10 Ways OER Could Impact Technology Use With Young Children

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Head Start Program
July 12, 2016
Eyes on the Future Child Development Center, Chicago

Net neutrality was repealed December 14, 2017 and for many parents, educators, practitioners, and teacher educators, questions regarding how this will impact technology use with young children still remain. TEC Center published a blog outlining ways the repeal of net neutrality could impact the use of technology and digital media with young children.  The second possibility explained, “Currently many classrooms, libraries, and informal learning spaces rely on free content to support children’s learning. Children in less resourced communities would suffer”. Let’s explore how such resources support children’s learning.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are “shared teaching, learning and research resources available under legally recognized open content licenses” (Edutopia, 2013/2015). Types of OER include play or lesson plans, entire courses, lectures, textbooks, videos, software, and other materials or tools used to support learning and teaching (COL, 2017). With these resources, you are able to download, share, and revise (Throgmorton, 2017). There are so many places to find OER including, but not limited to, OER Commons, CK-12, Edmodo, Khan Academy, OpenEd. Below are 10 ways OER could impact technology use with young children in formal and informal learning environments.

  1. Cost: Some schools cannot afford to keep buying costly textbooks, curriculum and other print based learning materials. This results in certain communities having more access to high-quality resources (books, lessons, teaching strategies etc.) than other communities (Baker, Farrie, & Sciarra, 2016).
  2. Real-Time Content: Textbooks take a long time to write, publish and distribute. Many schools are turning to OER. OER are accessible to be revised constantly, providing the most up-to-date and accurate information.
  3. Saving Time: Creating a high-quality, inclusive and challenging play or lesson plan takes time! Incorporating ideas from play or lesson plans of OER could allow educators to allocate some of their time for another activity or professional development.
  4. Fostering Collaboration: Utilizing OER incorporates another opportunity for facilitating collaboration and communication skills with young children. OER provides young children the opportunity to work with others while adapting and modifying the resources.
  5. Offering Multiple Perspectives:Books currently do not represent every child and there is danger in under- or misrepresentation. OER provides the opportunity for all to contribute their voice and perspective through curating educational resources.
  6. Challenging Curators: Curating, editing and revising OER can serve as a professional and personal development opportunity for educators. OER challenges educators to hold their work to higher standards by being open to the public and peer reviewed.
  7. Digital Media Literacy: OER are not guaranteed to be high-quality and unbiased! Engage young children with OER to explore and develop their digital media literacy. Enabling children to vet resources for their own learning is empowering.
  8. Digital Citizenship: Since OER are openly licensed, there is a great opportunity to open up conversation around ownership, privacy, sharing, and online rights with young children.
  9. Custom Learning Experiences: Educators are able to adopt and customize OER for their classes and individual students, making children’s learning experiences more personalized.
  10. Changing Curriculum: Standards, policies, and what is considered “high-quality” education, teaching, and learning must be adopted to the curriculum quickly. Educators can easily download OER, which already incorporate the latest standards, and put them into practice.


There are so many ways OER could impact children’s learning inside the classroom (or library, museum, community center), and out. However, one must wonder how policies are enabling or preventing all children from accessing OER. How will the repeal of net neutrality impact OER in the near future? How will the rise of charter schools influence how we value and perceive OER?


Supporting materials:

Adichie, C. N. (2009, July). The dangers of a single story. TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

Baker, B. D., Farrie, D. and Sciarra, D. G. (2016). Mind the gap: 20 Years of progress and retrenchment in school funding and achievement gaps. ETS Research Report Series, 2016: 1–37. doi:10.1002/ets2.12098

COL (2017). Open Educational Resources: Global Report 2017. Burnaby: COL

Cooperative Children’s Book Center (1985-2017). Publishing statistics on children’s books about people of color and first/native nations and by people of color and first/native nations authors and illustrators. Retrieved from https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp.

Edutopia (2013, November 4; 2015, December 4). Open educational resources guide. Retreived fromhttps://www.edutopia.org/open-educational-resources-guide

Throgmorton, K. (2017, September 1). Open educational resources: Redefining the role of school librarians. American Libraries Magazine. Retreived from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/09/01/open-educational-resources/

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