Tag Archives: K12

OER in schools

Despite great initiatives like the DigiLit Leicester project on these shores and K12 OER Collaborative in the US, OER folks’ attention does not focus often enough on the K-12/school scene. TJ Bliss writes “If we want OER to become the default, we need people to use OER and to know that they are using OER. In my experience, lack of OER awareness runs mostly unopposed among schoolteachers, who more than anyone should be supported in championing open education.

If you do a quick search for studies of OER use in schools, the return is only a handful of publications and reports. Our open-access paper to come out hopefully in the next few months will help fill this gap. In the meantime, the infographic below presents a frequencies analysis of data collected from surveys conducted by the OERRH until December 2014, in total a sample of 657 K-12/school educators across the globe. Open Education week is nearly over and we are seeing it out with a bang!

Download pdf here.

Data on the use of OER by school educators


OER at #iNACOL14


The 9th (and to date largest) iNACOL Blended and Online Symposium has now concluded. Joining the nearly 3,000 attendees at the massive Palm Springs Convention Center, I made my way from Pueblo to Sierra via San Jacinto and Catalina, ice cream in one hand and lemonade in the other, navigating the talks in the OER participant track –and believe me, with over 200 concurrent sessions packed in two and a half days, I very much welcomed a path to follow.

It wasn’t by coincidence that in her welcome address Susan Patrick, CEO identified open education and OER as one of the top ten trends driving the future of education: iNACOL are key contributors to the development of OER through policy –see for instance OER State Policy in K-12 Education: Benefits, Strategies, and Recommendations for Open Access, Open Sharing and OER and Collaborative Content Development.

At this year’s conference Karl Nelson, Director of the Digital Learning Department for the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) referred to current legislature to foreground his talk on evaluating OER: the state of Washington’s “recent adoption of common core K-12 standards provides an opportunity to develop a library of high-quality, openly licensed K-12 courseware that is aligned with these standards”. The familiar ‘it may be free, but is it any good?’ case initiated a review process of OER in Math and English Language Arts (ELA) to help educators select high-quality resources, provide information for materials adoption and identify gaps in alignment with Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Not small OER, mind you, but full courses that districts could adopt rather than spend money in a textbook.

The evaluation rubric combines five existing review instruments. For breadth, Common-Core alignment; publishers’ criteria, an overview of curricular materials (i.e. entire courses) that integrates content and practice; and reviewers’ comments, –‘Would you use this material in your classroom?’, ‘What is the ideal scenario for this resource?’, etc. For depth, the EQuiP rubric, which is unit-focused and measures overall quality when compared to CCSS; and a subset of the Achieve OER rubric, designed to evaluate the quality of digital materials.

The outcome of the review is not only an important library of K-12 open resources, but also a methodology for districts to replicate as they adopt OER. Kudos to both efforts but my slight gripe with spreading this ‘how-to’ is that, at least on first impressions, it’s a fairly complicated task even for a dedicated and trained team of educators/reviewers.

“Teachers think they don’t have the stuff to make Common Core work”, said Karl; this gap is about to be filled by K-12 OER Collaborative, a state-led project supported by Creative Commons, Lumen Learning and others. Nelson was nearly as tight-lipped as his co-presenters, Jennifer Wolfe from The Learning Accelerator and Layla Bonnot from the Council of Chief State School Officers (SSOO), or at least just enough to build up the excitement about an official RFP likely to be announced during OpenEd next week: the call to create openly-licensed, high-quality, common-core aligned comprehensive modules for K12 Math and ELA will be open to all content developers. Interested? Watch the space.

The slides for my own presentation ‘Teaching and Learning with OER: What’s the Impact in a K12 (Online) classroom?’ are available here.

Flipped Learning and OER: Survey Results

Yesterday the Flipped Learning Network (FLN) announced a formal definition of ‘flipped learning’, a timely reminder for me to share the results of the survey that the OERRHub Project conducted with flipped educators to find out about their use of open educational resources (OER). I blogged about our relationship with the FLN and how this research piece came to be at the launch of an infographic featuring some of these data; here comes a recap and more.


