Notable OER Initiatives in United States
Note that the traditional federal/state/local classification has to be extended for countries like the US where there is so much non-profit and for-profit “para-statal” provision.
For the main entry on the US see United States.
There is a full description of the e-learning situation in the United States at e-learning:United States.
- 1 Federal/National
- 2 Regional
- 3 State
- 3.1 * a. 1) California Learning Resource Network; and its 2) California Free Digital Textbooks Initiative
- 3.2 b. Calisphere, University of California
- 3.3 * 3c. Orange Grove – Florida’s Digital Repository (Florida Distance Learning Consortium)
- 3.4 d. North Carolina Learning Object Repository (NCLOR)
- 3.5 e. The Kentucky Learning Depot
- 4 Community Colleges
- 5 Universities
- 5.1 * a. OpenCourseWare Consortium
- 5.2 * b. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare
- 5.3 c. Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI).
- 5.4 * d. MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching)
- 5.5 *e. Connexions (Rice University)
- 5.6 f. Other university programs often mentioned:
- 6 Non-profit
- 6.1 * a. Curriki
- 6.2 * 6b. The Khan Academy
- 6.3 c. Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia, Wikibooks/Wikijunior, WikiVersity, Wikimedia Commons)
- 6.4 d. The Internet Archive (Wayback Machine, Others)
- 6.5 * 6e. 1) National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) – from Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE); 2) Hippocampus
- 6.6 g. The Qatar Foundation International supported translation of OER Commons material into Arabic
- 6.7 h. And don’t forget about…
- 7 High School
- 8 8. Public Media
- 9 Private/Commercial
- 10 Others that should be considered
Note: There is no OER-related national policy at this time, though there has been a series of pro-OER recommendations, e.g. in the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) National Education Technology Plan (2010). OER in the USA usually occurs in the academic, private and non-profit realms.
Voluntary interagency collaboration of several U.S. government science and technology federal organisations, working together to unify science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education content, and support cyber-learning and open participation. The content of ScienceEducation.gov is stratified by grade level (primary, secondary and college) and includes lesson plans, curricula, classroom activities, homework help and professional development information. Over 35,000 web pages of STEM content can be accessed/searched. Participation is not yet mandatory for all federal agencies, but policies have been proposed that would require this if approved.
The following agencies have contributed content for the beta version: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); National Institutes of Health (NIH); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Developed through a partnership of the Offices of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) and Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS), within the DOE Office of Science, in collaboration with other federal science agencies. Piloted in 2007.
* b. National Science Development Library (NSDL)
The National Science Foundation’s online library of resources and collections for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and research. Tools to help school districts, museums, educational non-profits and other digital learning enterprises to organise, manage, and disseminate digital educational content. Resources available through NSDL include images, video, audio, animations, software, datasets, and text documents such as lesson plans and journal articles (for primary, secondary, postsecondary and lifelong learning levels). The NSDL community of resource builders and contributors is composed of a diverse range of institutions including universities, museums, libraries, research labs, federal agencies, professional societies, and commercial content providers. As of October 2010, NSDL contained 120 collections and over 132,000 records.
Management and coordination of the National Science Digital Library for 2008-2012 is granted to PIs at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR); Cornell University; and University of Colorado.
A major public-private partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation (ThinkFinity program), and the National Trust for the Humanities. Free humanities learning materials for teachers, students, and parents searching on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies. Primarily for primary/secondary usage, with some higher education and informal materials.
High quality learning materials come from “the most respected organizations in each academic subject and literacy”, e.g. National Geographic, the Council for Economic Education, the National Center for Family Literacy and others. K-12 resources are grade-specific and are aligned with state standards.
d. Ready-to-Learn Television Program Grants (RTL)
The name is misleading: the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is purportedly creating an Online Learning Registry to provide access to historical, artistic, and scientific primary-source materials, intended in part to help rural schools keep pace with more developed districts. An explicit OER theme was introduced into this longstanding federal project in 2010, with $27 million already awarded to support RTL activities for the next five years.
RTL has two purposes: facilitating student academic achievement through the development and distribution of educational video programming for primary school-aged children and their parents; and developing and disseminating educational outreach materials and programs that promote school readiness, offer interactivity, and use multiple innovative technologies and digital media platform (OER in particular). This is a new angle for RTL but an interesting one. Evaluation of the projects underway might be hard at this early stage, but the funding model is of interest (the 2010 recipients are all public broadcasting service, or public media, affiliates).
e. Smithsonian Education
An exemplar educational digital resource for educators, families and students. Under the umbrella of the “Smithsonian Collections,” containing over 1,800 resources: lessons, activities, and various items from Smithsonian Collections, sorted by state/national standards. These include more than 500,000 images, videos, and sounds, from entities such as the National Museum of Natural History, Chandra X-Ray Observatory, National Air and Space Museum, and others.
