Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bellevue Schools wikify their entire curriculum

Wow, just amazing! I saw this at Andy Carvin‘s TeacherSource blog: Course Forge: Posting Your Entire Curriculum Online

Last week a Washington state school district announced an ambitious plan to put its entire curriculum online for public access. They?re one of the first K-12 districts to follow the lead of higher education?s open courseware movement, which is changing the way the world accesses educational knowledge.

As reported by the Seattle Times, the Bellevue school district has just received a $1.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an online tool that will give the public access to all curricular materials from each class and each grade. For the last two years, the district has been fleshing out the tool, known as the BSD Curriculum Web. According to the article,

“The site allows teachers to post lesson plans and ideas for each school day, and allows other teachers to rate how well they thought the lesson plans worked, similar to rating a book on Amazon.com?. Students and parents can also access the site and see what is being taught, and even watch video clips of a teacher giving the lesson.”

This will be so ordinary one day we will be looking with dismay on those who were dragged kicking and screaming into open-education. I have three observations: 1) Bellevue didn‘t need $1.9 million to make this happen. Moving towards openness can cost next to nothing. The tools already exist, and they don‘t need to be developed. 2) The real power won‘t come from teachers improving other teacher‘s curriculum, it will come from students, their parents, and the community at large; and 3) They need to think bigger. This should not be done district by district.

Regardless, Bellevue is to be applauded. Great stuff! Where are the land-grant universities in this movement?

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