109 U.S. teachers practising flipped learning in their K12 classrooms completed the questionnaire. A majority (68.8%, n=75) have over ten years of teaching experience but have been using the flipped model for two or less than two years (91.7%, n=100). Subject-wise Science (37.3%, n=40) and Math (32.7%, n=35) top the poll, followed by Social Studies (20.6%, n=22) and World Languages (10.3%, n=11). More teachers are flipping their classrooms in the higher grades –67.8% (n=74) in K9-12 as opposed to 8.2% (n=9) in K2-5. Most teach in suburban schools (63.2% n=67), while rural and urban communities figure less often, 20.7% (n=22) and 16% (n=17) respectively. 61.5% (n=67) of respondents are based in districts where the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch is below 50%. This profile is consistent with that reported in June 2012 following a previous survey of 450 flipped educators, on which we based our demographic questions (see Improve student learning and teacher satisfaction in one Flip of the Classroom). In other details, we learn that a huge majority of these teachers have accessed the internet at home using a broadband connection (98.2%, n=107); they present their work at staff development events (74.8%, n=80) but are not in the habit of publishing their teaching presentations publicly online (11.2%, n=12).

To use or to adapt, is that the question?

Not really, the percentage of teachers who say they adapt resources to fit their needs in a flipped classroom (82.5%, n=90) is much higher that those who report using resources as they find them (17.4%, n=19). The pattern is repeated across grade levels (see chart below). Note that only 2 teachers in K2 answered the survey.


Types of resources

It does not come as a surprise that 95.3% of respondents select videos when asked to indicate the types of free online resources they use in the flipped classroom; after all, moving instruction outside the group learning space into the individual learning space, the essence of a flipped class, is most commonly done by means of recording videos and asking kids to watch them as homework. The percentage of teachers who report they use images is even higher (96.2%, n=102) but other online resources slip down the ranks: 56.6% (n=60) use interactive games, 51.9% (n=55) use tutorials and 46.2% (n=49) quizzes. What is interesting is that when compared with the types of resources flipped educators create, images drop to 33.3% (n=30) while videos keep their high position (83.3%, n=75).  This clearly suggests that teachers are following the advice from flipped class pioneer Jon Bergmann that making your own videos helps teachers establish a relationship with students. What I find puzzling is that in an age when it is so easy to snap and share, these teachers are mainly consumers and not producers of images.  Another interesting point was noted by Kari Arfstrom, Executive Director of the FLN, during her visit last September: the difference between teachers who create and use quizzes is slightly skewed towards production, 57.8% (n=52) against 46.2% (n=49), perhaps an indication that they prefer to set their own tests, as they have a better overview of how students have responded to the content taught.

Types Used vs Adapted

Creating OER?

43.3% (n=42) of teachers in our sample report that they create resources and share them publicly online; however, the number of teachers who say that they create resources and share them publicly online under a Creative Commons license drops significantly to 5.1% (n=5). In connection with this, 47.2% (n=46) say that they are familiar with the CC logo and its meaning, which still leaves an important proportion of respondents declaring that they either have not seen the CC logo, or they have seen it but do not know what it means. As for open licensing, 70.1% (n=68) consider it is important or very important when using resources in their teaching.

Repositories and sharing

The chart below shows the most common repositories accessed by flipped educators in our sample when looking for free online resources. YouTube, YouTubeEdu and YouTubeSchool (93.4%, n=99), together with TED talks (66.9%, n=71) and iTunesU (54.7%, n=58) unsurprisingly rank amongst the most popular. Slightly unexpected in my opinion is how little knowledge there is of major repositories of resources for the K12 sector –note, for instance, CK12 (16.9%, n=18) or Curriki (7.5%, n=8).


What do teachers do when they access these repositories? The most common behaviour is downloading resources, 81.4% (n=70). Then 38.3% (n=33) say that they have uploaded a resource, 30.2% (n=26) that they have added comments regarding the quality of a resource, and 15.1% (n=13) that they have added comments suggesting ways of using a resource. The most popular way of sharing is via email (89.5%, n=94) and in person (67.6%, n=71).

