While numerous researchers have examined the use of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) in K-12 and higher education settings (e.g., Bovills, 2014; Weller, De Los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt, & McAndrew 2015), there is very little research
conducted in the context of vocational training and OER/OEP. In Canada alone, there were 417,300 registered apprenticeships in 2016 (Statistics Canada, 2018) and registrations have grown over 200% since the 1990s (Statistics Canada, 2017).
The lack of research in trades education pertaining to OER/OEP means that the benefits that OER/OEP enable (eg. Hilton, 2016; Robinson, Fischer, Wiley, &Hilton, 2014) remain unrealized. Investigating in what ways OER and OEP benefit students in the trades, this research will address a much-needed research gap in understanding how OER/OEP are used in teaching and learning innovations in the trades.
Trades education lends itself nicely to the philosophy of OER and OEP. Students are involved in the creation of their own hands-on skills from many sources during their apprenticeships. However, some apprentices pursue a life in trades due to difficulties they may have had in standard formal education (Taylor, 2010, p.505). By utilizing the same model of an educational system, the system is setting some apprentices up for failure. Often the classroom-based training
is a lecture based lesson that may or may not be followed up with a lab to test the hypothesis of the lectures. The students are given resources such as textbooks, handouts, exercise books and lab books. The use of OER and OEP in vocational education has proven to be beneficial to vocational students, especially those who have previously struggled academically.
This presentation will provide an overview of the current state of vocational education (from a Canadian context), how OER and OEP can benefit vocational education (cost savings as well as pedagogical benefits). The framework for an upcoming research study being conducted on OER and OEP in vocation education will be shared and a variety of methods being employed in my own practice (electrical trades) that are seeing beneficial results will be discussed.
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