STEM education: using EdTech to find OER and create quality content
How to use technical developments in the field of higher education
by Elisabeth Schmoutziguer
The rise of EdTech plays a huge role in transforming higher education. With EdTech’s digital approach, educators and students can create, share, and find high-quality OER. The result is an optimized learning experience for all. But how does using EdTech result in finding and utilizing high-quality OER for STEM education? In this whitepaper, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
The modern-day challenge
When working in education, you’ve probably noticed that many students lack engagement during more traditional lectures. Why? Because in many situations, the traditional model containing standardized syllabi, one-size-fits-all exercises, and outdated textbooks no longer meets the needs of modern-day learners. Especially for Gen Z learners who have been surrounded by technology all their lives. Generally, this generation prefers tackling challenges in an interactive environment and wants to do its own research instead of looking at whiteboards and reading textbooks.
While the need for change has been present for years, transforming to a more up-to-date way of work has proven to be difficult. Luckily, a solution emerged: open educational resources (OER). Open educational resources are learning, teaching, and research materials in any format and medium released under an open license. They permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation, and redistribution by others. With OER, educators gain access to thousands of educational resources and learning materials. All available to help their students engage with the subject better and improve their learning process.
In the early days of the OER movement, finding and implementing OER was a time-consuming and demanding task. But with the rise of educational technology (EdTech), OER quickly gained momentum
GardensThe rise of EdTech
EdTech includes all hardware and software technology used to educate learners on a digital level. A familiar example of EdTech is language solution DuoLingo, but we also see higher educational platforms focused on STEM, such as Mainstay (an online student engagement platform), Labster (virtual lab and simulated learning environment, and Grasple (online practice platform). The common goal? Improve classroom learning and enhance students’ education outcomes.
EdTech has been here for years. What began as simple pre-recorded lectures on YouTube has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry that affects teaching and learning worldwide. Currently, EdTech innovations are currently popping up like mushrooms. Research indicates that the global education technology market size was valued at USD 106.46 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 16.5% from 2022 to 2030.
The rise of EdTech plays a huge role in transforming higher education. With EdTech’s digital approach, educators and students can create, share, and find high-quality learning materials. The result is an optimized learning experience for all. But how do you make sure the retrieved content is of high quality?
Criteria of high-quality content
The quality of learning content is crucial for student success. For many STEM educators, renowned publishers of textbooks and resources are a solid authority. But when they want to implement OER, they start to wonder: is the quality high enough, and who validates the use of these materials?
Such questions aren’t easy to answer. There is no simple checklist for high-quality content, but there are criteria that your openly licensed resources (and copyright-owned contents) should meet:
- Designed for students
Learning content must be designed for the end-user, the student. The content must be relevant to their needs, goals, and preferences during your course. It has to be designed for easy digestion, ensuring students will access the key point of your content.
- Stimulate self-sufficiency
Good learning content helps students attain maximum self-sufficiency. This means that students must be given a way to experiment and practice, allowing them to learn from their mistakes and learn independently.
- Highlight topicality
In times where information changes as rapidly as the weather, the learning content must always be up to date. Nothing bores learners as much as obsolete information. You will recognize high-quality materials by their relevance.
- Increase curiosity
Learning materials allow for student engagement if the subject matter is interesting. While you can’t influence individual preferences, content can offer a ‘hook’ that draws students' attention and spike their curiosity. This is also where the fundamentals of active learning come in.
- Emphasize relevance
If students don’t see ‘why’ the subject matters and how they can implement the knowledge into their daily lives, they care less. That’s why the usefulness of the learning material is another criterion of high-quality learning content. Learning content that emphasizes the value of the material (and teaches learners why they need it and how they can implement it) helps them engage.
With the rise of Edtech, a whole range of new resources has become available to everyone. Knowledge sharing, in whatever way and in whatever form, can only be encouraged and applauded. However, it is crucial to educate the public on how to deal with this deluge of information. The checklist provided in this blog enables you to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ and allows you to take advantage of this new era of knowledge.
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-  Education Technology Market Analysis, retrieved via https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/education-technology-market.