A One-Size-Fits-One Experience on tjbliss.org

I’m positively thrilled to announce that with some expert help from my friends and colleagues at the Inclusive Design Research Center (IDRC) at the Ontario College of Art and Design, my website is now equipped with Learner Options, developed as part of the Hewlett-funded Flexible Learning for Open Education (FLOE) Project. Look at the top right of this (or any) page. Now back to me. Now back to the top of the page. What do you see? That’s right: FLOE Learner Options.

If you click on the little tab that says “+ Show Display Preferences” you will get an amazing array of accessibility tools to help you better consume the content on my site. With Learner Options, you can seamlessly adjust things like text size, text style, contrast, and line spacing, among other features. What’s more, the open source community of the FLOE project is continuously expanding the Learner Options available. The project recognizes that learners are diverse and learning must be delivered as a one-size-fits-one experience to support that diversity and optimize accessibility and learning for each user.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you are interested in deploying Learner Options on your site, I am happy to connect you with the FLOE Project team, who is always more than happy and willing to help folks get Learner Options up and running on their site. In fact, the team has actually used my site as an opportunity to develop a plug-in for WordPress that will allow any WordPress user to quickly and efficiently install Learner Options. The plug-in is still under development, but should be ready for prime-time in the near future. Stay tuned!


I just learned that the WordPress Plugin for Learner Options is now available. The plugin can be downloaded from the IDRC’s Github repository at https://github.com/fluid-project/uio-wordpress-plugin/ The “readme.txt” file includes installation instructions. Now let’s all get a bit more inclusive!


Musings on OER Policy

Policy favorable to OER is a critical component of the entire open education movement. OER policies currently exist at many levels: international, national, regional, local, and institutional. You can explore various OER policies around the world on the OER Policy Map maintained by the OER Research Hub. Creative Commons also maintains a list of proposed and adopted OER policies that is well-worth your perusal. As I have traveled hither and yon these past few months meeting with Hewlett grantees and others involved and interested in OER, the policy issue has continually surfaced as an important theme. These conversations have caused me to think more deeply about the role of policy in accomplishing Hewlett’s goal of mainstreaming OER.

Dr. Vance Randall, an expert in both education policy and educating about education policy (and former advisor to Senator Orrin Hatch) argues that policy is nearly always created to a solve a particular problem or set of problems. From this perspective, the best way to understand an existing policy is to identify the problem(s) it was created to solve (not always an easy task). In advocating for OER-related policies, we should be very clear about the problem the particular policy would solve. What’s more, we should recognize that OER policy can solve different problems at different policy levels. Using the “policy/problem/solution” concept as a framework, here is my current thinking (limited as it may be) about OER policy at the international, national, and institutional levels*. For each level, I provide the problems that I think are most easily solved by OER policy, problems I think are less likely to be solved, and my current vision for a “dream” policy. I am very open to feedback about my views on OER policy and hope that others will contribute to the conversation here.

International OER Policy

Policy at the international level related to OER is most likely to be useful in solving the OER awareness problem and the sustainable OER development problem. Awareness of OER is very low throughout the world. International OER policy established by IGOs like the European Commission, UNESCO, OECD, and the World Bank can do much to help solve the awareness problem by being committed to discussing the role of OER in solving broader educational issues at member state gatherings. IGOs that provide funding to member states could also require open licensing of materials produced with those funds. Non-funding IGOs could encourage their member states to adopt national-level policies that require open licensing of all materials produced with public funding. It seems less likely to me that international OER policy can as effectively or directly solve other problems related to OER, including adoption, discoverability/interoperability, and effective Open Educational Practice (OEP) at the classroom level.

A “dream” international OER policy would require member states of each of the respective IGOs to openly license all materials produced with public funds, as a condition of membership.

National OER Policy

Depending on the nation, national OER policies may help solve the sustainable OER development problem by requiring open licensing on materials produced with public funds. National policies could also solve the OER efficacy problem by providing funding for research related to OER and OEP. In democratic, decentralized states like the US, national OER policies are less likely to be effective at tackling the adoption and discoverability/interoperability problems.

A “dream” national OER policy would require all education materials produced with public funding (including all materials produced on-the-clock by faculty and teachers at publically funded institutions and schools) to be openly licensed and shared in a national repository that requires appropriate metadata tagging to increase discoverability.

