Page 18 - THE Journal, June/July 2017
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district is looking to scale up its OER by getting more educators involved.
“As we move forward, we want to train our teachers on how to vet open resources,” she said. “We’re going to use the librarians in each building to help with that.”
Loudoun County, Virginia
In Virginia’s Loudoun County, Superin- tendent Eric Williams has led a sweeping initiative to use technology for empowering students to make meaningful contributions
supplement their use of textbooks,” she said. “It seemed natural for us to help them.”
Building off the Education Department’s #GoOpen campaign, Virginia launched
an OER program of its own, called GoOpenVA. Loudoun County became one of six Virginia school divisions involved in the program.
Loudoun County decided to find, curate and develop OER in three subject areas to begin with, said Adina Popa,
These teacher leaders are assembling OER collections for their respective subject areas for use beginning in the fall. To support them in this task, the school system has created a customized rubric for evaluating OER, based on the rubrics.
One challenge that Loudoun County is still trying to solve is finding a platform
for teachers to publish and share the open resources they discover and create for their classes. “We’re currently looking for such a platform,” Popa said, “but that’s not stopping our work.”
Using open resources enhances the spirit of collaboration among staff, Ellis said. She added: “The experience of finding, curating and creating online is something we’re asking our teachers to help our students do. It’s important that teachers are able to model that experience as well.”
Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer with 20 years of experience covering educa- tion and technology. He can be reached at
One of Hickman’s first acts as superintendent was to send nearly $1 million worth of new textbooks that his predecessor had ordered back to their publishers.
to the world. Using OER fits in nicely with this initiative, which is called “One to the World,” said Ashley Ellis, director of instructional programs.
“Our teachers were finding rich instructional resources on their own to
supervisor for educational technology: Algebra I, World History I and Virginia Studies. “We contacted the supervisors for these departments and asked them to recommend the names of teachers who could lead this work,” Popa said.
Three Tips for USING OER Successfully As more school systems look to integrate open educational resources (OER) into
instruction, here are three tips on how to make this transition successful.
Lead with the “why.” When teachers understand the benefits of using OER in their classrooms, they are more likely to embrace this change. For instance, Virginia’s Loudoun County Public Schools explained how using OER fit in with the school system’s One to the World initiative, which uses technology for empowering students to make meaningful connections to the world. “We were pleasantly surprised to discover that our teachers didn’t see this as just one more thing to do,” said Adina Popa, supervisor for educational technology, “but as something they always needed.”
Start small. Begin with a single subject area, lesson or unit, recommends Kelly Hart, an ELA teacher for the Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas. “That helps make believers out of teachers,” she said, “one lesson at a time.”
Know the difference between free and openly licensed content. Not all content that is freely available is openly licensed, Hart said. Openly licensed content can be shared, enhanced, built upon and customized. Look for content with a Creative Commons license.
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