Why does your school community still charge itself for expensive textbooks when fully accredited resources are available for free? For some schools the answer is simple: they are controlled by local and state requirements to use certain books. For other schools where these overly prescriptive regulations do not apply, news out of the Hewlett Foundation is another advance towards deeper, more differentiated learning, and away from rigid assembly line learning. And Edutopia just published this guide to Open Educational Resources.
I have advocated on behalf of efforts like those of CK-12 Foundation to make these resources available to all schools, and am amazed when schools either don’t use, or don’t even know of their availability. This is a no-brainer in a time when every school is pressed for resources. Now, the Hewlett Foundation, one of the nation’s leaders in education transformation, has announced they will push even harder in this area, both in the post-secondary and K-12 arenas.
According to Hewlett, 10% of K-12 teachers already regularly use open educational resources (OER), and this number will grow rapidly in the next few years. What can your school do to move with, not behind, this inevitable curve?
- Prioritize PD funds for teachers who want to build their own curricula using OER.
- Allocate PD funds for teachers, including department chairs, to connect with sources like Hewlett and CK-12 and find out what is available for free.
- Pilot co-development of curricula in high school classes between students and teachers; initiate “write your own textbook” projects.
- Set a target for adoption of OER; something like a 50% reduction in textbook purchases in the next three years would be highly achievable and result in significant cost savings.
- Lobby district and state-level leaders to allow use of accredited OER materials.
None of this makes the textbook publishers happy, but they are on the back side of an inevitable innovation in learning, one that will bring costs down and quality up.