Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Friday, April 20, 2007

Open Source Education: Coming to a Child Near You

No sector has more hardened silos than education. Untold sums of money and time are wasted re-inventing the wheels of education -- lesson plans, curricula, textbooks and other learning materials.

But a revolution in education is coming, and technology is the prime catalyst. The convergence of two innovations --- ultra-cheap laptops and networked teaching --- will forever change how children learn. Man-made barriers to learning are falling, enabling children (and teachers) to literally access the world and learning resources, regardless of location or socio-economic status.

Enter open source education. What is that? Collaborative, networked learning, enabled by the Internet and unbounded by walls, distance or low expectations.

Two specific projects embody this education revolution in the making: the One Laptop Per Child project and Curriki. They represent the hardware and software for this sea change in global education. OLPC will put an Internet-enabled computer into a child’s hands for a mere $100. Curriki will enable any teacher, parent or student to access teaching materials shared and developed around the world.

Despite tremendous local, grassroots energy going into open source education, governments and companies must play their part. Open source education requires connectivity. And that means governments and partners (the World Bank and Google are recent examples) need to invest in basic infrastructure – the networks and applications needed to access the online world.

Forget TV. The revolution will be networked.

Categories: education, OLPC, Curriki

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