Open Education Resources (OER) just got a big boost this weekend.
Long time OER champion Dr. Catherine Casserly was just elected to the Board of Directors of Creative Commons to help provide further direction for the Open Education Resources movement worldwide.
For those of you who never heard of OER, let me explain. In brief, OER is high quality learning materials that are freely available for use, remixing and redistribution; the name was first adopted by UNESCO in 2002.
The push to further develop OER comes at a critical time when schools nationwide are seeking ways to improve learning.
Creative Commons (CC) plays a major role in the OER movement as it provides the legal structure for sharing creative works and making them available for others to build upon and share. The CC organization has six licenses that allow creators to share their works easily.
Casserly, who has a Ph.D in the economics of education from Stanford, has been working in the OER field since 2001 when she first joined Hewlett Foundation to help lead the movement to equalize access to knowledge on the web. "I am honored to join the Creative Commons Board, the critical backbone organization that promotes sharing art, culture and education," Casserly said.
"This organization, more than any, has shifted our collective thinking about who "owns" knowledge and provides creators in this digital age the freedom to choose how they wish their work to be used, shared, remixed and redistributed, "she added.
"Creative Commons has helped users take the idea that 'knowledge is a public good' and bring it into practice. The Board members of Creative Commons are an incredible mix of leaders who have individually and now collectively pushed the edge to change existing norms and traditions,"she said.
Casserly's vision for OER has always been first to level the playing field to make knowledge and educational materials available to all and second to improve teaching and learning by continually collecting evidence about what works for what students in what context and making that evidence openly available.
"Openness allows us to harness the expertise of distributed communities to continually discover from each other and better serve the learner," she said.
Casserly who is now a Senior Partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching says they seek to use OER to improve outcomes for community college students in developmental mathematics. "Once we can link OER with data and evidence, and quickly iterate, we can truly harness the power of the internet for learning, " Casserly said.
A few of the major accomplishments of OER movement in the past few years include the following, all supported by the Hewlett Foundation.
* Creative Commons, the legal structure behind sharing on the web
* OpenCourseWare Consortium, a non-profit including 250 institutions worldwide and 4000 courses.
* Teachers Without Borders in 119 countries
* European Schoolnet involving 20 European Ministries of Education
* Gates Foundation commits to OER as innovative strategy
* Shuttleworth Foundation commits $8 million to open textbook space
* Netherlands Department of Education supports Dutch OER Polytechnic
* World Intellectual Property Organzation integrates OER strand into regional meetings
* Open Learning Research Network promotes sharing of methodolgies and of evidence on the effectiveness of OER on teaching and learning.
* The Obama Administration has used Creative Commons licenses in a variety of ways, from licensing presidential campaign photos, releasing information on transition site Change.gov via a CC Attribution license, to requiring that third-party content posted on Whitehouse.gov be made available via CC Attribution Only as well.
Hewlett continues to play a catalytic role building the emerging field of Open Educational Resources. The strategy remains focused on creating a sustainable infrastructure and demonstrating how freely available high quality content can transform teaching and learning worldwide, according to Victor Vuchic, Program Officer for OER at the Hewlett Foundation.
At a time when states are scrambling for dollars for education, the OER movement plays a critical role. The Open Textbook Initiative in the U.S. together with the use of the Kindle, the new iPad, and the Sony reader can revolutionize education.