Institutional OER Policy

Institutional OER policies could help solve nearly every problem related to OER mainstreaming. Institutional OER polices could help solve the OER awareness problem by requiring faculty and teachers to receive professional development related to OER. Institutional policies could also solve the OER development problem by requiring investment in faculty and teacher time to review, adopt, and adapt existing OER (and create new open materials when there are gaps). Institutional policies could solve the adoption problem in higher education by requiring faculty to use OER by default and only use propriety materials when adequate justification exists. In K-12, institutional polices at the school district level could require curricular review boards to give priority to open content and justify use of proprietary content (I suppose regional policies at the state level could do this as well, but it is much less politically viable in the US). Institutional policies could help solve the discoverability/interoperability problems by requiring that all newly created open content carry appropriate metadata, be shared via the national repository (if  my national “dream” policy were in place), and require investment in professional development related to effective strategies for finding OER (i.e. “How to Use Google Advanced Search”). Finally, institutional OER policies could solve the OER efficacy problem by encouraging and supporting in-house research on OEP.

A “dream” institutional OER policy in higher education would require faculty to adopt openly licensed content by default, and only allow adoption of proprietary materials if justifiable. A “dream” institutional OER policy in K-12 would require curricular review boards to give priority to open content and only allow adoption of proprietary content in extreme cases (if at all).

A final word about implementation: A policy means nothing if it is not implemented with fidelity. The best “dream” policy in the world is a pile of garbage if the solution it provides is not actually implemented. We need to be spending more time on encouraging implementation of existing OER policies while we are advocating for new ones. As a rule, I believe international policies are much more difficult to implement with fidelity than national policies. I also believe that national policies are much more difficult to implement than institutional policies.

My views on policy implementation, taken together with my argument about institutional OER policies, should leave no one surprised at my current thinking on the OER Policy space: In addition to advocating for policies at the international, national, and regional levels, we should be more intensely investing our energy and advocacy in pushing for solid OER policies at the institutional level – at colleges, universities, and school districts.

I give an important reminder here that the posts on my blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This post simply represents my current, jet-lagged thinking on OER policy. I welcome and encourage feedback from the field on this issue. I absolutely reserve the right to keep an open mind and change my views. Typing this also reminds me of one of my favorite lyrics by one of the greatest bands in the world:

A man came up to me and said:

“I’d like to change your mind

“By hitting it with a rock,” he said,

“Though I am not unkind.”


Let the kindly rock throwing begin.


*I have chosen not to address regional/local policies in this post, not because I feel they are unimportant, but because I see them as an extension of national policies or a reflection of institutional policies, especially in the United States. If someone has an argument for the uniqueness of local/regional OER policies in terms of solving key OER problems, I would love to hear it. I suspect there are some good cases to be made

**Since originally writing this post, I’ve discovered this gem of an article that addresses state-level OER policy issue quite well. Definitely worth the quick read: http://publications.sreb.org/2010/10T02_Guidelines_Eff_Pol.pdf

The Doctor and the Gym

We will have made great progress on the OER front when educators and institutions make OER the default choice and feel the need to justify using closed content. Right now, the opposite is generally true: Closed content is the default and people need compelling reasons to replace it with OER. When the norms have changed, OER will be in the mainstream*.

As I have visited with folks in the OER community these past few months, people have continually highlighted two major reasons people adopt OER: (a) to save money and  (b) to improve teaching and learning. These two reasons for adopting fit naturally with the two key characteristics of OER: free use and repurposing. The characteristic of free use lends itself to the economical motivation for using OER; while the ability to revise, remix, reuse, redistribute, and retain resources provides opportunity for improved teaching and deeper learning.

As I have thought about why people choose to adopt OER, I’ve come to realize that there are important and fundamental differences between the two major motivations for adoption. A simple health metaphor helps me understand these differences and sheds some light on how we might approach persuading more people to adopt OER. When we are sick or in pain, most of us don’t need much motivation to seek help or go to the doctor. When we are otherwise healthy, however, most of us need quite a bit of external motivation to take steps to strengthen our bodies and improve our health through proper exercise and diet.

I think, in most cases, the same is true for OER adoption. In most educational settings, especially those with large numbers of at-risk students like community colleges and public K-12 schools, the economic situation is tenuous. People and systems are in financial pain and need very little extra motivation to accept an obvious remedy when it is presented. In these situations, the economic argument for OER brings welcome relief. However, in the same way that someone with a broken leg is not likely to respond well to encouragement to run laps at the gym, those feeling heavy financial pain are not likely to respond enthusiastically to exhortations to improve teaching and learning through OER. It just isn’t a compelling reason for them to adopt**.

