The U.S. Department of Education initial launch packet of its #GoOpen initiative incorrectly leads the public to believe that the only way they can make the “transition to digital learning” is by using open educational resources. This will be news to the many school districts that have been using commercially developed digital instructional materials for years.
Many of these digital commercial materials provide rich, digital-native content rather than simple PDFs or text on basic websites. Here are just a few of the many examples of digital commercial materials:
Here are a few sample openly licensed educational resources available today:
The launch packet also implies that only openly licensed educational resources allow for easy maintenance and quick updates whenever learning standards are adjusted or new research is available. This is simply not true. Digital commercial materials are continually updated with new research, to align with state standards, and even when errors may be found.
SIIA strongly believes that there is a role in the instructional materials marketplace for openly licensed educational resources. A competitive marketplace is necessary to ensure schools and students always have access to the highest-quality learning materials based on their needs at reasonable costs. But SIIA is concerned that the amount of resources the department is spending to promote openly licensed educational resources and its continued conflation of digital materials with openly licensed materials may give an inaccurate picture of all options available to school districts.
If the department is truly concerned about equity and providing all students with high-quality instructional materials in a competitive marketplace, SIIA recommends the department instead provide resources to help schools identify the elements of high-quality materials to assist them in their adoption process.