SETDA urges shift to digital instruction

The report acknowledges that policy changes regarding instructional materials are not enough to ensure that digital content is used in classrooms effectively.

Everyone remembers lugging a 20-pound textbook. But should today’s students still have to consult hefty—and often outdated—printed texts? And should states and districts still pay for resources that few students now find relevant?

A new report says “no”—and it urges states and districts to stop delaying the inevitable shift from print to digital instruction. It also provides examples of how some states are making this shift and overcoming the hurdles this involves.

The report, “Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age,” is produced by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.…Read More

Groups expand access to open educational resources

Efforts to help connect students and teachers to organized open education resources are increasing.

As educators push for more and better access to open educational resources (OER), or content that is available free of charge online, new efforts are helping classroom teachers find and use these resources as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Open Education Week, taking place March 5-10 online and locally around the world, aims to raise awareness of the open education movement and its impact on teaching and learning.

Participants will find speeches, webinars, and descriptions about projects such as university efforts to expand OER offerings.…Read More

Open courseware 2.0: The next steps in the OER movement

Putting free courseware online was a first step in reimagining education. So what now? Wiki universities, smart courses, and—maybe—improved learning, reports the New York Times. A decade has passed since MIT decided to give much of its course materials to the public in an act of largesse. The MIT OpenCourseWare Initiative helped usher in the “open educational resources” (OER) movement, with its ethos of sharing knowledge via free online educational offerings. The movement has helped dislodge higher education from its brick-and-mortar moorings and has given higher education unprecedented reach—but putting course materials online for free isn’t cheap. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the principal financial backer of the open educational movement, has spent more than $110 million on these efforts over the past eight years, and now the foundation is pushing its grant recipients to do more than just make courseware available. In a letter to grantees in February, the foundation said that the current financial climate has forced it to reduce its education grant-making budget by 40 percent since 2008, requiring the foundation to adhere more closely to its primary goals: “to increase access to knowledge for all and improve the practices of teaching and learning.” “We’d like to see data being gathered, and see these materials being improved, and we’d like to see new models of learning,” says Victor Vuchic, the Hewlett program officer responsible for open education. He says the foundation is interested in projects that track and analyze who is using programs, look at how open education enhances learning, and examine how it is changing the future of education…

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