Posts Tagged ‘oer’

New open educational resources project

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Many of you know that I have gotten very involved in the area of open educational resources (OER) as a tool for differentiating instruction.

If you aren’t familiar, OER are materials used for teaching and learning that are free from copyright restrictions or are publicly licensed for anyone to use, adapt, and redistribute. One example of an open license is Creative Commons.

I got interested in this area because of the need to be able to modify and “remix” materials in order to differentiate instruction, using tools like netbooks….and also out of a disillusionment with how much money is spent on textbooks that often aren’t even used.

I am working on a new project now to look at the feasibility of producing a core curriculum offering that is open-licensed. It could be distributed in a variety of formats, including print and electronic. Initially, we are looking at middle school math as a content area.

As a part of this, we are gathering ideas from teachers and administrators on what they’d like to see in a product like this. We want to talk with administrators and teachers to get their ideas to make sure that this new OER product meets their needs.

If you are interested, email me at Karen AT k12opened DOT com. Thank you.

ISTE is asking for input on next year’s keynote

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

ISTE 2010 (formerly NECC) is using a collaborative process to choose the keynote topic for next year’s conference.

Imagine my delight at seeing Open Educational Resources (OER) near the top of the list!

For those of you who don’t know much about OER, they are materials used for teaching and learning that are free from copyright restrictions or are publicly licensed for anyone to use, adapt, and redistribute. OERs are distinguished from other digital and/or free materials by the fact that they are open, meaning that they can be modified and redistributed freely by anyone.

Here’s a short backgrounder with more information.

OER is where I’m spending a lot of my time these days, because I believe this is a key component to helping teachers and students to have more control over differentiating their learning experiences with mobile technology and other tools. And it is certainly a nice side benefit that this movement could redirect a lot of funding that currently goes to textbooks (unused in many classrooms) to other more fruitful uses, like professional development, coaching/mentoring, etc.


Monday, June 8th, 2009

I am really excited about two hands-on sessions I’m facilitating at NECC in DC this year. They both concern open educational resources (OER), which are free and open digital content resources for educators. I think that OERs can be a critical piece is differentiating instruction.

In these sessions, we’ll be exploring open licensed photos, clip art and music; looking at open wiki-based textbooks; using an an open licensed kids dictionary; and creating and improving other OERs. Here are the times:

Open-Licensed Content: The Missing Piece
[Formal Session: Open Source Lab]
Monday, 6/29/2009, 8:30am–9:30am WWCC 152 B

Open Educational Resources: Share, Remix, Learn
[Formal Session: BYOL]
Tuesday, 6/30/2009, 12:30pm–1:30pm WWCC 151 B

I’ll also be in the 21st Century Media Center Playground on Mon. from 12-2 showing mobile technology tools that can be used to differentiate instruction and in the Open Source Playground (Mon. from 2-4 and Tues. from 2-4) showing open content and talking about how you can use this free resource in your school.

Hope to see you in DC!

Stimulus funding for open curriculum

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

There is a flood of stimulus money coming into education this summer, including a substantial amount for ed tech. This is one-time funding that is to be spent quickly, but in a way that yields significant, long-term gains.

I can think of no better way to use such funding than to develop high-quality, open-licensed curriculum resources that would be available for free use worldwide. Teachers and students in one-to-one laptop programs across the country could benefit from this content.

A more detailed concept paper of this idea is available here.

If you are with a school district that would be interested in a collaboration on such a project, please contact me at karen at k12opened dot com.

Tag sets for PD

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

I don’t know why I didn’t do this a long time ago, but I have just created annotated tag sets for two of my workshops (I guess I get the “bookmarking” part of social bookmarking, but sometimes forget about the “social” part.):

Web 2.0 — All You Can Eat Buffet
Using Open educational resources – Share, Remix, Learn

I already do wikis for all my workshop, and tag sets are another logical step of going to all-electronic workshop materials. Both of these tools are also a nice way to continue to deliver new info long after the workshops are over and to share with a wider audience.

Developing educational materials as service learning

Monday, April 27th, 2009

What a great idea! DeAnza College DeAnza College has a community service learning project that involves developing open educational resources. They suggest several projects that students can contribute to.

What a phenomenal way to teach about open education, while also contributing something to the world at large.

