Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Curriki and the Open Educational Resources Movement Please Pass the Curriculum!

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Curriki and the Open Educational Resources Movement Please Pass the Curriculum!

Article excerpt

Sharing knowledge: In some form or another, it's why most educators went into teaching in the first place. But traditional instructional materials don't lend themselves to sharing between educators. New technologies now allow teachers to share and collaborate locally and globally in ways that generations past could never have imagined. These tools signal what may grow to be true disruptive change in how schools acquire and disseminate instructional and professional development resources.

The nonprofit Curriki.org (www.curriki.org) is a 3-year-old organization that offers a large collection of free and open source content and collaboration tools. By open source, I mean that users can not only use the content at no charge, but they also have rights to customize much of the content to meet their specific needs. Creating derivative works is a powerful way for teachers to employ truly differentiated instruction, using the same root lesson. The Curriki site now contains more than 25,000 open source pieces of content, ranging from more than 300 full courses (including a civics course created by a member of the community and a geometry course by an organization called Math for America) to units of instruction, such as a thoughtful sixth grade unit on climate change, to individual lesson plans on everything from the area of a triangle to Romeo and Juliet.

The content comes from three sources: publishing partners, including EDC, the Nortel Foundation, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Sesame Workshop; states and districts, such as the state of Wyoming, which shared a complete yearlong Spanish curriculum for all of grades six and seven and soon grade eight; and the rapidly growing membership of more than 62,000 educators. These members share lesson plans, presentations, videos, and whole units of study. By sharing the content on Curriki, these teachers make it available not only for themselves and their colleagues to use but also to the entire global community. In just the last month, the Curriki site was accessed by users in more than 180 countries.

Membership is free, and once you sign up, you can search and browse the online repository and assemble collections of your favorite resources. You can also upload your own content and mix and remix it with other useful materials you find that are shared by others. Much of the content can be edited in a wiki, so adapting and improving the content to align with the specific needs of a classroom is as easy as editing a document. Teachers can also share the collections of resources they create with other teachers.

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For librarians/media specialists, using Curriki is an effective way to pull together curricular resources. Just as these educators used to pull relevant books onto a cart, they can now create a set of vetted online curricular resources that directly aligns to a class's particular area of study. Members who create collections of content can even begin their collection by adding video of themselves modeling how to introduce the material they've shared. This is easy to do, and seeing a lesson modeled by the master teacher who created it goes a long way in making a fellow teacher both comfortable and engaged in implementing the new curriculum.

COLLABORATION TOOLS

In addition to this growing repository, the Curriki site is developing innovative ways to engage teachers to collaborate on content creation. The Group Tools let educators come together to work collaboratively in a virtual space on any content area they desire. Users can see the profiles of other members who share their interests and form social networks of like-minded educators.

This social support ends up creating more than just professional friendships. Although most groups form between teachers who already work together, groups of educators that have never met also connect to create new curriculum resources. Currently, there are more than 350 groups on the site with projects ranging from the K-8 math collaborative group designed to create open math resources for primary and middle school classrooms to the Webquest Builders Group. …

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