What You Should Know This Week

K-12 OER Collaborative. Each week, Educating Modern Learners will pick one interesting current event – whether it’s news about education, technology, politics, business, science, or culture – and help put it in context for school leaders, explaining why the news matters and how it might affect teaching and learning (in the short or in the long run). This week (the week of November 17), Audrey Watters looks at a new initiative to create open educational resources for the K-12 level.

The K-12 OER Collaborative announced a new initiative at the annual openedconference.org Open Education Conference this week. The group, let by 11 US states, have released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to create openly licensed educational resources for K-12 math and language arts.

As part of the transition to the new Common Core State Standards, it’s estimated that school districts around the US will spend some $8 billion on new textbooks. Because of the push towards digital versions of these, many schools will find themselves paying annual subscription fees for the materials, meaning that a one-time purchase of a set of printed textbooks that’s expected to last several years (for better or worse) is now an ongoing cost.

The K-12 OER Collaborative believe that they can offer significant cost savings to states and districts by creating openly licensed materials. And in addition to saving money, the open licensing means that the content can be changed: it can be localized, updated, remixed, and copied for example. Students and educators will be able to supplement and expand the materials. Districts won’t be “stuck” with the version of a Pearson textbook, for example, that is designed to meet the demands of the powerful states.

The RFP is looking for proposals to create full course OER in the following areas:

  • K–2 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • 3–5 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • 6–8 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • 9–12 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • K–5 Mathematics
  • 6–8 Mathematics
  • 9–11 Mathematics – Integrated/International Pathway (Secondary Mathematics I, II, III)
  • 9–11 Mathematics – Traditional Pathway (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2)

These OER must:

  • provide a comprehensive set of instructional materials
  • align to the Common Core State Standards
  • follow the Publishers’ Criteria to ensure the development of aligned content
  • include strategies, activities, and resources that allow teachers to differentiate instruction
  • include an assessment suite, including performance tasks with student work examples, formative assessment guidance, unit-level summative assessments, and rubrics to help teachers understand and interpret student performance

The states involved are Utah, Washington, Idaho, Nevade, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Also supporting the K-12 OER Collaborative: the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Creative Commons, Lumen Learning, The Learning Accelerator (TLA), Achieve, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the State Instructional Materials Review Association (SIMRA), and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM).

Those interested in responding to the RFP can fill out a letter of intent here by January 2015.

Image credits: David Morris

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