#GoOpen accelerates digital curriculum buy-in and boosts equity

The national movement is accelerating the creation and sharing of open educational resources (OER) by educators.
By: | Issue: March, 2019
February 14, 2019
#GoOpen#GoOpen is accelerating the creation and sharing of open educational resources (OER) by educators.

The concept of free and accessible learning materials is not new to education, but a national movement called #GoOpen is accelerating the creation and sharing of open educational resources (OER) by educators, and helping to improve equity in the process.

Launched in 2015 and led by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, the #GoOpen initiative continues to support states and districts in the curation and creation of OER. As of January, 110 districts and 20 states have officially participated in #GoOpen by downloading, editing and sharing lessons, curricula and texts for free.

#GoOpen participants commit to replacing at least one textbook that is due for renewal with an openly licensed educational resource. Administrators can then reallocate funds previously spent on books to support the transition to digital learning, such as for technology infrastructure and deeper professional development.

#GoOpen help builds ‘culturally responsive’ materials

OER use can save districts money. Another big benefit is the opportunity to freely adopt course materials, texts, videos and software that are more relevant to a diverse group of learners and are less static than traditional learning resources, says Kristina Ishmael, a former K12 open education fellow at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology.

“The teaching force still does not reflect the students in our classroom, but OER use is a way to ensure that our instructional materials do,” Ishmael says. Resources and supports exist to help educators find OER that fit specific content areas and grade levels, says Ishmael.

For example, as district leaders curate existing materials and create new ones as part of the #GoOpen program, they participate in a community that shares learning resources and best practices. The #GoOpen ambassador districts also mentor newcomers.

States joining the initiative must develop a statewide repository for openly licensed materials, and create a webpage to document progress.

‘Sharing and freedom’

OER use boosts equity, saves money and promotes the use of timely and relevant resources, says Molly Yowell, digital content creator for the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of eLearning. Also, new leadership roles for teachers have emerged because they usually join the #GoOpen teams that vet and create OER.

“As a teacher, OER use allows you to have ownership of your content, and shows that your district trusts you to use the instructional materials necessary to help every student learn in your classroom,” Yowell says. Use of OER also provides flexibility for teachers to customize their classrooms each school year or semester.

In making the shift to digital, administrators should embolden teachers to own their curriculum, and remind them that they are the content experts who know what their students need, Yowell says.

“Teachers who make the transition to OER use need to see it as an opportunity rather than a burden, and need to embrace a culture that promotes sharing and freedom,” says Yowell.

OER professional resources

• The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology’s #GoOpen District Launch Packet offers advice for implementing OER materials.
New America’s Making Connections: PreK-12 OER in Practice project site includes a map of districts using OER and a repository of openly licensed tools and professional learning resources.