OER the Great Disruptor

OER: For free, for everyone, forever tagline

By Erika Aparaka

"Don't ask students what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them what problem they want to solve and what they need to learn to build the knowledge, skills, and abilities to solve that problem!"

-Jamie Casap, Google Education Evangelist

#GoOpenVA Keynote speaker, Jamie Casap from Google, challenged participants to think differently about educational technology, collaborative learning, and education's role as a poverty disruptor. OER serves an important role in today's education landscape as a valuable tool in the efforts to even the playing field for all students. The business and technology worlds have embraced "disruptive thinking" as a strategy to generate innovative ideas. OER provides an opportunity to shift traditional notions of education to meet the needs of today's students.

Leaders, like Chesterfield County Superintendent Dr. James Lane reminded participants that OER is a critical tool to address students learning needs. As we move farther into the 21st century, it's important to appreciate the role that OER can play in how increasingly iterative education has become. Here were some of the other key takeaways from the day:

"The Future Classroom Starts Tomorrow..."OER is appealing because  it can adjust to the rapidly changing pace of education technology. Districts are working consistently to ensure that students have access to the infrastructure and tools to access high quality, personalized learning materials. During one of the sessions, education technology leaders discussed how their districts are building their infrastructure such as bandwidth and providing enough devices for each student to accommodate the increasing need for student access to personalized learning materials.

Collaboration is Key Gone are the days of siloed work sessions at rows of desks. Students need opportunities to collaborate.  OER affords teachers and students exciting chances to engage with learning content in a dynamic way. This means not just sitting alone, folder up, hiding answers from your classmate, but discussing OER content and even creating it together to personalize and improve the learning experience. OER disrupts the conventional belief that the best ideas are cultivated individually and encourages the notion that education is a collaborative and community oriented practice. 

Solving Real-World ProblemsOER's adaptability lends itself to guiding students to solving real-world problems. Students are expected to enter college and/or the workforce with critical thinking skills and the ability to adapt quickly with changing . This means going beyond answering static questions. Students need to be able to access content that can be adjusted as quickly as the world's technology is changing. OER provide educators the opportunity to make changes when and where needed.

Sessions that "Disrupt" Thinking The #GoOpenVA summit offered sessions that encouraged school and district leaders to "disrupt" their thinking. After discussing Virginia's OER strategy, infrastructure, and learning tools, the day was lauded as a success at the close of the program with participants energized, invigorated, and ready to embrace change. It's a challenge when the technology is evolving so quickly, but leaders can and are committed to adapting their strategies to the technology and the students who need it to learn and OER has an integral role in that!

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