Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, James Lane, last week announced the launch of #GoOpenVA, an online platform allowing educators and schools to access and share teacher-created digital educational resources.
The website also allows educators to collaborate and create new instructional material, including curricula, units, lesson plans and activities.
“The Virginia Department of Education is providing the platform, but #GoOpenVA is really a hub for resources created by teachers for teachers,” Lane said.
“It is hard to overstate the potential impact on instruction and student learning as teachers from all over the commonwealth — and in every content area — form collaborative communities to create and share resources that engage students and encourage deeper learning.”
Open educational resources — also known as OER — are free online instructional materials that can be used as downloaded, or modified to meet specific classroom and student needs. Openly licensed resources are not subject to the restrictions typically attached to copyrighted material.
The initiative allows educators to post and share a variety of files, including video, audio and other media. The 10,000 resources currently available on the website include content from national OER sites, content contributed by Virginia education organizations — including colleges, universities and cultural institutions — and resources solicited from Virginia teachers already active in the open-resource movement.
“The #GoOpenVA platform promotes equity by increasing access to high-quality, up-to-date educational materials and by allowing divisions to repurpose funding that would otherwise go to purchasing textbooks with limited shelf life,” Lane said.
VDOE is encouraging divisions to support #GoOpenVA by offering $10,000 competitive grants for up to 10 school divisions. The grants will support teams of teachers and other educators as they create or adapt open educational resources that support Virginia’s academic standards and the goals of the Virginia is for Learners initiative, including the development of skills and attributes known as the 5 C’s: critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and citizenship. Divisions have until March 2 to apply for the grants.
To help educators get started, VDOE is also offering an online Virtual Virginia course, Introduction to OER. By taking the course, teachers will learn about the #GoOpenVA platform, open licensing, content curation and content editing. Teachers completing the course will receive a certificate and could qualify for recertification points.