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iNACOL survey: An Inquiry into OER projects, practices and policy in U.S. K-12 schools

This is a presentation for the 2010 Open Education conference in Barcelona, Spain.

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iNACOL survey: An Inquiry into OER projects, practices and policy in U.S. K-12 schools

  1. 1. iNACOL survey: An Inquiry into OER projects, practices and policy in U.S. K-12 schools
  2. 2. The group that conducted this survey is iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. iNACOL is a non-profit membership association based in the Washington, DC area with 3,100 members. Its members include K-12 school districts, charter schools, state education agencies, non-profit organizations, research institutions, corporate entities and other content and technology providers. iNACOL and its Executive Director Susan Patrick have been key contributors to the OER policy work in Washington, DC. Susan asked me to come talk about some of the findings from the inquiry iNACOL made to its members about their involvement with Open Educational Resources.
  3. 3. Plan for today First I can discuss the goals of iNACOL survey. Then we’ll look at some of the trends, policies, and challenges that were heard from the respondents in regard to their knowledge and involvement with OER. After we do this, it’d be fantastic to hear reactions from you, especially in offing some models from around the world in working to adopt OER in K-12.
  4. 4. Goals of the survey The audience for the survey was state virtual schools, districts, and higher education institutions that provide online courses. The purpose of the survey was to identify how OER are used in online and blended learning programs in K-12 education by addressing two overarching questions: 1) How is OER being used in K-12 online education, and 2) What are existing OER models at the state, district, and school level? While there are varying definitions of Open Educational Resources, iNACOL said OER are “openly licensed learning materials that permit educators to share, access, and collaborate so they can customize and personalize content and instruction.” The survey was sent via email to 1084 of iNACOL’s institutional members, a subset of all iNACOL’s membership. These institutional members are people involved in administering, teaching, or working in a program that offers online courses, thus were identified as those most likely to be using OER. As a result, the survey is not setup to determine OER penetration across all types of schools or grades. Nor is it a scientific inquiry; for example, nearly all respondents had at least heard about OER. We’d expect a much lower knowledge of OER from a random sampling of K-12 teachers. Instead, the survey was used to identify projects and policies in place and determine how they are working. Eighty- eight responses were collected over a 14-day period.
  5. 5. whatʼs_up_oer? prof_dev $$$ models oer_should_be Many of the responses were interesting, and we’ve gathered them into the following categories: 1) What do you know about OER and what sorts of projects and organizations do you collaborate with? 2) What sorts of professional development programs and resources are there to educate teachers about OER? 3) How is OER funded and how can it be sustainable? 4) What policies and models for OER are in place or being considered? 5) Looking to the future, where should we place our focus in OER within K-12 education?
  6. 6. What is the familiarity of and involvement in OER? In K-12 online schools, there is a high level of general familiarity with OER, and a moderate level of direct OER involvement. Ninety-four percent of the respondents had heard about OER, and 40% work directly on OER initiatives at their schools. Thirty-three percent of respondents do not work directly on OER, but knew about OER projects going on in other schools. The most popular uses of OER in the schools were for distance or online learning, curriculum development, and use of OER in blended learning environments. When asked to identify OER partners from a short list that was provided by iNACOL, many respondents mentioned MITE, (Monterey Institute for Technology and Education) a popular educational non-profit in the U.S. that develops and distributes OER content and courses; CK-12, a nonprofit open textbook publisher, and Connexions, a platform for OER content for k-12 teachers with over 17,000 openly licensed teaching modules. Respondents mentioned other groups like Moodle, Thinkfinity, MERLOT, iTunesU, Edutopia, and others. One interesting component of the responses was the fact that almost half of the respondents said they don’t any partnerships or other relationships with organizations working to develop or provide OER.
  7. 7. What kinds of professional development are there around OER? When we look at professional development for OER, the types and scope varied widely. Some respondents noted that there are projects to inform teachers about OER, but that these are not necessarily OER specific, and teach general technical skills and working in the online environment. An interesting, yet ultimately unsurprising point was the ongoing confusion about the difference between educational content that is simply online and content that is released under an open license aligned with the definition provided of OER. Perhaps training about how to implement and use OER could be meshed together with this more generalized technology professional development. Many respondents noted that while teachers want to know more about OER, there’s no formal training or professional development for OER because there’s no funding to do it. Some said that “word of mouth” is one way teachers learn about OER. Some teachers were able to take part limited webinars, classes, or large group training programs offered by their school or outside the school district. Some schools offered one-on-one help on curriculum development and even in addressing copyright considerations in OER. Some respondents said that they used development resources provided by hosting organizations, such as through MITE’s National Repository of Online Courses. One respondent mentioned a training handbook that outlines ways to find and incorporate OER to create lessons, accompanied by a 2 day professional development workshop where a portion of the time is devoted to teaching teachers how to find and create OER content. Obviously this sort of professional development resource is the exception and not the rule. However, it is exactly these types of resources, documents, and best practices guides that could and should be shared as OER so others can learn about them too.
