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Michigan drives efforts to "go open" with statewide OER

Michigan Department of Education is in the process of launching its digital content library on OER Commons, Ann-Marie Mapes says.

EdScoop Staff
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Michigan education officials have been hard at work establishing and expanding an initiative to promote the use of open educational resources (OER) in districts all across the state.

Since Michigan joined the Education Department’s #GoOpen campaign in February 2016, edtech specialists have been working to create a system for educators that supports them and addresses their OER technology needs, says Ann-Marie Mapes, an educational technology consultant at the Michigan Department of Education.

Throughout the process of “going open,” Mapes and her colleagues have learned a number of lessons about building up a statewide OER initiative, she says.

“You need to be very intentional about the steps that you’re taking. Make sure to include all stakeholders in the process,” Mapes tells EdScoop during a recent gathering of the State Educational Technology Directors Association. “When we started in the beginning, we wanted to rush ahead and decide on a platform to use. And we really had to step back and include our districts in the process, as well as all the other stakeholders who are very invested in this work.”

Michigan recently selected OER Commons as its platform for hosting openly licensed digital content and is in the process of launching the microsite now.

Mapes hopes that instructors across Michigan will really get behind OER and begin to take advantage of the resources curated by the state.

“One of the things is to really drive people to this repository, so when they’re looking for high-quality digital content, they say, “Oh, I know a place where I can go,” she says. “And it’s not necessarily a repository to them, but it’s a place that’s known by all educators as a resource — a great resource.”

“We’re also hoping that this becomes part of the conversation for school and district leaders and that they really start to internalize the need to move toward digital instructional materials, not just open education resources,” Mapes adds.

Michigan is part of a community of practice that includes all 20 #GoOpen states. When other states move to OER Commons, Michigan education officials will explore the possibility of sharing resources from state to state, Mapes says.

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