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Combining 1:1 and OER is an Educational Game Changer

by Michael Messner on September 1, 2013

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The open educational resources (OER) trend and the 1:1/Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend are bringing out the best in each other.

Open Educational Resources combined with a device in every student’s hands can move educators and students beyond the constraints and expense of the printed textbook model, narrow the digital divide, and extend student learning and collaboration beyond classroom walls. What’s currently being realized is that these two movements are exceptionally suitable for supporting each other in the fulfillment of those promises. In fact, I believe that in the near future, 1:1/BYOD and OER initiatives will be practically inseparable.

The merging of the two trends has already started. Some examples: in 2009, ninth-graders at Lorain City Schools in Ohio received laptops loaded with materials designed to completely replace their textbooks. In 2010, while it did not replace all textbooks, the then-newly-opened St. Catherine Middle School in Racine, Wisconsin, gave its incoming class netbook laptops to use with eBooks. In 2011, Mandan High School in North Dakota replaced textbooks with tablets for its ecology, physics and honors physical science classes. In 2012, University Christian School, a private high school in Jacksonville, FL, began requiring students to own iPads as the school converted to a textbook-free environment. And in 2013, I’m working with the Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning, a high school in Amarillo, Texas, as they launch a pilot program in which OER replaces math and science textbooks alongside the school’s 1:1 iPad initiative.

How 1:1 and OER support each other.

The multimedia features of laptops and tablets enable teachers to expand instruction delivery with videos, audio and captioned slideshows without having to obtain and set up cumbersome equipment. Trusted OER providers like Curriki, Khan Academy, and some of the world’s top colleges and universities give easy, anytime access to that type of high-quality text and multimedia content. Additionally, working on mobile devices with applications, including OER apps, helps students become familiar with using twenty-first century tools for more than just leisure activities, for example, using apps to type or make audio recordings of notes, look up definitions or set and track the due dates for assignments.

Also, according to the ASCD, a study of 997 schools across the United States identified factors that appear to support higher levels of student achievement in 1:1 programs. One of the top three factors was the daily use of the technology for student online collaboration and cooperative learning (the same article revealed that just implementing a 1:1 program does not automatically mean that the technology will be used regularly in classes). Making OER a primary resource for lesson content can ensure that students are using mobile devices as frequently as recommended.

Mobile devices reduce or eliminate the need for printed textbook and overall paper purchases since students can submit assignments to their teacher electronically and their online coursework can include embedded assessments such as a question document or a series of multiple-choice, true/false, or free response questions. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed the potential savings in its evaluation of a study by Project RED, a national research and advocacy plan designed to investigate how technology can help re-engineer the education system. The commission released side-by-side cost models that showed that schools could save $250 per student each year by moving to digital textbooks and other elements of a “1:1 Technology Transformed School.”

OER adoption increases 1:1 programs’ potential for savings since educators are accessing free and openly licensed resources instead of buying digital textbooks. Plus, the free online content typically can be updated and customized at users’ convenience, so schools are no longer locked into waiting for a certain time period to pass and then spending more money on updated books.

Together, OER and 1:1/BYOD programs have expanded the limits of what teachers and students can do to create learning environments. I’ve no doubt that we’re going to keep pushing those limits with new ideas that use the promise of OER and 1:1 as their foundation. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Instructional Technologies CAN Improve Learning Outcomes and Help Address the Challenges Education Faces
The Growing Use of Collaborative Classroom Spaces in Higher Education
8 Great Videos About the Flipped Classroom

About 

Thirty years of technology investing through a capital management fund with more than $2 billion in assets has provided Mike Messner with significant insight about technology’s capacity for streamlining operations, maximizing efficiencies and making information more accessible. Now he’s using that knowledge to give back to schools through his new start-up, Net Texts, an open educational resources (OER) content curator which helps educators supplement or even replace textbooks – for free. You can follow Net Texts on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NetTexts.

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