Tools and Resources
Part 5 of Open Educational Resources

Creating Full-Course Open Educational Resources (OER)

The K-12 OER Collaborative plans to create a year-long open educational resources curriculum.

In our previous posts in this series (available here and here), we talked about the origins of the K-12 OER Collaborative and the RFP and prototyping process. We used this process to identify content developers that could create high-quality open resources that schools could use as their core curriculum, aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The ten developers whose prototype units we reviewed fell into three categories: developers who created exceptional units that really excited our review team, developers whose materials had the potential to be great with some improvements, and a small number who simply missed the mark.

We learned several other important things throughout the RFP and prototyping process:

Our reviewers, as well as the state content experts involved in the Collaborative, value coherence, both within a given course and from course to course and grade band to grade band.

As a result, we’ve decided to make a slight adjustment to the plans laid out in the RFP. Instead of having up to eight different content developers work on different grade and subject bands, we will identify a lead developer for math and another for ELA across all grades. These developers will be responsible for ensuring coherence and continuity across the materials. The Collaborative will also take a larger role in providing a consistent look and feel for the materials, while at the same time working to deliver the materials in a number of different technology platforms and formats.

It would be an incredibly difficult task to try and simultaneously create materials for all of K-12 in math and ELA. We would be better off starting with a single grade band, then moving out from there in order to ensure quality and develop the best practices for content development.

We’ll be starting with middle school mathematics, and we’re excited to announce that Illustrative Mathematics will be the lead developer for this work. Illustrative Mathematics is led by Bill McCallum, one of the lead authors of the Common Core mathematics standards. Their prototype unit was rated “exemplar” on the EQuIP review we conducted, and our reviewers are eagerly anticipating Illustrative Mathematics’ full courses.

We’re planning on starting development of English Language Arts materials as soon as funding allows. We know students and teachers need great materials now, so we’re going to move as fast as we can to deliver them.

Finally, our quality review process — using the EQuIP rubric for unit-level materials — was effective in identifying great materials. For the full course development process, we’re planning on using the Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool (IMET) because it is best suited to evaluating complete courses.

Looking ahead

We will be inviting educators into the development process. Our materials development will be “open” – meaning that anyone can contribute. If you’re interested in helping out, or just following along with the development, please subscribe to our email list on the Collaborative’s website. We’ll contact you soon with next steps.


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About the Author: Before joining the Collaborative as one of its founding leaders, Karl served as the Director of the Digital Learning Department at the Office of Superintendent of Public Education at the State of Washington.

About the Author: Jennifer Wolfe is a partner with The Learning Accelerator (“TLA”). TLA is the catalyst to transform American K-12 education hrough blended learning on a national scale. In her role, Jennifer is leading the organization’s initiatives around Open Education Resources, including the K-12 OER Collaborative. The Collaborative is creating a new model for K-12 instructional materials under which all students and educators will have access to high-quality, low cost and open source content, disrupting the traditional publishing industry model.