If we want OER to become the default, we need people to use OER and to know that they are using OER. In the United States and Canada, particularly, the economic argument for OER is a compelling reason to adopt at all educational levels. Using the economic argument does not diminish OER’s potential for improving teaching and learning. Instead, it is a gateway that people want to enter so they can feel better. And when they enter this gate, evidence in the field shows that they are more likely to go to the proverbial gym and start using OER in ways that leverage the open license. To be sure, the real power of OER is in its potential to improve teaching and learning through open pedagogy. But we may never get to the point where effective use of OER is a mainstream practice until lots and lots of people are using it to meet their more basic needs.

*Credit goes to Nick Shockey of SPARC for framing the mainstreaming of OER in the context of setting defaults and shifting norms.

**I fully recognize that there are many educators who find the opportunity to use OER to improve teaching and learning a compelling reason to adopt. However, I think there are many more people who would adopt OER for economic reasons. It is entirely possible, and desirable, to focus on both motivators for adoption simultaneously. The point of this metaphor is to illuminate the need to pay attention to these diverse motivators and tailor the approach accordingly.

The Listening Tour

One of my favorite things about visiting my hometown in Utah is driving down the I-15 corridor through Salt Lake City along the beautiful Wasatch Front. While the mountain view is always stunning, I also look forward to seeing the often funny, sometimes downright clever billboards that dot the highway shoulder, for Utah has no shortage of them. One local car dealership’s billboard campaign is among my favorites. Their tag-line – “We Hear You” – is supported by a series of ever-changing billboards highlighting how well they listen to customers. My favorite among the lot depicts a single fallen tree in a forest. The caption reads: “We’d hear it.”

As I head out this morning on the first of many scheduled visits to the Hewlett grantees in the OER portfolio, I am focused on listening and learning. My predecessors at the foundation have made careful and strategic investments in the OER space, some of which I am more familiar with than others. I see this listening tour as an opportunity to dig deep and better understand the challenges and successes these grantees are experiencing in their Hewlett-funded work, as well as in their broader organizational missions. I also look forward to hearing grantees’ thoughts and perspectives on the OER field itself, and their opinions on how the OER portfolio should evolve over the next few years. In short, I want my initial (and, with any luck, continual) message to every grantee to be worthy of a clever billboard campaign: “I Hear You.”


**The opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation**

Building Measurably Better Lives


Next week I will officially begin my term as the OER Program Officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It is hard for me to express my excitement and anticipation for this new experience. I am looking forward to so many things, most especially the opportunities I will have to build relationships with the many wonderful people from around the world who are engaged in the work of open education.

In preparing to interview for the position earlier this year, I scanned through the many, many successful OER projects that have been funded by my predecessors at the foundation. I was amazed at the scope and breadth of the list. As I browsed, I realized that I had personally interacted with people from several of the funded projects. This realization caused my excitement to grow even more, as I looked forward to the potential of renewing and growing my relationships with so many of my former friends and colleagues.

I think the reason the relationship factor is so appealing to me is because I have long viewed the Hewlett Foundation as much more than simply a source of funding. To those in the OER community, the Hewlett Foundation is an invaluable source of counsel, guidance, insight, networking, and direction. Money is certainly an essential resource, but it is not always the most valuable service that the Hewlett Foundation provides. To me, the Hewlett Foundation is like a parent. Through interaction with others, the foundation helps bring ideas to life, provides means to help these ideas grow and mature, and, ultimately, intends for the ideas to move out and be successful on their own in the world. Just as children would rarely think of their parents as simply their source of funding (though parents certainly serve that role for an extended term), those who receive support from Hewlett do not think of the foundation as just a fountain of cash. Instead, they look to Hewlett (and the Program Officers especially) to help them make connections, navigate the landscape, and measurably improve lives through their ideas.

I feel deeply grateful for the opportunity to play this sort of role in the open education movement. I know I have some big shoes to fill (and know I will be standing on the shoulders of giants), but I cannot wait to be fully involved again with the OER community. I cannot wait to learn and to grow together with so many great thinkers and doers from around the world. For me, this is a dream come true, an opportunity to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause.”

**The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.**

Photo Credit: Ezra Katz – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parent-left_child-right_yellow-background.svg

The Past Two Months

A lot of exciting things have happened to me over the past two months. First, I successfully defended my (openly licensed) dissertation on Feb. 1. Preparation for this event occupied the majority of my time in December and January, of course. My dissertation research involved developing a model of digital textbook quality from the college student perspective and subsequently using this model to develop a measurement instrument that can be used in evaluating digital textbooks. The implications of this instrument (which I will make available for general use soon) in the OER context are large. Those developing and improving digital OER will be welcome and encouraged to use this instrument to get valid and reliable feedback from their students.

