Open Content

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content embraces not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of instructional practice and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is also a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions, and a cost-effective alternative to textbooks and other materials. As customizable educational content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, students are learning not only the material, but also skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources they are studying in partnership with their teachers.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning, or Creative Inquiry

  • The use of open content promotes a set of skills that are critical in maintaining currency in any area of study — the ability to find, evaluate, and put new information to use.
  • The same set of materials, once placed online and made sharable via the appropriate licensing, can inform a wide variety of learning modalities, not the least of which is learning for the sheer joy of discovery.
  • Sharable materials reduce teacher workloads as they do not need to be recreated from scratch.

In Practice

  • The Open High School of Utah is an online charter high school that leverages next-generation learning technology and strategic one-on-one tutoring to provide students with significantly better learning experiences:
  • The K12 wiki project Curriki is an example of extensive open content that has been provided through a network of education partners for use by educators and students:
  • Thinkfinity is a project by the Verizon Foundation to put many K12 education resources online for free access by students and teachers:
  • Google sponsors the Google Code-in content expressly for K12 students around the world:

For Further Reading

An Open Source Platform for Internet-based Assessment
(Grunwald Associates, LLC., 2010.) This report extensively covers the use of open source platforms as a cost-effective and efficient way to conduct assessment. The study also includes results from numerous interviews and sampling efforts.

Curriki’s : Open Education and Policy
(Jane Park,, 5 August 2010.) This post is an interview with the Cristine Mytko who is the lead science reviewer with the open source wiki project Curriki. The interview discusses the role of Curriki and open content policy in K12 in education.

How To Get Started with Open Source in K-12
(Natasha Wanchek,, 15 July 2010.) This article explores how K12 schools can integrate and use open content. A number of experts in the area give examples of ways that schools can embrace this form of content.