District : Chesterfield County Public Schools
State : Virginia
Level : P-12
District Enrollment : 40,001+ students
Community Type : Suburban
Chesterfield County Public Schools: Integrated OER for Instructional Achievement
The Chesterfield County Public Schools vision for the future is preparing every student to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. The district sees committing to #GoOpen as a natural extension of the work underway in implementing its strategic plan, Design for Excellence 2020.
One of the pillars of this strategic plan is blended learning, defined as “combining the best of face-to-face instruction with online instruction to empower students to take a greater role in their own learning anytime, from anywhere.” Using openly licensed materials (OER) is changing instruction by increasing student engagement and promoting a more student-centered approach to teaching and learning. Students can engage in the content whenever they want and in any modality of their choosing. The combination of a 1:1 laptop-to-student ratio for 32,000 secondary students, and an abundance of free, media-rich, interactive digital content has extended learning beyond the bell schedule and four walls of the classroom.
Openly-licensed educational resources are crucial to the district’s three-pronged “build it, buy it, borrow it” approach to content curation. Curricular resources include carefully selected web-based subscriptions, OER and teacher-created content. The curriculum and technology teams work collaboratively to identify the best sources of OER, to integrate the content into “CNet”, the district’s digital curriculum management system, and to make it easily available through a district single sign-on dashboard. Content created by teachers using OER is shared both organically through district-provided social networking channels and more formally through a periodic review of teacher-submitted resources provided and posted in curriculum framework documents.
With a high degree of exposure to OER and access to ongoing training and support, Chesterfield students and teachers are experiencing transformational learning experiences. District leaders have deliberately incorporated open channels of communication so that when teachers identify challenges, whether related to curriculum or technology, they have a district focus on removing barriers in pursuit of vision.
One challenge facing the district is varying degrees of teacher readiness. Many teachers have long been pedagogically ready to incorporate the best of freely available web-based content and are just waiting on the infrastructure and devices to do so. Others are less comfortable in their ability to find and evaluate high-quality digital content and/or are still developing the skills for managing student/teacher workflow in a digital space. Patience is key here. Chesterfield has met this challenge by providing support, working to remove barriers for teachers, and keeping laser focus on the vision for teaching and learning described in its strategic plan.
For other districts starting on this journey, Chesterfield offers the advice of beginning with a clearly communicated vision, and leading with curriculum. In terms of district-level technical supports, account provisioning, single sign on, and automated rostering of classes makes the integration of OER easier for teachers. Everyone needs to understand the role OER will play in the district’s overall vision for teaching and learning. These resources need to be easily accessible and integrated into the curriculum and content-specific instructional models. Lastly, Chesterfield advises leaders in other districts to point the way, listen to their teachers, remove barriers, and support teacher champions that can lead the way.
From Chesterfield County Public Schools:
From the U.S. Department of Education:
Point of Contact