Open educational resources and collaborative content development

Education Schools Information technology Economic development North America

Introduction and Purpose
“At the heart of the movement toward Open Educational Resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general, and the Worldwide Web in particular, provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and re-use knowledge.”
— The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

More than $9 billion taxpayer dollars annually support textbooks and instructional materials in schools. Today’s students are ready to embrace personalized learning beyond textbooks. In the United States until 2011, 50 states have had 50 different sets of academic standards, and every state has reinvented the wheel in buying or creating instructional materials and academic curricula aligned to these state-specific standards. There is tremendous interest today in sharing and collaborating around publicly developed educational content through innovations such as open educational resources.

Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials made available for sharing, accessing and reusing through a public or open license. Without a designation of an open license, the learning resources are “locked down” by traditional copyright laws and sharing is limited. By asserting an open license, all taxpayer-funded educational resources, professional development, and learning materials created can be freely shared within and across state boundaries. Organizations and entities receiving federal or state taxpayer funds to create educational resources have a moral obligation to share those resources publicly.

Individually, states, districts, and schools have limited financial and other resources, but they share a need for high quality, rigorous content to meet the needs of a diverse array of learners and educators. Working collaboratively, states can develop, adopt, and share high quality content and courses for use and re-use. Recent educational reforms, including states’ transition to Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English/language arts, offer an unprecedented opportunity for innovative state partnerships to collaborate on learning resources aimed at improving instruction and helping all students prepare for success in college and career.

Authors: TJ Bliss, Idaho State Department of Education

DeLaina Tonks, Mountain Heights Academy

Susan Patrick, iNACOL

Publication Details