Open is Awesome – Using OERs with #GoOpen

The US Department of Education (USeD) has identified support for the production and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) as a strategic priority.  As we see digital resource availability and usage increase in our classrooms, we still have some issues to overcome before OER can be a larger contributor to innovation in education.

From ongoing research, we still see limited reuse and repurposing of OER by educators, manifested by a tendency to use OER as supplementary rather than primary materials. In addition, both lack of awareness and lack of digital and pedagogical skills on the part of educators contribute to limited utilization.6555467293_abe94016b5_m

As a practical application, teachers don’t have to create all of their course content from scratch, they can add and import OERs into their courses housed in a Learning Management System like Edify, supported by the Kent ISD.

As educators, how can we tap into these vast OER collections that will help our learners develop the skills required in the 21st century?   In the next few months, you will notice a bigger push by USeD to bring awareness to what OER are, where you can find them, how they can be used, and how to get your educators trained in using them.

In the meantime, if you or your district would like to know more about how to use OER in your teaching and learning practice, please contact Ron Houtman at Kent ISD for custom professional learning and consulting around this exciting area of education.



#education, #oer, #open, #professional-development, #research

Student-led TED in Your School?

On February 27, students from East Grand Rapids High School and Forest Hills High Schools are hosting a TEDx event. You can see more details about the program and the participating students in this School News Network article. This is an excellent example of students engaging beyond the classroom, and each of the speakers will undoubtedly get a big life boost from the experience. I had the thought that others might want to do something similar in their schools, so I thought I’d share some ideas and resources on how that might happen.


One idea is to start a TED-Ed club. Within these clubs, students can view and discuss TED talks as well as work towards developing their own. If you want to know more about what these are and what it takes to host your own, check out this list of FAQ’s.

You may be thinking that motivating students to do such things is unlikely, and I have heard of clubs faltering or disbanding. Typically, support and inspiration from adults is required, especially if a formal TEDx event is going to happen. I recommend a small team of adult leaders so that the responsibility isn’t all on one person. Also, many local citizens have given talks in various TEDx events, and they would be great partners or guest speakers. See this list of TEDx events, which maps all events past and future. You may be able to connect with one of the speakers.

Schools and teachers could also incorporate the TED structure in curriculum or presentation activities.This would increase the level of authenticity and perhaps get students intrigued about the format. There are also a number of lessons that utilize TED talks as a center point, which can expose students to the format.

Whatever level of exposure is provided, it is certain that the TED brand has staying power, and it is one of many ways we can empower, embolden, and enlighten our students. Thus, it is worth exploring.

#education, #educational-technology, #ted