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OER Needs to Be on Your Radar

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Is this the year we will start to make some headway in the curation and creation of digital content and start to move away from our reliance on pre-packaged materials (aka textbooks)? While I have a lot more questions than answers when it comes to making this transition, there is one thing that I am sure of here.  We will make no progress without a detailed plan with clear benchmarks along the way. So, where do we start?

Here are three key issues we need to tackle in order to gain momentum with the move to Open Educational Resources (OER):

  1. Agree to a common understanding of OER -

When we talk about OER, I think we need to be clear what are intentions are. Are we looking to pay big dollars to have a third-party tool that helps us curate and create resources? Personally,  I like the definition of OER stated by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology as part of the #GoOpen Initiative is pretty clear - "Openly licensed educational resources are learning materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and assessment without cost. They can be modified and redistributed without violating copyright laws."

  1. Build capacity of educators (and school communities) -

We need to make sure that our teachers (and stakeholders in our communities) understand the purpose and scope of this initiative. Moving away from pre-packaged content is a significant change for many to grapple with. However, when we break down the reasons for this work in regards to relevance of materials, allowing our educators the flexibility to customize resources on a frequent basis, and economic savings our intentions will be clearer.

On another note, with so many schools pushing 1:1 initiatives, we have the tools in place to make this transition to OER a reality. If we really want to stress the importance of our students being creators and not just consumers of content, we need to create communities of educators who are also creators.

  1. Set clear goals and benchmarks -

Whether it is an entire course, a unit, or a lesson, we need to start this work with the understanding that this is a work in progress. We will not necessarily create perfect products on our first attempt, but the beauty of this process is that we have the ability to revise content in a way that is not currently possible. In a short time we will be in the year 2020. Where would you like to see yourself in 2020? In other words, what is your 2020 Vision? Every district in the country needs to ask themselves this question and work backwards from here.

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