Better organized free stuff

It’s quite phenomenal how many edu-blogs, tweeters, sites, and networks are emerging. Just a few years ago we had to rely on our weekly fix from EdWeek and now our inboxes and twitter boxes are full of news and views—a storm of info. Perhaps next gen tools like Google Wave will bring more organization to the flood of information. It’s sort of fun to have Jon & Kate intermixed with formative assessment and Forest Grove v. TA, but we’d all get more of what we want with a little more organization.

It’s also great to see all the open content being developed, but most of it is organic, disorganized and unvetted. In the next few weeks, we’re likely to hear about foundation sponsored efforts to promote open content (or open education resources, OER, as some call it) including free textbooks and curriculum. Like Schwarzenegger’s recent conversion, the recession has boosted interest in OER. Free textbooks like those offered by CK12 and Flatworld will continue to grow rapidly—a relatively easy switch for a text-centric secondary and post secondary world.

NROC’s is a where the space is headed. In the next few years, I think we’ll see a couple big OER plays—free content that well organized and vetted with (and monetized by) aligned student, teacher, and school support services. Wireless Generation’s support for—assessment, PD, custom content—is a sign of things to come.

The shift from a print-centric batch processing world to personal digital learning services will likely take two decades, but the pressures of the recession and potential of stimulus spending may flip the system faster than expected.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

Tom Hoffman

We could have been almost a decade further along if the Gates Foundation had been forward thinking enough to invest in the necessary infrastructure for open resources, standards, assessment, etc.


Tom Vander Ark

Hewlett made some progress on OER over last five years thanks to Mike Smith's leadership.

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