Academic Areas and Support Programs - Open Education Resources (OER)

Education in the 21st Century: Books, Access to Learning, and Technology

In the 2012 publication Out of Print: Reimaging the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) stated:

 "Technology innovation is driving fundamental changes in all aspects of our lives. This is especially true of digital content…however, the explosive growth in our use of digital content seems so far to have eluded many of the 50 million students enrolled in public K-12 education…in 2012, it is still the exception—not the norm—that schools choose to use digital content, which could be updated much more frequently, or opt to use the multitude of high-quality online resources available as a primary source for teaching and learning.

It is not a question if the reimagining of the textbook will permeate all of education, but only a matter of how and how fast.

Armed with a cost-effective computing device and the kind of quality digital content that’s becoming increasing available, the benefits for students learning are many. Digital content can easily be kept up to date and relevant to students’ lives without the cost of reprinting or redistributing print materials such as a textbook. It can be made available anytime and anywhere, both online and offline, and accessible when and where the students, teacher, of parent needs it. It can be personalized to individual student learning needs and abilities." Click here for complete document.

Utah is rising to the challenge of the 21st century by creating and using OER, many of which are digital or print-on-demand resources.

OER are materials that have been created using content that is not copyrighted and therefore restricted in use. OER are openly licensed materials that can be used for teaching, learning, student support, and teacher support. While they are openly licensed, they are not free: there is a substantial effort involved in collecting and reviewing resources to ensure they are aligned to the Utah Core Standards and that they are updated and improved on a regular basis.

Utah has been recognized as the geographic center of the OER movement. In January, 2012, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) announced its commitment to developing and supporting OER Textbooks for use throughout the state (Press Release). As a local control state, districts and schools are ultimately responsible for the materials adopted for use, but the state provides guidance and support through an Instructional Materials Review process. Click here for information about the process and the RIMS database.

What Is A Book?

This shift in the way we look at textbooks and education is also shifting the way we think of books. Instead of a textbook being a static document that never changes, has hard covers, and weighs down a backpack, books can now be dynamic documents that are flexible, adaptable, current, linked to electronic resources, readable on electronic devices or in print…it’s a new world for educators, students, and parents. We are working to make sure every student in Utah has access to world-class, current, effective instructional materials.

Utah’s Open Textbook Projects

Utah has geared up to begin providing teachers, students, and parents with materials to support the Utah Core Standards, instruction, and teaching. Created by groups of content and teaching experts, including university faculty, district and school specialists, teachers, and USOE staff, these Open Textbooks are in development and revision as we collaborate in their creation.

Open Educational Resources
Utah Educational Network (UEN)

Other Resources

Utah has other resources, including an elementary mathematics wiki that contained Core-aligned mathematics tasks created by educators, lesson plans, and other resources house with our educational partner, UEN.

For more information about Open Educational Resources, please contact jennifer[dot]throndsen[at]schools[dot]utah[dot]gov(Jennifer Throndsen) or the content area specialist for that subject.