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United States

Access to Educational Resources (US0055)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status:

Institutions

Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Open educational resources are an investment in sustainable human development; they have the potential to increase access to high-quality education and reduce the cost of educational opportunities around the world. Open educational resources can expand access to key educational materials, enabling the domestic and international communities to attain skills and more easily access meaningful learning opportunities. The United States has worked collaboratively with domestic and international civil society stakeholders to encourage open education initiatives. Building on that momentum, the United States will openly license more Federal grant- supported education materials and resources, making them widely and freely available. In addition to convening stakeholders to encourage further open education efforts, the United States will publish best practices and tools for agencies interested in developing grant-supported open licensing projects, detailing how they can integrate open licensing into projects from technical and legal perspectives.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 3. Expand Access to Educational Resources

Commitment Text:

Expand Access to Educational Resources through Open Licensing and Technology

Open educational resources are an investment in sustainable human development; they have the potential to increase access to high-quality education and reduce the cost of educational opportunities around the world. Open educational resources can expand access to key educational materials, enabling the domestic and international communities to attain skills and more easily access meaningful learning opportunities. The United States has worked collaboratively with domestic and international civil society stakeholders to encourage open education initiatives. Building on that momentum, the United States will openly license more Federal grant- supported education materials and resources, making them widely and freely available. In addition to convening stakeholders to encourage further open education efforts, the United States will publish best practices and tools for agencies interested in developing grant-supported open licensing projects, detailing how they can integrate open licensing into projects from technical and legal perspectives.

Responsible Institutions: Department of Education, Department of State, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

Supporting Institutions: All Federal agencies, civil society organizations

Start Date: Not Specified ....... End Date: Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to leverage open educational resources to broaden access to high-quality education and reduce its cost. The commitment sought to do so in three ways. It would openly license educational materials that are funded by federal grants, convene stakeholders to advance open education initiatives, and publish best practices and tools on how to incorporate open licensing into educational projects from technical and legal perspectives for interested agencies.

Status

Midterm: Limited

The government made limited progress on this commitment by the midterm. In late October 2015, the Department of Education launched the #GoOpen campaign [40] to encourage educators and states to broaden the availability of open educational resources. The department also proposed a regulation [41] that would mandate open licensing for all grant-funded, copyrightable intellectual property.

The government also convened civil society stakeholders to help develop the Federal Playbook on Open Licensing. The playbook would provide guidance on developing open educational resources for government agencies and institutional users. [42] The government completed the playbook as of 31 December 2016. However, it had not yet received implementation approval from a working group of the federal advisory committee, and the playbook had not been publicly released. Despite this progress, various aspects of the commitment remained incomplete at the midterm. The government acknowledged the limited progress in its midterm self-assessment report. [43]

End of Term: Complete

By the end of term, the government completed this commitment.

On 17 January 2017, the Department of Education announced the publication of the final regulation on open licensing requirements for competitive grant programs. The announcement came in a blog post written by the director of the Office of Educational Technology. It was published on the Department of Education’s Homeroom blog [44] and on Medium.com. [45] Subject to certain exceptions, the regulation requires that recipients of competitive grant funds awarded by the Department of Education openly license copyrightable grant deliverables that were produced using those funds. [46] The final regulation requires that the public be able to freely use and reuse deliverables created under these programs. The regulation applies this same requirement to grant deliverables and “program support materials” that are necessary to the use or reuse of those deliverables. Under the final regulation, grant recipients (as well as subgrantees) must also develop a dissemination plan, helping to broaden access to the deliverables they produce. [47] Per a statement on the website of the Office of Educational Technology, the final regulation was made effective on 22 May 2017 and will be fully implemented in fiscal year (FY) 2018. [48]

The #GoOpen campaign continued to progress post-midterm, with the release of a District Launch Packet in March 2017. The packet is intended to serve as a roadmap for districts that aim to become #GoOpen Districts by systematically adopting openly licensed educational materials. [49] More specifically, #GoOpen Launch Districts are required to “identify a #GoOpen district-level team that will apply best practices such as those described in [the] #GoOpen District Launch Packet to develop a strategy for the implementation of openly licensed educational resources and a #GoOpen implementation team to execute the strategy; replace at least one textbook with openly licensed educational resources in the next 12 months; [and] document and share their #GoOpen implementation process and experiences so others can learn from them.” [50] Another category of #GoOpen Districts—Ambassador Districts—mentor Launch Districts. They also implement their own plans for systemically adopting open educational resources in a scalable, sustainable manner. In addition, Ambassador Districts share their experiences with other districts. [51]

Per the Office of Educational Technology, as of September 2017, there were 88 #GoOpen Launch Districts, and 22 #GoOpen Ambassador Districts. [52] As of this same date, the Department of Education had also recognized 20 #GoOpen states. These states have committed to support school districts and educators in their systematic adoption of open educational materials. [53] More specifically, #GoOpen states commit to do the following:

  • Adopt/implement a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component,
  • Develop and maintain a statewide repository solution for openly licensed resources,
  • Develop the technical capability to publish open educational resources to the Learning Registry,
  • Participate in a community of practice with other #GoOpen states and districts to share learning resources and professional development resources, and
  • Create a webpage to share the commitment to #GoOpen and document the state’s progress.