  8. 8. How is OER funded and how can it be sustainable? When asked about how OER projects are funded, 22% of respondents said they received federal funding. Some noted inroads into exploring financial support for OER, such as through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Investing In Innovation (i3) grant programs. Thirty-three percent said they received some state funds used for OER, while 23% said local funds. About 5% of respondents said they receive OER funding from foundations. Other funding sources ranged from social entrepreneurship, marketing revenue, and even enrollment fee income. As was observed with the funding for professional development, financial support for OER spans a broad spectrum. This is complicated by the fact that sustainability is always on the mind--there’s an expectation that after the grant money runs out the OER, those initiatives should continue. This mindset could be tempered with more support for a long term vision and reinforcement of the fact that while OER are not free to create, they offer downstream financial and pedagogical efficiencies because they can be built upon and improved. It was discovered that respondent knowledge about funding and sustainability mechanisms is less than ideal. There needs to be better awareness of programs such as the Investing in Innovation grants, and increased organizational capacity to partner with other groups and even other states when the time comes to apply for funding. To this end, some respondents noted that there is ongoing discussion to ensure that OER materials can be shared within districts in their state. Such sharing would enable cost saving and efficiency with not having to recreate resources across districts or even states. It was noted that there is some impetus to do this via the State Common Core Standards for english arts and math in the U.S.
  9. 9. What OER policies or models are in place or being pursued? As OER is still a relatively new issue, the survey found that there are few formal policies in place for OER. Few respondents knew about pilots or models in the state for using OER as instructional materials. Forty-nine percent of respondents said there was no policy in place. Seven percent said that they have a “state or district policy,”, while 35% responded “I don’t know.” Some respondents noted plans to incorporate OER into the state’s education technology plan in the future. However, this may require significant outreach and guidance. Other respondents said that their schools are looking toward groups like MITE as a model for OER adoption.
  10. 10. Where should OER focus be placed in K-12? The survey generated some interesting responses about which types of OER would be most useful in supporting K-12 education. The following numbers add up to greater than 100% because the respondents could choose more than one answer. Ninety percent of respondents hoped for OER to be used as supplemental online learning materials, 71% said digital textbooks to replace hard copy texts, 71% said use it for building open online courses, and 61% said OER as a component in building better assessment mechanisms. Some wanted to see an OER open learning object repository built, while others said OER should focus on affordability and alignment with standards, such as the Common Core State Standards. Others wanted to use OER to augment learning materials for struggling students, credit recovery, independent study, college prep and tutoring, special education, library tutorials, and to provide opportunities for students to engage in content and classes that the school doesn’t offer. The general feeling was for supporting OER to be developed as rich multimedia resources, including audio, video, and and interactive materials.
  11. 11. Whatʼs going on around the world? Lessons learned? Policies to emulate?
  12. 12. slide 1 :: Dean Terry :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/therefore/18636595/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en slide 3 :: Ronn ashore :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12392252@N03/1839810842/ :: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ slide 4 :: Kim Pierro :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimpierro/123753753/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en slide 6 :: Simo :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/belsim/4943227066/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ slide 7 :: Jiuck :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiuck/4365662437/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ slide 8 :: Earl - What I Saw 2.0 :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/earlg/182538685/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ slide 9 :: M.V. Jantzen :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvjantzen/2718233066/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ slide 10 :: gerlos :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerlos/3119891607/ :: http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ slide 12 :: Chuck “Caveman” Coker :: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ caveman_92223/3185534518/ :: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ Photo Credits
  13. 13. Attribute to “Creative Commons” with a link to http://creativecommons.org