The Office of eLearning has supported the hard work of Indiana teachers committed to curating digital content to support student learning. In February of 2016 the USDOE celebrated the efforts of Indiana and 13 other states and launched the #GoOpen Campaign which promotes the use of openly licensed educational materials. The #GoOpen Campaign aims to ensure access to quality digital resources to teachers and students regardless of zip code. To learn more about the history of this work, please read our narrative below. To jump right in and learn more about the #GoOpen initiative and how YOU can get involved, click here.
Several years ago the state of Indiana saw a unique opportunity for teachers and students as educational technology became the focus for many districts thanks to the introduction of more portable device offerings. Educational leaders saw the potential of these devices in the hands of students and decided that textbook adoption money would be better spent elsewhere. Districts were now encouraged to simply adopt materials that met the needs of their students, regardless of format (Public Law 73-2011). Once districts were given permission to forego traditional textbook adoption, many started exploring the world of 1:1 initiatives and digital resources. A lot has happened in the past few years, and currently Indiana is a leader across the country in the educational technology arena.
During the 2013-2014 school year six Indiana school districts, who already had established 1:1 programs, were given the Imagining and Creating Grant to focus solely on quality digital content curation. These districts formed a consortium that was committed to supporting digital content curation through professional development for their teachers and time outside of the school day to curate resources to then share out across the state. As a result of this work, over 700 quality digital lessons/units were curated and will soon be available through Amazon Inspire.
To continue this work, during the 2014-2015 school year a cohort of teachers was formed to make up the Indiana Rockstars of Curation. Over 50 English, math, science, and social studies teachers met for a year to curate digital lessons in their areas of expertise. Currently the work of the Rockstars is focused on curating digital learning activities and vetting quality digital resources for other teachers to use in their classrooms. Our goal is simple: to support Indiana teachers and students by providing examples of quality digital content and vetting quality digital resources to promote efficiency and statewide collaboration.
In February of 2016 the Office of eLearning was awarded a $20,000 Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Regional Grant from the Library of Congress. This grant allowed 25 Indiana teachers to become Level 1 and Level 2 certified by the Library of Congress, and they are now experts on how to best use primary sources in the classroom. The TPS grant funds continue to allow these 25 Rockstar teachers time and resources to create Teaching with Primary Sources learning activities. Look for these teacher-created learning activities on Amazon Inspire and the Library of Congress website in the fall of 2016.
With all of the digital content that has already been curated over the past few years, the Office of eLearning knew it was imperative to find a new home for this work. In the summer of 2015, a partnership was formed with Amazon Inspire, an upcoming digital content repository. As Amazon prepares for a soft launch in the fall of 2016, the Rockstars are anxious to import their already curated digital lessons into the repository along with future digital learning activities. Amazon Inspire will offer all Indiana teachers a free place to go to find quality, vetted resources by keyword or Indiana standard.
As Indiana continues this work it only made sense to join the US Office of Educational Technology in their #GoOpen Campaign. In February of 2016 Indiana was named a #GoOpen state to help launch the initiative. By using openly licensed digital materials to support teaching and learning, Indiana districts are saving money, increasing equity, providing timely and relevant resources to students, and supporting Indiana teachers as they strive to meet the needs of all students.
“Openly licensed educational resources can increase equity by providing all students, regardless of zip code, access to high quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content.” - Acting Secretary John King
Lastly, in an effort to support as many Indiana educators as possible, the Office of eLearning began a Digital Content Workshop Tour in the fall of 2015. Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, four workshops were held across the state offering free professional development on quality digital content curation. The workshops aim to support those just starting down the path of digital learning and allowing them the opportunity to connect with teachers outside of their district to share ideas and empower one another! The Digital Content Workshop tour will continue through the 2016-17 school year. Check here for dates and locations.