This would be a great idea for service learning for K-12 students. Have them write or edit a Wikipedia article; write a definition or two for the open dictionary; or open license some of their own photos, clipart, or video and upload to a site like Flickr, WP Clip Art, TeacherTube, or NextVista.

A passion for content

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Some of you may have noticed that through this summer, I’ve been writing a little less on this blog. The reason is that over the past year, I have gotten very involved in the area of Open Education (similar to open source software, but focused on content) and thinking and writing a lot about that.

This interest has grown out of my work in developing content for mobile devices. I have come to the conclusion that mainstream textbook publishers are not likely to come out with meaningful content for mobile devices, and so we are forging on without them. :) After developing a large library of content on a contract basis for schools, we are now looking at open-licensed work as a more far-reaching strategy.

If you are interested in Open Ed and my thoughts on it, you might also want to read my Open Ed blog and check out our new open dictionary project.

In the meantime, I’ll still be here on Mobile Musings as well. :)

Throwing out the textbooks

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

I presented a keynote a couple weeks ago on Open Education. In talking about the reasons for open ed, I make the following points:

  • We must differentiate instruction if we are going to engage and reach students who have increasingly diverse backgrounds, skills, and interests.
  • Textbooks are not an effective tool for differentiating (or engaging) students.
  • Technology can be a better tool, but high quality content is required for effective integration.
  • There is a huge industry that has grown up around the development and adoption of textbooks. There is a lot of money invested in this industry, and it is not likely to change, regardless of the benefits to learning.
  • Open educational resources (OER) provide a new approach to this challenge.

So after my presentation, a very excited teacher came up to me and said, “I’ve done just what you’ve said! I’ve thrown out our textbooks!” (He told me later that they actually sold their textbooks. Great idea for a fund-raiser!)

He then went out to his car and brought back the materials he’s developed to share with me. He is a history teacher and has developed a very innovative system that he calls the “dynamic classroom.” It involves binders that the kids construct over the course of the year, bringing together predictable learning routines, effective strategies, and hands on activities.

What most struck me in talking to this gentleman was 1.) his passion for his subject matter and for teaching, 2.) how much personal time and effort he’s put into his teaching, and 3.) the results he’s gotten with his students.

Then I started thinking about the potential of this approach. The materials appeared to be perfectly suited to building a wiki. I began imagining each kid with a $300 laptop building interactive web sites instead of binders. The possibilities are rich. Then I started thinking about this project built as an open-licensed curriculum. Everyone could benefit from the work this industrious teacher has done.

I know that there are teachers all over the world doing creative things like this, prompting their students to have rich learning experiences. These teachers know more about their content and engaging kids than most textbook publishers do. I think that most of these teachers are willing to share.

This is the potential of Open Education.
Image courtesy of Alexander Baxevanis.

MAHETC rocks!

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Wow — I had a great time at the Mid-Atlantic Handheld and Emerging Technology Conference again this year. It had all the elements of a great conference: small, high energy, interesting people, very hands on and interactive, and an intriguing mix of pedagogy and technology.

Thanks to everyone who helped put this together and who attended. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on some things that got me thinking there.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend, check out the wiki. All the session and workshop materials are here.

And for those who did attend, I posted some follow-up things from my sessions that answer some questions raised or otherwise might be of interest. (This on-going communication is one of the things I love about PD wikis.)

The first kids open dictionary

Monday, July 7th, 2008

For months, I have been writing about our project to create the first kids open dictionary.

I am very excited to unveil the first piece of this: a collaborative, wiki-based dictionary builder. If you have a second, check out the site and add a quick definition (or click on recent changes to edit one someone else has done). Whatever you do doesn’t have to be perfect. Others can add to it and edit it later.

This project grew out of the need we have seen in classrooms and other informal learning environments for a dictionary that is kid-appropriate (both in terms of language level and content) and open for everyone to use in any context.

Down the road, we’ll be publishing this as a completely open, public domain dictionary that can be used on the web or offline on desktops, laptops, handhelds, ipods, phones, etc. Teachers will also be able to export custom glossary lists to incorporate into their own lessons, ebooks, web sites, etc.

We are excited about this project and hope many of you will join in and contribute. It only takes a couple minutes and is a great way to share and become a part of the Open Educational Resources movement.