Open educational resources (OER) are a great way for teachers to make use of digital content in the classroom. Open educational resources are teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use and can be remixed, revised, and redistributed. According to Project Tomorrow’s 2014 Speak Up Survey, 65% of school librarians say access to a collection of vetted, grade-level, content specific resources would be most effective in helping teachers better use digital content in their classroom. And, over 70% of teachers consider free content as the most important factor when evaluating the quality of content to use in their classroom. Teachers also want the ability to curate and modify the digital content they use in their classroom.

Recently, the United States Department of Education announced a new campaign, “#GoOpen,” aimed at pushing for more educational materials to be freely available. Ten districts have committed to the #GoOpen challenge to replace at least one textbook with Open Educational Resources, including Blackboard client, Lawrence Public Schools, KS. Rick Doll, Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent, attended the Open Education Symposium in Washington, D.C.  Additional details can be found at tech.ed.gov/open-education.

To address these important digital content needs, we are committed to providing seamless access to a world of open educational resources (OER) within our solutions. We developed Blackboard Open Content, a cross platform, cloud-based, global learning object repository, to provide educators with direct access to a universe of learning content. Teachers can discover, create, and curate learning objects and share them within their district or across the globe. All OER content can be aligned to Common Core Standards within Blackboard Open Content so searching, using, and selecting digital content can easily help students master competencies.

Blackboard has also partnered with the best K-12 OER digital content providers, CK-12 Foundation, SAS Curriculum Pathways, and Khan Academy, to save teachers time and bring districts digital content that is interactive and engaging for students.

CK-12 Foundation

The CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides full curriculum coverage for K-12 math and science. All of their OER digital content is aligned to Common Core and State Standards. CK-12 is used by students and teachers in over 30,000 schools and provides a full array of learning solutions – from 100,000+ teacher created digital textbooks, tests, and concepts that are fully customizable, to highly interactive content like simulations and PLIX (interactives to explore). Furthermore, CK-12 content is 100% free for students, teachers and schools and is now available in Blackboard’s teaching and learning solutions through Blackboard Open Content.

SAS Curriculum Pathways

SAS Curriculum Pathways provides interactive, standards-based tools, resources and apps for grades K-12. SAS encourages students to learn from doing, seeing and listening. Their state and common core standards content can also be differentiated to meet varied needs and technology capabilities. SAS provides learner-centered activities with measurable outcomes and targets higher-order thinking skills. Within Blackboard Open Content, 1,250+ interactive, standards-based tools, resources and apps from SAS Curriculum Pathways are available at no cost.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan to provide, “A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” The organization produces micro lectures in the form of YouTube videos. In addition to micro lectures, the organization’s website features practice exercises and tools for educators. All resources are available for free to anyone around the world. Khan Academy OER is another great example of free, high quality, digital content seamlessly available to Blackboard K-12 clients through Blackboard Open Content.

User-generated content

Finally, the world of open education resources would not be complete without considering user-generated content. With Blackboard Open Content, teachers can create, share and collaborate on learning objects with colleagues within their district or across the globe. Intuitive authoring tools enable teachers to easily create, edit and align standards to learning materials within the repository, all through their LMS. Teachers can easily share content globally or with select groups and “publish” digital content into channels for others to find and use with conditions they define. But sharing doesn’t mean giving away rights. Blackboard Open Content provides built-in copyright controls so districts can use the Creative Commons copyright, which is recognized around the world, with their learning materials and Blackboard Open Content will help them enforce those rights, so their content is protected.

Crowley Independent School District (Crowley ISD), serving over 15,000 students across 23 schools in Crowley and Fort Worth, TX leverages the power of Blackboard Open Content. “Thanks to Blackboard Open Content, our teachers are able to create and share freely between classes and other teachers without having to replicate efforts,” said Chris Tims, Instructional Technologist at Crowley ISD. “Teachers prepare, enrich and edit content that is instantly available in our online course environments and made available to teachers and students. Furthermore, the chance of contributing through collaborative authoring and the sharing of resources looks to tap into a wealth of opportunities for our instructors that can only benefit our students and learning environments.”

We are thrilled to announce that Blackboard Open Content has reached and exceeded the 100,000 OER resources milestone. “Open Education is in Blackboard’s DNA and I am excited about this new milestone achieved by our platform,” said Mark Strassman, senior vice president, product marketing and management at Blackboard. “Blackboard Open Content is currently used in nearly 60 countries around the world with a potential reach of more than 4 million learners. We are proud of collaborating with educators to create a global community that supports the educational success of learners.”

To learn more about Blackboard’s commitment to Open Education Resources, the benefits of Blackboard Open Content, and our OER partners, view this video titled, “Accessible Open Educational Resources in K-12,” a discussion led by Brent Mundy, Director of Blackboard Product Management, and Jeannine Richardson, Blackboard Solutions Engineering Manager.

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