Phase 4: Ensuring High Quality Learning Resources
When using static, traditional textbooks, most districts rely on publishers to ensure that the materials are high quality and aligned with rigorous college and career ready standards. In contrast, when you transition to openly licensed educational resources, the onus is on you to ensure that the resources are of a high quality and provide the learning experiences necessary to exceed learning goals for all students. This is a serious, new responsibility for a district that is accustomed to buying proprietary resources from third parties. #GoOpen Districts thoughtfully and deliberately create quality assurance processes with multiple checks to ensure that materials match the needs and expectations of all stakeholders.
Phase 4 Tasks
- Agree on a quality assurance rubric for district
- Define a review process for openly licensed educational resources
Phase 4 Guiding Questions
- What tool or rubric are you using for quality assurance of instructional materials?
Most districts already use a checklist or rubric when evaluating instructional materials, whether they are print, digital, proprietary, or openly licensed. For continuity, most #GoOpen Districts use the same evaluative measures when using openly licensed educational resources. If your district does not currently use such a standard, there are several resources that can be used or customized for district needs, available in the Appendix.
- How often will you review and refresh openly licensed educational resources?
One of the many benefits of going open is the ability to update and refresh instructional materials. #GoOpen teams and classroom teachers that implement the new instructional materials convene regularly to review the current resources, add new ones, remove outdated or ineffective resources, and assess the materials as a whole.
Typically, #GoOpen Districts refresh on a yearly basis, though more frequent refreshes may be warranted in the pilot phase of a rollout. Districts aggregate feedback from #GoOpen team members and classroom teachers who use the resources throughout the year. Many districts collect the feedback through a dedicated email address where comments and suggestions can easily be gathered in one centralized place. All of this information is used to evaluate and refresh resources.
In the transition to using openly licensed educational resources, making a plan to review and refresh resources can be part of your overall strategic plan and added to your implementation timeline. Many #GoOpen District consider reallocating traditional curriculum funds to bring these key stakeholders together to do this important work for sustainability and longevity.
- Lawrence Public Schools Course Master Rubric: Designed by #GoOpen team members from Lawrence Public Schools to be used in its annual review process of openly licensed educational resources
- Lawrence Public Schools Curriculum Review Process: A timeline and review process.
- Grossmont Union High School District OER Rubric: Designed by the Grossmont #GoOpen Team to be used when assessing the quality of resources
- Sample OER Curriculum Collection Outline Template Form: A template for developing openly licensed educational resources from Grossmont Union High School District
- Rubrics for Evaluating Openly Licensed Educational Resources: The Achieve rubric for evaluating openly licensed educational resources
- Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning: Policy brief prepared by the State Ed Tech Directors Association (SETDA) that examines strategies for ensuring the quality of digital learning resources, including specific quality-control challenges and opportunities with openly licensed educational resources
Phase 4 Examples
Quality Assurance with Teachers in Mind
Grossmont Union High School District is a mid-sized district that serves over 20,000 students across 10 high schools in the San Diego area. Two years ago, the district started to develop a plan to implement a district-wide 1:1 device policy. In order to establish a successful integration of devices into the classroom, district leaders wanted to ensure that they had the best infrastructure and resources to support digital curriculum. In addition to accomplishing many other tasks, the district had one overarching goal: create a teacher-friendly plan and review process that all teachers with varying levels of experience could access.
Dan McDowell, Director of Instructional Technology, guided the #GoOpen district team’s first steps by researching currently available openly licensed resources in order to determine what resources the district could remix and reuse. Dan and his colleagues acknowledged that the traditional textbook was a consistent and familiar tool for teachers. It outlined curriculum, lessons, and assessments and provided guidance in how to traverse topics and meet standards requirements. In order to make the instructional shift, Dan knew that teachers needed to be a core part of the process but he also recognized that a challenge lay ahead of them. There were several rubrics used to vet curriculum but most were cumbersome, time-consuming and content specific. Grossmont Union High School District’s teachers would need a more accessible rubric if they wanted to be successful.
Acknowledging that quality assurance would be essential for the success of their transformation, Grossmont District formed a committee that would develop the district’s rubric and adoption process that would be used to vet the resources created or curated by educators. First, proposed resources are vetted by content area leads in the following three categories: core content, supplemental resources, and teacher materials. After committee review, the resources are then submitted to external committee educators for further evaluation. The process can be long and challenging, but Grossmont believes that taking the time to develop this plan has been essential as they continue to review and refresh resources for the district.
A Team Approach to Quality Assurance
When the call went out for the first cohort of districts to join the #GoOpen movement, administrators in the Lawrence Public Schools jumped at the chance to maximize the tremendous potential of increasing the district’s access to high-quality education opportunities through openly licensed educational resources.
For its transition to openly licensed educational resources, assistant superintendents selected 7th grade English language arts as the first content area and grade level focus because of past experiences running into copyright concerns during the implementation of blended learning. When Lawrence began implementing a blended learning in 2012, teachers gained access to a selection of course masters with both proprietary and openly licensed resources, through the district’s learning management system. Course masters are built by teachers, for teachers, and are meant to offer all classroom teachers a buffet from which to select content.
All content in the course masters have been vetted through a rubric for alignment with standards, clear outcomes, cultural relevancy, and student engagement. An integral component of the review process is an analysis of the current materials being used to meet the outcomes. At times, they have discovered that a new resource isn’t needed, only a better understanding of how to utilize the current resource. Additionally, depending on the age of the existing material(s), digital components may now be available for use, thus expanding the tools in the classroom as well as integrating digital media. This is where the largest footprint of openly licensed educational resources has been realized. Lawrence is always in the Curriculum Review Process. Some content areas are in a longer timeline, while others can be a shorter process. Regardless of content area, the district encourages their teachers to constantly review their instructional materials to determine gaps, achievement dips, or needs.