Teachers learn to share with OERs

Across the U.S., educators have embraced open education resources – shared databases containing relevant information, classroom software and other useful classroom technologies.

Teachers have for years told their students that “sharing is caring.” Now, in terms of the classroom computer resources, educators may be heeding their own advice.

Across the United States, educators have begun more openly embracing the concept of open education resources (OERs) such as shared databases containing relevant information, classroom software and other technologies that may prove useful in individual schools, according to The Hewlett Foundation. For example, Digital Directions reported that the Utah Department of Education is in the process of having all of its required textbooks be from OERs. In addition, South Dakota already provides all of the materials teachers need to meet state-mandated standards in a shared setting.

“As a consequence of this historic national transition to these common standards, there are a lot of states going through the exercise of, ‘OK, how do we ensure that our resources are the right ones? How do we do that in a way that’s affordable? How do we work with our peers to develop it?’” Reginal Leichty, a partner in Washington-based education law and policy-consulting firm EducationCounsel, said to Digital Directions. “There are windows for policy change, and common core has just by its nature necessarily caused this conversation to begin.”

Positives of OERs
According to advocates of the OER system, the benefits are twofold. As states apply more centralized benchmarks for students to meet, education officials can turn to an OER system to make sure that teachers have all the necessary materials to inform pupils about the requisite topics, Digital Directions reported.

In addition, the news source said that budgetary constraints are pushing school districts to more fully embrace the OER model. Instead of each school being on the hook for obtaining its own supplies and classroom management software, a shared resources model means that districts are no longer bearing the financial brunt of attaining all of the necessary technological resources.

However, in order for a shared resources initiative to be successful, teachers need to be trained and knowledgeable about the new system, according to Digital Directions. If OER is to work at a particular school or classroom, teachers need to know how to use and access the materials on their own time in addition to knowing how to share the resources with students in a way that is as effective as textbook-based learning.

Is sharing resources through a digital initiative the ideal way to implement classroom management at the provincial or state level? How can educators ensure that they always have secure access to the materials? Leave your comments below to let us know what you think about the OER system!

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.