Language to include OER in Minnesota Law

March 4, 2017

I met this past Wednesday with Minnesota State Senator Patricia Torres Ray to discuss how to increase the opportunities for Minnesota teachers and students to use Open Education Resources – Creative Commons licensed curriculum. We decided to not try to add it to this bill, SF 158, dealing with STEM COURSE GRANTS; APPROPRIATION  which we had discussed the previous week, but rather to attempt to add it to this bill, SF 1554, which is for “an act relating to education; modifying the duties and expiration of the Online and Digital Learning Advisory Council; providing for a grant program to support digital curriculum development in Minnesota schools.”

SF 1554 already specifies that “The commissioner must award at least one grant to an applicant that proposes to create a new, digital, open educational  resource for statewide use.” Our thinking was, why stop there? If all other things were equal or, at least, similar, wouldn’t it make sense to use OER content instead of proprietary content whenever possible. The immediate dollar savings to the school districts and the state would be significant but probably even more important would be the affordances that the OER content would provide for teachers and students to modify the content to personalize or customize the content to meet the individual needs of every student. Modifications that were useful could be shared with other teachers in the building, district, state, or  anywhere. As Minnesota State Rep. Carlos Mariani said when discussing a different bill in one of the Education Committee hearings later in the day on Wednesday, ‘We need to be able to learn from the investments we make.’ Investing in OER is only a matter of investing in the necessary implementation that is required in order for teachers to use the free, digital, standards aligned curriculum effectively with their students. The learning from that investment comes when teachers and students are able to share what they’ve learned with others, which is what is encouraged by open education resources, OER.

So, this post is to ask for suggestions from you as to the best language to propose to include in Minnesota SF 1554. Any evidence or reasons you’d like to offer as to why adding such language would be useful is also appreciated.  You are welcome to send your thoughts directly to Senator Torres Ray using this email form, or you may add them as comments here, or in an email to me at dan@sabier.org; I’ll compile a summary and forward it to Senator Torres Ray.

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