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District : Mentor Public Schools

State : Ohio

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : 1,001-10,000 students

Community Type : Suburban

Related Tags : #GoOpen, Digital content, Openly Licensed Educational Resources

Partnerships for Progress: Mentor Public Schools’ #GoOpen Story

Mentor Public Schools has spent the past four years rethinking and revitalizing the instructional program for our students. Focusing on balancing the instructional methods available to our educators has allowed the district to move the student experience toward a scenario where the best possible techniques, from the high-tech to the more traditional, are used appropriately for each individual student. #GoOpen offers the district the opportunity to reallocate funds previously earmarked for instructional content towards tools, training, and resources to help their teachers be more effective. At the same time, the skills necessary to select and implement openly licensed educational resources (OER) are some of the same skills the district wants to instill in its student population – the ability the seek out content, verify its authenticity, synthesize it, and apply it to a task. The shift to OER through #GoOpen is critical in the next phase of this educational evolution.

Mentor Public Schools’ OER transition was prompted by both a desire for fiscal responsibility and a commitment to standards-aligned content. By transitioning to open content, we are able to use funds previously allocated to textbooks and paid content to both increase learning opportunities for educators and students and reduce the need to rely on the taxpayers in our community. Additionally, open content, with its modular nature, can be selected to align directly to state standards where textbooks are frequently designed with a national audience in mind and, therefore, are less closely aligned with our standards.

A team of instructional coaches works to support Mentor educators in their OER transition. These licensed educators work daily with the Mentor faculty to help them learn how to curate and select digital content for the district’s online learning spaces. To further expand on this movement, we partnered with an established online partner and several other districts around the state to collaborate on the creation of 50 problem-based learning modules on a variety of topics. These modules will be freely available and Creative Commons-licensed to permit access by any district.

One challenge a district may face with transitioning to OER is determining how to properly support teachers in the curation and creation of open content. Possible solutions to this challenge include partnerships among school districts, non-profit organizations, and corporations dedicated to leveling the playing field and providing access for all of our students to high-quality content that is freely and openly available. Our district’s for-profit partners have helped to provide training and best practices in finding content. They, along with some of our other partners, still regularly send us high-quality, high-alignment resources that they have found, which are extremely useful. Our non-profit collaborations have helped provide our district with tools for best practices and finding effective resources. We also host site visits and take some ourselves in order to learn from and collaborate with leading school districts across the country for the purpose of sharing resources and information.

Additional Resources

From Mentor Public Schools:

From the U.S. Department of Education:

Point of Contact

Jeremy Shorr
Twitter: @JeremyShorr

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