Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Open Content On The Horizon of Education – Part II (#OER)

(continued from Open Content On The Horizon of Education – Part I)

As more learning takes place on mobile platforms in informal settings, open content can be leveraged to design and equip the personal learning environments
of lifelong learners. The Responsive Open Learning Environments (ROLE) project, a collaborative project supported by the European Commission, promotes the idea of self-regulated learning, or making students responsible for their own learning activities by showing them how to use technology and open resources. Because ROLE’s framework is open source, tools and materials created by individuals can be added to a pool of resources that all institutions can benefit from. (

A sampling of applications of open content across disciplines includes the following

History. Learn NC is a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education to make resources and best practices in K-12 freely and widely available. Their digital textbook for eighth grade history contains a collection of primary sources, readings, and multimedia that can be searched and rearranged:

Mathematics. Arizona instructor James Sousa has been teaching math for 15 years at both the community college and K-12 levels. He has developed more than
2,600 video tutorials on topics from arithmetic to calculus, which are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license:

Science. A partnership between Brigham Young University’s David Wiley and the Hewlett Foundation sparked a project in which teachers from 18 districts and four charter schools across Utah pulled together science resources to create free digital textbooks:

Open Content in Practice

The following links provide examples of open content in use in K-12 education settings:

Curriki (

Curriki is a nonprofit aimed at creating a global community for sharing curriculum and best practices in K-12. Over 46,000 resources contributed by educators,
partners, and parents are available through the site, organized by topic and rated by users.

Gooru (

Gooru is a STEM education research, search, and curation portal that relies on crowd sourcing and collective intelligence. A team of educators is tagging curated teaching resources at the conceptual level. They identify factually correct, image-rich web content that can aid students and teachers when they are learning
about a specific subject, such as velocity.

Mathematics Vision Project (

The Mathematics Vision Project, in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education, provides sequenced curriculum modules for mathematics. Using a Creative Commons 3.0 license, the material can be shared and remixed with proper attribution.


MERLOT, a multimedia educational resource for online learning, is a California State University program that houses a collection of open learning materials from
a range of disciplines, including English, physics, and world languages.

Open Textbooks in Poland (

The Office of the Polish Prime Minister implemented the biggest governmental open educational resources initiative in that nation to date, mandating opencontent
textbooks for grades four through six.

Share My Lesson (

Share My Lesson is an online community where educators can access and exchange educational resources. Registered users can search by grade, discipline, or topic, and connect with others through discussion forums.

For Further Reading

The following articles and resources are recommended for those who wish to learn more about open content.

80 Open Education Resource (OER) Tools for Publishing and Development Initiatives (

(Open Education Database, 18 March 2013.) This compilation provides institutions with open resources for a range of academic activities, including publishing
content, building online courses, tutoring students, and collaborating on projects.

Guide to the Use of Open Educational Resources in K-12 and Postsecondary Education (PDF) (

(Sue Collins, Peter Levy, SIIA, March 2013.) Many important questions about open educational resources are answered, including inquiries on quality, sustainability, total cost of development, and implementation.

Open Resources: Transforming the Way Knowledge Is Spread (

(D. D. Guttenplan, The New York Times, 18 March 2012.) This article examines the state of open content in education. The author sees open content as vital to
extending literacy and opportunity while cutting costs for schools, families, and students worldwide.

“Opening” a New Kind of School: The Story of the Open High School of Utah (

(DeLaina Tonks, Sarah Weston, et al., The International Review of Research in Distance and Open Learning, March 2013.) The Open High School of Utah is a full-time online high school whose courses are developed and taught in Moodle. They have committed to an OER curriculum to help reduce long-term costs and empower teachers in building and teaching high quality material.

Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age (

(Fletcher, G., Schaffhauser, D, & Levin, D. State Educational Technology Directors Association, 2012.) The authors of this report argue that traditional textbooks should be replaced with high-quality online resources that are up to date and easily accessible. Digital content is more flexible than printed materials because it allows teachers to benefit from a greater selection of open educational resources and provides the possibility of customized lesson plans.

Survey on Governments’ Open Educational Resources Policies (

(Sarah Hoosen, Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO, June 2012) In a survey of 82 countries, data was collected about the uptake and impact of OER in
both K-12 and higher education environments across the world. The discussion looks at OER in Asia and the Pacific, Arab States, Europe, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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