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Re: [school-discuss] Free-Open Baccalaureate Idea

David (and others),

I see this as a good opportunity to see all that is good in Open Source in action.

To foster such a project, you would probably need software that doesn't exist. The reasons are:
1. No one has done exactly this thing before.
2. Money munchers have no interest in creating free knowledge, thus would not invest in creating an infrastructure for it.

I'm sure you would find many systems that meet some of your demands (Wiki's, CMS's, MIT's openCourseWare) but none that really do what you want. So - create it yourself (with the help of some friends, of course).

We've been using a Wiki (specifically, JSPWiki, with modifications) for several months now to support collaborative learning and educational content sharing. I see a need for several features which most Wikis lack:
1. Multi-level interaction:
- you need to support several types of users, who relate to the content quite differently. There are authors, editors, commentators, reviewers and consumers (teachers and students). Some people might take several roles at different times or per different documents.
Our approach, at this stage, was to provide a structured interface for commenting on a page without editing it.
2. Document life cycle:
- You need to support the flow of content from private to public domains. A documents starts as a personal draft, then gets shared by a work group, and finally gets published.
3. Localization:
- Support translation of content to several languages.
- Support adaptation of content to national curricula.
- Support group and personal "portals", which focus on specific themes.
4. Structure:
- Classroom material is structured by course, lessons, etc.
- Semantic / epistemological structure by topic / sub topic.
- Threads of inquiry, marking different learning paths through the content.
5. Media:
- Include diagrams, clips etc. in documents.
- Include interactive coded models (e.g., Java applets).

Here's m proposal:

Create two projects and three communities that evolve in tandem:
* The content project, with a team of educators to author, edit and structure the learning materials.
* The platform project, with a team of developers to provide an open source system to support the content project.

Needless to say, no wheel inventing allowed. We start from some existing OSS Wiki clone, and add functionality to it.

These two projects define two communities, hopefully with some overlap in membership. The third community I have in mind is the "consumer" community - teachers and students that will use the content from early stages, and provide critical feedback to the first two communities.

If you find this interesting, I suggest you set up a discussion space for any interested parties (looks like you have the resources, and it would make sense to tie this idea into the existing framework).

Also, I suggest we try to interest some academic partners (I know a few). They can bring expertise, funding and publicity.
But we should probably have some prototype to show first.


- Yishay

David Bucknell wrote:

This is a proposal for another Schoolforge project. I take the idea that we are
"forging" a school as my inspiration, and so I am interested in the creation of
all of its parts.
If you are an experienced teacher with up-to-date curriculum knowledge, no
matter what part of the world you're from, or a free and open source user and
promoter who would like to see it used in education, let's join efforts via a
wiki and build the foundation of a curriculum, lessons, texts and other
resources that could be adapted internationally.

As we have begun working on the collaborative book about free and open resources
in education (http://sfzwiki.opensourceschools.org and
http://members.iteachnet.org/mailman/listinfo/sfbook) some of us have been
thinking of that other part of the greater project that has been started and
stopped by numbers of people:
*the curriculum, *lessons,
*software, and
*other resources.

I see no reason that by using a wiki, we could not begin all them at once. I
would love to see an international group form from among those already
interested in curricula, lessons, texts and software to create courses in each
area and at each level. After all, a wiki is always in process and can always be
revised to make it consistent. For example, a group could, and should, form
around creating an English (or any other language) course for elementary
(primary), middle or secondary levels. We will need people willing to act as
project leaders, just like Linus or RMS or esr did for their projects. However,
I should think primary effort would be given over to the curriculum first, for
perhaps a year. Then those interested in writing lessons and texts and other
resources would know what goals they were working toward.

The curriculum should follow current educational standards and trends, so we
must enlist both practitioners and theorists from around the world. We may end
up identifying a common core on which we can agree and set up ways for divergent
philosophies to carve out their own niches.

For example, most current curricula are "standards-based," but that type of
curriculum is often tied to testing. It need not be. We could leave that part
for others. Assessment of progress can come in many forms. The main thing is a
system of diagnosis and prescription. The curriculum must allow a teacher to
identify a student's level (regardless of grade/year placement) and prescribe a
set of tasks to move him or her ahead -- toward agreed-upon goals.
Regardless of what the curriculum ultimately looks like, it should have these

*a free and open license such as the FDL or the equivalent Creative Commons
license (I say this in light of recent discussion on the sfbook list)
*built-in internationalizability
*built-in customizability

*Because of the growing success of the International Baccalaureate, a non-profit
project that costs a lot of money and is tightly protected by copyright, I've
often thought a free and open alternative could be named the Open Baccalaureate
or the Free Baccalaureate or the F.O.B., the Free and Open Baccalaureate.

It has been difficult to think up how to fund and organize the international
collaboration needed, but as John Ingleby pointed out, Wikipedia provides a good
example of an international wiki effort. So, is anyone interested, please speak up.
The exciting thing about a schoolforge curriculum project is that it would give
new meaning to technology integration (a current theme/goal). It is not hard to
imagine that this group would/could create something that seamlessly integrated
computer use in a usable, appropriate and sustainable way few others could. I
wonder, for example, if we couldn't lend our efforts to Bruno Coudoin's GCompris
so to give it a complete set of lessons for beginning reading and mathematics.
We'll need all kinds of help, so if you're interested, please speak up.

Best wishes,

David Bucknell
Schoolforge Supporter

Yishay Mor
y.mor@ioe.ac.uk Ph +44(0)20 7612 6963 F +44(0)20 7612 6964 AIM,Yahoo: yishaym; Jabber: yishaym@jabber.org; ICQ: 179772099
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