By Sara Bernard
As the open source movement in education grows, so do the number of nonprofits, foundations, and collaborative sites that support it (and vice versa). The following is not an exhaustive list by any means. Stay tuned for more posts on open source textbooks and curricula in the coming weeks.
Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons: Created by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), OER is a rich and comprehensive landing site for open source education software, from peer-reviewed e-textbooks to lesson plans, video lectures to worksheets. Almost everything is Creative Commons licensed and open for modification and adaptation. You can follow their blog or find them on Twitter, and the OER Commons Initiative is also hard at work developing training programs and collaborative projects with teachers, students, and schools.
Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources: A branch of the OER movement with the goal of growing and improving open textbooks for use in community colleges. Established in 2007 by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, this is a community-college destination page for networking with colleagues and using and editing instructional materials in everything from anthropology to physics. Similarly, the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative catalogs textbooks by subject alongside reviews of those textbooks. Colleges, governmental agencies, and other education organizations belong to this group, which also provides training for instructors aiming to adopt and adapt open resources. Continue reading
By Sara Bernard
Once upon a time, textbook writers would write textbooks and teachers would teach what was in them. Teachers would make up their own lesson plans, and if they were willing, shared them with their colleagues.
But technology is changing the scenario. Now, not only are educators combing the Internet for lesson plan ideas, they’re able to create the curriculum — and the textbooks — themselves, as well as share, edit, and customize them for use in their own classrooms.
Wikis (a.k.a. collaborative Web pages) and nonprofits devoted to enabling open-source curricula are springing up everywhere. One of the most well-known, Curriki, encourages teachers to both publish and download materials — anything from a vocabulary quiz to a full biology textbook — and vets its content through member ratings and incentives such as the annual Summer of Content Awards, which offers grants for specific contributions.
Other open source curricula sites out there include:
Connexions: A place for teachers, students, and professionals to search and contribute scholarly content, organized into “modules” or topic areas instead of entire textbooks. Continue reading
Interesting story in the Daily Breeze about California State University, Dominguez Hills finding a way around expensive college textbooks:
The Carson campus is among six of CSU’s 23 locations to take part in a pilot program in which students, beginning this year, are able to purchase digital textbooks for temporary use. The program is analogous to Netflix in that digital access to the books is temporary: At the end of the semester, students “return” their books as their passwords expire….The digital-rental option generally cuts costs by 65percent and is just one of an emerging array of alternatives.
But wait — there are even more choices for students:
An organized website of coursework created and posted by the professors themselves. The materials are free to not only students but also any member of the public with an interest in the topic. The site, called Merlot.org, is akin to the free software created as part of the “open source” movement that gave rise to phenomena like Wikipedia, which certainly wasn’t good for the encyclopedia industry.
More fodder for the digital textbook conversation.
A great piece on ReadWriteWeb about what exactly those terms mean when it comes to education.
To sum up: it should be free(mium), encourage grassroots adoption, encourage 21st century teaching and learning, contain and encourage open content, and should be open source.