Purposes of using OER

The chart below shows responses to the question For which of the following purposes have you used free online resources in the context of flipped learning?


Challenges to using OER

When asked about the challenges that they most often face when using free online resources, 70.4% (n=69) of respondents in our sample indicate that they do not have enough time to look for suitable material;  for 65.3% (n=64) it is finding resources of sufficient high quality, and for 59.1% (n=58) finding suitable resources in their subject area. Equally interesting is what they consider the smallest challenges: not knowing how to use the resources in the classroom (7.1%, n=7); lacking institutional support for their use of free online resources (13.2%, n=13); and resources not being aligned with professional standards or regulation (14.2%, n=14). If anyone doubted the technical abilities of teachers, only 15.3%  (n=15) think that not being skilled enough to edit resources to suit their own context is a barrier to using OER. And a personal favourite of mine: a skimpy 29.5% (n=29) declare that not knowing whether they have permission to use or modify resources would actually stop them from using them. If we imply then that roughly 70% know when they are allowed to adapt a resource (which is consistent with the number of teachers who say they care about open licensing), how come the percentage of those aware of Creative Commons licenses is much smaller?

Impact on teaching practices

93.8% (n=91) of K12 teachers in our sample agree or strongly agree that as a result of using OER in the flipped class they use a broader range of teaching and learning methods –indeed I would argue that this is exactly what the flipped model facilitates: what is the best use of my classroom time? Not lecturing at students for forty minutes but opening up the space to different, more engaging and participative ways of learning. 89.7% (n=87) agree or strongly agree that they make use of a wider range of multimedia, and 88.6% (n=86) that they reflect more on the way that they teach. Where K12 teachers say their use of OER has had the least impact on their teaching practice can be listed as follows:

  • I make more use of culturally diverse resources (51.4%, n=49)
  • I have more up-to-date knowledge of my subject area (69%, n=67)
  • I more frequently compare my own teaching with others (70.1%, n=68)
  • I collaborate more with colleagues (70.1%, n=68)

Impact on students

91% (n=81) of teachers agree or strongly agree that their use of OER allows them to better accommodate the needs of diverse learners, a thought that resonates with the benefits of flipping the class: teachers have more one-to-one time with students, and students are often allowed to progress at their own pace.  It has been previously recorded (see for instance A Case Study: Flipped Learning Model Increases Student Engagement and Performance) that flipping the classroom makes for happier students; flipping with OER does not seem to deviate from this: 85.2% (n=75) of K12 teachers agree or strongly agree that their use of OER in the flipped class increases learners’ satisfaction with the learning experience. In third spot comes a statement that invites to think of teaching as forging personalities: 81.8% (n= 71) agree or strongly agree that their OER use helps develop learners’ increased independence and self-reliance. At the other end of the spectrum, only 42% (n=37) agree or strongly agree that using OER has any bearing on students at risk of withdrawing actually continuing with their studies; 52.8% (n=47) that it leads to learners becoming interested in a wider range of subjects than before; and 59.5% (n=53) that it increases their enthusiasm for future study.

Infografía: Recursos Educativos Abiertos en la clase al revés

Desde principios del 2013 he estado trabajando en el Proyecto OER Research Hub. Con financiación de la Fundación Hewlett en EEUU estamos investigando el impacto del uso de recursos educativos abiertos (Open Educational Resources, en inglés) en la enseñanza y el aprendizaje, partiendo de once hipótesis que debemos aceptar o rebatir. El proyecto abarca un amplio abanico dentro del sector educativo, desde la educación primaria y secundaria hasta la superior, e incluso el aprendizaje informal.