The Smithsonian receives 70% of its annual budget from the federal government.
f. Federal Resources for Excellent Education (FREE)
FREE provides teacher overviews/links to materials from the most popular primary/secondary school learning web sites. More than 1,500 federally supported teaching and learning resources are included from dozens of federal agencies. The contributors’ FREE list is extensive, and includes the White House, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and many others. [Note: these are not necessarily learning objects, just in many cases links. However this site is maintained, and to the extent that html can be used as a learning medium, this site allows that – and the content has been identified by subject and made searchable. This is like a small, well-organised US agency internet, designed for classroom use.]
is among the most popular K-12 websites maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. Original funding from Government Information Technology Services Board (GITSB) Innovation Fund. Conceived in 1997; re-launched in 2006.
g. The Open Book Project
"An initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization and leading education innovators to expand access to free, high-quality education materials in Arabic, with a focus on science and technology. These resources will be released under open licenses that allow free use, sharing, and adaptation to local context."
The initiative aims to support the creation of Arabic-language OERs and the translation of existing OERs into Arabic, freely disseminate these resources, offer training and support to government, educators and students in developing OERs, and raise awareness of OERs.
Southern Regional Education Board’s SCORE (Sharable Content Object Repositories for Education)
Multistate K-12 and higher education initiative to share digital learning course content among colleges, universities and schools in SREB states. Participation is limited to SREB state education agencies and schools or colleges designated by state education agencies. The Sharable Content Object Repositories for Education place reviewed course content in databases to which all participating states have access. SREB states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
SREB is a non-profit, nonpartisan organisation created in 1948. SCORE was initiated in 2004. It has made its well-respected Guidelines for Effective Policies to Respect, Protect and Increase the Use of Digital Educational Resources public (2010).
* a. 1) California Learning Resource Network; and its 2) California Free Digital Textbooks Initiative
1) The California Learning Resource Network (http://www.clrn.org/home/) identifies and reviews supplemental electronic learning resources such as software, video, and Internet resources; identifies learning units aligned to resources and the state academic content standards; and maintains an interactive web site to provide information about electronic learning resources through an online searchable database and links to state education technology projects and resources. This is a comprehensive open tool for course content.
2) The California Free Digital Textbooks Initiative (http://www.clrn.org/fdti/) is a state-wide CLRN initiative identifying digital textbooks for use in California schools so that “cost-effective resources can be used in our schools to help ensure each and every student has access to a world-class education.” CLRN invited content developers to submit materials for review and subsequent release into “open” use on the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) web site. Books were reviewed using State Board of Education criteria for legal, standards and requirements criteria. The result so far: more than 30 state-approved, standards-aligned, open-source digital textbooks for high school math, science, history, and the social sciences. The texts are open, so while intended for K-12 use in California, they are also being used in university classrooms worldwide. A widely cited and interesting example of “open textbook” creation and review.
Textbooks were available from the fall of 2009. The above are projects of the California Department of Education and partners.
b. Calisphere, University of California
A single point of access to more than 500 University of California web sites. 150,000 digitised items: photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, other cultural artefact. Primary sources have been collected into sets that support the California state learning standards... designed for primary/secondary 12 classrooms.
This is a public service project of the California Digital Library (CDL), founded by the University of California. Digitisation of University of California collections was supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), administered in California by the State Librarian.
* 3c. Orange Grove – Florida’s Digital Repository (Florida Distance Learning Consortium)
An online, state-wide initiative of the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, to store and manage Florida’s instructional… resources for discovery, use and remixing by Florida faculty and administrators. Learning tools can be easily integrated with Blackboard. A separate project, Orange Grove Text Plus (OGT+), is a joint initiative of University Press of Florida Orange Grove: a partnership to reduce the cost of books to students by offering no-cost downloadable, adaptable and printable open access texts. Content includes audio and video files, images, animations, simulations, lesson plans, “open” textbooks, links and more.
