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 Go Open Summit Focuses on Open Educational Resources

About 170 educators gathered at the third annual Go Open Summit April 16 to learn how open educational resources support equity, inclusion, and collaboration.

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) organized the summit in partnership with the Classroom of the Future Foundation. Teachers, librarians, administrators, and other school employees came from as far as Missouri to participate.

Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed digital media used for teaching, learning, assessment, and research.

"OER truly bring new meaning to the '#LifelongLearner,'" Paulette Donnellon, president of the San Diego County Board of Education, said at the summit. "Today is our opportunity to learn, collaborate, and share."

The event featured workshops and a keynote presentation from Kristina Ishmael, a senior program manager for New America, where she supports states, districts, and educators rethinking the role of instructional materials to create deeper learning opportunities for students.

Ishmael said OER can make curriculum more timely, relevant, engaging, equitable, and inclusive.

The bottom line is meeting the needs of students, said Dr. Erin English, executive director of Innovation at SDCOE.

"Sometimes people are not aware of what open educational resources are or why we need them to help close the opportunity gap," English said. "Educators are comfortable with textbooks; however, the images, stories, and examples in textbooks don't fully represent all of our students.  When we use OER material, we can modify our lessons to include representation that matches our region and the specific needs of our students."