Open Educational Resources – Copyright Clearance Center Rights Licensing Expert Wed, 21 Mar 2018 14:25:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Open Educational Resources – Copyright Clearance Center 32 32 The OER Curriculum Development Process – Inside Emerging Solutions Wed, 14 Mar 2018 17:12:17 +0000 Let’s take a look at the Open Educational Resources (OER) development process and the new solutions that have emerged.

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“Free” open educational resources (OER) are gaining acceptance in U.S. schools. Fueled by funding from large foundations, several OER organizations have developed core curricular programs in reading and mathematics that are now in use in varying degrees in many school districts.

OER’s movement into development of core programs is a turning point in the evolution of open resources. For many years, most OER consisted of supplemental pieces – not large core programs that form the bedrock of instruction at the K-12 level.

But, development of core programs is complex and intensive. Programs must be aligned to academic standards, have scope and sequence and meet requirements some states and/or school districts impose to ensure programs are fit for purpose. The complexities increase further with the development of customized digital programs for personalized learning, which many school districts are adopting.

Despite the complexities, new technologies have been created to support development. Let’s take a look at the development process and the new solutions that have emerged.

Related Reading: Inside the Game-Changing OER Legislation for Publishers

The Development Process

At the outset, developers must establish an instructional design with learning goals, a pedagogy and a research base. The design determines the structure, scope, and sequence of the program so that the curriculum builds over a semester, a year, and across multiple grade levels. In addition, special components are often included (and sometimes required) to address differentiated instruction for a variety of learners:  English language learners, special education students, advanced learners, and other kinds of students.

As editorial work on the program begins, subject area experts are engaged to provide input and expertise. Developers must align content to the prevailing academic standards in each state. Such standards may be developed by states or by national not-for-profit organizations that have created Common Core State Standards in math or English/language arts, the Next Generation Science Standards, and other bodies of standards. Correlations between the standards and draft content are created.

Graphs, artwork, photos, and maps are created for use in the materials.  Permissions must be secured if the media is copyrighted. In keeping with the spirit of “open,” many OER developers seek to use media that is openly licensed.

The program must be fact checked and copy edited multiple times to ensure content is accurate and objective. Independent authorities, evaluators, and master teachers must also vet the prototype program before the program moves into the final phase of production.

Core programs also include ancillary materials for students, as well as teacher editions and other support materials. Publishers provide professional development so faculty can effectively deliver the program. Assessment services are sometimes provided, too.

Keep Learning: With Flexibility, Publishers Can Turn the OER Boom to their Advantage – Here’s How

Customized Curriculum & New Solutions

Development processes have evolved considerably in recent years, as many publishers and developers have started to create digital, personalized learning systems. Personalized learning marks a departure from textbooks and monolithic courses toward flexible, customized content that meets the needs, strengths, and skills of individual learners. These systems can include both OER content materials as well as proprietary or licensed materials.  The value proposition for publishers expands from simply providing high quality, well scoped and sequenced content (which, arguably, OER developers can provide) to include being able to provide the right material at the right time for a particular student or classroom.

Customization and personalization demands the use of a powerful content management systems, that provide content discovery, collaboration, production, and dissemination.

More specifically, discovery tools allow for content tagging, sequencing, and repurposing. Authoring and editing content can be done collaboratively with instructional designers.

All types of learning objects, including videos and interactive content can be stored and managed, along with metadata, standards, and rights and permissions. Courses can be disseminated to web services, apps, district learning management systems, and/or print production.

In sum, this system moves development and production into a “digital first” approach that has been embraced by many educational publishers. And, like so many other aspects of publishing, OER developers will embrace it too, assuming funders are willing to foot the bill.

As has been noted repeatedly in discussions about OER, quality content is not free. It requires funding to create it, organize it, support it and update it on a regular basis.


Ready to learn more? Explore the custom solutions Ixxus is building for your peers in publishing.

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Inside the Game-changing OER Legislation for Publishers Tue, 27 Feb 2018 05:27:35 +0000 OER’s next wall to climb in the K-12 space is the complex, regulated, and sometimes political process of state adoptions.

