#GoOpen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, ASCD, and other nonprofits and companies that aims to create an open education ecosystem that makes learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.

It is currently addressed to K-12 education with 14 districts committed to contributing to the creation of OERs. South, in his report on the establishment of GoOpen refers to the COW initiative as a point of reference to this endeavour; the initiative taken by three school districts (Ohio, Wisconsin and Vista Unified School District) to create a “standards-aligned, competency-based, inter-district, inter-state, interdisciplinary, collaborative, project-based social studies curriculum.”Their experience led to the belief that there is a high need for the creation of new open educational material in the form of OER as they were unable to retrieve anything ready that could constitute a content base for their course.

What South is wondering is the money and effort needed to implement this project. “The question is”, he says, “how quickly, how thoughtfully, how sustainably, and with how much rigor and support?” Michael Q. McShane, in his “Open Educational Resources” article in Education Next, asks the exact same question; for OERs, he claims, are free to use but not free to produce. What is more, McShane argues, the overwhelming number of emerging OERs might give untrained K-12 teachers a hard time choosing which one to pick, let alone modify this material to produce a new form.

Both McShane’s and South’s questions are completely natural in an ever-changing landscape where textbooks gradually lose their dominance to digital content and the traditional role of the teacher is at stake. But in my opinion, the OER movement is by definition seeking to engage the teachers and students more or -if you’d like- in a different way. It promotes them to active agents; it presupposes that the teacher will collect the material he/she wants to use and that he/she will spend more time designing his/her course. It presupposes that the student will benefit from this shift in the medium and resume a more active role in composing knowledge or connecting information.

So, despite OER production difficulties in funding and/or regulations, at the end of the day, all that remains is the grade of involvement of the teacher on one hand and the time he/she will spend planning a course and the student on the other and the time he/she will spend using these resources. And thus OERs are a key component to the real change in education. The teacher can choose from multiple sources how to address the content to the students. If the teachers accept OERs as a simple digitization of the traditional textbook, the innumerous benefits of open education will be lost.



  • #GoOpen official page available here
  • Joseph South, Office of Ed Tech, Why #GoOpen? Why now?, article available here
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) information on the project #GoOpen available here
  • Michael Q. McShane, Open Educational Resources”, Education Next, WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1, available here

Image available here


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