[Edu-sig] baby steps redux

Jeffrey Elkner jelkner@yorktown.arlington.k12.va.us
Sat, 5 Feb 2000 14:19:05 -0500

Hi All!

I want to thank Hank for his excellent explaination of how things work in
school systems regarding curriculum materials.  In particular, the following
comments hit the nail on the head:

> To create a newcurriculum for a single subject at the local level typically
> involves a team of 5 teachers meeting half-days for several weeks during the
> summer (if not much more, depending on the degree of sea-change).

> But if they are presented with the materials ready to go, and a few
> web-based workshops can teach them how to use the materials, then the chance
> of adoption shoots up.

I think what we need is a sort of contentforge.net for teachers.  It would be a
place where teachers could share open content lesson plans and other
educational materials.  It should be aimed at teachers and developed in
consultation with them, inorder to be a tool that will meet their needs.

As someone who has participated in several of the newcurriculum teams that Hank
speaks of, it has always struck me how inefficient the system is.  Teachers in
each local area are forced to recreate the same materials over and over.  A lot
of sharing does happen at conferences and other meetings set up for this
purpose, but it is not nearly as well organized as it could be.  The two
biggest drawbacks have been:

1. How to distribute the materials (paper copies are the way it is still
normally done, making it both difficult and expensive to get the stuff in the
hands of the teachers).

2. Copyright restrictions.  I have seen many fine teachers willingly share
their materials, but I have also been at confernces where much of the best
stuff is only for sale.  I think that and open content environment could be
created that would encourage more teachers to share.

We would need to find a site to host such a contentforge, and I believe Frank
Willison at Oreilly is looking into this.  Maybe CNRI could host it as well,
particularly a site aimed at Python educational materials.

jeff elkner