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District : Fox Chapel Area School District

State : Pennsylvania

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : 1,001-10,000 students

Community Type : Suburban

Related Tags : #GoOpen, Openly Licensed Educational Resources

Fox Chapel Area School District: From the Bottom Up

With its mission to “maximize student learning, achievement, and development,” the Fox Chapel Area School District in Pennsylvania strives to become one of the top-performing public school districts in the country — a daunting task for any district. In 2012, Fox Chapel created a strategic plan that would help it achieve that goal. The plan utilized Openly Licensed Educational Resources (OER) that allow teachers to revise, remix, and redistribute educational resources without violating copyright law. They decided to start by only using OER as supplemental materials, so the faculty could be eased into the emerging idea. At first, OER was used less than expected as other priorities took precedence. However, district leaders say it gave teachers time to explore the notion and implementation of OER in the classroom, preparing them for the #GoOpen initiative.

Fox Chapel’s pursuit of OER was rejuvenated when the #GoOpen initiative began. The district recently deployed easily updatable post-class openly licensed resources that summarize and reinforce previously taught content and follow students from year to year as they engage in new material. Fox Chapel hopes to implement pre-class openly licensed resources as well in order to encourage their students to look ahead and engage with new concepts earlier. Additionally, post- and pre-class OER materials enable teachers to more easily align and customize their content with each other in order to attempt to provide their students with the best possible education. OER has permitted Fox Chapel to implement their novel ideas in an affordable, centralized, and effective way. With well-curated OER, Fox Chapel is one step closer to achieving its vision by providing its teachers the freedom to create personalized curriculum and to provide their students a wealth of opportunities.

Since Fox Chapel joined the #GoOpen initiative, faculty and staff have become active collaborators by working together and sharing with the #GoOpen community and other school districts in their area. District leaders believe that teamwork between districts and states can build upon these efforts to help create more effective OER that will propel their students as well as students around the nation forward.
Fox Chapel has several suggestions for districts thinking about using OER and joining #GoOpen movement:

  1. Make the Pledge and Become Part of the Team – Make the #GoOpen pledge! #GoOpen provides the district with a growing network of partners to share and collaborate with on ideas and curriculum. It is all about teamwork.
  2. Pilot – Fox Chapel believes that pilots allow teachers to become acquainted with how to use OER and to qualitatively see the effects and advantages of OER first hand before making a larger commitment. This year, Fox Chapel is piloting a new sixth grade course on mobile technology integration that is completely OER.
  3. From the Bottom Up – At its core, the movement toward OER must be led from the bottom up, not the top down. The teachers are the ones using the resources, so they must become the champions of change. However, that does not mean teachers can achieve everything alone. Collaboration between teachers and their district administration will provide the greatest impact and sustainability.

Additional Resources

From the U.S. Department of Education:

Points of Contact

Megan Cicconi, Director of Instructional and Innovative Leadership
Phone: 412-967-2418

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