Friday, October 22, 2010

TNS#73: Open Source Learning

TheNextStep show #73 was taped 8/11/10, a show on the topic of open-source learning with Scott MacLeod and Barbara Breuchert. Scott's the founder of World University & School ( - "the Global, Virtual/Digital, Open, Free, {potentially Degree- and Credit-Granting}, Multilingual University & School where anyone can teach or take a class or course." Barbara's a local Media Center producer and former educator.
From the WU&S site: "World University & School's mission, in reaching out to the entire world, is to provide a free, wiki-based education platform and, through facilitating the development of broadband worldwide, to make our service accessible
to under-served parts of the world. The WUaS mission is thus to facilitate all levels of teaching and learning opportunities (and future degrees) through an open, editable wiki in all languages, nation-states and subjects with great universities, and for One Laptop per Child countries and everyone." Very commendable vision, Scott!

My main comment was that if there are to be course credits granted, somewhere there have to be human beings reviewing the work of students, and those human beings need to be compensated for their time somehow... and I'm dubious that some form of barter is going to be workable in this situation, and hence dubious that 'free' will be compatible with 'degree-granting'... but optimistic that some form of workable economic model can be found. Now I've joined Scott's advisory board so there will likely be more TNS shows on the topic!

We also discussed John Taylor Gatto's books Weapons of Mass Instruction and Dumbing Us Down, which I'm a big fan of, since he came to P.A. to speak at a futuresalon in 2008. Also discussed was Scott McNealy's new project his vision for a "free and open source digital compendium of just about everything teachers use to teach -- textbooks, worksheets, tests, video presentations, podcasts, you name it." The project, run by McNealy and former Sun executive Kim Jones, started inside Sun six years ago and spun out as a nonprofit in 2006. Curriki now has 38,000 educational pieces on the site, and about 135,000 registered users.

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