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 Instructional material was outdated and not aligned to new learning standards; textbooks were one-size-fits-all with few accessibility features; and texts were rigid and unmodifiable, making it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.
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:
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: