By Jill Davis, former science teacher and Marketing Manager, Content & Social Media, itslearning
It can be challenging for K-12 teachers to find high-quality content that meets the needs of their students, particularly when they are faced with shrinking budgets for textbooks and digital content from publishers, and held to higher standards for differentiating and personalizing instruction.
What’s good news for teachers and students is that a new category of resources, open educational resources (OER), has emerged over the past several years, and some school districts and educators are finding that it can offer a host of benefits when used effectively.
What do we mean when we use the term “OER?”
OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” OER comprise full courses, textbooks, videos, software, and “any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” 
Go to the head of the class with OER
See our top three tips for leveraging OER to improve teaching and learning.
Tip #1: Become a Student of OER
The use of OER is still fairly new, and it will pay to stay tuned to new developments, best practices and sources of quality OER. Educators should look to their state’s department of education, industry organizations and leading OER providers to stay informed.
Stay tuned to these organizations:
Tip #2: Use Vetted Resources
Free does not always mean high quality. The same holds for OER. How can teachers hone in on high-quality resources? The answer lies in selecting resources that have been vetted by trusted institutions. In the best cases, these high-quality, educator-approved resources will also be aligned to standards, helping teachers to easily integrate them into their lesson planning.
Tip #3: Leverage Technology
What are the advantages of using an enterprise-level platform to house and manage OER? Streamlining curriculum, content and learning tools into a single platform saves valuable time for teachers. With itslearning, teachers don’t have to spend time searching for OER to build a coherent lesson plan, and can simply access the library for more than 1.7 million vetted OER searchable by topics and standards. Using an enterprise-level LMS also ensures student safety. The risk of student information being provided to external platforms is eliminated, as all resources are ingested into a single, safe environment.
Want to learn more about using open educational resources? Sign up for a personalized demo of itslearning and the vetted and curated OER available in the itslearning library.
Click here to sign up for a personalized demo.
1. Wolpert-Gawron, Heather, What the Heck Is OER?, Edutopia, December 7, 2015, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-oer-heather-wolpert-gawron (accessed June 11, 2017).