Una de nuestras colaboraciones es con la Asociación de Profesores de la Clase al Revés, traducción mía y muy libre de Flipped Learning Network, que aspira a ofrecer apoyo a cualquier docente que esté interesado en darle la vuelta a la clase. Si no estáis muy puestos en este arte, echadle un ojo a mi blog de hace unos meses. En septiembre tuvimos la suerte de contar con Kari Arfstrom, directora de la asociación, en Milton Keynes, residencia oficial de la Open University. Como parte del programa de investigación al que dedicó su tiempo mientras estuvo con nosotros, trabajamos juntas en el borrador de la infografía que aparece abajo. La infografía describe algunos de los resultados de una encuesta en línea a profesores de la clase al revés  en la que les preguntamos acerca de su uso de recursos educativos abiertos (REA). La encuesta estuvo abierta durante cinco semanas entre abril y mayo de este año, tiempo suficiente para recoger datos y presentarlos en el congreso FlipCon13 que tuvo lugar en Minnesota en junio. El número total de respuestas obtenidas fue de 285, pero una vez que filtramos a los profesores que no están practicando la clase al revés ahora, los que no son de primaria o secundaria (o K12 en el sistema educativo norteamericano), los que trabajan fuera de los EEUU y los que no usan recursos educativos abiertos, nos quedamos con una muestra de 109 profesores, realmente el grupo objeto de nuestro estudio.

La definición de recursos educativos abiertos (REA) que cito en la introducción al cuestionario está tomada de la página web sobre REA de la Fundación Hewlett: “REA son recursos para la enseñanza, el aprendizaje o la investigación que residen en el dominio público o han sido publicados con una licencia de propiedad intelectual que permite que otros los utilicen y reutilicen libremente”.

Mi intención es publicar los resultados completos de la encuesta antes de finales de año, probablemente en un estilo más académico, aunque me temo que una versión en español tardará un poco más en salir. Si estáis interesados en hablar sobre educación abierta en el contexto de la clase al revés, apuntaros al grupo OpenEducation dentro de la comunidad de profesores FLN (en inglés). Además, el 8 de enero habrá un webinario para charlar de estos temas en el que cualquier persona puede participar. Ojo, también en inglés. Más información aquí.

Y finalmente las gracias más gordas a todo aquel que tuvo la paciencia de responder al cuestionario; a Kari Arfstrom, entre otras muchas cosas por ayudarme a ver los resultados desde la perspectiva de los profes al revés; y a mi hermana, Celia de los Arcos, que en realidad fue quien  entendió a la perfección lo que necesitábamos, y diseñó y creó una infografía que ha quedado mucho más bonita de lo que podíamos imaginar.

La versión en inglés de este blog y la infografía aquí.

La clase al revés

Este blog es la traducción al español de otro que escribí allá por marzo, About flipped learning.

Imaginaros que sois profes de Química en un colegio en Colorado. Llega el viernes y le ponéis un examen a los chavales en clase, ¿qué pasa si alguien suspende? Nada, el lunes seguís adelante con el material, y el que se queda atrás, se quedó. Lo siento chaval, a ver si de aquí al próximo examen te las arreglas. Suena fatal pero no está muy lejos de la realidad, ¿no? Hace unas semanas, una desapacible mañana londinense, me senté a tomar un café no por casualidad con Jon Bergmann y Aaron Sams. A estos dos profes de Química en Colorado (no ficticios) se les ocurrió la idea de darle la vuelta a la clase. “De la enseñanza en contexto de grupo pasamos a la enseñanza en un contexto individual, ésa es la manera más fácil de explicar la clase al revés”, dice Aaron. Si grabas el contenido de tu clase en video y le pides a los chavales que lo vean en casa de deberes, entonces puedes dedicar el tiempo en el aula a actividades más prácticas. A partir de ahí casi es normal plantearse por qué razón todos tienen que hacer lo mismo el mismo día, ¿por qué no dejamos que cada alumno avance a su propio ritmo y aprenda bien una cosa antes de pasar a la siguiente? Así funciona la taxonomía de Bloom. “Cuando un chaval no entiende A, no va a ser capaz de hacer B, ni C, y D le será totalmente imposible” (…) Quien no aprueba el examen al final de cada tema, no puede seguir adelante hasta que no demuestre que lo sabe.” La idea no es novel: ya en los años 70 el intento de aplicar el aprendizaje por dominios se dio de narices contra la dificultad de tener profesores repitiendo contenidos ad infinitum y poniendo exámenes para evaluar múltiples objetivos de una sentada. Hoy en día la tecnología sí lo ha hecho posible. “Para enseñar, podemos crear videos para que los chavales los vean cuando sea, y existen sistemas de gestión del aprendizaje que pueden generar tests de forma aleatoria y hacer cosas maravillosas”.

