Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Education announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand schools’ access to high-quality, openly-licensed learning resources.

School technology expert Andrew Marcinek will serve in the Office of Educational Technology (OET) 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. Open educational resources are an important element of an infrastructure for learning and ranges from podcasts to digital libraries to textbooks and games.

“Creating a dedicated open education advisor position at the Department will greatly enhance our ability to support states and districts as they move to using openly licensed learning resources,” said Richard Culatta, Director of OET. “The use of openly-licensed resources not only allows states and districts to adapt and modify materials to meet student needs, but also frees up funding to support the transition to digital learning.”

Marcinek has worked on education technology and digital transitions in school districts in both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and he’s done extensive research on how to integrate technology at scale in school districts to create a system that is sustainable and equitable for all students.

The announcements were made during a visit to Williamsfield Community School District in Illinois, where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stopped as part of his annual back-to-school bus tour. The Williamsfield event 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.

President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative is a call to connect 99 percent of schools across the country to broadband Internet within five years. As part of that work, OET created a Future Ready Pledge to help school districts develop a culture where teachers harness the power of technology to personalize learning and provide quality digital content that fosters student inquiry and creativity. So far, committed Future Ready Leaders are approaching 2000 signatures.