Saturday, June 2, 2018

OER in Brazil and Beyond

Tom Berger, the author of the recent Edutopia piece, The Uncertain Future of OER , is not adequately informed about all of the things that are happening with OER and I don't think he's thought through all of the processes that are happening as K12 begins to use OER more. The New America report released a few weeks ago is more comprehensive even though it, too, leaves out important issues, specifically, the role of teacher preparation programs in promoting OER. The New America report does get it right when it reports 
that OER enables teachers "to design and implement personalized learning experiences for students that traditional instructional materials cannot always support."

Neither of the above notices that the U.S may not be the leader in fully adopting OER in K12. It is likely that other countries that have less legacy textbook publishers and less education bureaucracies at all levels will leap frog the U.S. and begin to implement on a national basis. The new developments in Brazil, as noted by Nicole Allen of Sparc, might be an indicator that they're moving at least as fast as the U.S., if not faster. I can envision Brazil using some combination of translations of  Minnesota Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum material, Illustrative Mathematics material, Concord Consortium, and Phet material to create a Brazilian national curriculum that they make available on a Moodle platform and distribute via some variation of the Moodlebox and/or SolarSpell. That will happen while Microsoft is trying to take a bigger share of the U.S. K12 market away from Apple and Google, and while companies like LearnZillion monetize the Illustrative Mathematics OER content in the U.S.

Another example of a stable OER network is KlasCement, which has been around for about 20 years and has become part of the policy on open education of the Ministry of Education in Flanders, Belgium.

K12 is a significantly different 'market' than higher ed. OER implementation in K12 is not about saving students money, and it's not about creating a large repository; it's about providing agency to teachers and students. Lots of government entities who are the current providers of K12 content (including U.S. local school districts) will hesitate to give that much agency to teachers and students, but there are governments who understand that an educated citizenry is the key to prosperity and security. It's too bad that Edutopia sees the need to throw cold water on OER.

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