Customized, Personalized, Individualized, Competency Based, Project Based, etc. and OER

March 11, 2017

The Stone Arch Bridge Initiative for Education Resources (SABIER) welcomes the Feb. 22nd announcement by the Bush Foundation that it will devote most of the $7 million-plus it spends annually on education to the “School Design for Individualized Learning” initiative. The Bush Foundation awarded the MPCC, The Minnesota Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum, the Local Government Innovation School Category, Overall Winner in  2015.  SABIER, is taking the work of the MPCC to the next level by ensuring that teachers have the necessary support to engage in large scale customized learning.

The Minnesota teachers of the MPCC are well on the their way to innovating a shift where students’ learning styles, cultural backgrounds and career aspirations are all taken into account.  Encouraging teachers to use the openly licensed and Minnesota standards aligned curriculum that has already been created and paid for by 206 Minnesota school districts allows them to make the crucial classroom and student level decisions about curriculum that are necessary. Teachers can revise and tweak the content for their students using their direct knowledge of the students’ learning styles, cultural backgrounds and career aspirations.

When well-designed full course Open Education Resources (OER) are used with a learning management system along with the professional development and training for this type of learning, students no longer necessarily need to be physically present in a classroom to gain the learning experience necessary to apply real-life skills. Also, approaches like Project-based learning can be leveraged allowing students to not only learn new facts, but to apply them as they will someday be required to do in their careers. In addition to gaining social learning experiences with their classmates, the digital learning experience opens the world to the student, allowing them to converse and learn from people around the world. Imagine, in the middle of a cold winter in Minnesota a snow-day is turned into learning journey to another part of the world from the comfort and safety of their home.

All current generation Learning Management Systems allow districts to report the results on any kind of assessment as frequently as they want. More importantly, students can be  given immediate and specific feedback about their responses by their teachers. Teachers can use this type of tool combined with their experience to quickly correct misconceptions and provide students a better understanding of concepts. This is already available; districts just need to decide to start doing it.

The Bush Foundation spending on education is about 3% of the approximately $240 million per year spent on textbooks in Minnesota. The state could realize a savings amounting to 3 times the Bush Foundation spending by merely not spending 10% of what is currently being spent on textbooks and instead use free openly licensed materials that are just as good or better than those textbooks. But even better, the award winning, high quality, free, digital, full course learning materials enable interactive engagement of students and allows teachers to then accommodate those different learning styles, cultural backgrounds and career aspirations.


Until now there has not been a way to take the money that’s currently being spent on textbooks and divert it to paying for teachers to acquire the training and skill to make all of the possible customization a reality.  The Stone Arch Bridge Initiative for Education Resources, SABIER, was created to supply that missing element consistent with the 2016 Online Digital Learning Advisory Council Final Report, a Minnesota legislatively established council, and similar efforts being articulated in other states and by the U.S. Dept of Education. SABIER’s recommended implementation refines the #GoOpen Launch Packet and tailors it to each team in a district. SABIER works with school districts to make the changes necessary so that all of the customization and personalization is realized. Districts are able to use existing money and available philanthropy dollars to pay for the initial teacher training that’s necessary to become proficient at using open education resources.  It’s the next step in transforming ‘how kids experience school, how teachers teach and even how classrooms look.’

This post was a collaborative effort of the following:

Lori A. Peterson, PhD., RODC, SABIER Board Chair and Consulting Director of Integral Consulting Group

Sheila Norton Rindahl, SABIER Open Practice Consultant and eLearning Product Manager at cmERDC

Elliot Soloway, PhD., SABIER adviser, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, University of Michigan, Co-Director of the Intergalactic Mobile Learning Center

Seth Leavitt, SABIER Board Member, Mathematics Teacher, Online Learning, Minneapolis Public Schools

Olivia Mullins, PhD., SABIER adviser, President of Science-Delivered

Dewey Sloan , Attorney, SABIER Board Member, former middle school science teacher

Dan McGuire, SABIER Executive Director and former elementary teacher.


One Response to “Customized, Personalized, Individualized, Competency Based, Project Based, etc. and OER”

  1. […] Customized, Personalized, Individualized, Competency Based, Project Based, etc. and OER | The Stone … […]

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