At the same time I was defending my dissertation (literally the day before), I traveled to Boise, ID to interview for the position of Director of Assessment in the State Department of Education (SDE). I was blessed to receive an offer for this position and after careful consideration decided to accept it. Less than a week after defending my dissertation, I was unloading the moving truck at our new house in Boise.The Director of Assessment position is a great fit for me because I have extensive training in educational measurement and enjoy working on educational policy issues. In addition, the senior staff at the Idaho SDE have expressed a keen interest in OER and have welcomed my expertise in this area. Given that I work next door to the Director of Content for the state, don’t be surprised to see some OER-related K-12 initiatives coming out of Idaho in the near future.

As the Director of Assessment, I look forward to leading Idaho into the next generation of K-12 assessment. In particular, I am excited to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)as the State Lead for Idaho (and possibly on some committees) and in preparing Idaho for the transition from its current statewide test to the more rigorous and technologically advanced test currently being developed by SBAC. This transition will be challenging for many reasons, but I am eager to lead out and contribute to improved assessment at the state and national levels.

Also, sometime during the week between the job offer and the move, we heard back from The Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) that our latest OEG paper regarding student and teacher perceptions of OER will be published in the next issue. Good news indeed. Finally, I completed and submitted a draft of the OER Policy Guide I have been working on as the OER Policy Fellow at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). It should be published soon. The last deliverable for this position will be a collaborative content development guide for states who are wanting to develop OER aligned to the Common Core. I hope to have that finished by the end of April and will provide links to both documents as soon as possible.


New Research Article on User Perceptions of Open Textbooks

The latest article from the Open Education Group was published in the journal First Monday this week.

Here’s the abstract:


The Cost and Quality of Open Textbooks:
Perceptions of Community College Faculty and Students


Proponents of open educational resources (OER) claim that significant cost savings are possible when open textbooks displace traditional textbooks in the college classroom. We investigated student and faculty perceptions of OER used in a community college context. Over 125 students and 11 faculty from seven colleges responded to an online questionnaire about the cost and quality of the open textbooks used in their classrooms. Results showed that the majority of students and faculty had a positive experience using the open textbooks, appreciated the lower costs, and perceived the texts as being of high quality. The potential implications for OER initiatives at the college level seem large. If primary instructional materials can in fact be made available to students at no or very low cost, without harming learning outcomes, there appears to be a significant opportunity for disruption and innovation in higher education.

Access the full article here.

A follow-on study to the one reported in First Monday will appear in the next issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Keep your eyes peeled.

OER as a New Hope: A Key to Disruptive Innovation in Education

If you haven’t yet had a chance to read Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson, then a critical software update is ready for your brain (download now/remind me later/no thanks).

In their book, Christensen and his colleagues outline the process by which real, wholesale reform in education is going to come about (and they make no qualms about their staunch conviction that this reform will, in fact, come about…and soon). The gist of their argument is that reform will occur in two stages. The first stage will be the continued growth of online instruction facilitated by the need for such instruction in four key areas: schools that want to offer more AP courses, rural schools who want to offer more curricular breadth, resource-constrained secondary schools in urban areas, and home-schoolers. The second stage will involve the development and growth of what the authors call student-centric learning, defined primarily as user-generated online tools for personalized tutoring enabled by a facilitated network in which consumers exchange content with each other.

In essence, Christensen and colleagues are arguing that real reform in education will finally come about when it becomes normal for teachers, parents, and students to generate and exchange customized educational content with each other. Surprisingly, no direct mention is made in the book about open educational resources, even though OER will be the very things that will ultimately enable the wide-scale facilitated exchange of content envisioned by the authors.

The only indirect reference to OER is on page 142, where the authors “suspect that many thousands of teachers, as individuals, will begin using student-centric tools that they find in these networks and will put content that they develop onto the network for other teachers to use.” And then a footnote:

“This will happen even if they do not receive royalties for their work. As evidence, there are dozens of Web sites today on which teachers make their teaching plans available to other teachers–not in search of profit, but because their primary motivation is to help more children learn effectively. One such facilitated network for teachers to do this is Curriki…”

What the authors fail to discuss – though at least one blog post reveals their recognition of some aspects of the open education movement – is the critical role of OER in the education reform process they predict. In short, if exchange of content among consumers within a facilitated network is the key for “disrupting class,” then OER and open licensing are the keys that will enable and facilitate the exchange.

