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Introduction

Across the country, districts are choosing to #GoOpen and transitioning to the use of openly licensed educational resources to improve student learning in their schools. Openly licensed educational resources enable districts to reallocate significant funds currently spent on inflexible, static learning materials to resources and activities that accelerate the transition to digital learning. These include implementing new professional learning programs for teachers, developing a robust technology infrastructure to support digital learning, and funding new leadership roles for educators who curate and create openly licensed educational materials.

The transition to openly licensed educational resources is about more than cost savings, though. In districts where educators curate and create high-quality openly licensed educational resources, students have more personalized learning opportunities, and teachers have greater freedom to design and implement learning experiences that inflexible, static learning materials cannot always support.

In Williamsfield Community School District in Williamsfield, Illinois, for example, students have access to openly licensed educational resources from places such as The Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT), Ohio State University, and Stanford. “The walls break down,” says Zack Binder, a PreK-12 Principal and Director of Student Services for the district. “Students aren’t limited to learning opportunities in Williamsfield. Instead, they have the same access to information as anyone in the world.”

If thoughtfully coordinated at the district level, openly licensed educational resources can also drive equity by providing all students access to high-quality learning materials, no matter their school’s budget or procurement practices.

In addition, openly licensed educational resources allow districts to update learning materials when new developments occur, for example, when new scientific discoveries are made, new leaders are elected or new state standards must be supported. The ability to update resources quickly and easily maintains the quality and relevance of learning materials.

And, openly licensed educational resources empower teachers as creative professionals by giving them the ability to adapt and customize learning materials without breaking copyright laws.

To realize the full advantages of openly licensed educational resources, students and teachers need high-speed internet connectivity. The modernization of E-Rate has provided millions of schools and communities access to next-generation broadband in their classrooms and libraries. This increased connectivity makes it possible for a growing number of districts to expand their use of openly licensed educational resources and take advantage of these flexible, dynamic resources.

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