Excerpted from Tonks, T., Weston, S., Wiley, D., & Barbour, M. (2013). “Opening” a New Kind of School: The Story of the Open High School of Utah. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14(1).
OHSU was founded by Dr. David Wiley and approved for charter by the Utah State Office of Education in 2007. OHSU opened its virtual doors in 2009 and completed its inaugural year with 125 9th grade students. Currently the school serves 350 full-time 9-12th grade students and 50 part-time students who take up to two credits online as part of a statewide policy initiative to allow broader access to educational options. Over the next few years, OHSU is poised to offer 9th-12th grade courses to potentially 1,500 students throughout Utah.
A policy commitment to OER was written into the school’s charter documents – the contract with the state of Utah under which the school operates:
Open High School of Utah is an online charter high school that is 100% committed to the use of open educational resources (OERs). This approach allows unprecedented levels of individualized instruction with a highly responsive curriculum.
The core philosophy of the Open High School of Utah is that education is a universal human right and that the most effective education is hands-on, service-oriented, and available to anyone. Because of this philosophy, OHSU is committed to using open educational resources – educational materials that can be freely and legally copied, changed, and shared.
Open educational resources enable our educational mission by providing the greatest pedagogical flexibility possible to OHSU students, parents, and teachers. Open educational resources enable our service mission by providing the greatest number of opportunities to improve our communities and revolutionize schooling around the world.
Most explicitly of all, the charter includes an effectiveness goal regarding OER which states, “All courses will be made accessible free of charge on the Internet”.