The Florida Distance Learning Consortium is a network of all (39) public post secondary institutions in Florida, serving 1.3 million postsecondary students annually. This legislatively funded entity supports all institutions in their delivery of technology mediated learning through quarterly meetings, web services and resources including an online catalogue of distance learning courses at www.distancelearn.org and an emerging database of learning content, The Orange Grove.
d. North Carolina Learning Object Repository (NCLOR)
A state-wide project providing a centralised location for the acquisition, collection, sharing, and management of [peer-reviewed] quality learning resources for all teachers in North Carolina. This takes the form of an online library of instructional resources for North Carolina’s K-20 educators. These are built for immediate integration into Moodle or Blackboard courses for in distance, hybrid, or face-to-face use. Content is drawn from North Carolina teachers, but also from other open sources (e.g. universities, agencies, etc.) It may include documents, audio/video clips, simulations, learning modules, assessments, and more – “virtually any type of learning resource that can be digitised and processed”.
The North Carolina Learning Object Repository (NLCOR) is a collaborative effort between the North Carolina Community Colleges, UNC system, DPI, NC Virtual Public School, and Independent Colleges and Universities.
e. The Kentucky Learning Depot
A state-wide single-point-of-entry repository of high-quality digital content aligned with standards and competencies for educators and learners in Kentucky. The Depot was launched in late 2009 by a collaboration of Kentucky’s state education department, council on postsecondary education, and education professional standards board. Educators can add original resources under creative commons licensing and can configure the Depot as a resource library with Blackboard, Moodle, and ANGEL course management systems… which “increases efficiency in course development and achieves economies of scale by allowing educators to create resources once and re-use and share them many times”.
The Depot officially falls under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and has been powered since its creation by Pearson’s EQUELLA software, which is designed to allow access to contemporary digital content from legacy school and district computer systems. Partnered with SCORE, Orange Grove, National Repository of Online Courses (NROC – see nonprofits below).
* a. Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)
Perhaps not a repository itself, but a focal point for all US community-college-level OER. CCCOER seeks to develop and use open educational resources (OER) and especially open textbooks in community college courses. Its primary goal is to identify, create and/or repurpose existing OER as Open Textbooks and make them available for use by community college students and faculty. This will pool expertise to create a culture of shared knowledge, lowering educational costs for students.
Participants are from community colleges from 16 US states. CCCOER’s member list shows who in the community college community is most active in OER, and these partners have similar search engines/methods/approaches. Full list: http://oerconsortium.org/members-2/
CCCOER is a joint effort by the OER Center for California, Foothill-De Anza Community College District, the League for Innovation in the Community College, OCW Consortium and all participating members. CCCOER was established in July 2007 by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District (FHDA).
Also by Foothill-De Anza Community College District is the Sofia project, launched in March of 2004. The goal of Sofia is to publish community college-level course content and make it freely accessible on the web to support teaching and learning. Website: http://sofia.fhda.edu/index.htm
* b. Community College Open Textbook Project (CCOTP) / Community College Open Textbooks Collaborative
Supports the use of textbooks that are freely available and accessible online, and that can be adapted by faculty and students to meet their unique needs and contexts. A collection of sixteen educational non-profit and for-profit organisations, affiliated with more than 200 colleges, focused on driving awareness and adoptions of open textbooks to more than 2000 community and other two-year colleges.
It seems that “Open Textbook” can be seen as the community college version of “OER.” This project is another fulcrum for that community, and a repository itself.
Funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
c. Washington State Open Course Library (and open textbook initiative)
A new project, and perhaps difficult to assess. Wide press coverage however. A large-scale (system-wide) effort to make core college course materials available on the web for $30 or less per open class – in lieu of standard textbooks. The goal of the Open Course Library is to improve course completion rates, lower textbook costs for students, provide new resources for faculty to use in their courses, and for members to fully engage the global open educational resources discussion. Part of this project is to put open creative commons (CC BY) licenses on all 81 courses and share them with the world. All Washington State public higher education communities have participated in discussions.
Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges served a record 161,000 full-time-equivalent students (FTES) – 500,000 students per http://chronicle.com/article/State-of-Washington-to-Offer/125887/ .
Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
* a. OpenCourseWare Consortium
Not technically American only but still largely driven by the main US participants, e.g. MIT, Carnegie Mellon and a handful of others. Their technologies, methodologies, and funding vehicles (private) outstrip most other projects. Perhaps worth studying the top tier of the consortium to be thorough. This is the entity with the broadest reach worldwide, after all. Should this study ask why? Also provides access to 4,968 courses from 54 sources and 9 languages.
