OER Ambassadors Visit Vermont
Another in an occasional series of guest posts, we are pleased to feature the work and voices of state leaders. Peter Drescher is the Education Technology Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education and he is leading Vermont’s #GoOpen initiative and a SETDA Board Member.
Last week, Vermont jumped in with both feet on the Open Education Resources front. Through a somewhat chance coordination of schedules and gracious individuals, we were able to have Andy Marcinek, #GoOpen lead from the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Educational Technology, along with his upcoming replacement, former SETDA member, Kristina Peters from Nebraska as the openers to our day-long session. ED leaders spent time with VT leaders going over the facets of open education and time discussing and working within the new Amazon Inspire platform. There were about 50 educators from district across Vermont that took take part and we tried to structure it regionally so we could have an “ambassador” in everyone’s neighborhood. The idea here is that each of these individuals can promote, organize, and further disseminate both information about and resources included within our repository that we are going to create.
David Jakes, as well as Diana Laufenberg, both provided additional presentations for educators. David led the group through some exercises to look at ways to change teacher practice and Diana spent some time asking the big questions on what educators want from our repository tool. Finally, special guest, and someone familiar to SETDA leaders was Jeff Mao spoke with our group about Common Sense Education and their connections back to OER.
A big focus of our work on the 25th of May was regarding how OER can change teacher practice. Vermont currently has a fairly robust connectivity landscape with over half of our schools, many of them small and rural at 100mbps or better, meeting the SETDA standard called for in the Broadband Imperative from 2012. Vermont has a large deployment locally of Chromebooks, bringing many of the schools close to 1:1 in terms of device access. It behooves us to move as quickly as we can at this point to a digital resource platform. This includes the creation of content and the sharing of resources from other state repositories. There was a lot of good feedback and discussion on vetting resources and getting leadership involved both of which we all know will be crucial to making this effort here in Vermont sustainable.
As a state leader, my concerns regarding implementing #GoOpen initiative are around capacity of my state agency to really be able to make this fly. I’m relying to some degree on the ambassador group to really help move this agenda. I plan to do a series of outreach webinars, meetings, and general recruiting to try to really make this happen, but like many of my other SETDA colleagues, state budgets and staff are limited. I believe that this work is important and that if we can support schools to use up-to-date and more flexible resources to specifically meet content needs, we’ll be doing a great service for our schools and students. The key here is illustrating to all teachers how OER can drill much deeper into content knowledge and understanding.
Our efforts will slow a bit over summer, but I hope to be on the ground running when the Fall comes along.
Peter Drescher has been involved in education technology for nearly 20 years. He began his career in education as a social studies/technology teacher at a middle school in New Mexico. Soon he held the technology coordinator position, where he worked to develop a robust technology program in the 1990’s. He has spent much of his career focused on the classroom level, providing professional development and leadership for teachers and staff around technology planning and integration. His most recent position, in January of 2008, as the Education Technology Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education allows him the opportunity to move this work to a new level and hopefully impact the learning for all students in Vermont.