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Earlier this month, we described how open educational resources (OER) are gaining acceptance in the U.S. K-12 education market. By offering “free” or low-cost academic programs, OER developers over the past several years have made inroads in some states and school districts.

Greater demand for OER programs has been driven in part by the need for new materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards. To fulfill that demand, several OER organizations began to create comprehensive programs with standards, scope and sequence. This type of development marked a significant shift from the creation of supplemental and random resources that often characterized OER for many years. In other words, OER development moved from pieces to programs, and in doing so began to increase the odds of successful adoption by school districts.

OER’s Next Wall to Climb

OER’s next wall to climb in the K-12 space is the complex, regulated, and sometimes political process of state adoptions. For the uninitiated, a state adoption is a process whereby a state department of education conducts reviews of instructional materials to determine whether they are suited for use in K-12 classrooms. Nineteen states have adoption statutes. While OER programs have been adopted in several of those states, it’s not common.

A Look at What’s Happening in Texas

However, that could soon change in the state of Texas, which is known for its textbook politics and its politically charged education debates. With a K-12 enrollment of five million students, Texas is the second largest K-12 state adoption market in the country.

In the spring of 2017, the Texas legislature passed several measures expanding the development and use of OER at the K-12 and post-secondary levels.  The enacted legislation:

  • Revises the state’s definition of OER and allows the Texas Commissioner of Education to use open licenses to encourage Texas school districts to adopt OER.
  • Doubles to $20 million the amount of state funds allocated for development of K-12 OER over the next two budget years. The funds will be used to develop materials in subject areas that make up the bulk of district purchases as well as high school STEM courses. The funding increase expands a current state project to create OER courses for use at the high school level.
  • Requires the Texas State Board of Education to include information about OER as part of state adoptions. Information about “cost savings” must be listed.
  • Restores a state program that provides grants to districts so they can develop “lending libraries” of tech equipment for students who cannot access digital materials.
  • Authorizes the development of a web portal that will have information about all state-adopted instructional materials.
  • Creates a new post-secondary program designed to support and encourage professors to transition to OER use in their classrooms.

The legislation marks a firm shift toward OER that will begin to unfold this year. Implementation is likely to take several years, and is expected to affect the 2019 adoption of English language arts programs for the high school grades.

While the Texas adoption system no longer compels school districts to purchase programs approved by the State Board of Education, receiving adoption approval from the board still carries a lot of weight. Surely, several OER organizations will seek approval.

Programs submitted for review will also have to meet a long list of Texas requirements and they will have to align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standard – not Common Core State Standards, which the Texas State Board of Education and the legislature oppose. Development of new programs is an expensive endeavor and despite the “free” moniker that always travels with the term OER, there is nothing free about the type of R&D work that will need to take place to prepare materials for adoption reviews.

And what about publishers’ programs? The new legislation won’t spell the end of publishers’ products in the Texas market. Publishers have deep experience in Texas not only in terms of development, but also an understanding of the adoption review process and its many nuances.

More importantly, the changes in Texas will likely present new opportunities for publishers if they can be nimble. OER models are rapidly evolving. New services such as content management and integration, assessment, data analytics and other solutions are needed to make open resources truly sustainable.

Next month Andrew and Jay will take a closer look at the development of instructional materials in educational publishing and the new solutions that have emerged to support digital transformations.  Don’t miss it – subscribe below to receive new posts directly in your inbox.

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With Flexibility, Publishers Can Turn the OER Boom To Their Advantage – Here’s How Tue, 06 Feb 2018 08:02:55 +0000 Can OER (Open Educational Resources) provide a push for publishers to broaden their offerings, adapt their business models and reap new revenue streams?

The post With Flexibility, Publishers Can Turn the OER Boom To Their Advantage – Here’s How appeared first on Copyright Clearance Center.

*Note: This piece was originally published in DeltaThink’s December 2017 newsletter.

