New initiative targets accessible open resources

A new partnership expands OER opportunities for higher education.

Postsecondary educators report growing challenges to implementing open educational resources (OERs), the most problematic being time loss spent combing multiple sources for supplemental educational material.

In response these mounting concerns, Pearson has teamed with Silicon Valley nonprofit Gooru, a search engine for learning materials, to create Project Blue Sky, a cloud-based content service that makes OERs more accessible. The partnership combines resources from both companies.

“Project Blue Sky is a service that enables academics to search for and curate OER material in a single place and combine it with Pearson content to create new or augmented works,” said Don Kilburn, CEO of Pearson. “It’s a marriage between OER and commercially-available content.”

Anticipated to launch in spring 2013, Project Blue Sky is in a pilot phase among psychology faculty at various colleges and universities. Those faculty members are reviewing the prototype and designing eTexbooks to use in their courses. A program preview available on Pearson’s website illustrates how users can simplify search results by selecting their desired OER format.

“Project Blue Sky has the potential for improving open educational resources in higher education by providing a platform from which the process of assembling student materials from a variety of sources can start,” said Katrina D’Aquin, assistant vice president for academic affairs and associate professor of psychology at Bethany College.

“The searchable databases, as well as the easy integration of one’s own sources found elsewhere on the web, allow instructors to design a ‘text’ that is targeted to their students, their class and their course goals.”

Bethany College is one of 13 community colleges and universities participating in Project Blue Sky’s pilot group. The entire group includes educators from: