In the News: Open Educational Resources Movement Scales Up
Open educational resources are open-source lessons that teachers can access online for free. Educators can piece together OER to create customized units or use individual OER to supplement core content. In Education Week, Sean Cavanagh writes that the use of open educational resources is expanding in several ways to cover core academic content.
One such effort is being led by K-12 systems like the District of Columbia public schools, which has sought to customize content to teachers’ needs and deepen their understanding of academic material by giving them a role in developing it.
The District of Columbia schools’ work developing open resources was initially supported with a grant from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program seven years ago, and the school system has continued to devote its own money to sustaining and improving that academic content. The district made its materials available to other K-12 systems, and it’s had some takers, including the Denver public schools, which recently adopted its English/language arts curriculum for grades 9-12.
A recent article in Education Next looked at the sustainability of OER, which take considerable manpower to create, but do not turn a profit. In “Open Educational Resources,” Michael McShane writes,
…open resources are offered free to users, but they are not necessarily free to produce. Yes, volunteers have created many of the lessons on platforms such as Share My Lesson (which is sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers), but other resources that are free to users have been created by organizations that are paid for their work. The State of New York, for example, paid $36.6 million to a mix of nonprofit and for-profit providers to create the content and coursework for EngageNY.
McShane looks at efforts by the federal government to support OER and how federal involvement may impact the entire mission.