Slightly beyond the close of the end-of-term reporting period, regional #GoOpen summits were scheduled to be held on 1 August 2017 in Virginia, and on 30 August 2017 in Indiana. [54] The scheduling of the summits highlights the ongoing nature of this initiative.

Lastly, the State Department officially released the Federal Playbook on Open Licensing in January 2017. [55] The playbook defines openly licensed resources as “works with licenses permitting free access, reuse, and redistribution . . . includ[ing] teaching and learning materials, research, data, and software.” [56] The playbook contains nine “plays” (or suggestions) that are intended to assistfederal grants managers interested in exploring or using openly licensed resources as a component of their programs.” [57] Each play includes a step-by-step implementation checklist, a list of key questions to consider, and case examples.

In light of this progress, the IRM researcher has assessed this commitment to be complete.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

This commitment has substantially opened government with respect to access to information.

At the end of term, the #GoOpen campaign represents the clearest example of a change in government practice that has enhanced public access to educational information. As of September 2017, the #GoOpen campaign had grown considerably. As of that month, there were 88 #GoOpen Districts, 22 #GoOpen Ambassador Districts, and 20 #GoOpen states, each of which was releasing and utilizing open educational resources. The Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology published a series of 18 “stories” via blog posts on its website. These stories describe how various educational institutions, districts, and systems have begun utilizing open educational resources linked to the #GoOpen initiative. [58]

In one notable example, Oklahoma’s Broken Arrow Public Schools acted to mitigate the impending impact of a USD $7.3 million budget cut for the 2016–2017 school year by turning to openly licensed educational resources. Under the #GoOpen program, a team comprised of over 200 Broken Arrow teachers supported the transition to open resources. This effort culminated in the addition of six openly licensed courses in fall 2016. During the 2017–2018 school year, the team intends to release additional open education curricula covering English/language arts and math for K–5 students. [59]

This notable shift speaks to the potential that the #GoOpen initiative holds for schools seeking to benefit from open educational resources. According to the Census Bureau, in 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available), there were more than 14,000 public school districts in the United States. [60] The #GoOpen program had designated 110 Launch and Ambassador districts at the time of writing. However, total number of US public school districts highlights the potential reach of the initiative to facilitate uptake of open educational resources going forward.

While the other aspects of the commitment have not yet contributed to changes in government openness, they have the potential to in the future. The final regulation on open licensing requirements, while not yet in force, could substantially further the availability of open educational resources. In FY2017, the Department of Education’s budget included $69.4 billion in discretionary funding. [61] The text of the final regulation noted that competitive grant programs generally comprise roughly 10 percent of that amount, around $7 billion. [62] Though not yet finalized, the total budget is estimated by the Department of Education to be $59 billion for FY2018. [63] By this estimate, roughly $6 billion will be allocated to competitive grant programs during that time frame. The amount constitutes a relatively small percentage of the Department of Education’s overall budget. However, the competitive grant funding in absolute terms highlights the potential for a substantial increase in public access to educational materials, which would henceforth be openly available for reuse.

The Federal Playbook on Open Licensing could similarly open government. The playbook would provide a step-by-step roadmap for federal grant managers. Using it, they could incorporate the production of open resources (including open educational resources) into their grant-making programs. Information on the number of federal agencies using the playbook was not publicly available at the time of writing. However, the playbook could facilitate the voluntary incorporation of open educational resources into grant-making programs across the federal government.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the US government had not yet published its fourth action plan. Aside from implementing the final regulation on open licensing requirements, there is no need to include this commitment in the next action plan. The government has completed progress on all other fronts. Nonetheless, moving forward, the US government could further invest in organizing and maintaining the open educational resources produced through the #GoOpen campaign. Whether using repositories like the Learning Registry or Amazon Inspire, [64] the government will have to address the ongoing challenge of ensuring the high quality and usefulness of the newly available resources. [65]

[40] “U.S. Department of Education Launches Campaign to Encourage Schools to #GoOpen with Educational Resources,” US Department of Education, 29 October 2015, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-launches-campaign-encourage-schools-goopen-educational-resources, consulted 2 October 2017.

[41] Ibid.

[42] For background information, see the website for the 13th annual Open Education Conference held in Richmond, Virginia, 2-4 November 2016, available at https://openeducation2016.sched.com/event/7lnD/promoting-government-use-of-oer-the-federal-open-licensing-playbook, consulted 2 October 2017.

