Tuesday, March 4, 2014

7 Things To Know Before Using Open Educational Resources


Instead of being required to use state money for state-adopted materials like textbooks, Texas school districts can now choose which instructional materials to purchase. Having this option, Amarillo Independent School District chose to shelve textbooks at its Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning and invest in a 1:1 iPad initiative ... .


Seven things to consider when transitioning to tablets and OER:

Staff Readiness

Teachers’ willingness and readiness to embrace new things is critical to the efficacy of any new technology or resource, so we provided iPads to our teachers during the summer to allow them to become acquainted with the tablets before introducing them to students in November.


Your Resident ‘Early Adopters’

With any new tool, there are usually a few teachers who take to it quickly and run with it. Encourage those early adopters to share their expertise and enthusiasm with their colleagues.


The Quality of the Materials

With OER, it’s easy to think that because it’s free it’s okay to settle for less. Not true. With OER, it is imperative to seek out the same level of quality and rigor that you would for a textbook or any other resource. [snip]


Content Management

 With thousands upon thousands of OER available, it can be difficult to locate and then choose which materials are best for your classroom. To simplify the world of OER, we use a free, content management system called Net Texts. With this system, our teachers can easily access and utilize the vast library of free, high-quality OER available on the Internet, and then publish directly to students’ iPads.

The Net Texts system has two parts: a content management website for teachers, and a free app for iPads and Android tablets for students. Using the website, teachers can select existing courses from the Net Texts library or create new courses by mixing and matching items with their own educational materials. The Net Texts site includes more than 65,000 resources from leading OER providers such as the CK-12 Foundation, Khan Academy, and Project Gutenberg, organized by subject, grade level, objectives and standards.

Students then use the app to download, display and interact with the courses, which are filled with videos, slideshows, e-books, PDFs, text, audio books, and web links. The courses, which teachers can edit and update at any time, are also available via web browser on any platform.


In our district, almost 70 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. A key benefit of Net Texts is that using the free app, students can download their courses onto their iPads and use them without further Wi-Fi access. This enables students to access their courses on the school bus, at home or anywhere else.


The Changing Roles of Educators

Thanks to the use of iPads and OER, we have begun a metamorphosis. We are moving from an instructional model where teachers dispense information, to a model where teachers are facilitators and students take a greater role in their learning

Best Practices

Our teachers are doing so many great things that I can’t keep up with it all. To help me keep up, I created a Google Doc and asked them to list how they are using OER and apps with their students. My goal is to create a compendium of resources for our school and our district.


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