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OERs for K-12 in USA: passion-based learning around a standards-based body of knowledge?

June 12, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news
A California-based initiative to replace textbooks in schools (K-12) with free, open-source, digital materials called “flexbooks”, enabling teachers to access teaching materials in a range of subjects (primarily the STEM subjects at the moment, but with plans afoot to increase the range), and edit them to meet their own particular learners’ needs. All materials are published under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike licence.

The CK-12 website states that “content generated by CK-12 and the CK-12 community will serve both as source material for a student’s learning and provide an adaptive environment that scaffolds the learner’s journey as he or she masters a standards-based body of knowledge, while allowing for passion-based learning.”

The target audience (from the blurb on the CK-12 website – http://www.ck12.org/flexbook) is teachers, and teachers are encouraged to remix materials as needed to create “books” that can either be printed or read online. A future plan is to offer a printing-on-demand service – in the meantime, users are referred to sites such as blurb.com, or lulu.com, if they want to get the printing professionally done.

I think it’s a nice concept, although I’m wondering whether the heavy emphasis on curriculum standards is what schoolchildren need in the 21st century. One of the selling points of the flexbooks is that they are quality assured to meet state curriculum standards: this creates an interesting incongruence in that, while the flexbooks are published under Share-Alike licences, there is no provision for teachers or other users to release their reworked materials to the same platform. Teachers are invited to submit their own materials for review and inclusion, but this level of curation is not consistent with the SA licence. For me, “passion-based learning” sits uncomfortably with “standards-based knowledge”.

Via Michael Gorman, 21st Century Educational Technology & Learning (http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/part-2-the-digital-curriculum-textbook-to-flexbook-free-open-source-engaging/)
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