[43] United States of America, Midterm Self-Assessment Report for the Open Government Partnership: Third Open Government National Action Plan, 2015-2017, September 2016, 6, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/USA_NAP3_self-assessment-report_20160916.pdf, consulted 2 October 2017.

[44] Joseph South, “U.S. Department of Education Announces Final Regulation on Open Licensing Requirement for Competitive Grant Programs,” 17 January 2017, Homeroom, US Department of Education, https://blog.ed.gov/2017/01/u-s-department-education-announces-final-regulation-open-licensing-requirement-competitive-grant-programs/, consulted 9 September 2017. A copy of the final regulation is available at https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/01/ED-Open-Licensing-Rule-1.11.17-Public.pdf, Consulted 9 September 2017.

[45] Joseph South, “U.S. Department of Education Announces Final Regulation on Open Licensing Requirement for Competitive Grant Programs,” Medium.com, 17 January 2017, https://medium.com/@OfficeofEdTech/u-s-department-of-education-announces-final-regulation-on-open-licensing-requirement-for-60a127333997, consulted 9 September 2017.

[46] Joseph South, “U.S. Department of Education Announces Final Regulation on Open Licensing Requirement for Competitive Grant Programs,” Homeroom, US Department of Education, 17 January 2017, https://blog.ed.gov/2017/01/u-s-department-education-announces-final-regulation-open-licensing-requirement-competitive-grant-programs/, consulted 9 September 2017.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, https://tech.ed.gov/open/, consulted 9 September 2017.

[49] “#GoOpen District Launch Packet,” US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, March 2017, https://tech.ed.gov/open/districts/launch/, consulted 9 September 2017. Two earlier versions of the packet were published in June 2013 (version 1.1) and January 2017 (version 2.1). See front matter of the packet, available at https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/03/GoOpen-District-Launch-Packet-2017-V-1.3.pdf, consulted 9 September 2017.

[50] Ibid., page 5, consulted 9 September 2017.

[51] Ibid., pages 5-6, consulted 9 September 2017.

[52] “#GoOpen Districts,” US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, https://tech.ed.gov/open/districts/, consulted 9 September 2017.

[53] “U.S. Department of Education Recognizes 14 States and 40 Districts Committing to #GoOpen with Educational Resources,” US Department of Education, 26 February 2016, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-recognizes-13-states-and-40-districts-committing-goopen-educational-resources, consulted 9 September 2017. See current list of #GoOpen states at “#GoOpen States,” US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, https://tech.ed.gov/open/states/, consulted 9 September 2017.

[54] “#GoOpen Districts,” US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, https://tech.ed.gov/open/districts/, consulted 9 September 2017.

[55] Cable Green, “State Department Publishes Open Licensing ‘Playbook’ for Federal Agencies,” Creative Commons Blog, 20 January 2017, https://creativecommons.org/2017/01/20/state-department-publishes-open-licensing-playbook-federal-agencies/, consulted 9 September 2017. The Federal Playbook on Open Licensing is available for download via the website of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at https://eca.state.gov/files/bureau/open_licensing_playbook_final.pdf, consulted 9 September 2017.

[56] US Department of State. Federal Open Licensing Playbook, January 2017, 7, https://eca.state.gov/files/bureau/open_licensing_playbook_final.pdf, consulted 9 September 2017.

[57] Ibid.

[58] “#Stories of EdTech Innovation,” US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, https://tech.ed.gov/stories/story_tag/goopen/, consulted 9 September 2017.

[59] “Broken Arrow Public Schools: Using OER to Improve Quality and Tackle Challenges,” US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, https://tech.ed.gov/stories/brokenarrow/?back=%2Fstories%2Fstory_tag%2Fgoopen%2F, consulted 9 September 2017.

[60] “School Districts,” US Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/did/www/schooldistricts/, consulted 27 September 207.

[61] “Budget Factsheet for FY2016,” US Department of Education, https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget16/budget-factsheet.pdf, consulted 27 September 2017.

[62] “Final Regulation on Open Licensing Requirement for Competitive Grant Programs,” US Department of Education, 4, https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/01/ED-Open-Licensing-Rule-1.11.17-Public.pdf, consulted 9 September 2017.

[63] “Budget Factsheet for FY2018,” US Department of Education, https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget18/budget-factsheet.pdf, consulted 27 September 2017.

[64] “Get Inspired to #GoOpen,” Getting Smart, 27 June 2016, http://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/06/amazon-gets-inspired-to-goopen/

[65] Randy Wilhelm, “#GoOpen: So You’ve Embraced OER? Now What?” EdScoop, 8 November 2016, http://edscoop.com/go-open-so-youve-embraced-oer-now-what


Commitments

Open Government Partnership