The Impact of Open

Earlier this month,  I attended OpenEd 2015, a conference that focuses on the impact of 'Open' in education– including Open Educational Resources, Open Research, and Open Pedagogy. I have attended this conference the last 4 years and always leave impressed and inspired by the work going on in open education.  At the heart of 'open', is the internet.  The internet gave the average educator the ability to digitally replicate, share and edit content, allowing 'open' to have a presence in education.  

Hugh McGuire (founder of PressBooks and, spoke about the basic purpose of the internet.  When we visit the internet, there is one simple question:  Do we need something or do we have something?  He shared the example of Hay Net, the USDA Farm Service Agency website, as it looked in the 90's.  It had only two options: Need Hay and Have Hay.  If you were a visiting farmer, you either had hay to sell or wanted hay to purchase.  There was no need to complicate the transaction.  The site has changed over the years, but its original version is a strong metaphor for how we digitally interact as educators.

haynetAre we looking for content? Or are we looking to share content? For either option, 'open' plays a huge part in the ability we have to use or share resources.   In 2009, the Utah Legislature passed an administrative rule that allows teacher-created materials to be licensed as OER.  This means if a teacher creates content, it is not owned by their school or district; the teacher has the ability to license it as OER and share their content.  

If you are in need of content?  Try visiting OER Commons and view what other educators have shared.  And if you have content?  Take the time to license and post your content on OER Commons.  Education has always been a conversation; we give and take.  Consider the impact that open can have on your classroom.


Sarah Weston

Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University, holding a BA in Mathematics Education and earned her M Ed from Western Governors University. She has built over 20 courses using OER and currently oversees all course development and teacher training on building with OER at Mountain Heights Academy. Sarah was awarded Utah Charter Educator of the Year in 2010; the first online educator to receive the award. She was also privileged to be awarded 2011, 2013, and 2014 Best of State in Curriculum Development. In 2015 and 2015, she was awarded the Open Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Site and Outstanding Courses.

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