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How to Make the Best of Open Educational Resources for K-12

Find out why and how you should be using Open Educational Resources in your K-12 classroom.

What is an Open Educational Resource?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free online resources available for use to students, educators and even simply self-learners. OERs include lesson plans, textbooks, entire courses--basically any kind of material that is designed to help individuals or groups learn subject matter and is open sourced.

Why Should You Be Using OERs?

OERs are an effective tool to improve the effectiveness of teaching. OERs allow for teachers to easily create, share and use materials, spurring the pedagogical innovation that stems from collaboration.

“OER and online or hybrid learning are natural partners in efforts that take advantage of— and prompt—developments in educational technology that facilitate new media, new formats, and new means of distribution,” says the non-profit EduCause.

Certainly, if you’re using a curriculum binder or a disarray of Word documents to keep track of your favorite lesson plans and materials, you should seriously be looking into OERs to facilitate ways to share your proudest work.

The K-12 OER Collaborative is a current endeavor to provide states with “high-quality, OER supporting K–12 math and ELA, aligned with state learning standards” in order to provide local schools with not only adaptable resources, but adaptable resources that are significantly cheaper than non-digital alternatives.

Such aligned standards include Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, standards that many states are implementing and could use more resources for.

What Resources Should You Be Using?

1. OpenEd

200,000 teachers think OpenEd is a great resource for sharing OERs—and you probably will too. The site, which is free to join, includes textbook lesson plans and online quizzes and assessments to personalize learning for your students.

2. Open Learning Network

The Open Learning Network is an international research hub that includes up-to-date information about OER research as well as several links to sites proven to provide useful OERs. Supported by one of the biggest names and supporters of OERS, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open Learning Network offers evidence hubs, intelligence tools and tools for collaborative academic discussion that facilitates the process of using OERs.


Another great thing about OERs is that there are many resources available online that focus on specific subjects, meaning that OERs are a great tool for all teachers despite his or her focus.

One such example is LORO, or Languages Open Resources Online. LORO contains free resources for teachers to teach specific languages in their classroom.

To give you an idea of what the site offers, it has 438 resources for the Spanish language, 354 for German, 58 for Chinese and many more.

4. MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)

MIT OCW is a site that connects educators with highly sought-after course content from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though you might think that OCW is specifically for higher education use as it includes higher education coursework, many K-12 educators are using OCW resources in their classrooms.

For instance, the most visited OCW course is Introduction to Computer Science and Programming. Seeing as public schools are currently facing many challenges when it comes to making computer science classes- electives or not- available, such free content is a really helpful tool to teach students introductory skills.


Teachers: Let us know what kind of OERs you use to supplement instruction in your classroom.



Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor