Going Open in Williamsfield


Secretary Duncan arrives at Williamsfield on his annual back-to-school bus tour.

On Tuesday afternoon the Ready for Success back-to-school bus rolled into Williamsfield, Illinois, where Secretary Duncan met with students, teachers, and administrators at the Williamsfield Community Unit School District.

Williamsfield is a small, rural, Future Ready district serving approximately 300 students in one building—Pre-K through 12th grade—with fewer than 100 students attending the high school. Located in a village of 650 residents, the school is the hub of the community. Several staff and faculty members have deep familial ties to the village, reflective of a community whose size and demographics have remained relatively consistent over the years.

Administrators, teachers, and other district leaders recognized that the majority of their learning materials had limitations. Instructional material was outdated and not aligned to new learning standards; textbooks were one-size-fits-all with few accessibility features; and texts were rigid and unmodifiable, making it hard for teachers to personalize the learning experience.

Some of the district’s teachers took the initiative to find new, more capable instructional materials on their own, which lead them down the path to openly licensed educational resources. They soon had the full support of Superintendent Farquer who had previously worked with the Illinois Open Education Resource development team readying open tools for district and teacher use. Working together, the Districted replaced several textbooks with openly licensed educational resources.

Selfie with Students

Secretary Duncan takes time for a selfie after meeting with students at Williamsfield.

During his visit, Secretary Duncan asked Superintendent Tim Farquer, Principal Zack Binder, teacher Lori Secrist, and others about the benefits and challenges of the district’s transition to open resources.

Watch this video on how Williamsfield decided to go open:

The Williamsfield event also included the previewing of 50 videos that capture best practices of effective district leaders who use education technology in their schools. The videos can serve as professional learning for district leaders and others.

In conjunction with the visit, the Department announced that school technology expert Andrew Marcinek will serve in the Office of Educational Technology and focus on helping both K-12 and higher education connect with teaching, learning and research resources in the public domain that are freely available to anyone over the web. He will work with tool providers and developers, district and state leaders, and educators.

Watch Secretary Duncan wrap up day two of the Ready for Success bus tour:


  1. I am so proud and impressed with all of the amazing technological advancements that are being made at Williamsfield Schools! It takes a building full of teachers, administrators and support staff working very diligently to conquer such a great accomplishment.

  2. Completely agree with Shannon! PRE-K to 12

    I work with early childhood educators who are working towards earning their bachelor’s degree. Having e-resources that reflect best practices across all domains of learning and development would be ideal in our hybrid delivery model.

    Many thanks!

  3. This is wonderful news. Please consider adding one simple letter to include the pre-kindergarten educators and resources in your future communications. PK – 12, not K -12!

  4. What is the alternative for very small rural school districts that want to keep their school open without a cooperative and jointly operated academic program? Sports is one thing but the academic program is something entirely different. Help! We love our small school.

Comments are closed.