It is an exciting time for OER in K-12.
The value proposition for K-12 education is high. There is a perfect storm of circumstances with the Common Core standards and forthcoming assessments, calls for more effective instructional models, and state budget crises. Federal and state policy is strongly calling for OER to be included in programs so that public funds result in materials that are available to the public.
There is considerable work being done by the OER community to make sure that policy continues to support these objectives.
As this work is done, I plead that the OER community also keeps in mind K-12 teachers. No matter how much policy progress is made and even how many district administrators embrace OER, it will be for naught if teachers are not included.
Currently, only a fraction of a percentage of teachers are familiar with OER, open, or even Creative Commons. Even fewer know about the great benefits of OER. We need to make sure this awareness grows. To do this, we need to keep in mind that the value propositions for teachers are quite different from those of policymakers. Teachers are concerned with:
- Achievement, achievement, achievement (not only in terms of test scores but of 21st century skills and deeper learning as well)
- Time (Teachers are very overburdened and don’t have extra time for a lot of new things.)
That helps set the agenda for OER awareness building for K-12 teachers:
- Strong standards correlation is a must.
- Show evidence of the ability of specific resources to raise achievement.
- Keep it simple. (Innovation will follow.)
- Provide lots of professional development focused on these areas.
If passion for OER at the grassroots level can be built to match policy level enthusiasm, we’ll have meaningful mainstream adoption.