The key to solving a puzzle is to find the pieces that fit together! The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) consists of several pieces — one being placing emphasis on personalized learning for students supported by the use of openly licensed digital content. ESSA authorizes a formula-based funding source for states and school districts interested in using openly licensed digital content and related professional development to support teaching and learning. Additionally, Title IV Part A, ESSA’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program, permits grantees to use funds for developing and using openly licensed educational content and making instructional content widely available through open educational resources (OER). As the last piece of the puzzle we need to ask “who is the best person to connect these pieces?” The school librarian!
So What Are OER?
OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge” (The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation).
Why Use Openly Licensed Educational Resources?
- Increase Equity – All students have access to high-quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content because openly licensed educational resources can be freely distributed to anyone.
- Empower Teachers – Openly licensed educational resources empower teachers as creative professionals by giving them the ability to adapt and customize learning materials to meet the needs of their students without breaking copyright laws.
- Save Money – Switching to educational materials that are openly licensed enables schools to re-purpose funding spent on static textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning.
(Source: US Dept. of Education)
The Right Fit for School Librarians – Lead the Digital Transition!
- Learn all about OER, local and state initiatives, and how you can support the transition to digital resource use to personalize learning in your school.
Seventeen states and over 100+ school districts have signed on to the #GoOpen national initiative to create an “open education ecosystem” — see if you are one of them. (Source: Open Education, US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology)
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), an AASL partner organization, has just released a new toolkit to assist with guidance to schools, districts, and states regarding the selection of instructional materials; to inform instructional materials adoption policies and ongoing review processes at the state level; to encourage state leadership as related to instructional materials selection and procurement; to inform the private sector with an outline of considerations regarding the instructional materials selection and adoption process; and to share resources for a variety of stakeholders involved in the process of selecting instructional materials. (Source: SETDA, “From Print to Digital: Guide to Quality Instructional Materials” )
- Become familiar with existing OER portals, make them discoverable, and help teachers in the selection and curation of resources for students in your school.
- Develop your own understanding of Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons licensing to assist teachers to understand their options when it comes to using resources.
- Build meaningful inquiry around these resources.
For more great recommendations, see Joyce Valenza’s NeverEnding Search blog post titled “OER and you. The curation mandate” (School Library Journal, Feb. 28, 2016).
For more information about OER and ESSA, make sure to check out AASL’s ESSA page.