The term “Open Educational Resources” (OER) has been around for nearly two decades, since a 2002 Forum of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Defined then as "teaching, learning and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license,” while some aspects of OER have changed—others haven’t.
A is for Access.
Extensive research has shown student outcomes can improve dramatically when OER is implemented into classrooms. 121 districts in 20 states have joined the U.S. Department of Education's #GoOpen initiative supporting the “use of openly licensed educational resources to transform teaching and learning." Many support the move toward OER for its potential cost savings, replacing the need for expensive, outdated textbooks with more cost-effective materials and texts, streaming videos, software and other interactive tools.
Yet, although it has been hailed as an opportunity to provide freely-available curriculum for all, OER implementation hasn’t reached systemic levels. Most school districts say that OER is at least part of their overall curriculum-selection strategy, though many administrations are yet to understand the breadth of OER resources that are now available.
It is often the faculty themselves researching and curating OER materials, with little or no professional learning programs to help teachers integrate new resources into their classrooms. All too often, districts must also rely on multiple curricula resources with varying degrees of consistency, vetting, and validation.
B is for Benefits.
The key to harnessing its tremendous potential was recently highlighted in a Education Week op-ed confirming that “a growing base of research suggests that K-12 students perform as well, if not better, when teachers use high-quality OER.”
Note the phrase “high-quality.” That’s the differentiator.
Since many OER repositories allow any user to create an account and post material, some resources may not meet core standards. Others may not be relevant to all student populations, or accommodate children with special needs. More problematically, some materials have been found to be inaccurate or convey inherent bias on social issues. Also discouraging from an implementation perspective, many open resources lack instructor copies, outlines, quizzes/tests or other materials that can make textbook publisher offerings attractive.
C is for Consistency.
The mission of Open Up Resources (OUR) is to increase equity in education by making excellent, top-rated curricula freely available to districts. OUR provides students and educators with freely accessible, research-backed and standards-aligned core materials in English Language Arts, Math, and Social & Emotional Learning.
Partnering with expert authors to develop and publish evidence-based teaching programs, OUR uses top K-12 rubrics and 3rd-party independent validation for quality reviews. All OUR curricula is refined through classroom experience, collaborating with teachers and district administrators to continually improve each program. Additionally, supports for English Language Learners and students with disabilities are consistently being integrated.
With a full suite of professional learning and set-up services, OUR provides end-to-end support. Options include curriculum-specific Professional Learning programs, one-on-one guidance from expert coaches, and a variety of continuous learning methodologies.
As the Education Week op-ed notes, “The use of OER enhances educators’ ability to adapt materials in ways that meet the needs of individual students, improving equity and engagement.” Far from just replacing costly textbooks, the piece continues, “OER materials have the potential to provide more relevant, engaging materials adapted by teachers to meet the needs of their specific student populations.”
So why does higher quality matter? “One of our biggest lessons was that good OER use mirrors good classroom practice,” says the article’s author. Open Up Resources was founded on the principle of sharing only the highest-quality curriculum materials with as many teachers and students as possible.
OUR = Quality OER. Open Up Resources is now making a significant difference in school systems all across America—because the OUR model is different. OUR education partners, expert curriculum authors, and rigorous standards align seamlessly to create the highest quality OER available. Just as importantly, OUR is there through the implementation process to provide consistent, continuing education for teachers.
It’s a challenging goal for any school district to integrate new curriculum into their classrooms. Choosing providers isn’t as easy as ABC, but OUR can be your best step forward.
About Open Up Resources:
Open Up Resources is a 501c3 that exists to increase equity in education by making the highest quality curriculum freely accessible to educators and providing implementation supports to the broadest number of teachers, empowering them to effectively and sustainably improve student outcomes in pre-K-12 English Language Arts and Mathematics. To learn more about Open Up Resources' mission and work, click here.