Charlamos entonces de cómo está cambiando el papel del profesor: vivimos en una sociedad que se harta de información; una información a la que los chavales pueden acceder desde donde sea, en cualquier momento y sin ayuda de nadie. ¿Para qué necesitan al profesor?, pregunta Aaron. No para impartir contenido sino “para ayudarles a lidiar con lo que ya han aprendido y profundizar un poquito más”.

Para mí ser profesor implica ya cierta actitud para la reflexión: no se me ocurriría darle la vuelta a mi clase porque sí, sino  pendiente quizás de que algo no marcha bien, o tentada por la promesa de mejores resultados y ratos más entretenidos. Una infografía basada en una encuesta a profesores de la clase al revés habla de que el 80% han notado un cambio de actitud en los alumnos para mejor, y el 67% que las notas son más altas. ¿Es más creativo el profesor que le da la vuelta a la clase? ¿Hace por ello un mayor ejercicio de reflexión?, pregunto yo. Aaron toma la palabra: “Para estos profesores es como jugar, están disfrutando de lo que hacen; muchos nos dicen Es una manera de sentir entusiasmo por mi profesión otra vez. Se sienten regenerados, quieren ser creativos, experimentar con lo que enseñan”. La conversación de dos profesores que se sientan a hacer un video juntos es de por sí fértil; si además publican ese material en la red y abren las puertas de su clase al mundo entero, discutir la pedagogía hace que esa conversación tenga todavía más valor.

Os dejo con las palabras de Kari Arfstrom acerca de la clase al revés: “No viene de Washington, no viene de un mandamás con tres doctorados y seis libros de su puño y letra. Viene de profesores en su comunidad que por casualidad oyen hablar de esta filosofía (…). No hay nadie diciéndoles Esto es lo que tenéis que hacer en clase; es algo que los profesores quieren hacer ellos en clase”.

Imagen: CC BY Upside Down Roller Coaster by Austin Kirk

I teach, therefore I reflect (and change)

During the few weeks ahead of OpenEd13, in preparation for my talk, I spent time interviewing K12 teachers in the US about their use of open educational resources (OER) in the classroom. As part of my work with the OER Research Hub Project I’m researching the hypothesis that OER use leads educators to critically reflect on their teaching practice. What follows is a thread to weave my slides below.

My personal view has always been that teachers reflect all the time, OER-ing or not: we (and I throw myself in the mix) may not keep a diary, or pause and think hard about how the class/tutorial/seminar went, but in the thick of it we know what’s working, what’s not, what needs to be fixed: adapt, colour, reshuffle, attack from a different angle or dump. We are constantly on the lookout for ideas to teach better, to engage students better, to help them learn better. Take, for example, flipped educators: the OERRHub survey in the spring of this year shows that a majority of respondents has over ten years of teaching experience but has been flipping the classroom for less than two. What moves an experienced educator to try something as bonkers as shifting direct instruction from the group’s learning space to the individual learning space and leave herself with forty minutes waiting to be filled with bags of creativity? It’s not because she hasn’t been doing a good job so far, but because word out is that flipping the classroom works. It is through reflection that we become agents of change. My conversations with teachers from the project’s two K12 collaborations –Vital Signs and the Flipped Learning Network, evolve around one question: How has your use of OER changed the way you think about teaching? In a sliver of stories of change (or not) that I have yet to analyse, I give you the voices of an English teacher resisting the all-knowing Oz of her past; a Math teacher who basks in bringing multiple perspectives into the classroom; a Statistics teacher who requires his students to co-create the curriculum because it belongs to the world; and a Math and Social Studies teacher who uses a science program because it makes learning real for her kids. My hunch is still there: OER use doesn’t necessarily make better teachers; it’s just that the door to resources is wider than it used to be.

