Chesterfield County Public Schools is one of six school districts nationwide to be selected as Ambassador Districts for the #GoOpen campaign of the U.S. Department of Education. The initiative, which encourages states, school districts and educators to replace traditional textbooks with openly licensed educational materials, was announced Oct. 29 during an Open Education Symposium held at the White House.
The #GoOpen Ambassador Districts will serve as mentors to school districts transitioning to openly licensed learning materials. Chesterfield County Public Schools and the five other Ambassador Districts currently use openly licensed educational materials and will help other districts understand how to effectively discover and curate these resources. Businesses, including Amazon, Edmodo and Microsoft, are also part of #GoOpen.
“Our innovative and effective educational strategies are being recognized across the United States,” said Dr. Marcus Newsome, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools. “Chesterfield County Public Schools is transforming public education to help our students become self-directed learners and problem-solvers and to empower our teachers as creative educational leaders. Continuing to do the same thing in the same way year after year after year is no longer an option in our school district. We look forward to supporting other school districts along their path to success.”
Here are some of the strategies Chesterfield County Public Schools has implemented in recent years that align with the #GoOpen campaign:
- Initiated the largest Chromebook computer program in the country by providing Chromebooks for middle and high school students to use at school and at home, enabling anytime, anywhere learning.
- Stopped purchasing consumable workbooks and textbooks except in circumstances where a specific textbook is required to receive credit or an industry certification (for example, some Advanced Placement classes, dual enrollment classes and career and technical education certification programs).
- Made high-quality, open educational resources easier for teachers to access and use by placing them on a single-sign-on dashboard. Students do not have to manage usernames and passwords, and teachers’ class rosters are autopopulated in the applications.
- Committed to providing sustained professional development on how to use the open educational resources on the district’s dashboard.
- Regularly meet with providers of open educational resources to provide product development feedback and pilot new functions.
- Guided teachers to open educational resources in curriculum frameworks and pacing guides.
- Provided a way to collect and share the best of open educational resources available to Chesterfield County teachers.
Here are reasons the U.S. Department of Education is embracing #GoOpen:
- Openly licensed educational materials increase equity. Because openly licensed resources can be distributed freely to anyone, students are no longer limited by their school budgets or procurement practices to have access to great learning materials.
- School districts in the United States spend billions of dollars each year on textbooks. Switching to educational materials that are openly licensed enables schools to repurpose funding for other pressing needs.
Additional information about #GoOpen is available here: http://tech.ed.gov/open-education/