We have all heard about the future of “21st century” education: student-centered, project-based, technology-based, and more “authentic” learning experiences. As we move toward the future and implement more technology into our planning, instruction, and assessment, it is important to keep this in mind. One of the biggest hurdles for teachers is finding educational resources online. With the introduction of the iPad and other tablets, the initial focus was on interactive textbooks created by publishers. These “ebooks” are cool and flashy but very expensive. The next phase was for teachers to create their own digital textbooks. This can be done but is also very time consuming. Considering we are all in the process of implementing the Common Core and new science standards, the content of these books is also very much in flux and subject to change. The current trend is to use OER – Open Educational Resources. The “open” implies free resources that can be used by educators and shared with their students.
As educators and students are increasingly looking to technology and digital resources. Policymakers need to recognize that digital is more than print on a screen or flat, digitized text and images. Digital enables the redesign and transformation of textbooks and instructional materials to be more robust, interactive, and personalized; and digital includes multi-media, simulations, online courses, adaptive tutorial course ware, and serious learning games.
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is committed to improving teaching and learning through the effective use of educational technologies and digital learning. SIIA views Open Educational Resources (OER) as one of many appropriate models for the development and distribution of content needed to meet the needs of students and educators. SIIA’s OER agenda (and this Guide) is focused on helping all stakeholders better understand the benefits, challenges, and total costs to consider in determining the appropriate model for developing and implementing Open Educational Resources. SIIA expects that future educational needs will be addressed by a mix of instructional materials, including OER, and that there is a critical, though perhaps evolving role for commercial partners and proprietary models.
Open Education Resources Are Here To Stay
In a new report by the Software & Information Industry Association, “Guide to the Use of Open Educational Resources in K-12 and Postsecondary Education,” Open Educational Resources are here to stay. This white paper from the SIIA’s Education Division’s working group was written to provide an increased understanding of OER’s impact and usage in schools.
This Guide provides a framework for understanding Open Educational Resources (OER), and it examines development and implementation costs, current business models, government and philanthropy’s role, and other considerations around the use of OER.
The Guide includes the following:
- OER Definition, including full explanations of related copyright and licensing issues
- Total Cost of Development/Ownership of instructional materials, including implications for those creating and implementing OER
- Business/Funding Models being used to develop and support OER by content developers and aggregators, both for-profit and non-profit
- Government Initiatives, including a sampling of key federal, state and international OER policies and grants
- OER Frequently Asked Questions
The guide was developed under the direction of the SIIA OER working group. It was authored by independent consultants Sue Collins of CollinsConsults and Peter Levy of Learning in Motion. Their knowledge, perseverance, and commitment to excellence made this document possible. The guide is available to all under a CC-BY license and is especially crafted to inform legislators, government officials, education leaders, faculty, and content developers and aggregators.
This guide will attempt to inform discussion and help answer many important questions about OER definitions, quality, sustainability, total cost of development, and implementation, among others. It is informed by decades of experience of the authors, SIIA, and SIIA member companies in partnering with education stakeholders to address the vast, varied, and evolving needs for open educational resources and technologies. It was also informed by feedback from organizations that advocate for the use of OER. SIIA hopes this paper will help lead to sound educational resource policies needed to meet educational needs moving forward.
Some SIIA members develop OER and/or integrate them into their platforms and learning applications, while others develop, support, and use open source software. Most SIIA members and digital resource publishers employ a commercial license to distribute their content and applications. SIIA members invest many millions of dollars each year to research, develop, and deploy innovative educational content and technologies. They have extensive experience in not only developing a wide range of educational resources, but also in supporting their distribution, effective use, and ongoing improvement.
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