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Open Education

In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.
Secretary Arne Duncan


We believe that educational opportunities should be available to all learners. Creating an open education ecosystem involves making learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.

Openly Licensed Educational Resources

Openly licensed educational resources are learning materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and assessment without cost. They can be modified and redistributed without violating copyright laws.

Why use Openly Licensed Educational Resources?

Resources that are openly licensed benefit schools in a number of ways, but most notably they help to:

  • Increase Equity – All students have access to high quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content because openly licensed educational resources can be freely distributed to anyone.
  • Save Money – Switching to educational materials that are openly licensed enables schools to repurpose funding spent on static textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning. In some districts, replacing just one textbook has made tens of thousands of dollars available for other purposes.
  • Keep Content Relevant and High Quality – Traditional textbooks are perpetually outdated, forcing districts to re-invest significant portions of their budgets on replacing them. The terms of use of openly licensed educational resources allows educators to maintain the quality and relevance of their materials through continuous updates.
  • Empower Teachers – Openly licensed educational resources empower teachers as creative professionals by giving them the ability to adapt and customize learning materials to meet the needs of their students without breaking copyright laws.

Department of Education Announces Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

NOTE: We are extending the public comment period for 15 days, until December 18, 2015

On October 29, 2015 the Department announced that it is proposing a new regulation that would require all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department discretionary competitive grant funds to have an open license.

“By requiring an open license, we will ensure that high-quality resources created through our public funds are shared with the public, thereby ensuring equal access for all teachers and students regardless of their location or background,” said John King, senior advisor delegated the duty of the Deputy Secretary of Education. “We are excited to join other federal agencies leading on this work to ensure that we are part of the solution to helping classrooms transition to next generation materials.”

The Department will be receiving comments on this proposed policy through December 18, 2015 at

Read the Open License NPRM.

NPRM Frequently Asked Questions: Open License NPRM FAQs, Updated November 18, 2015.

How Williamsfield Schools Decided to #GoOpen

Building on openly licensed resources, the Williamsfield School District leveraged education technology to save families and taxpayers money while providing unique, targeted learning opportunities for each student.

Department of Education Announces #GoOpen

On October 29, 2015 the U.S. Department of Education announced the launch of #GoOpen, a campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials.

The announcements were made at an Open Education Symposium hosted by the Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. District leaders committing to #GoOpen were joined by other district and state leaders and innovators from education technology companies and nonprofit organizations who will work alongside these districts to create new tools and provide professional learning opportunities that help educators find, adapt, create, and share resources.

Read our Open Education Fact Sheet and Press Release for more on these commitments.

Learn what it takes to be a #GoOpen Launch or Ambassador District, check out our #GoOpen Districts page.

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Learning Registry

The Learning Registry is an open database where content creators and educators can share information about digital educational resources. The Learning Registry is based on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) which provides common language for tagging resources according to quality, keyword, and alignment to curricular standards. The Learning Registry supports educator voices to help define which resources are most relevant or useful.

Open Data

Open data is the idea that data should be freely available to the public—both technically and legally—to use and redistribute without limitation. When high-value data sets are publicly available practitioners, researchers, and the public can use the data to inform their work in classroom and communities across America.

Open data follows the following principles:

  • Public – available to all in accordance with the law and the Office of Management and Budget’s Open Government Directive.
  • Accessible – available to the widest range of users in a machine-readable format that is non-exclusive and usable without restriction.
  • Remixable – available under an open license that allows others to use, share, and add to data without restriction.


Education Datapalooza

The Education Datapalooza is an opportunity for developers, researchers, and entrepreneurs to come together to create new educational tools based on open data. In 2014, Datapalooza highlighted the work of innovators from the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors who have used freely available government data to build products, services, and apps that advanced postsecondary education.

MyData Initiative

The MyData Initiative seeks for every student (or parent of an underage student) to have access to his or her own academic data, wherever that data is stored, in both machine-readable and human-readable format.

Open Data Sets & Resources