The benefits of using open educational resources to help students

The benefits of using open educational resources to help students
Jill Davis from itslearning discusses how teachers can make the most of existing resources 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

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.

The 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.

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.

See 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 organisations and leading OER providers to stay informed.

Stay tuned to these organisations for more information: ASCD, US Department of Education (GoOpen) and Microsoft.

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.

Jill Davis is a former science teacher and currently works as marketing manager for Content and Social Media at itslearning

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