GoOpen with OER

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Spring of 2017 saw me at Lewis Central High School at the GoOpen Summit. I was somewhat familiar with the GoOpen and OER movement but not nearly enough. Do you like all of the big acronyms in this so far? Let me define them.

GoOpen — “The U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning”

Openly licensed educational materials “In the 2016 National Education Technology Plan, the Department defines openly licensed educational resources as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. Digital openly licensed resources can include complete online courses, modular digital textbooks as well as more granular resources such as images, videos, and assessment items.”

OER — “Open educational resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.

Open Education “…is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Web, in particular, provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge.”

So in essence, we are looking at instructional content that resides in the public domain or carries a creative commons license which allows anyone to access it and use it as is or repurpose it for their own curriculum. This sounds great and as in all things it is not as easy as it sounds. What are some of the qualifiers a teacher is looking at when incorporating OER into their classroom or for a school district considering becoming a GoOpen District?  

  1. How much is the ‘total cost of ownership’? Even though the content itself is free there is time, energy and resources needed to create the curriculum and/or textbook.
  2. What is the quality of the resources available? Iowa Learning Online has put together an OER Commons which acts as a hub for many of the OER products.  On this, they have an OER Evaluation Tool page. These resources will guide teachers while building their curriculum.  
  3. Do students and teachers have the Internet access and the devices to use the OER content which is digital? Your school district’s Clarity Survey information will contain the answers to this question.

Now that you know about the GoOpen movement, which is a program from the United States Department of Education, the Office of Educational Technology and OER, Open Education Resources, you may ask how can I get involved?  

Green Hills AEA is partnering with Northwest AEA and Prairie Lakes AEA to provide seventh-grade social studies teachers an opportunity to write curriculum for the new Iowa Social Studies Standards. The content will be open and available to all teachers.  The units will incorporate OER resources, Iowa AEA Online Databases, and appropriate websites. The units will contain all of the tools needed such as assessments, project suggestions, and opportunities to differentiate to meet the needs of all learners utilizing the MTSS process. There will be an opportunity for 1 recertification credit available.  At the end of the sessions, each participant will have at least one curricular unit available in a shared Google Team Drive Folder to teach in 2018-19.


  • Create an environment of shared understanding around the OER movement.
  • Design Social Studies unit(s) to be shared with all teachers across the state.

Green Hills AEA is committed to serving districts and teachers in utilizing OER to design high-qualitycurriculum for students. We will continue to provide hands-on opportunities for learning and creating content in a collaborative manner. If you have questions or need assistance with OER contact your Green Hills AEA Instructional Technology Consultants:

Stephanie Lane –

Judy Griffin –

Maryann Farrell –


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