and become more digital literate.

    As for the OA journals and developing countries – you are wondering how can the developing countries publish if publishing costs are almost too high for researchers in industrialized countries. Some scientific publishers offer to developing countries a special programs eg. Springer has Open Choice Springer programme ( within which Polish scientis can publish an article in a chosen Springer journals in OA mode and don’t have to paid for it (as it is funded by PL government).


  6. onl162yumna

    I enjoyed reading your reflections.

    ”One idea would be to have the students start writing an online textbook that each new class could edit with their own knowledge.”

    I am also new to the idea of open online textbooks and would like to share a link which I had discovered which enables you to write or edit a textbook. I hope that you find this useful.



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