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Explore. Collaborate. Create. by Jean Weller

Educators are always trying new ideas and new approaches to reach their students. Student circumstances shift, technology evolves, and research reveals new insights. As much professional learning as any one teacher does, it is hard to stay abreast AND create new materials to support new work.

#GoOpenVA is a new space for Virginia educators to come together and share the burden with each other. Just launched in late January, the site acts as both a repository for openly-licensed education resources as well as a community for collaborating with other Virginia educators.

Openly-licensed education resources (OER) are digital resources that are not JUST free, but also provide copyright permissions ahead of time to teachers. This allows teachers to be able to easily edit and re-share resources they find on the site, adapting them for their own needs and the requirements of their individual students. It is a huge step in helping teachers personalize learning for their students. Teachers can take a lesson written by someone else and translate it into another language, add graphics, or re-word student-facing materials. The educator can then share their changes with other teachers, who may have similar needs for their own students.

The collaboration on #GoOpenVA is generally conducted through online Groups, which are places on the site where like-minded educators can gather and share what they have found or plan to create resources to meet their needs. They can also discuss the latest research, provide links to important articles, and express their own experiences in trying new techniques. This ability to share and communicate with other Virginia teachers regarding a specific topic can be a boost for teachers currently separated from each other by social distancing measures. Groups can be either open to anyone who wants to join, or can be closed to address only specific memberships.

#GoOpenVA is an open site, meaning that anyone around the world can search and download helpful resources. However, only Virginia educators can join as registered users, which allows them to add materials to the site and participate in Groups. Almost two-thirds of Virginia’s school divisions offer single-sign-on access (either through Clever or Google) to #GoOpenVA, with more joining every day. To find out if you have access using single-sign-on, ask your local technology support person.

There are many helpful resources to get you up to speed on how to actually participate in #GoOpenVA. The first place you may wish to go is the Users Hub, which pro-vides tips, notes, and screencasts for various things that you can do on the site. If you prefer a “big picture” overview of OER and #GoOpenVA, you can sign up for the 4-hour, online, self-paced course Introduction to OER hosted at Virtual Virginia (note: it may take 2-3 days to receive a login and password for Virtual Virginia). And if you learn by teaching, you can conduct your own local workshop using the materials available at the Workshop in a Box site, created with the help of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education.

Whatever path you choose to become involved, you are welcome! #GoOpenVA was developed specifically to support Virginia educators as they share with each other, lessening the work each of us has to do individually to stay professionally up-to-date. We look forward to having you join us!

Jean Weller

Jean Weller is is an Educational Technology Specialist with the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. She has been involved with educational technology since 1988, and focuses on uses of technology combined with cognitive research to support the continual development of effective teaching and learning approaches.

If you find that your division does not have single sign-on access, please email (AFTER July 1, 2020) info@goopenva.org to request an account be created for you. Identify yourself as an adult educator, and provide your full name and the division(s) you serve.

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