Open Educational Resources

On behalf of the Iowa Area Education Agencies, AEA PD Online offers services for Iowa schools on Open Educational Resources, known as OER.  These services include:

Three OER collections shared via the national registry for OER - 1) Our Project OLLIE professional development content, 2) Our AEA PD Online developed content, and 3) Statewide-shared content from other Iowa educators
LTI integration of this space with local district LMS 
Networking with other Iowa schools and teachers committed to OER
• Support of a community of practice of educators in Iowa committed to OER
• Collaborative development of textbooks using OER content
Connecting to other states for common OER sharing

Professional development, both in-person and online, around OER content development, use, and curation
• Connection to resources, research, planning, or advocacy for your leadership teams or your stakeholders

Individuals interested in knowing more about the implementation of OER within your classroom or districts, both large-scale and small-, may contact Evan Abbey, Program Director for AEA PD Online.

What is OER?

Our overview to OER can be found here.  In brief, OER is:

  • Openly licensed educational resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. Digital openly licensed resources include complete online courses, modular digital textbooks as well as more granular resources such as images, videos, and assessment items. (NETP, 2016)
  • Openly licensed (OER) and free digital educational resources are not the same. Openly licensed and free digital educational resources both can be used for teaching, learning, and assessment without cost. However, only openly licensed educational resources allow free, unfettered access and perpetual, and irrevocable “5R” permissions (that is, permission from the creator to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute). So while all openly licensed educational resources are free, not all free resources are openly licensed.
  • For more information on OER, JISC offers a great overview.

What is "good" OER?  Isn't it a bunch of things you can find on Youtube or Google?

This is a good question, and a common misnomer within users of online resources.  It is true that Google and Youtube have brought a lot of resources to instructors' fingertips, but that often begs the question of whether those resources are conducive to quality learning.

OER is much more than just "free resources".  It is a commitment to open-ness--that content is freely available for both teachers and learners to use, to improve, and to mix into a variety of learning opportunities.  This includes the aspect of being a community member and a willingness to share.

One often forgotten way to share is through collaborative vetting and discussion.  There is a lot of power in a diverse group of teachers looking at common resources through a common lens and deciding the quality of those.  This adds a layer of validity than an individual selecting a resource without any criteria does not.

Because of this, we support the Achieve Rubric.  It is a common rubric for digital resources, and it provides a measure of quality.  Now, there will always be debate on both how the resources align to the criteria, as well as the criteria themselves, but the rubric provides a common starting point for those discussions.

What research is there in OER?

In brief, quite a bit.  OER as a movement has been around for quite a while and has several entities worldwide researching its effectiveness and its effect.

What is #GoOpen?

#GoOpen is a federal initiative supported by the US Department of Education, SEDTA, and CCSSO to help districts commit to OER on a systemic level.  It includes a process where districts can formally commit and become "Go Open" schools.

What does a district need to do to support OER?

First item of importance, a district does not need to be #GoOpen to be supporting OER.  Support can happen at many different levels within the system, including for individual teachers, buildings, departments, or the whole district.

Regardless, the steps identified in #GoOpen help considerably.  There are 5 steps to consider:

Phase 1: Setting Goals and a Strategy
Phase 2: Selecting and Organizing an Implementation Team
Phase 3: Putting in Place a Robust Infrastructure for Learning
Phase 4: Ensuring High-Quality Learning Resources
Phase 5: Designing Professional Learning Opportunities

For more on these, please check out the #GoOpen District Launch Packet.

What is the OER Hub?

AEA PD Online supports a hub on the OER Commons, one of the sites that have supported OER curation in recent years and in several states.  This hub not only brings together a variety of OER collections from the larger web and created here in Iowa, but it also has benefits for local schools:

Each district can have and manage its own group-space within the hub, where members of your team can find and save OER resources.  In this group space, the team can discuss the resources, structure them into larger sequences, re-mix them with onsite tools, use onsite tools to align them to the Common Core, and collectively evaluate the resources using the Achieve Rubric.

In addition, the resources collected in both the larger hub and the individual group can be accessed via your LMS (Canvas, Moodle, Schoology) via an LTI integration that AEA PD Online can help set up. 

Our tutorial for the OER Hub (including administration) can be found here.

What additional professional development is available?

Self-Paced Professional Development Modules:

AEA PD Online provides self-paced professional development modules perfect for either orientation and self-discovery, or to use in conjunction with your own district-based professional development.

Developer's Course, Cohorts

OER development is one of the 4 intended outcomes for e-curriculum development (in addition to our training system, personalized learning system, and SoftChalk via an LMS).  Starting in April 2017, we will offer a self-paced course to help individuals develop e-curriculum for their intended outcome.  This course will examine the fundamentals of self-paced learning, technical aspects for development, instructional design, visual design for the web, the planning and development process, interactivity, and assessment.

Starting summer of 2017, AEA PD Online will sponsor Developer's Cohorts.  Combining the self-paced course with a community of learners to share products and receive feedback, the cohort will allow for a deeper level of learning.  Cohorts will be available for individual districts or for registration via our open catalog.

Blending/Flipping Your Classroom

OER plays a central part in our Blending/Flipping Your Classroom professional development.  This highly-popular and successful professional development helps teachers learn how to use blended and/or flipped learning to improve instruction and student achievement.  

Throughout the series, participants learn how to find OER that supplements a blended/flipped classroom, how to develop e-curriculum that is then shared through open licenses, and how to collectively evaluate e-curriculum (including OER) for quality and alignment.


Our Online Learning for Iowa Educators professional development also features OER prominently in the process of instructional design.  Like Blended/Flipping, our OLLIE professional development helps teachers discover, use, develop, and evaluate OER in addition to other e-curricular resources.

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