The newest twist in educational publishing—Open Educational Resources or OER—is dramatically disrupting textbook publishing, and conventional wisdom holds that these resources may even replace traditional textbooks all together. Case in point: in just four years, Eureka Math, an OER K-12 curriculum developed by the nonprofit, and funded by a federal grant to the New York State Education Department, has become the most widely used math curriculum in the United States according to a 2016 report by the Rand Corporation. Out of the 1168 elementary school teachers Rand surveyed, 52% said they used Eureka. In comparison, the most popular math textbook was used by only 32% of teachers.

While moving slower than math, OER is becoming a presence in English Language Arts, particularly given recent developments in states like Louisiana. More than 80 percent of school districts in that state have adopted– in whole or in part– a teacher -developed OER English Language Arts curriculum known as “guidebooks,” primarily in response to Common Core requirements. “There wasn’t anything on the market good enough for our teachers,” the assistant superintendent of academic content at Louisiana’s education department told Education Week in an article last spring. This curriculum is spreading beyond Louisiana. On November 2, Open-Up Resources, a startup that originated as a multi-state collaborative (and led by a former Pearson executive), announced its adoption and offering of a curriculum based on the Louisiana OER.

Yet despite these events, conventional wisdom about the death of textbook publishing just might be wrong. The need for scope and sequence of materials have seen OER developers like Great Minds and Open-Up Resources adopt models that, while OER based, have attributes suspiciously similar to traditional publishing. And in higher education, Cengage may be seen as disrupting itself by launching a fully CC-BY OER platform called “OpenNow.” Accordingly, OER can provide a push for publishers to broaden their offerings, adapt their business models and reap new revenue streams, even as the publishing landscape continues to morph and make room for the new breed of OER publishers. There is an obvious parallel to Open Access publishing.

What OER offers that traditional publishers don’t

The startling OER adoption statistics in K-12 were driven, in part, by the need for school districts to quickly find teaching materials that aligned to the Common Core standards. The Eureka Math curriculum was created to fill this need, and as an OER, it can also be updated, customized and revised for errors or updated pedagogy more quickly than is possible with the revision cycles of old-school textbooks. Not to mention that OER are “free” to use (more about those quote marks later), reducing the risk of adopting the yet-untested curriculum. Similarly, a district may view the cost of moving away from an OER curriculum as smaller than with a traditional textbook that involves a substantial investment in books (although with OER training and implementation costs remain substantial, perhaps even higher). OERs also offer school districts a seeming ability to update and adapt the curriculum themselves, and to do so without threat of infringement on a publisher’s copyright. However, while appealing, such control can be difficult to implement.

OER obstacles

Of course, there are challenges with OER, too. For one thing, in its original form much of OER was served up online in a smorgasbord of random lesson plans of varying quality, unsystematically connected to the Common Core State Standards, and to some degree it remains like this today. Teachers needed to select quality materials and align them in scope and sequence to ensure that the student received adequate instruction on all the relevant skills in proper sequence (e.g. you cannot teach multiplication before learning addition).

The new breed of OER publishers need a sustainable business model to pay for quality content and must move away from free floating lessons and ensure full scope and sequence. As Kate Gerson, formerly of the New York State Regents Research Fund, told Education Week, “You have to solve the who-pays-for-it question if you’re going to develop good material.” And even more so when it will require comprehensive alignment to standards.

Which brings me to the big question with OER: Does it actually have a sustainable business model?

First, as with most complex economic systems, there are many paths to both sustainability and failure. To state the obvious, without models to underwrite funding for OER, its producers will run into trouble. High quality content is never truly free; it needs some kind of funding to be created, supported and updated. Initially, governmental agencies and private foundations in the United States provided funding for the creation of OER materials, but the struggle to identify sustainable models to eliminate dependence on these sources of funding has reduced interest among some foundations.

The future of OER will be developed by the professionals, such as Cengage, GreatMinds, Open-Up Resources and the State of Louisiana. Financial models will involve print on demand, sale of canonical works to accompany OER curricula, teacher training, assessment, and a host of related services. Publishers who wish to benefit from these new developments must be as nimble as their new OER publishing competitors. They must also focus on what OER does not give away for free, and jump in to fill the gaps.

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