By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki
It’s Open Education Week, which presents a timely opportunity to provide some guidance on how to make sure the Open Educational Resources (OER) you’re using are high-quality, and give some tips on how to use them!
What Are OER, Anyway?
OER are free open educational resources that are used in the classroom to save teachers time and school districts money. OER come in a wide variety of forms: instructional videos, images, ebooks, games, research materials and other digital content, depending on the subject and students’ grade level.
Because they are free and accessible online, OER can be made available to students around the world, in classrooms and homeschools, to children and adults, regardless of location or economic circumstance.
By providing free and open access to education and knowledge, OER providers help create a world where people can fulfill their desire to learn, and can get additional information, viewpoints and materials to help them succeed. Workers can learn ways to improve on the job. Teachers can improve the quality of their instruction.
It’s a win-win for everybody – as long as you know the OER you’re using is high quality.
However, quality varies, so it’s important to know how to make sure the resources you want to use are high-quality and fit your students’ needs.
Determining OER Quality
You can be confident that Curriki’s Open Educational Resources are high-quality because we use the Achieve’s Open Educational Resources downloadable rubrics in our evaluations or materials. The rubrics include:
Rubric I. Degree of Alignment to Standards
Rubric II. Quality of Explanation of the Subject Matter
Rubric III. Utility of Materials Designed to Support Teaching
Rubric IV. Quality of Assessment
Rubric V. Quality of Technological Interactivity
Rubric VI. Quality of Instructional and Practice Exercises
Rubric VII. Opportunities for Deeper Learning
Rubric VIII. Assurance of Accessibility
Curriki members can also add their ratings and review curricula using a star rating tool.
But how else do you know if the OER you’re considering has value for your classroom or homeschool?
The University of Illinois Library provides a Guide for Evaluating Open Educational Resources. It gives instructors a basic understanding of OER, including how to find, evaluate, use and adapt OER materials for their own curriculum.
The Guide suggests these steps to take in the evaluation process. Ask yourself:
- Does this OER cover the content you’d like your students to learn in this course or module?
- How accessible is this content? Will it be accessible for your students or is it too technical? Is it robust and challenging enough for your students?
- How can you use the content? Verify the license that the resource is under. Can you revise the OER as long as it isn’t for commercial purposes? Who do you have to credit if you use it?
- Once you determine how you can use the OER, ask yourself what would you like to do with it. Does only a portion of it apply to your class? Would you want to combine this OER with another OER or resource? Does the library have access to articles that could act as supplemental readings?
What Is Open Education Week?
Open Education Week, happening the week of March 27-31, 2017, is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement organized by the Open Education Consortium, a global network of educational institutions, individuals and organizations that support an approach to education based on openness, including collaboration, innovation and collective development and use of open educational materials. The goal of Open Education Week is to raise awareness about the OER movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.
- Projects and resources: A wide variety of open education articles, from how to create an open online course to how to become an open educator. Perhaps these resources will help you use Curriki’s resources more effectively, or create some of your own to submit to our OER library.
- Events: Events celebrating OER are happening all over the world, from conferences to webinars to discussions of OER-related topics. If you attend any, please post your thoughts and experiences here!
Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.