whitehouse.gov Announcement: It Will “Model Transition to Openly Licensed Educational Material” in K-12
The Federal Government (which disavows its control in state educational direction/delivery) has announced its support of the use of open educational resources to provide equitable access to quality education. The whitehouse.gov site where this announcement is published quotes as its inspiration from Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to education…Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
It reads like educational nirvana: global learning that is *common* but can be tailored to *local community* needs:
On September 28, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of State co-hosted an International Open Education Workshop, bringing together 40 civil society and foreign government participants from eight countries to examine existing open education efforts and identify opportunities for future collaboration between government and civil society. This workshop is one of several open education commitments made as part of the second U.S. Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
At the workshop, participants shared examples of ways that openly licensed educational materials are being used to solve local education challenges around the world. For example, one participant shared open-source tools that enable offline access to openly licensed educational videos — technology that has supported education for Syrian refugees, inmates in U.S. correctional facilities, and over 2 million other learners from around the world. Open licenses grant anyone the rights to revise, remix, and redistribute these educational materials, so investments in content or tools made by one organization or government can be leveraged by other institutions and used in new ways.
Another participant, drawing on her recent experience serving as a Foreign Service Officer in the Balkans, noted the potential for openly licensed educational materials to honor local knowledge and information needs. In particular, she described how an open-source model could empower educators to collaborate on and adapt textbooks across local and international borders, retaining fundamental content while tailoring certain features, like names in math word problems, to reflect students’ ethnic diversity and culture. Empowering local communities to adapt, translate, and create collections of learning materials that meet their information, learning, or language needs helps side-step assumptions and honor learners’ lived experiences.
Open education advances key national priorities, including supporting shared economic prosperity, strengthening civil society, and investing in human development. Over the next year, the U.S. Government will continue efforts to expand and accelerate the use and availability of openly licensed educational materials worldwide. In addition, we will begin to model the transition to openly licensed educational materials at scale in U.S. K-12 schools. We look forward to engaging with the national and global community to identify opportunities for open licensing to accelerate educational equity for all learners regardless of their financial situations or geographic locations.
The Federal Government will continue efforts to expand and accelerate the use and availability of openly licensed educational materials worldwide. In addition, we will begin to model the transition to openly licensed educational materials at scale in U.S. K-12 schools. Questions on what this really means:
- Will the Federal Government have the authority to decide which educational materials are to be openly licensed? What does *continue efforts to expand and accelerate use and availability of openly licensed educational materials worldwide* specifically entail?
- Why is the Federal Government concerned about worldwide educational materials for countries other than the USA?
- Is this the role of the Federal Government?
- Will the Federal Government direct educational curriculum used in schools?
The USDOEd won’t directly control curriculum of course. They’ll just produce a nifty plan-such as the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund which insured the Common Core State Standards Initiative being cemented in those states agreeing to receive the carrots the Federal Government was dangling (which were all 50 states). Remember, the CCSSI is *not just standards* but includes data collection, turnaround school plans, and Federally approved teacher evaluation effectiveness ratings:
- Improve student achievement through school improvement and reform. ARRA funds should be used to improve student achievement, and help close the achievement gap. In addition, the SFSF requires progress on four reforms previously authorized under the bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the America Competes Act of 2007:
- Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
- Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
- Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
- Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.
All of these reforms are predicated on the Federal Government’s approval of such *state-led* reform plans.
How do you think the use and availability of openly licensed educational materials worldwide will work out for local control in your state and school district? As one educational activist mused:
New initiative that plays on everyone full online. Teachers will create curriculum materials from US DOE grants where nothing will be copyrighted. Open materials for tech. Individual schools are already signing on. Huge move. Everything now shifts to total online. Am I getting this?