The Lobster Connection

Lobster Car Reg

Friday, May 3rd, 2013. I’m in Scarborough Middle School, Maine, US. A banner across the entrance hall reads ‘You Are Now Entering THE KINDNESS ZONE’, a caution for bullies to take a break, I’m told. I’m here with Sarah Morriseau from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to visit Mrs. B’s science class. The kids have been working with Vital Signs for the past week and today we are going on a field trip in search of the hemlock tree’s least welcomed resident (at least in these latitudes), the Woolly Adelgid. On the whiteboard Mrs. B has written a note on team jobs: one photographer, two species specialists and one data manager. Kids buzz around while she reminds everyone to be respectful of nature: ‘We are not destroying anything’. And out we go, pass the school’s sport grounds, beyond the pond and into the forest armed with species identity cards and datasheets. Forty minutes won’t count for much if your mind is not on the job. Kids quickly scatter looking for hemlock trees first, then tiny nymphs. We found it! Are you sure? Check against the ID card. Where’s your evidence? The mobile phone comes out. Take a photo. You hold it. That’s great.

Vital Signs ID CardOn Monday I’m back in the classroom. On the way the taxi driver has assured me that the next president will certainly be a latino; that’ll be interesting, I think. Another glorious day weather-wise, pity we are staying indoors. Today the reminder on the whiteboard is for kids to check their datasheets: No blanks! warns Mrs. B. Team Wolverine’s data manager seems to struggle to fill the space about what happened when they were collecting data. The blank in question: ‘I am happy because…’ Are you not happy that you found the species?, I ask. ‘Well, yes but I’m sad too…’ comes his reply. ‘At least now you know where it is!’, me, always the arch-positive. ‘Oh yes!’ The pencil rushes. I wonder have I interfered with human history…

This is Vital Signs in action. It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable research trip, really. The OER Research Hub project is collaborating with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, in particular looking at Vital Signs, a citizen science program for middle school students in Maine.  The project is funded by Hewlett and its content released under a under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 3.0 License. The idea is genius. Scientists, keen on mapping the extent of invasive species in Maine, propose a mission on the Vital Signs website, i.e. Where is the hemlock woolly adelgid? Where isn’t it? Teachers organise kids to collect data that are then published online and verified by a species expert. Sarah Kirn, Vital Signs Program Manager, explains it better: “The emphasis is not on finding a species but on the evidence that you are collecting to back up your claim; (…) in science, just as important as what you don’t see is what you do see, and that’s not an intuitive point for kids. So (…) you get one of these species cards, go outside, you look to see whether you’ve found it or not, you make a claim, I did find or I didn’t find it and you back it up with evidence. You collect all that information and upload it to the website. You have to do a peer quality check first: students working in teams trade computers, each team look at each others work (…) What’s the quality of the statements that you made? Have you been very thorough and precise about your language and in describing things? Did you take the photographs that capture the most important characteristics of the species that you were looking at? (…) In the evidence and the critique there’s a lot of opportunity to work on critical thinking and reasoning.” Vital Signs is about learning science by doing science. ‘My kids are real scientists and this is real science that we are doing’, says Mrs. P. in Dover-Foxcroft – Se Do Mo Cha Middle School. And she adds: ‘I don’t care if they can identify a dragonfly. What I care about is that they can follow the process trying to identify what bug it is that we found that day (…) Ten years from now it doesn’t matter if they can still identify a dragonfly, but it does matter that they remember the scientific experience and how positive it was for them’.

You can listen to an edited version of my interview with Sarah Kirn here.

On my first day in Portland, I visit the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning at GMRI, where 5th and 6th grade students come for a fantastic hands-on science LabVenture. In one of the tanks the blue lobster has molted, which apparently makes it more vulnerable to other tank inhabitants with great appetites. Judging by what’s on the menu in most restaurants in town, better in than out, I’d say.