OERs – Not Just for Academics! By Cece Fuoco, School Library Systems Director – Staff Specialist at Cattaraugus-Allegeny BOCES

The Western New York Library Resource Council’s Shared Resource Committee recently hosted an Open Educational Resources (OER) conference at Hilbert College (see blog article posted November 7, by Lucy Bungo). Many of the topics related to audiences working in higher education. Academia has been receptive and proactive in sharing resources, and instructor-written textbooks no longer preclude those with limited financial resources from reading assignments and engaging in classroom discussions. However, there were a few attendees like myself who were curious to learn if OERs were applicable to k-12 school curricula.
Many New York public schools benefit from state aid making them capable of funding textbooks more cost-effectively than higher education institutions. However, not all public schools have budgets for providing sufficient technology or staff support that would enable them to access and use OERs. Nonetheless, I found the day to be engaging and highly informative with my notes to serve as a reference.
Upon returning from the conference, I was invited to speak with two of CA BOCES’ Career and Technical Education Centers where high school juniors and seniors are preparing to work in specific industries. After a review of resources, several teachers asked if there were online textbooks, resources for criminal justice, tutorials for welding and automotive technology. Remembering what I had learned at the OER conference, I was able to share http://www.ltcconline.net/greenl/oer/oerlistfromlistserve.htm which complements many areas of the curriculum, and https://www.oercommons.org/ which offers resources K-adult education with applicability to several BOCES’ classes.
Just recently, I was asked to consider purchasing an eTextbook for an instructor of automotive technology. A quick search revealed that the author offers a free version of the eTextbook. The instructor was thrilled, and I owe it to new knowledge gained at the OER conference!
If another OER conference is held, please consider visiting. (You just might find me “freely” sharing at a poster session).

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