Why #GoOpen Now?

Change happens in moments of convergence when there is a pause in the inertia of the work and the right people gather together to breathe, converse, and break bread. This rarely happens in the big swirling education hurricane, but I believe that it happened this week in Washington DC as education leaders with multiple spheres of influence gathered at the White House to discuss a road forward on how to best use open educational resources (OER) to bolster the teaching and learning in all classrooms.

 

The idea of #GoOpen is to reorient schools from decision making by momentum around education resources to a new intentionality about how and why resources are chosen. This shift would mean fresh resources for education as we move from the eight billion dollars that is traditionally spent on resources each year. It would mean giving teachers more freedom to create and design curriculum and resources that truly work for them, and most importantly, it would be an infusion of quality resources into the schools that most need resources, those schools that have pluto as a planet in their textbook and George W. Bush as their president.

 

What makes this gathering and effort different than other work that around open education resources (OER) that has been happening for a decade or more? This takes me back to the concept of convergence. We are finally at a time when OER can plant and scale. With growing connectivity in classrooms across the country and a building comfort interacting with information online by students, the idea of moving from print to digital resources is now a true possibility for all schools. In addition, we have a reached a time of a more connected teaching profession that understands how sharing at scale can make a difference in the learning lives of all students. Teachers are more and more willing to share their best ideas, resources, and tools. We see this at conferences and unconferences, and through social media sharing on tools like Twitter, Instagram, and others.

 

Another piece of this convergence is around the alignment of standards that has happened throughout the country. Many of us don't agree on testing and what metrics should measure success, but most of us see the standards as a way to bring greater conversations between schools and districts across the country. Educators from Maine, Missouri, and Montana can now share, plan, and design together with greater alignment that ever. Finally, the commitment of strong, dedicated business partners like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Edmodo and others that are looking to build high quality portals, standards, and protocols to support this work makes success a greater possibility.

 

Convergence at this level hasn't hasn't been seen in the history of OER. This new optimism for me doesn't discount the past. There are resources, networks, and lessons to be learned from those who have been on the frontier of OER for a long time. In addition, there are more partnerships and more convergence that is necessary for long-term success, but I truly think that this week's Open Education Symposium was the start of something really powerful for learners across this country. I'm ready to play my role in sharing the message, beginning the work, and accelerating the feedback loop.

 

You can support #GoOpen by being intentional about the next resources that you choose for learning. You can begin to share lessons, units, tools, and more at places like Edmodo Spotlight that is feeding all of these documents into the Learning Registry. You can keep an eye out for training available from Creative Commons and ASCD on how to create, use, and share OER. You can make a commitment to the conversation about what we should do with the current eight billion dollars a year that we are spending on print resources if and when we can free up this money. Finally, pay attention to the leadership from the Office of Education Technology and follow the #GoOpen hashtag.