It’s been an incredible week for the OPEN project, as well as for me personally. Eight months of hard work was unveiled for the world to see, begin using, and evaluate. The OPEN project has been a labor of professional love, and because of that it has been very difficult for everyone that has participated to keep their emotions completely at bay. I know that my emotions have spilled out more than once in the past week or two.

With that said, it’s important to take a few minutes to concentrate on some important details, and to begin fostering a trusting relationship that I believe will last for years to come.

Detail #1: Show Gratitude

Thank you to the OPEN Development Council. This group of professionals gave up their time and creativity as volunteers over the past year to help make OPEN a reality for all teachers.

Thank you to US Games and BSN SPORTS for believing in this mission and investing a lot of time, energy, and money in a sustainable curriculum infrastructure, and making it accessible to all – free of charge.

Thank you to SHAPE America for your work on the National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes. Without that framework, the OPEN project would not be possible.

Thank you to the OPEN 1-Million for believing in our work and making a commitment to OPEN’s future.

Thank you to the thousands of PE teachers who have visited and have already begun using the tools that we’ve created.

Thank you to the #PhysEd Twitter Community for inspiring the OPEN mission with a new spirit of professional sharing, and for also sharing your concerns and questions – this leads to Detail #2.

Detail #2: Build Trust

Teachers sharing resources is not a new concept. However, a major curriculum effort supported and provided to the physical education community FREE of charge by a major equipment supplier is definitely a very new concept. Over the past 20 years the business model for curriculum development and dissemination in physical education has stayed the same. PEP grants have fueled growth in this category and most equipment suppliers rely on it for a significant portion of their revenue.

Over the past 8 months, it’s been interesting to see the reactions of people when I tell them about OPEN and its mission. Most people have a very difficult time believing me. What strings are attached? When will it start costing me money? Why would US Games do this? There are three simple answers to those questions – No strings attached. Never. It’s the right thing to do.

Having experienced this reaction from people that I’ve known and trusted for 10 years or more, I should have better anticipated the reaction from other members of the #PhysEd community. However, the most important element for building a strong and trusting relationship will be time.

For those of you who have posed questions about OPEN’s true intent – thank you. As a teacher, I understand that education’s current landscape can be fatiguing, mistrusting, and even hostile.

In order to start the process of building trust there are three important questions that have been asked that I want to answer here.

Q#1: Why is a for-profit equipment supplier involved in this project?
A#1: There are 3 main reasons why this is important: Resource Investment, Sustainability, Reach.

Resource Investment: US Games has made a very significant investment in order to make sure that the OPEN project was done in a way that is both relevant and accessible to teachers across the country. Without the resources provided by US Games over the past 8 months, the scope of what OPEN is would be drastically minimized.

Sustainability: I plan on making OPEN my main professional focus for the next 25 years, and I feel comfortable making a bet on that future as long as the project is supported by US Games and BSN SPORTS. Similar projects housed in the non-profit or government sectors often times struggle with sustainability because their survival is typically tied to grants, third party funding, or organizational fund-raising. US Games has been growing for 35 years based on great delivery and outstanding customer service. As one of the newer members of the US Games Family, I’m confident that the OPEN project will be sustained for the physical education community throughout my 25 years and beyond.

Reach: There is a tremendous need across the physical education community for quality physical education curriculum tools. We want to get quality tools into the hands of as many teachers as we can, as quickly as we can. Thanks to the relationships and reach of my US Games teammates, in 2015 OPEN resources will be in the hands of thousands of teachers who will influence the PE experience of well over 1-million students. Making something free and accessible does not ensure this type of reach. It takes strong relationships and a reliable infrastructure.

Q#2: If I choose to submit an idea or activity to the OPEN Project, why am I granting US Games ownership of the work that I submit?
A#2: The short answer is liability.

As a US Games project, OPEN is the full responsibility of US Games and its affiliates – most notably, BSN SPORTS. In order to protect our employees, our partners, our customers, and even those who share their work – US Games needs to be able to have title over the content that we publish. It’s very similar to contributing to a professional journal or book publication.

Did we launch OPEN just to pilfer people’s intellectual property? Absolutely not. When I first heard this statement on social media it was honestly a punch in the gut. But, after reflecting on everything that we go through as a community of teachers, I can understand this type of reaction. Time is the only answer that I have for those who are worried about this. Time builds trust.

Here are a few quick rules to help you decide whether or not you should share your content with OPEN.

  1. If you have an idea, activity, or curriculum tool that you want other teachers to have access to, and you feel comfortable with US Games and the OPEN project – then go ahead and submit your content – we’ll give you credit when it’s published.
  2. If you believe in our mission and our people, and are okay with the OPEN team revising your ideas to ensure that they fit within our curriculum structure – then go ahead and submit your content – we’ll give you credit when it’s published.
  3. If you feel at all uncomfortable sharing your content – then don’t do it.
  4. If you’ll be offended by the OPEN Development Council modifying the content that you want to submit – then don’t do it.
  5. If you plan on writing a book or other publication using the content you’re considering sharing – then don’t do it.

This is important: Sharing is not a requirement. If you choose not to submit activities or ideas, that’s okay with us. We still want you to use the OPEN content that you find valuable for your teaching.

I believed that by making the terms of contribution easy to understand, and by placing them front and center (not hidden behind a link or other legal text), the community would feel comfortable with our intentions. Admittedly, I was wrong and I apologize. More information is clearly needed.

So, to help further clarify what exactly it will mean for everyone who does choose to contribute, I’m preparing a complete FAQ document with all of the ins and outs of OPEN contribution. Look for that later this week or early next week.

Q#3: What does US Games get out of this deal?
A#3: That answer is two-fold.

First, it’s our hope that you will see the importance of what OPEN is and you’ll support it by purchasing equipment through US Games. We’ve been a growing for-profit company for 35 years. We want to be a partner with the teachers we serve. Well, partnership is a two-way street. OPEN is one of our major contributions to that partnership. You’ll learn about additional contributions in the coming months.

Second, OPEN gives US Games a purpose. It gives our company a soul. If you’ve interacted with any member of our team lately you’ll recognize a growing sense of community and shared purpose.

That leads to the final detail.

Detail #3: Keep Working Hard

99% of the feedback that we’ve been receiving has been overwhelmingly positive. That energy, mixed with an intense desire to continue building the trust of the physical education community, is exactly what the OPEN team needs to fuel our efforts. There is much more on the horizon and I can’t wait to share our next set of modules with you.

As always… Work Hard. Have Fun.