For those of us in the OpenEd movement, perhaps the most important take-away from this seminal book is the need to focus our efforts on areas of non-consumption, rather than continuing to “bloody ourselves by bashing the barriers that bar change in the existing system.” By continuing development and innovation of OER within the four areas identified by Christensen et al., the probability of eventual disruption of the current educational system – most especially the monolithic textbook publishing and adoption process – will increase dramatically.

(Photo credit: Some rights reserved by ShellyS – http://www.flickr.com/photos/shellysblogger/3223035195/sizes/m/in/photostream/)

Supporting the Collaborative Development of OER Aligned with the Common Core: A Policy Brief

Executive Summary

Forty-seven states and territories have fully adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and mathematics. The implementation of CCSS will be extremely costly to states, in part, because many districts will have to purchase new instructional materials and textbooks aligned to the CCSS out-of-cycle. Several policy options exist to help states deal with these costs, including increased federal funding, increased federal regulation of textbook publishers, and support of collaborative development of open educational resources (OER) aligned with CCSS. I recommend the third option because it not only offers a budgetary respite, but because it gives states unprecedented flexibility in instructional materials management.

The Problem

Reports estimate that implementing the CCSS will increase educational expenditures during the transition period (Pioneer Institute, 2012; Fordham Institute, 2012). A significant portion of these cost increases will occur because districts and schools in states that adopt the CCSS will need to purchase new instructional materials that are aligned with the new standards. This is a pressing problem for many states that are already experiencing budget deficits and struggling to figure out how to maintain (let alone increase) current educational spending.

Background and Context

Most of the states and territories in America have agreed to adopt the CCSS. States’ reasons for adopting common standards are varied. However, the main purpose of the CCSS according to the coalition that wrote them (which included state governmental and educational representatives from across the nation) is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them” (Common Core, 2012). Specifically, the developers and adopters of CCSS see the standards as a way to equalize opportunity for student learning, ensure consistency in educational expectations from state to state, and help maintain or increase America’s competitive edge in a global economy.

Despite the hype and rhetoric around widespread adoption and upcoming implementation of CCSS, at least one report warns that many states have not paid due attention to the fact that the adoption of CCSS is going to cost a lot of money (Pioneer Institute, 2012). This report explains that cost increases will likely occur in four main areas: (a) professional development, (b) testing, (c) technology and infrastructure support, and (d) textbooks and instructional materials. Focusing on just the fourth area, textbooks and instructional materials, the Pioneer Institute estimates that “states will need to spend approximately $2.47 billion in one time costs to obtain [CCSS]-aligned English language arts and mathematics instructional materials ” (2012). Even more startling, this cost estimate does not include the adoption of CCSS in science or any of the other proposed subject-matter areas.

The Pioneer Institute report is based on the current average cost of language arts and mathematics textbooks as sold by for-profit publishers. However, the report did not consider the rapidly growing availability of open educational resources. OER are instructional materials – including textbooks, modules, videos, and even entire courses – that are specifically licensed for reuse, remix, revision, and redistribution. This type of licensing allows for the development of essentially free educational content (Wiley, Bliss, McEwen, in press). Even more importantly, OER can be developed collaboratively, aligned to CCSS, and freely shared between and within states. Currently, there are over 500 million openly licensed educational resources (Cable Green at Creative Commons, personal communication, November 2, 2012), with more being developed every day. However, there are not currently any cross-state initiatives to develop textbooks and other instructional materials aligned specifically to the CCSS.

Policy Options

There are several policy options for addressing the increased costs of instructional materials necessitated by the adoption and implementation of the CSSS. First, the federal government could increase payouts to states to help cover costs. Second, the federal government could regulate for-profit textbook publishers and require them to decrease profit margins on materials sold to public schools. Third, state and federal governments could support the collaborative development and adoption of open educational resources aligned with CCSS. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages for states.

The first option, federal assistance for instructional materials purchasing, is easy and simple because it requires little from states in terms of planning, implementation, and change. With additional federal funding specifically earmarked for purchasing of CSSS-aligned materials, states could carry-on with business as usual and not individually experience additional budgetary constraints in their instructional materials allotments. However, with this option, the American taxpayer will still have to cover the additional $2.47 billion dollars it is estimated to cost states to adopt new materials. In addition, it is extremely unlikely that federal funding for states would come without additional strings attached, a generally unfavorable policy situation for most states.

