Going Open Beyond The Hype

Before October 2015, when the #GoOpen movement began and helped inform educators and district leaders about the impact of openly licensed educational resources, the topic was rarely part of any conference. But at ISTE 2017, I saw several sessions (10 to be exact) focused on open educational resources (OER). With the uncertainty at the U.S. Department of Education and a constrained budget, it’s now up to states and district leaders to own the OER movement and begin strategizing, implementing, and sharing their OER process. District leaders need to move their schools beyond the banners of #GoOpen and start sharing proof points and models of success so that we can all learn from each other. I hope that at ISTE 2018 we will have more districts sharing their #GoOpen stories and highlighting their successes and challenges.

ISTE 2017 OER related sessions 

What It’s All About

In the session I led, “The Future of Learning is Open,” I started with an overview of what openly licensed educational resources are, and discussed what open licensing is. While this may seem old hat to those of you reading this and those in the audience this past Wednesday, it still serves as a good primer and a refresher for what this is all about. Once I finished discussing Creative Commons and some examples of how openly licensed educational resources are being implemented in P-12 schools, I led into a section simply titled, “Where do we begin?”

As I mentioned earlier, the #GoOpen movement is almost approaching its second birthday in October 2017, and we have a long way to go in order to achieve the goals of #GoOpen. It is now up to state leaders, instructional leaders, and educators to take the reigns of #GoOpen and really own this movement. Once the White House events ended and the Presidential seal cupcakes were all consumed, the real work needed to begin. When you look at #GoOpen by the numbers, it is a vast improvement from where the openly licensed educational resource conversation was before October 2015. But #GoOpen was never about the number of schools that signed on to be a #GoOpen district or the number of states committed to #GoOpen — it is really about action, educators, and high-quality equitable resources to support students.

Herein lies my frustration with #GoOpen. (And, mind you, I was on the ground floor of launching this movement while at the Office of Educational Technology and am proud to call this some of my most meaningful work in my career.) But, we need to continue as educators, as instructional leaders, and as state leaders to drive this momentum into the next decade and really begin to share proof points of success rather than just a collection of school names and states on a webpage.

Steps to Take

In my session this past Wednesday, I challenged the audience to take one element of my presentation and share it globally or internally with their team, district, or state. Now I am challenging everyone who reads this piece to begin acting and start the conversation amongst your team, your district, or your state that will expand and accelerate the adoption of openly licensed educational resources in place of static, traditional textbooks.

In Massachusetts, we are doing this as a state and through our Massachusetts Personalized Learning and EdTech consortium (MAPLE). We are also reaching out to our sister New England states to take action with us and find alignments along our respective OER roadmaps. Two weeks ago, the first conversation happened with representatives from MA, ME, and RI coming together to define why we are doing this, state our goals, and come up with action steps. We don’t have a website, a title, or a logo, but we have an action plan that we will be devising to support students and educators within our respective states. We hope to share this journey globally and speak on its behalf at future conferences and engagements.

When I stood at the White House on October 29, 2015 and looked out at the representatives from P-12 school districts, education policy makers, nonprofits, and, technology companies, I saw the potential of #GoOpen. The energy in the room that day was palpable. I managed to take a few mental snapshots that day because I knew what we were doing in that room would be historic. It may not seem like it today, but I know the energy in that room has carried on and will continue to spark this movement forward.

We owe our current students and future generations the opportunity to have the best educational experience no matter the zip code they live in. And we have the collective drive and intelligence to make that happen. This is our moment for our students and students to come. Richard Culatta, chief executive officer of ISTE, shared his three shifts in the use of edtech.

Shift #1: From delivery to exploration

Shift #2: From “one size fits all” to personalized

Shift #3: From access for the few to closing the equity gap

These shifts give me great hope that the promise of #GoOpen will be fulfilled sooner than later, but we need to act now and not let another generation of students pass us by.

I will leave you with three action steps you can begin.

  1. Send a tweet about what your district is doing regarding OER and tag it with #GoOpen
  2. Lead a conversation or presentation on OER at a conference or your school’s next PD day and share the experience.
  3. Share your favorite places to go for high-quality, inclusive OER.

All are welcome to share on this post, or via Twitter using the #GoOpen hashtag