Three Education Sites to Watch

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For my Master’s Degree program class on learning theories, I chose three education sites to watch:

Open Culture is a place where one can browse a curated collection of educational media – everything from seemingly random facts about literature, science, and history to listings for MOOCs (also known as Mass Open Online Courses).  It’s like a big mind-dump of anything that could possibly be used for self-education, or even in a classroom to supplement curriculum. The day I found it, the lead item on the home page was a post about the poet Charles Bukowski. It struck me as an inventive add-on to a poetry class: tell something about the poet and his life and philosophy, but in a decidedly passionate way – not as a series of dates and facts.

I defy you to resist scrolling down the page and resist getting caught up in more than one of the posts and stories listed. Especially check out high school student Jabari Johnson rapping about kinetic energy.

This site was so deeply buried in my searches I couldn’t begin to tell you how I got there – let’s just say I have a hunch the taxonomy of the search would be interesting. I  know I had to wade through an awful lot of institutional and traditional education sites before I stumbled on this one.

I chose the site because it appears to be  closely aligned with my own interest in education. I’ll try to stay off the soap box in this particular post, but in brief, TESA is about using education to develop the values of social and economic justice. The reason this matters to me is that education as a public resource has always been used as a strategy to build a particular culture based on specific values. To date, the culture we’ve built is focused primarily on work for hire, and on profitability as the bedrock value of our economy. My goal in becoming an instructional designer is to shift that paradigm. That’s what TESA is doing too.Plus TESA is a worker cooperative, and education for worker cooperatives is where I want to be. I especially love that they’ve developed a game called Co-opoly.

Cultivate.coop is a wiki sponsored by TESA as a place where people can post articles and discussions about how employee cooperatives can work. It’s clearly a new site – there are no discussion posts yet – but this is a place I’d like to make some meaningful contributions. It’s a little scary to go first, but everything starts somewhere and with someone making the first move, right?

When I first contemplated graduate school, my goal was to contribute to the invention of open source education. I was under the impression that I made up that phrase by applying what I knew of open source software (perhaps most famously the Linux open source computer operating system) to what I believed about education. Eventually I did a search and discovered that I was not the inventor of the concept, and that the open source community was already talking about it. So much the better!

The concept of open source is that it makes source code broadly available rather than protecting it as proprietary. That doesn’t mean it’s free in terms of price, and there are licensing agreements around it. It does mean that instead of a business acting like a silo around source code, it makes source code available for others to develop.

This can be applied literally to education and to the development of software source code for educational use. However for me open source also has figurative value. Its focus is cooperation, brain-storming, and innovation, rather than on ownership, and kill-or-be-killed competition. Well, why re-invent the wheel? Here’s a page that does a wonderful job of explaining the open source way.

 

 

 

 

 


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