Today, open educational resources (OER) are an increasingly common feature in the K–12 education ecosystem. As one example, consider the popularity of Khan Academy, whose library of practice activities and videos are accessed each month by over 10 million users around the world and in many schools across the United States.
A major benefit of OER content is that it gives schools and teachers instructional “Legos” that they can organize, revise, and combine more easily to create custom learning solutions that meet their students’ needs. Before the advent of the internet, teachers’ resources were largely limited to assigned textbooks and maybe a handful of other resources from colleagues, workbooks, or professional development workshops. It was a labor-intensive process for a teacher to provide his students with custom resources aligned to their particular context, interests, and learning needs. This process limited the degree of personalized instruction that teachers could provide to their students. In contrast, the growing body of OER content available online today provides teachers with a broad selection of resources that address a wide variety of topics, learning needs, pedagogical approaches, and student circumstances. Important innovations, such as Gooru’s learning architecture and the DOE’s Learning Registry, are making it quicker and easier for educators to find high-quality OER content aligned to their particular needs. Additionally, teachers can modify much of the available OER content to tailor it further to their students’ circumstances.
A number of pioneering school systems use OER as a central part of their approaches to personalized learning. For example, Summit Public Schools’ Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) software directs students to OER content as the primary source of core content instruction in their courses. Similarly, Leadership Public Schools (LPS) is working with an edtech company, called Gooru, to develop a Navigator platform that houses collections of OER course materials that cover the core content for some of its courses. For Summit and LPS, OER content allows them to gather and deploy content that is custom aligned with their innovative personalized learning models without also having to go into the business of being content developers and publishers.