January 20, 2017 — Due to strains on school budgets, in part to provide adequate technology, schools look for creative ways to cut costs. All levels of education are turning to open courseware to share and provide resources, textbooks, and more.
The Open Education Consortium provides information about current efforts to encourage cooperation along with innovation. Organizations that pursue open courseware not only save money, they provide innovative, high quality resources to their students. They also enhance their instruction with diversity, collaborate with professionals from around the world, and extend the borders of the community of learners. Members include new, exclusively Open Universities in countries around the world, along with B oston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology , and Teachers Without Borders.
The push to # goopen extends to a national campaign by the U .S. Department of Education, which encourages districts to utilize open resources such as textbooks, courses, and other freely available resources. However, simply finding resources online does not equal opensource. #GoOpen Districts begin by educating their staff on laws concerning intellectual property, both in print and online. Something as simple as an online image search requires special attention. A student blog that uses images protected by copyright can land a district in court for copyright infringement. Resources such as Photos for Class provide students and staff with images in a variety of subjects that are free for non commercial use. Simply adjusting the tool settings in a Google Image Search (see image below), users can also filter out copyrighted images.
Districts, teachers, and, most importantly, students benefit from an Open culture. A vision for open content creates a diverse, creative classroom. It also focuses on learning, rather than earning and feels up resources for other areas. Consider that a textbook c osts from $60-$200 dollars. Chromebooks are quickly becoming the most popular classroom device, and their retail price is easily under $ 200 , without volume discounts afforded to many districts. Will your district join the call to #goopen ?
As with many topics, online searches for open courseware yield a dizzying array of results, much of which ends up being subpar. Thankfully, a few websites provide ongoing efforts to highlight the best resources.
Open Culture lists a variety of resources in organized categories. Free audiobooks, videos, textbooks, ebooks, MOOCs (more on this below), and more cover subjects such as language, literature, technology and more. Open Culture concentrates on provides original, primary source videos of historical figures, all of which appear online and free to use in the classroom. The wide variety of resources allows #GoOpen teachers to easily differentiate instruction in their classroom.
The Open Education Resource Commons provides a clean, organized interface for finding online sources as well. It also provides tools for teachers who wish to create their own resources to share with the world. Authoring tools include Open Author for creating eBooks and Lesson Builder for writing entire units to share.
CK-12 not only provides teachers with a library of free textbooks, it allows teachers to write their own textbook or review material and publish it online. This creates a digital resource that students access from anywhere. Students no longer miss work because they left the book at school, or at home.
TextBookGo provides more free textbooks online. No longer does opensource mean old, out of date books that have expired copyrights. Efforts to collaborate on Open projects has led to robust catalogs of free textbooks in every topic from Ancient Greece to Augmented Reality.
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