A worldwide community of hundreds of universities and associated organisations committed to advancing OpenCourseWare and its impact on global education. It serves both the individuals who use OCW and the institutions that make OCW possible. The Consortium provides a gateway to OCW projects and courses for the entire OCW community and will continue to expand its service offerings.
It is said that Hewlett Foundation has now cut most of its grant to OCW.
* b. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare
Web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. 110 million visits by 78 million visitors from virtually every country. Averages 1 million visits each month; translations receive 500,000 more.
c. Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI).
Pioneering new approaches to OER/OCW. Optionally allows instructors to set up their own instances of a free, open course for students to join, complete with tracking tools. Non-Carnegie-Mellon participants may pay a maintenance fee and build/share their own course.
* d. MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching)
A user-cantered collection of peer reviewed higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services. Strong sense of community, peer review. California State University in partnership with higher education institutions, professional societies, and industry. Still quite widely used. Emphasis on individual, not institutional, sharing (over 85,000 members).
*e. Connexions (Rice University)
A major player in non-HE circles. One of the most popular open education sites in the world, with 2 million users per month. Content available for almost any mobile device (online or in PDF form). Schools can also order low cost hard copy sets of the materials (“textbooks”). Anyone can create/add their content; peer review included.
f. Other university programs often mentioned:
- Science Education Resource Center (SERC), Carleton College
- UC Irvine (UCI) OCW
- There are so many others operating on a large scale!
* a. Curriki
Online [wiki-based] community and wiki platform for teachers, learners, and education experts to share, reuse, and remix quality curricula. Extensive and popular repository. Teachers can find and develop resources, share lesson plans, and collaborate on courses with others in their school or around the world. All content is available under CC BY.
Now international, but mainly US. Board members are US. Curriki is the result of work done for GELC – the Global Education and Learning Community – an online project started by Sun Microsystems to develop works for education in a collaborative effort.
* 6b. The Khan Academy
The Khan Academy is a small entity which offers over 2800 free instructional videos covering everything from basic algebra to advanced chemistry, biology, and topical issues like today’s banking crisis. 200,000+ students use the site each month, and all videos are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, with some translated into Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, and more. No formal university affiliation; popularised recently (2010) by Bill Gates. Now funded by Google, Gates Foundation.
The Carlos Slim Foundation now intends to fund the translation of the videos of Khan Academy into Spanish: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/education/mexicos-carlos-slim-funds-khan-academy-spanish
c. Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia, Wikibooks/Wikijunior, WikiVersity, Wikimedia Commons)
International but certainly still a US-driven OER repository, used by nearly every student today. The specialised Wikijunior and WikiVersity sites are education specific. Foraying further into education. Several aspects of student use of Wikipedia are covered in the LUOERL report on student use originally done for JISC with a bibliography updated for POERUP.
d. The Internet Archive (Wayback Machine, Others)
Working to prevent...”born-digital” materials from disappearing. Any historical collection that exists in digitised format. Administers Open Content Alliance (OCA), a collaborative effort of a group of cultural, technology, non-profit, and governmental organisations from around the world that helps build a permanent archive of multilingual digitised text and multimedia material. Unusual, influential, founded 1996.
* 6e. 1) National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) – from Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE); 2) Hippocampus
1) National Repository of Online Courses (NROC, 'http://www.montereyinstitute.org/nroc/') is a library of high-quality online course content/ courses contributed by developers from leading academic institutions across the US. Assessed, high standards of scholarship, instructional value, and presentational impact. Supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this is a non-profit Open Educational Resource (OER) and facilitates collaboration among a community of content developers. Institutions wishing to use NROC content are invited to join a fee-based membership organisation, the NROC Network. Organisations serving disadvantaged students can become members of the NROC Network at no cost.
2) HippoCampus allows instructors to use NROC at no cost. The content at these sites is intended for individual use only. Institutions (e.g., schools and agencies) can gain access to NROC content by becoming members of the NROC Network.
g. The Qatar Foundation International supported translation of OER Commons material into Arabic
The Qatar Foundation International, a US based non-profit organization, had a key role in funding the translation of OER Commons material into Arabic necessary for the creation of OER Commons Arabic (http://arabic.oercommons.org/EN/)
h. And don’t forget about…
- TED Videos
- Encyclopedia of Earth
- Public Library of Science (PLoS)
- Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU)
- Finally, a note… The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation itself has spent more than $110 million over the past eight years on OER (largely nonprofits), with more than $14 million going to M.I.T. This is lot more than the federal government!
