The Importance of Open-Source Education


After completing a course on how to implement technology into the STEM disciplines, I realized that education must be open source.  So much of what we expect students to know needs to be open source, along with all of the labs that we complete, all of the worksheets we have, and all of the activities we run with our students.  Why is this so important?  It makes the education community stronger.  It allows us to hone in on the activities that are most beneficial for our students.

Many of you in the technology world have heard of Github.  Github is revolutionary to developers, as it allows many different individuals to design and refine code to many projects.  Most of these projects are open source in nature, and the old adage “Many hands makes light work.” comes to mind.  Many sets of eyes on lines of code is evolutionary- the best lines survive, and the ones that are weakest are stripped and replaced with something more efficient.

Education needs to reach this conclusion as well.  There are 3.7 million public elementary and secondary teachers (Fast Facts, 2011) in the United States.  This number includes all full-time data, and does not include private schools or part-time teachers.  I would fathom that many of these teachers have activities that are very similar, to teach to the frameworks in their states.  We need to focus on creating a program in which teachers submit and review each others lessons, so that the “best adapted” lessons survive.  What do I mean by “best adapted?”  I mean the lessons that leave the longest impact on students, the lessons that stay with students forever. 

While it would be difficult to start to manage how we rate a lesson as successful, a standard would have to be chosen, perhaps with pre-and-post testing of students.  The Secretary of Education should have a big impact on the implementation of a plan like this.  There needs to be a repository developed, separated by state, which will drive education forward.  Who would be the school contact?  Well, I imagine this fits into the role of each district’s Curriculum Coordinator.

In order to create innovation and better students of the 21st Century, we need to standardize the lessons using an open-source model.  This allows competition between lessons, in which the best lessons will be the ones that each teacher increases student achievement.  A repository of lessons with a common rating system would allow teachers to judge efficacy, will allowing teachers to cater the lessons to their specific clientele.  To maintain competitive in a worldwide, global economy, I see open source education as an important factor, which will positively impact our students for generations to come.