curriculum

The Open High School of Utah Releases Open Educational Curriculum Under CC BY

Timothy Vollmer, September 7th, 2010

Today the Open High School of Utah (OHSU) announced the release of ten semesters of openly licensed curriculum materials. The OER are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. The resources are available via OHSU’s OpenCourseWare portal. From the announcement:

Technology rules at Open High where their approach to learning embraces the idea that teaching shouldn’t be as static as the textbooks on which it’s based. Shattering traditional methods, the Open High School of Utah curriculum is built from open educational resources. These resources are the foundation for their content and are aligned with Utah state standards to ensure the highest quality educational experience. The teachers enhance with screencasts, interactive components, and engaging activities to create high quality curricula for their students.

The Open High School of Utah is a public online charter high school. As DeLaina Tonks, OHSU’s Director, told us in an interview a few weeks ago, “The objective behind creating open content is to create free and simple access to knowledge and information through collaboration and innovation. The OHSU mission dovetails nicely with that of open education because we are among the first, if not the first, secondary school to create our own OER curriculum and share it worldwide.”

Congratulations to The Open High School of Utah for being a leader–both in vision and practice–for the Open Education community.

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Incentive Bill for 21st Century Skills

Jane Park, June 2nd, 2009

Last month, a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate recognized the fact that students learning today need to be taught the necessary skills to succeed in this century—an age of new media, the Internet, and ever evolving technologies. The bill, introduced by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, would “create a new incentive fund that will encourage States to adopt the 21st Century Skills Framework.” The fund would provide federal matches to those states that integrate the teaching of 21st century skills such as “creativity, innovation, critical thinking and financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy” into core curricula, according to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

eSchool News reports what Shelley Pasnik, “director of the Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology,” has to say:

“The legislation goes beyond technology. It’s about implementing a framework for 21st-century learning,” she said. “It’s more promising this way. If it were just about technology purchases, it would be a missed opportunity.”

We couldn’t agree more. Giving a student a computer won’t teach him or her how to use one, but integrating activities that require the use of one will. More broadly, students will learn the relevant skills to succeed in the current day and future when core curriculum is revamped to include current day and future projects. Revamped curriculum and associated learning materials will also only achieve maximum impact if the resources are open for use and iteration. Opening up the resources makes the federal investment worthwhile, and is helpful for states that are slow in jumping on the bandwagon to catch up. It also gives extra incentive for high quality materials, as competition turns to collaboration between states.

You can read the full text of the proposed bill here.

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EFF Teaches Copyright, without an agenda

Jane Park, May 28th, 2009

When it comes to copyright, our youth are too often bombarded with extremes. The entertainment industry giants propagate a skewed perspective by launching anti-copying educational programs, leaving out much of the balanced information necessary to cultivating user’s awareness about her real rights to a resource. This results in students thinking that they can react in only one of two ways: by breaking the law in the face of overbearing restrictions, or by doing absolutely nothing at all with copyrighted works, effectively stifling the learning that comes of creatively engaging with them.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recognized this problem and went to work on a copyright curriculum that would not only be fair and balanced in perspective, but comprehensive in its scope by encouraging discussion and self-education. From the press release,

“Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal… Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior.”

ccLearn has taken a look at Teaching Copyright and we commend it. The curriculum is created and vetted by lawyers and promotes a balanced teaching perspective, clearing up much of the misinformation that is current industry propaganda. Like EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry says, “Today’s tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow.” We need to help them “understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world.”

The entire curriculum and accompanying resources on the Teaching Copyright website are licensed CC BY, which appropriately encourages students, teachers, and anyone else to adapt it to various educational needs and contexts.

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