Open High School of Utah (OHSU)
Public charter school, all of whose curriculum is based on open educational resources. These resources are the basis of class content, which the teachers then enhance with screencasts, interactive components, and other activities. Courses and course materials produced by the Open High School of Utah are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Materials are aligned with exacting Utah state standards, and all will be opened to the public. Students must enrol for at least 75% of their classes with OHSU. 250 students in 2010-2011; should double in 2011-2012. First graduating class 2012.
Founded by OER evangelist David Wiley (Brigham Young University, Utah). Supported in part by a grant from the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Education.
There may be many more OER initiatives buried in US virtual schools – see http://www.virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/Category:Virtual_schools_in_the_US and Chapter 6 (“The Americas”) of the VISCED report Interim List of [Virtual School] Exemplars - List of Exemplars.pdf http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.info/sites/default/files/D2.3_Interim%20List%20of%20Exemplars.pdf – but any OER activity has not been surfaced by VISCED.
8. Public Media
This model might not have been seen by some as relevant to POERUP, but the BBC have recently (January 2012) been in contact with Sero over the relevance of their archives to the project. We regard the following as in scope.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and affiliates have been making available some vast archives of K-12 data, through 3-4 main affiliates. These are extremely impressive public resources adapted for teachers and are certainly in some form of use. Some have agency (e.g. NSF) funding.
a. KQED Education
Library of lesson plans (PDF), educator guides and student activities inspired by programming from KQED television, radio and interactive.
b. WGBH Teachers’ Domain
An online library of more than 1,000 free media resources from the best in public television. These classroom resources… are from public broadcasting and content partners ...easy to correlate to state and national standards. Major funding for Teachers’ Domain was provided by the National Science Foundation.
c. Thirteen Ed Online (WNET New York)
Standards-based lesson plans and classroom activities, multimedia primer, online mentors, and reviews of curriculum-based Web sites. Lots of video in context. Can download videos instead of stream.
* 9a. Flat World Knowledge
A commercial operator within the open content movement; David Wiley (Utah) is “Chief Openness Officer”. Students may read peer-reviewed textbooks in their entirety online for free, or purchase print and digital versions. The company generates revenue through the sale of print books, e-books for devices like the iPad and Kindle, audio books, PDF downloads and interactive study aids.
Often involved as a partner in “pure” OER projects.
b. Thinkfinity (Verizon) – for description see EdSITEment, above
* 9c. iTunesU (Apple)
More than 800 universities across 22 countries have active iTunes U sites, offering more than 350,000 free lectures, videos, and other content. Can also be used to distribute schedules, syllabi, lecture outlines, study guides, notes, maps — even books (PDF, ePub). About half of institutions distribute their content freely in the iTunes Store. The OU’s courses frequently show up in the Top 5 downloads. In December, iTunes U itself surpassed the 100 million download mark.
It might be foolish to overlook iTunesU, considering its far reach (as with MIT OpenCourseWare). Must governments consider tapping private companies like Apple as they move forward?
Others that should be considered
- OER Commons Partners (most US) – http://www.oercommons.org/about#what-is-oer-commons
- OER Commons database objects are from: http://www.oercommons.org/oer/providers
- List of OER Repositories: http://opencourselibrary.wikispaces.com/Open+Educational+Resources
- Colleges promoting OER: http://oerconsortium.org/community-colleges-that-promote-oer/
- OER search engines: http://wikieducator.org/OER_Handbook/educator_version_one/Find/search_engines
- List of general OER repositories: http://wikieducator.org/OER_Handbook/educator_version_one/Find/General_repositories#cite_note-0
- Major OCW universities: http://www.ocwconsortium.org/members/members/country/US
- Index OER resources: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Free_to_Learn_Guide/Index_of_OER_Resources
- Free textbook links: http://wikieducator.org/Free_Textbooks
- Cape town open education declaration links: http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/related-initiatives
- OnCore Blueprint OER (FIPSE-funded): http://www.oncoreblueprint.org/resources/repository_information.html
- OER center for CA: http://grou.ps/oercenter/home
- Louisiana Board of Regents OER- http://web.selsc.net/oilt-information/best-practices-for-e-learning-in-louisiana-higher-education/oer/oer-resources/
- OER consortium links: http://oerconsortium.org/resources/