Step Forward and #GoOpen

On October 29th, 2015 the US Department of Education launched #GoOpen. The purpose was, and still is to expand and accelerate the use of openly licensed educational resources in P-12 schools. The driving force behind #GoOpen centered on equitable access of high quality, digital resources that are adaptable and modifiable.

“In a country where we expect free wi-fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools.”

This line delivered by President Obama became the mantra behind Future Ready, The National Educational Technology Plan, and #GoOpen. It’s a humbling experience to reflect on #GoOpen and how we, the Office of Educational Technology, launched a movement one year ago and to see how it’s grown from a pithy, comical hashtag to a commitment to equity and access for all students.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to keynote the Tech & Learning Live Princeton conference. There, I talked about #GoOpen and how it has evolved over the course of a year and attempted to anticipate where it is going in the next year. I structured the keynote using three vignettes to tell my #GoOpen story: What is Open Education?, How I got involved in Open Education, and Why you should #GoOpen. I shared stories of successes and failures along the way towards my fellowship at the US Department of Education. But, the most important message I wanted to convey during the keynote was from a quote in a letter penned by Abigail Adams to John Adams on October 16, 1774 when John’s voice was going unheard during the first meeting of delegates in Philadelphia.

“You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you an inactive Spectator,…”

For far too long both educators and students have been inactive spectators in the teaching and learning process. School districts and States have been handing educators scripts in the form of textbooks and proprietary software for decades. #GoOpen puts control back in the hands of the creative, content professionals across the country. Educators are our most valuable one-to-one learning device. They are far more dynamic and flexible than an iPad and have been collaborating in creative ways long before a Chromebook was ever released. Like John Adams, American educators’ voice must be heard and not serve as an inactive spectator in the teaching and learning process.

For those who think OER and movements like #GoOpen are trends or phases in education that will pass, just remember when Blockbuster video laughed off Netflix streaming. The education publishing industry is about to meet its disruptor. Since #GoOpen launched on October 29, 2015, 77 school districts have committed to #GoOpen and 18 states have committed to #GoOpen. These are numbers I never could have imagined a year ago. And, these numbers will continue to grow.

The greatest success in #GoOpen to date is how educators and district leaders talk about openly licensed educational resources. #GoOpen is not just a conversation about transitioning away from textbooks, but a transformative approach to classroom practice that is led through inquiry, project based learning, and personalized and blended learning paradigms. Schools like Lawrence Public Schools in Lawrence, KS are using a Teachers On Special Assignment or TOSA model to pay classroom teachers extra for their time and efforts in curating, organizing, vetting, and implementing openly licensed educational resources. #GoOpen is not just about a medium shift, but a complete redesign of pedagogy.

After my keynote I was asked what classrooms will look like in two, five, and ten years. My answer is pretty consistent. I hope when we look inside every single classroom in this country you see students with access to every instrument for learning they need. And, every student has an equal opportunity to create, author, and design his or her own learning. I hope every teacher in this country has the opportunity to grow professionally and learn from his or her peers across the globe. I hope school districts and states turn their backs on static instructional material publishers and reinvest in the intellectual expertise of educators. Devices and technology will only create new efficiencies and economical gains in the coming years, but they only matter if every student can access them. Because then teachers and students will no longer be spectators, but active participants in their own teaching & learning.

#GoOpen is only one small step on this journey towards educational equity. I encourage you to step forward and #GoOpen for every student and educator in this country.

If you want to learn more about #GoOpen check out the following resources:

#GoOpen Stories

#GoOpen District Launch Packet

Via Twitter Office of Ed Tech or Kristina Peters