Department of Education proposes OER initiatives to directly impact teachers

Department of Education proposes OER initiatives to directly impact teachers

Photo credit: flickr user opensource.com Creative Commons License

We at the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) could not be happier about two new Department of Education initiatives that not only reinforce the work we do to create and disseminate high quality open instructional materials for language learning but also expand government support for Open Educational Resources (OER) across disciplines.

At the end of October 2015, officials at the Department of Education and in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy welcomed school superintendents, educators, technology representatives, and non-profit leaders to an Open Education Symposium in Washington DC. At that meeting, the Department of Education announced the launch of a new #GoOpen Challenge campaign aimed at encouraging the use of openly licensed educational materials and also proposed a new policy regulation that would require all copyrighted intellectual property created with the support of Department of Education grant funds to carry an open license. In a distinct move away from traditional textbooks, the Department of Education asserted the need for all students to have access to high quality open learning resources.

Added to the recent appointment of the first Open Education Advisor, Andrew Marcinek, the new Department of Education pledge demonstrates that the government is serious about raising OER awareness. This aligns with COERLL’s mission to offer open materials for language learning at low-to-no cost. Unlike traditional course materials, OER may be adjusted and improved to meet the needs of students of all backgrounds in all districts, even the most underfunded ones.

Not surprisingly, some are wondering what the impact of #GoOpen and its support of next generation materials will be for classroom teachers. Importantly, participating districts will save money by adopting low cost OER in place of expensive traditional textbooks. Additionally, teachers will no longer have to worry that they might be breaking the law by inadvertently using copyrighted educational resources in the wrong way. Certainly, as more educators participate in OER creation and dissemination, the sharing of innovative materials and ideas will increase. Teachers will also learn more about best practices and, as they contribute their own materials, gain greater visibility and professional recognition.

If you would like to express your views on the new Department of Education OER policy proposals, you can do so here until December 18. We’d also be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.