Happy Birthday, #GoOpen!

One year ago today, the U.S. Department of Education launched #GoOpen, a national movement to expand and accelerate the adoption of openly licensed educational resources in K-12 school districts and at state departments of education. From the moment that district and state leaders gathered at the White House among nonprofit organizations and platform providers, we knew that something special would grow out of this work. As of today, we are thrilled to report that 91 districts and 18 states have now taken the pledge to #GoOpen.

#GoOpen District leaders and researchers discuss OER research priorities.

Since October 2015, there have been several highlights in #GoOpen’s development. In February 2016, the Department organized the first ever national #GoOpen Exchange for districts to share OER strategies with each other. Additionally, the first cohort of states committed to providing guidance and leadership for districts making this transition, integrating their state repository with the Learning Registry, and joining a state community of practice. In May 2016, #GoOpen state leaders convened for the first time to strategically plan and organize three task forces that align to state #GoOpen commitments. The work of these task forces is ongoing, and we anticipate releasing a #GoOpen State Launch Packet later this year. In June 2016, the Office of Educational Technology released the #GoOpen District Launch Packet, the first guide for strategically adopting and maintaining openly licensed educational resources as an integral part of the curriculum plan at the district level. In July 2016, Liberty Public Schools in Liberty, MO hosted and organized the nation’s first #GoOpen Regional Summit that brought more than 40 districts together to learn, share, and plan their #GoOpen work. Just a few weeks later, North Reading Public Schools hosted the second #GoOpen Regional Summit in Cambridge, MA with over 20 districts and Vista Unified School District hosted the third #GoOpen Regional Summit in Vista, CA with nearly 200 educators attending.

Over the last year, we have heard inspiring stories and worked with dedicated educators in the open movement. District leaders are reevaluating uses of instructional materials, determining how they can transition to openly licensed educational resources, and starting to prepare teachers through professional learning opportunities. Educators are unpacking standards; searching and discovering resources to match standard indicators; and tagging and curating resources that offered students and teachers options for personalizing learning. Two districts who engaged in these processes are featured in the #GoOpen District Launch Packet:

Leading with Professional Learning: Liberty Public Schools, Liberty, MO

Liberty Public Schools’ systemic approach to implementing openly licensed educational resources started with making the decision a year ahead about which textbooks and instructional materials would be replaced by openly licensed educational resources. As a starting point, the district also implemented intensive professional learning for the teachers who would be most affected by the change.

Liberty’s #GoOpen Team lead, Dr. Eric Langhorst, facilitating the “What is OER? Why is it Good for Teaching and Learning?” session at the #GoOpen Regional Summit — Liberty.

After making the decision to replace its current social studies and science curricula, Liberty decided to take a portion of the money set aside to purchase static textbooks in those content areas and invest it in professional learning experiences that would help teachers in those subject areas learn how to create and curate openly licensed educational resources. Liberty also used some of the funds to support teachers in learning new classroom models such as project-based learning that would become more feasible to implement given the flexibility of openly licensed educational resources. This intensive support built capacity for the transition and motivated teachers to both create and curate the needed learning resources and learn effective ways to use them in new more engaging learning models.

Teachers Make It Happen: Coronado Unified School District, Coronado, CA

Coronado Unified has been using openly licensed educational resources to create both core and supplemental instructional materials for four years. The district has found that creating quality resources takes a like-minded, motivated team of educators and dedicated hours of curating and revising the resources into usable tools for instruction. The district is fortunate to have teachers willing to do this rigorous work. Contributions include creating the resources, integrating them into existing instructional materials, and updating them annually. The district remunerates teachers for this work, which open resource experts estimate at about one third of the cost of adopting static, traditional resources.

In addition to financial rewards, a significant benefit to teacher-writers of openly licensed educational resources is the professional development inherent in evaluating resources for alignment with standards, assessments, and exemplary instructional practices, as well as alignment between members of the department or grade level who create the materials.

We are proud to celebrate the birthday of #GoOpen today knowing all of the work that has gone into its development in 365 days. Moving forward, we trust #GoOpen will continue to grow as more districts see the opportunity to increase equity, reallocate funds, provide relevant digital learning resources, and empower teachers as creative professionals.

Are you in a district that has not yet decided to #GoOpen? Contact tech@ed.gov for more information.

Now is the time to #GoOpen!

Additional resources from OET and committed organizations:

Kristina Peters is the former K-12 Open Education Fellow (2016–2017) in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. Kristina has experience as a classroom teacher, ELL teacher, digital learning specialist, and professional developer. She passionately advocates for the use of openly licensed educational resources in K-12 teaching and learning.