Open Educational Resources

The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) officially launched a new networking service for educators on March 9, 2007.  According to a recent eSchoolNews article the Open Educational Resources Commons is:

A new online resource gives teachers and students
free access to more than 8,000 digital learning materials. Educators
and students can add tags,
ratings, reviews, and comments to help others quickly find what they’re
looking for. The site’s mission is to provide a single point of access
through which educators, students, and all other types of learners can
search for, browse, evaluate, and discuss these free learning materials.

Why did ISKME undertake this project?  According to ISKME president, Lisa Petrides

"OER Commons brings the
open-content movement into the classroom. It offers new ways for
instructors and students to engage with teaching and learning materials
and share what they know . . . When people share their knowledge on OER Commons, they pass along their best thinking to others around the globe."

I see the popularity of open-source knowledge, exemplified by the MIT OpenCourseWare materials, as the primary reason that over 10,000 individuals had visited ORE Commons before its official launch date. The notion of intellectual freedom and digital democracy is evolving in the age of the contribution and collaboration culture of Web 2.0.

I decided to surf over to the ORE Commons to see what I could find about the 1920s, the unit I just started teaching.  I immediately located several dozen resources in the form of essays, presentations, syllabi, online games, etc.  All of the resources I found would only be usable in a secondary classroom, which was exactly what I was seeking.  Many of the resources are supplemental to university and college courses.

While I find the excitement that has obviously been generated by this launch intriguing, I don’t view it as groundbreaking.  The DEN has been doing this, very well I might add, for over a year.  The Educator Resources accessible through the Discovery Educator Network site boasts hundreds of classroom activities, presentations, applications, games, etc.  DENers with STAR status can access those classroom resources and contribute their own resources.

If you haven’t visited the Educator Resources in a while you should really take a look at all the new resources that have been added in the past few months.  As a social studies teacher, I am thrilled to see our 419 resources.  Actually, I need to start uploading some more of my favorite lesson activities . . . I want social studies to catch up to science (672 resources).  Come on social studies teachers — upload away!

Seriously, I challenge all of you to share your favorite lessons, activities, presentations, ideas, etc. through the DEN Educator Resources service.  The more we share, the more we innovate and the more we innovate, the more relevant our instruction is to our students.

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