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5 open educational resources to try

By Julie Randles
March 31, 2017
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The world of open educational resources (OERs) is both a blessing and a curse for educators. The blessing lies in access to a host of free educational materials for use in the classroom. The curse is the sheer scope of the resources and providers.

Elliot Soloway, Arthur F. Thurnau professor at the University of Michigan, has heard tales of educators spending hours researching OERs when all they need is a few specific items. He fears that this leads teachers to attempt to reinvent the wheel nightly. “And what a horrible thought that is,” he says.

Soloway points to a number of websites that provide more than OER content (videos, PDFs and other media that inform); they offer full lessons and curricula.

“And many educators know, there’s a world of difference between content and curriculum – vetted, standards-aligned, scope and sequenced learning activities,” Soloway said.

Here are his top recommendations for curricula: This site has been around for years, and for good reason – it meets the needs of K-12 teachers. In addition to the usual assortment of OER content, teachers will find full lesson plans that are easily incorporated into classrooms. Also a pioneer among OER sites, Edmodo offers a time-saving “Spotlight” search to help teachers find specific OER elements. Turn to this OER for the greatest range of assessments available anywhere. Not only does this site provide lesson plans, it offers full courses that can be downloaded and used – and they’re all free! Also an early OER resource, provides content and also makes it easy for educators to share their OER-based lessons.

Educators interested in learning about a free, device-agnostic platform for creating OERs, monitoring students in real time and assessing student artifacts can join Soloway and colleague Cathie Norris for the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Digital Lessons to Reap the Benefits of Your 1:1 Classroom” April 5. Participants will:

  • Learn how to best support student collaboration in 1:1 environments.
  • Get tips for managing a 1:1 classroom.
  • Gather best practices for creating digital curricula.

ISTE members can sign up now for the ISTE Professional Learning Series that includes the webinar “Digital Lessons to Reap the Benefits of Your 1:1 Classroom.” Not a member? Join ISTE today.