Thursday, October 29, 2015 News

U.S. Education Department Proposes Open Licensing Policy As Part of #GoOpen Campaign

Open Education

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a new campaign to encourage schools to adopt free, openly licensed educational materials, capping off a historic month of developments for the U.S. open educational resources (OER) movement. Entitled #GoOpen, the new campaign was launched at a Symposium on Open Education, where more than a dozen representatives of the OER community participated along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.

The #GoOpen campaign includes several exciting components:

  • The Department of Education is proposing a new policy that would ensure educational resources and other intellectual property created through its discretionary grant programs would be openly licensed. This proposal is the first major step the Obama Administration has made toward fulfilling a call made by more than 100 organizations this summer for a federal government-wide policy to open up federally funded educational materials. A 30 day comment period is expected to open next week when the notice is officially published in the Federal Register.
  • A cohort of 10 K-12 school districts have committed to “take the #GoOpen challenge” and replace at least one traditional textbook with OER. Six additional districts that have experience successfully implementing OER have volunteered as ambassadors to provide mentorship and support for districts just starting out.
  • A group of technology companies and civil society organizations have made commitments to support school districts who want to #GoOpen. AmazonMicrosoft and Edmodo have announced a set of tools that integrate with the Learning Registry and enable schools, teachers and students to more effectively find and use OER. Creative CommonsASCD and the Illinois Shared Learning Environment have pledged professional development and platform support.

This announcement is the latest in a string of increasingly positive OER developments in the U.S. government. In September, Secretary Duncan announced the appointment of Andy Marcinek as its first Open Education Advisor during a back-to-school tour of the Williamsfield Unified School District in Illinois (which has since become a #GoOpen ambassador). Earlier this month, legislation was introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress to help advance open textbooks in higher education. And on Tuesday, the U.S. government released its new Open Government National Action Plan, which included a commitment to expand open licensing of federally funded resources.

Many conversations will follow in the coming months about the implementation of the new policy proposal and other commitments. It is exciting to see so many new allies interested in working to improve education through open resources, and the OER community stands ready to work with ED and its #GoOpen partners to ensure the campaign is a success.

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