Open curriculum and the local public school

Public schools are beginning to venture into the domain of self-produced digital curriculum. Through the advancement of technology, we are able to mass distribute content without the need for a third party publisher that charges high rates for their work.

I applaud school districts who have pursued this option. They save hundreds of thousands by building a reusable curriculum and rejecting the textbook industry model.

One benefit that has not yet been discussed is that schools could provide these books in the public domain. In fact, if you follow the federal president, it would be required that these books be made public domain. Since the creation of these books would be on the taxpayers’ dime, it would be reasonable to assume that members of the community could access the learning materials as well.

This could offer tremendous benefits to the community.

  1. Open TextbooksHelp parents understand their child’s classes– Let’s say a parent was helping their child with a math assignment, but they themselves struggled with math as a child. The parent could brush up on their skills before the child began the class, thereby allowing the parent to support the child in the best way possible.
  2. Review – How many times have you read a cookbook recipe, made the food once, then forgot how to make the recipe next time around? It happens to all of us. If we allow children to go back and review the subjects they once studied, they would have the opportunity to replenish ideas that had been forgotten.
  3. Auxiliary Education – Suppose a retired couple decides to go traveling, but they know little about the geography of the region. They could view the public school geography curriculum on the area to learn more about it. Furthermore, they could see who authored it, maybe contact the teachers, and possibly present more information on the region to the children in the classroom when they return.
  4. Homeschooling – Allowing open curriculum removes one of the major sources of contention between homeschooling families and public school systems. By allowing anyone to access the online curriculum, the homeschool families can reduce the cost of purchasing curriculum when so desired.
  5. Community Expertise – Residents may have valuable additions from personal expertise on certain subjects that they could contribute to the school district. This would increase the value of the curriculum over time.
  6. Working ahead – Believe it or not, many kids enjoy learning. Allowing communities to openly access the digital curriculum allows motivated students to work ahead and/or cover subjects that they would not have had time to take due to limited availability of classes or conflicts in scheduling.
  7. Collaboration with other school districts – Educators could save substantial costs by collaborating across school districts. If school x has two thirds of what school y needs, they could just add on to the good efforts of school x’s curriculum. The favor could be reciprocated when school y needs something. In the end, everyone benefits.

 

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