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Aurora Institute

Support the Development and Use of Open Educational Resources (OER)

Education Domain Blog

Authors: Susan Gentz

Issues: Issues in Practice


Open educational resourceseducation concept with learn button on computer keyboard (OER) are “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” These powerful tools can help students reach college and career readiness with customizable learning materials aligned to state academic standards and provide opportunities for educator collaboration and professional development.

The Department of Education (ED) is taking steps to advance the use of OER. OER advocates were at the White House in October 2015 for a symposium on open education, which featured the launch of the Department’s “Go Open” campaign.

Along with the “Go Open” campaign, ED is proposing a new policy that would ensure educational resources and other intellectual property created through its discretionary grant programs would be openly licensed. The proposal is the first major step that the Obama Administration has taken toward fulfilling a call made by more than 100 organizations this summer for a government-wide policy to openly license federally funded educational materials.

The White House released a National Action Plan in October 2015 as well. The National Action Plan includes numerous commitments to transparency and openness by the government, and also includes a strong focus on open education and open access to research. The plan specifies three general activities the government will take to advance open education:

  • Openly license more Federal grant-supported education materials and resources,
  • Convene stakeholders to encourage further open education efforts, and
  • Publish best practices and tools for agencies interested in developing grant-supported open licensing projects, detailing how they can integrate open licensing into projects.

The Federal government can help address barriers to the effective use of OER by ensuring that any learning materials that it develops or funds is created with an open license, and by encouraging the development and use of OER as a cross-cutting grant priority.

Recommendations

  • Require educational materials developed through federal grants to be publicly available and accessible as OER.
  • Prioritize creating and distributing OER through open licensing in grants to increase access and the ability of educators to personalize learning using OER.

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