Home Administrative Solutions Getting to Know Knovation – Curated, Contextualized, Managed OER for K-12

Getting to Know Knovation – Curated, Contextualized, Managed OER for K-12



Knovation Makes Open Educational Resources More Manageable and More Efficient

Many schools are looking to lower costs by transitioning away from text books to Open Education Resources. EmergingEdTech applauds this effort! This is particularly important in higher education, where text books costs are almost always student's responsibility, and many text books cost hundreds of dollars. In K-12, more and more districts are making the move as well – a Google along the lines  of “school district transitions to open educational resources” will yield many examples of the adoption of OER, and insights into how the US DoE is supporting it.

While the move to OER can be a very positive thing, it isn't easy, or free. Those who have done so know that it can be very time consuming to find quality content. Tracking down content that aligns with your subject area, standards requirements, grade levels, etc., takes bandwidth. And this change can go well beyond textbooks, as teachers may also need to search out lesson plans and an array of supporting materials necessary to deliver their curriculum.

Add to that the fact that OER requires maintenance – content gets moved or removed, or just ages out in terms of relevancy – and it quickly becomes evident that the move to OER can be a major “time suck” and come with high opportunity costs. What can schools do to make this more manageable?

Knovation: Bringing Value to OER Curation and Management for K-12

Knovation gets how to make the move to Open Educational Resources work well for schools. They've been helping schools with this for years (going all the way back to 1999 with the netTrekker solution). Knovation knows that many schools invest a lot of their teacher's hours into curating and maintaining good OER content in order to make a successful transition to quality, free digital resources, and away from costly textbooks. They also know that there is a better way to get there.

EmergingEdTech recently spoke with Knovation CEO Randy Wilhelm about this and we discussed an example, to better illustrate how their services can benefit schools. Let say for argument's sake that a teacher's time in a given district equates to $38/hour. It is quite possible that a teacher could easily spend 4 or more hours each week searching out and maintaining the many different Open Educational Resources they may require to teach the subjects and learning levels they that teach. Over the course of a year, this can consume over $5,000 worth of their time … not to mention the lost opportunity to use that time more directly working with their students.

What Knovation offers to resolve this is a set of products and services that make finding and using high quality, standards-aligned free content a breeze, so teachers can spend more time focused on teaching their students.

Quality Content Curation

Knovation's services are built around a rich database of curated assets from across the web (over 360,000 assets!). Free content is constantly being reviewed, rubric-assessed, and run through various analytical processes to contextualize it. Content is tagged by subject, grade level, readability level (multiple readability rating scales are used), Common Core standards, and numerous other criteria. Additionally, there is a constant ongoing effort to refresh the 20% to 30% of content that experiences some sort of “terminal event” each year (it gets moves, deleted, outdated, etc.).

netTrekker and icurio: Apps for Teachers and Students to Organize and Access Content

These applications enable teachers to find the content they need for their classes. Teachers can search using criteria like subject, keyword, standard, readability, etc. Then they can decide to share resources with an entire class, or with small groups or individual students. Literacy support tools are available to help keep students on track. Interdisciplinary connections can be established with the “timeline builder”. The netTrekker solution is also widely used by students as they engage and interact with the learning content.

Case Studies – Documented Success Stories

Knovation has documented and shared several success stories. These include their work with the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina (we wrote about their successful “Digital Conversion” in this article a few years back), playing a role in the 1-to-1 conversion at Benjamin School District 25 in Illinois, and supporting Chesterfield County Public Schools, a Virginia “#GoOpen” Ambassador District.

Partnerships – Empowering Customers & Building the Future

Knovation has recently been adding the value of its services by developing integrations with learning solutions from Google, Instructure, McGraw-Hill, NWEA, PowerSchool, and numerous other partners. Knovation customers that are also Google Classroom or GAFE users can take advantage of Knovation's content solutions. Users of Instructure's popular Canvas Learning Management System who partner with Knovation can leverage their integrated content. McGraw-Hill, one of the “big three” publishers (recently rebranded as a “learning science” company), chose the Knovation Content Collection for its Engrade K-12 learning management and assessment platform after vetting numerous OER providers.

Click over to the Knovation Learning web site to learn more and explore.


  1. Using computer sites as a replacement for textbooks is a “no-brainer.” Lower cost, readily updated, no more need to lug books around, and available anywhere assuming an internet connection. However, students would need a laptop. Ideally, school districts should provide one for every student to use at school AND at home. The best solution for a 1:1 distribution is the Chromebook (low cost, light weight, virus free, long battery life, and a keyboard.)


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