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Digital Delivery and Open Source Websites

digital deliveryNo longer shackled to books as their only source of content, educators and students are going online to find reliable, valuable, and up-to-the-minute information. Sites like Shmoop’s fun-focused content on everything from SAT prep to the Civil War; Google’s Education apps and sources that teachers can use as teaching tools, such as the SketchUp design software and Google Earth are just a few of the free, easily accessible sources available online.

Add to that sites like the Khan Academy, a collection of thousands of YouTube videos that teach everything from calculus to the French Revolution, TeacherTube’s collection of content, books that have been turned into YouTube videos, as well as sites from museums and art institutions, sites like NASA and the Smithsonian, TED Talks and the thousands of other educational resources available, and you can start to see how online content will be used as a primary resource.

The open-source movement has further pushed online content to include learners and educators in the actual content-creating process. Wikipedia was one of the first open-source sites, and though many still question the accuracy of Wikipedia entries (note the 2005 study showed that the popular website is as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannica), there’s a movement afoot to make it a more trusted source. Revered institutions like Harvard and Georgetown are creating coursework for students out of editing Wikipedia entries.

Following in the steps of Wikipedia – and the collaborative world of Web 2.0 — a growing proliferation of open-source sites aimed at education have sprouted up over the past few years. For both K-12 schools and higher education, sites like MIT Open SourceWare that publishes almost all the university’s content for students, Open Educational Resources, Curriki, Merlot, Connexions, CK12, Scitable, and Hippocampus offer their own expert-written, vetted content. But more importantly, they allow educators and students to add, edit, and change the order of all the information on those sites according to their own needs.

Entire school districts are starting to go open-source, too, such as the Bering Strait School District in Alaska, which is using a Wiki-style format for its curriculum. CK12 is part of California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative, and school districts in Pennsylvania are also considering using its materials once the curricula has met state standards.

Information taken from an article entitled “Three Trends That Will Shape the Future of Curriculum” by Tina Barseghian