The second option, increased federal regulation of textbook publishers, would certainly have the advantage of decreasing the cost of instructional materials. However, federal invasion into free-market enterprise is often more politically controversial than increased educational spending. This option is not likely to succeed given the powerful influence of the textbook industry within Washington, DC. In addition, few federal legislators are going to support a policy that so clearly and directly disables a major national industry. In the end, passage of this policy option has a low probability of success and implementation is even less likely.

The third option, support of collaborative development and adoption of OER, will dramatically reduce the cost of instructional materials related to the adoption of CCSS. In addition, this option will allow states to ensure that the materials they are using in their schools are aligned not only to CCSS, but also to other state-specific standards and outcomes. Despite these advantages, the collaborative development of OER will require cooperation between states and dedication to a high quality product – a sometimes difficult accomplishment. What’s more, states will certainly feel pushback from the textbook publishers they have purchased from for many, many years. States will have to muster collective courage to burn some corporate bridges – even with publishers that operate within state boundaries.

Policy Recommendations

The estimated costs associated with the adoption of new instructional materials aligned with the CSSS are too high for most states to cover with current budgets. Something needs to be done if states are going to be able to actually afford to successfully adopt the CCSS. While there are several options for solving this issue, including increased federal funding and federal regulation, we recommend that federal and state governments enact policy supporting the collaborative development and adoption of open educational resources that are aligned with the CCSS. In particular, we offer the following policy recommendations:

First, the federal government should establish grants to state consortia for the development of OER aligned to CCSS. These grant programs must require that all instructional materials produced with federal funds be openly licensed using a Creative Commons attribution or non-commercial license (CC BY o r CC BY NC). Because there is no legal precedent for federal support of state instructional materials expenditures, this is a bold, precedent-setting recommendation.

Second, states should re-allocate some of their current instructional materials budget to grant programs that interstate district and school consortia could use to develop OER aligned with CCSS. The State of Washington, for instance, proposed a policy that would require 1.5% of the instructional materials budget be used for OER development (H.B. 2337-original, 2012). This bill was eventually revised to match the particulars of WA instructional materials allotments, but the original model is intriguing. As with the recommended federal grants, state administered grants should have open licensing requirements.

Third, states should enact policies and regulations that specifically fund OER development initiatives in the context of the CCSS. The State of California very recently passed legislation to this effect that will result in the development of several openly licensed textbooks to be used in community colleges (S. 1052, 2012). Similar bills aimed at K-12 are sorely needed (WA H.B. 2337 is a shining example).

Fourth, states should allocate some of their instructional materials and education budgets to hire staff that can oversee and implement inter and intra-state collaborations on OER development and adoption. Without administrative support, development projects are not likely to succeed or move quickly enough.

Implementation of these policy recommendations will solve the looming problem of increased instructional materials costs related to the adoption of CCSS. In addition, development and adoption of OER aligned to CCSS will allow states unprecedented flexibility in revision and adaptation of instructional materials to state and local standards.


CA. S. 1052. (2012).

Common Core State Standards Initiative (2012). Preparing America’s for college and career. Accessed at www.corestandards.org on November 2, 2012.

Fordham Institute (2012). Putting a price tag on the common core: How much will smart implementation cost? Washington, DC: Murphy, P., Regenstein, E. and McNamara, K.

Pioneer Institute (2012). National cost of aligning states and localities to the Common Core Standards. Boston: Author.

Wiley, D., Bliss, T., & McEwen, M. (In press). Open educational resources: A review of the literature. Handbook of Research on Educational Communications & Technology (4th ed.).

WA. H.B. 2337 (2012).

Taking Advantage of Open Textbooks in K-12

About 8 months ago I gave a short presentation to a group of faculty and superintendents in Arizona who were preparing to develop open textbooks in math and language arts in their districts. The presentation was about effective textbook study strategies that students could finally use because they would be able to mark up and annotate their open textbooks.

I didn’t think much about the presentation until last week when I was on bus in New Orleans and ran into an administrator from one of the Arizona districts. He told me that the presentation I had given on textbook study strategies had been extremely informative and useful to the teachers who had seen it. He wondered if I had a narrated version that he could use more broadly in his district and which he could share with other districts. I told him I was happy to hear that the presentation had been impactful and agreed to update the slides with more rigorous content and narration.

After a few long hours of wrestling with technical difficulties and a bit of SlideShare frustration (you can only upload files smaller than 100mb without a Pro account), I present to the world my revised and “much” requested presentation on Textbook Study Strategies (in the context of OER).

Of course, it is openly licensed as CC BY – so have it!