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Open Educational Resources: iNACOL Outlines Policy Recommendations

"Today’s textbooks are obsolete and the acquisition process is broken," according to a new report from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), but as schools work toward implementing Common Core State Standards, open educational resources (OER) can help them provide students with customized content much faster and more cost effectively than the traditional textbook acquisition model.

Open educational resources are learning materials that are available for educators to access and share for the purpose of personalizing instruction. The report, "OER State Policy in K-12 Education: Benefits, Strategies, and Recommendations for Open Access, Open Sharing" outlines seven recommendations for policymakers about how they can help teachers build educational resources, share materials, and personalize instruction by allowing publicly funded learning materials to be shared openly as OER.

Sharing publicly funded learning materials helps reduce duplication of effort across states and maximize resources, according to the report. It points to Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Maine as "bellwether states" that have successfully implemented OER policies and draws on the experience of those states to provide recommendations for OER policy implementation elsewhere.

"Education leaders can move away from re-creating the wheel in all 50 states and territories, enabling sharing and collaboration with learning materials, resources, and professional development to implement deeper learning and world-class academic standards," said Susan Patrick, president and CEO of iNACOL, in a prepared statement. "This report highlights ways in which state policymakers can support the collaborative development of open educational resources (OER) to foster personalized learning."

Three key recommendations from the report are:

  • Emphasize that materials created by state, regional, or local entities using public funds will hold an open license for sharing, collaboration, and access for all educators and students;
  • Allow states with instructional materials lists to include vetted OER; and
  • Allow instructional materials and other funding to support development, maintenance, and infrastructure for OER and technology infrastructure with flexible uses of funding.

The complete report, "OER State Policy in K-12 Education: Benefits, Strategies, and Recommendations for Open Access, Open Sharing" describes the benefits of OER, provides examples of OER policy models, outlines barriers and opportunities for OER, and provides seven OER policy recommendations. It's freely available in PDF form on iNACOL's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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