Indiana educators benefitting from state’s commitment to OER

For a low price and a high payoff, the Indiana Department of Education has built up a robust collection of standards-aligned digital resources for use by educators.

With the help of a group of about 50 Indiana teachers — the Rockstars of Curation , who evaluate digital content for quality and curriculum alignment — Indiana has become a standard-bearer in promoting and implementing openly licensed educational resources.

“We wanted to help our districts, support them, in that move from traditional textbook to the whole world out there of resources,” says Candice Dodson, director of eLearning at the Indiana Department of Education, during an interview with EdScoop TV at the recent SETDA Leadership Summit.

The materials are easily searchable through INeLearn — short for Indiana eLearning — on Amazon Inspire , Indiana’s content repository.

“They tag those resources so that all teachers, then, can feel confident in knowing that when they see that resource, they know it’s been vetted, it’s been researched by Indiana teachers and that it aligns with our standards,” Dodson says.

Many teachers, she says, don’t have the capacity to devote hours and hours of googling, reading and cross-checking openly licensed digital material. The Rockstars are doing a lot of that heavy lifting for them. “It really helps them with a starting point,” Dodson says.

It’s not uncommon, she says, for other state leaders or education technologists to assume the project is extremely costly and out of reach. But that’s not the case, she says.

“That is the thing I would say to others: Get those people [who are doing exceptional work] together, give them some kudos, and say, ‘We value your professionalism and we want to honor that,’” Dodson says. “It doesn’t take a lot of money and really does have an impact across our state.”

Like many other states , Indiana is ramping up its commitment to computer science education. The state adopted computer science standards a couple of years ago; now, it’s looking at supporting teachers in professional development and supporting schools in implementing computer science programs.

Personally, Dodson says she’ll be closely watching gaming and virtual reality in the coming year.

“I think it has such amazing potential,” she says. “I think we have to keep our eye on that and I hope we can find really good ways to bring that into the learning environment in Indiana.”