Why OER? Evolution!

In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs. –Secretary Arne Duncan



Evolution of the Spike CC-BY-NC-ND www.flickr.com/photos/pbmjb/6454171259/in/photolist-aQkjfP

Open Educational Resources (OER), for good or for bad, are extremely hands-on.  But the nature of using OER based curriculum means that teachers do what comes naturally to them– they adapt, they adjust, they tweak, they edit, they enhance and they improve.  Most importantly, they are doing so in response to actual student performance.

Using OER as the basis of our curriculum encourages constant revision.  Constant revision = evolving courses.  We keep finding new sources of quality OER, we develop our own OER, we share teacher resources and methods, and continually find great new tools for content delivery and collaboration. With OER, there are no guard walls keeping you from flexing and incorporating new resources or tools.  And expanding on them if they work.  Or quickly dumping them if they fail.

The great thing is that evolution won’t stop.  It will keep on going.  You don’t do a course reset at the end of each term and revert back to the version 1.0 of the course or lesson. You are not reliant upon copyrighted commercial resources that are legally bound to stay static.

The US Office of Education Technology explains it as such:

We believe that educational opportunities should be available to all learners. Creating an open education ecosystem involves making learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.

Interested in getting started with OER?  Here are some resources to explore:  https://storify.com/kfasimpaur/k-12-oer-cop-getting-started

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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