Monday, February 13, 2017

OER Platform* Comparisons

I was at Venture Academy in Minneapolis for the viewing of Most Likely To Succeed. The following day we got a tour of Venture Academy and then about four hours of workshop/discussion with a team from Summit Learning which Venture Academy is using. Venture Academy also got money from the Gates Foundation; their school is doing good things.  

I observed that SABIER is essentially doing the same thing as Summit Learning with a few differences.

The differences are:

SABIER is platform agnostic although, we like Moodle a lot.
SABIER starts in 3rd grade instead of 6th.
SABIER focuses on 'traditional' public schools rather than charters.
SABIER encourages a lot more interaction in online content between student and teacher. This last one is probably the biggest difference. Teacher interaction with the student and interaction between students and parents and outside experts is the beautiful possibility of using OER in an LMS that is managed by the school instead of an outside 3rd party. It is also what will keep students engaged and the learning relevant.
        There are probably more differences, but that's a start.

There are however, enough similarities that Summit Learning can serve as a proof of concept for SABIER's approach. It's reassuring to have proof of concept demonstrated by Facebook (Summit is financed by Mark Zuckerberg.)

OER via an LMS is consistent with Education Reimagined's five interrelated elements characterizing student centered learning and could be considered best practice for education in 2017. The accessibility to content in a digital format for those who choose something other than English on paper is what will really drive the future of learning.  The creation of an electronic record or archive of student work and teacher comments from which reports about how students actually understand aligned material is also crucial. There's a lot of chatter these days about the need for aligned content but very little talk  about how assessment of student learning of the aligned materials gets accomplished. Using standardized tests is Not going to be adequate or desirable.

It would be useful to have a comparison of the various offerings of OER content that are accompanied by targeted and extensive professional development which is the key to making OER work effectively for students. To that end, I've created a comparison table on a Google doc. I'm aware of what Lumen Learning is doing and have included them in the table. Please add your thoughts and suggestions for additional 'platforms' here or on the doc in comments.

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