Wednesday, November 18, 2015

So What Are Open Educational Resources Anyway?

On October 29th, the US Department of Education announced #GoOpen, a campaign to encourage states, districts and educators to use Open Educational Resources (OER).  As part of the campaign, the Department announced that it will now require all copyrightable intellectual property that use Department grants to be openly licensed.  If federal education funds were used to create something, they then must provide that resource free of cost to educators.  So in other words, Open Educational Resources (OER) are going to explode.

So what are OERs?
In a nutshell, they're high-quality educational resources available to be revised, reused, remixed and redistributed at no cost whatsoever.  Teachers can go to OER sites and find excellent lesson plans, units, courses and other teaching resources created by other teachers or experts in the field and then they can copy the resource or pieces of the resource to use in their classes.  There's no need to keep reinventing the wheel when it's been created a thousand times out on the web; it'll make an educator's job easier in the long run.

Why use OERs?
1. Rich schools shouldn't be the only schools to have access to high-quality resources.  Open Education Resources level the playing field a bit by increasing equity.
2. OERs can replace expensive textbooks freeing up funding to be repurposed somewhere else.
3. OERs will be constantly updated and stay current, unlike many of our textbooks.
4.  It empowers the creative side of educators giving them power to adapt and customize materials as needed for their diverse student body without worrying about breaking copyright laws

To get started with some Open Educational Resources, I've started compiling some below.  Check them out!

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