The recent adoption of Common Core state standards — backed by the Education Department — may enable the perfect storm for accelerating open educational resource development. Are teachers ready to take the plunge into independently developed learning tools?
Educational technology companies have long been developing classroom tools. Higher education institutions have led the way in technology adoption, but primary institutions aren’t far behind. Today, there are specialists, certifications and conferences supporting technology adoption in the primary classroom.
Still development of educational content – lessons, videos, interactive games – has been slow to follow suit as creators struggled to find an audience large enough to justify the effort. Just a few years ago, lessons for second grade students in Missouri in many cases did not match those of their peers in Nebraska because of varying state learning standards.
Role of the Common Core State Standards
But state adoption of the federal Common Core Standards is a game changer, enabling consistency for most of the country’s students. Currently adopted by 45 states, the standards outline comprehension concepts for students in grades kindergarten through High School.
Ubiquity in standards will enable far more extensive content development, as a multitude of small audiences with specialized needs now become a single large audience with the same needs.
With the foundation in place, educational technology companies just need a nudge toward content development.
Support from the Education Department
The Education Department is nudging. With a sizable budget to assist in developing online educational resources, and even a video contest, the federal agency is supporting open educational resources as a job creation engine as much as a paradigm shift in education.
The department has high hopes for online resources in the classroom. On whyopenedmatters.org, Arne Duncan, the education secretary says online educational resources “can not only accelerate and enrich learning, they can also substantially reduce costs for schools, families, and students.”
What’s Next For Teachers?
It may be too soon to say if the timing is right for online educational resources — Utah recently questioned the federal government’s authority to create the Common Core and passed a 21-6 vote to request reconsideration by the Utah Board of Education.
But when the storm clears, teachers may find a wealth of new teaching resources at the end of the rainbow. And the Education Department may have just provided a much needed boost to the economy.