Open Source Curriculum……?
I know about open source software. How projects following this model are collaborative, often international in scope, allowing people free access to use parts of a piece of software, modify to meet their needs, and leave a trail for others to use their pieces as well.
This doesn’t match my experience with curricula. While most teachers in their classrooms modify, emphasize and de-emphasize, curriculum development projects are often wildly expensive, overly (and sometimes overtly) political processes taking power from locales of instruction away to the hallowed halls of…… where?
In Canada, education is a provincial responsibility and as such, the provincial governments have taken on the responsibilities of designing and implementing full scale curricula documents for all subject areas. Outside of core subjects which must be taught, school districts and sometimes individual schools pick and choose what optional courses they would like to implement. Full documents complete with outcomes, assessment techniques, and suggested activities line the shelves of classrooms.
But their is little to nothing in this that could be said to be in line with an open source philosophy. Certainly teachers are free to teach the outcomes however they wish, but the content and skills are out of our hands.
From my point of view, open source documents could take one of two forms. The first would be local documents developed in communities or regions to meet the needs of the local population. The second would be larger projects, international in scale in which teachers from across the globe would be able to contribute to the development of curricula which all could invest their time and / or energy in, and which could be applicable in many places.
Scholar’s Notebook has collected a series of links, and quotes a few of the concerns coming out of the U.S. regarding internationally prepared programs such as the I.B., but I have heard no rumblings on the Northern side of the border. While an open source curriculum project does not need to be of the scale of an entire I.B. diploma, teachers are certainly capable of designing documents to meet their needs.
Sounds like we need a wiki.