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Don't Underestimate the Power of OER

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In my previous post, I discussed the importance of schools looking closely at Open Educational Resources (OER).  Recently, I have been reading with great interest some posts by Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons,  which further highlight the significance of schools looking at OER.  Merkley's thoughts on the importance of the community collaborating to build something that can benefit all of us has important connections to the development of OER. There is a clear opportunity before us to work together for equity and access to high quality resources for all of our schools. In addition, Merkley's words echo some of the key expectations that we should have for students.

"Collaboration, sharing, and co-operation are in our nature -- building community, co-operating towards common goods, and creating shared benefits are at the heart of who we are."

The major stumbling block that I see for schools in achieving this has nothing to do with the technology that we will need to support educators who will choose to do this work. Instead, the major impediment is an outdated notion of what we as educators should be focusing on. In a system where standardized testing is king, educators and their students are left as consumers of standards and resources to support these standards which have been overly influenced by companies whose main focus is the mighty dollar and not building a shared community that puts learning and learners first.

The OER movement provides an opportunity to change this and put the power back in the hands of teachers and students.  We need schools who support staff members in becoming creators who not only collaborate with colleagues across classrooms but also across local, state, and national boundaries. By undertaking this work, we will also be supporting our students in modeling the skills and behaviors that they are going to need to be successful in "real life."

As I read Merkley's vision for Creative Commons below, I think it would be applied just as well as a focal point for what we would like to see in our schools.

"The Internet is real life. It's where we go to work. It's how we connect to the people we love. It's where we tell our stories. This is the society we're building together. If it is going to be fair, equal, diverse, vibrant, serendipitous, and safe for everyone, it will only be because we choose to make it that way. If it is going to be accessible, equitable, and full of innovation and opportunity, it will require our leadership to build the foundations that support these ideals."

I think the adoption of OER in our schools can be a big step on the way to help us achieve this important challenge.

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