On Thursday, Oct. 29, Affton School District participated in the Symposium on Open Education hosted by the White House and U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. At the symposium, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the launch of #GoOpen, a movement that aims to encourage States, school districts, and educators to use openly licensed educational materials.
Affton will further its commitment to becoming a Future Ready district by working with a mentor district and an education technology tool provider to replace one textbook with openly licensed educational resources. The district will become one of the first #GoOpen ambassador districts dedicated to helping other districts transition to the use of openly licensed educational materials.
“As Affton continues to shift to using more open education resources, students and teachers will see a number of meaningful benefits including greater access to the best practices for learning fueled by platforms from partners in business that amplify and simplify a spirit of resource sharing between schools and districts,” explains Dr. Robert Dillon, Director of Innovation at Affton School District. “In addition, students and teachers will have a more agile budget that won’t be locked into traditional purchases of resources. Finally, this project allows Affton to again be the St. Louis area and state leader around innovation and next practices, a role that allows it to grow and support the growth of other districts.”
“In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessibly, openly-licensed materials,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “Districts across the country are transforming learning by using materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.”
The announcements were made at an Open Education Symposium hosted by the Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for state and district superintendents and other educators from across the country committed to adopting openly licensed educational materials. They were joined by innovators from education technology companies and nonprofit organizations who have committed to working alongside these districts to create new tools that help educators find, adapt, create, and share resources.
“At Affton School District, it is our mission to prepare all of our students to become capable, curious and confident learners, and we are excited to be able to provide open educational resources for our schools,” added Dr. Steve Brotherton, superintendent.
With the proposed policy, the Department joins the U.S. Department of Labor, USAID, State, and other Federal agencies in leading the Administration’s open government initiatives. After the proposed policy is published in the Federal Register, members of the public can submit comments for thirty days at //www.regulations.gov.
“By requiring an open license, we will ensure that high-quality resources created through our public funds are shared with the public, thereby ensuring equal access for all teachers and students regardless of their location or background,” said John King, senior advisor delegated the duty of the Deputy Secretary of Education. “We are excited to join other federal agencies leading on this work to ensure that we are part of the solution to helping classrooms transition to next generation materials.”
The Education Department recently hired its first open education adviser, Andrew Marcinek, who is working with school district leaders, tool providers, nonprofits, and open education coalition members to expand awareness of openly licensed educational resources in PreK-12.
“Openly licensed educational resources support teachers as creative professionals by giving them the ability to adapt and customize learning materials to meet the needs of their students without breaking copyright laws,” says Richard Culatta, Director of the Office of Educational Technology.
Openly licensed educational materials can increase equitable access to high quality learning resources and allow teachers to exercise their own creativity in developing new lessons, modifying and improving lessons to fit their own teaching style and students’ needs, and sharing their materials so teachers and students alike can benefit.
“Switching to openly licensed educational materials has enabled school districts to repurpose funding typically spent on static textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning,” says Andrew Marcinek, Open Education Advisor at the Department. “We are excited that Affton School District committed to taking this step.”