The popularity of MIT’s program, and ones at other schools, led to a greater interest in creating curated, detailed educational materials available free to the public at large. Today, there is a thriving movement in Open Educational Resources, generally defined as teaching and learning materials that are either in the public domain or are released under a license that allows free use and repurposing.
OER is a key aspect of the Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign, which “encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning.”
“Openly licensed educational resources can increase equity by providing all students, regardless of zip code, access to high quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content,” Acting Department of Education Secretary John King said in a recent press release.
OER use can vary widely. It could be as basic as teachers assigning Khan Academy videos alongside their standard curriculum to a district using completely publicly available resources for texts and digital learning.
So what does this mean to today’s librarian?
For one, there’s a new wealth of materials out there that can be searched and presented to teachers. And those resources don’t necessarily need to be something that a district has to pay extra for. But not having pre-packaged materials from a publisher means that searching for the right materials at the right level can be tricky.
OER backers are trying to help with that. The Learning Registry is a joint project of the Departments of Education and Defense, along with other federal agencies, nonprofits and private companies. It collects resources for teachers, but also gathers metadata about the materials: publisher, location, content area, standards alignment, ratings, reviews, and more. This allows partners to access and reconfigure the data their own way.
One of those partners is Follett, which has incorporated OER data from the Learning Registry into its new Destiny Discover service. When users search their catalog for specific topics, the Discover results will include links to relevant OER results. The goal was to help librarians and teachers integrate OER materials with content they already possess, said Follett CEO Nader Qaimari.
“I don’t want people to think that it’s either or,” he said. “You’ve already invested in and own a lot of content and I wanted (librarians) to look at it alongside.”
Where else can you find it?
- OER Commons is backed by the by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and ISKME, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. The Commons has materials for K-12 teachers including worksheets, activities, textbooks, and mini-lessons. You can search by grade, subject, material type, and standard.
- CK-12 Foundation offers free, standards-aligned, open content in STEM subjects, using digital textbooks, simulations, interactive practice and more. The site supports iOS and Android, as well as Google Classroom and Learning Management Systems including Schoology, Canvas, and others.
- Curriki hosts openly licensed, online educational materials that teachers, educators, or other professionals have created and have made freely available to others for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing.