Across the United States, a growing number of states and school districts are looking to open educational resources (OER) to improve student learning. OER are freely available educational materials that can be downloaded, edited, and shared. They can take many different forms, from individual worksheets and lesson plans to full textbooks and curricula.
States and districts have reported that investing in OER has allowed them to reallocate significant funds previously spent on inflexible, static learning materials, and reinvest in resources and activities that accelerate the transition to digital learning. This has included implementing new professional learning programs for teachers, developing a robust technology infrastructure to support digital learning, and funding new leadership roles for educators who curate and create OER.
The transition to OER has been about more than cost savings, though. In districts and schools where educators have had the opportunity to curate and create high-quality openly-licensed educational resources, they have reported freedom to design and implement personalized learning experiences for students that traditional instructional materials cannot always support. For example, OER can allow teachers to design personalized playlists for students and students to curate and create their own resources as they work on solving a problem.
For the past four years, New America has been tracking the growing use of OER across the country. Beginning in 2017, New America’s Public Interest Technology and Education Policy programs have fostered collaboration between a range of PreK–12 organizations that support OER work in states and districts. This interactive toolkit has been built with the goal of reflecting and sharing that work. It will grow as New America’s work in this space continues, with additional resources added on an ongoing basis—and your input can help! If your state or district is creating, using, and sharing OER, we want to recognize and help to share your work. Please contact us here with your OER stories.