Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Open content for education

Educational content is still too expensive and inaccessible for many developing countries, whether it is digital or traditional. As connectivity rates increase dramatically, it makes sense to prepare digital materials for these newly connected educational institutes, teachers and young people. There are a number of interesting projects worldwide to do this, including the Global Text Book project, aiming to "create a free library of 1,000 electronic textbooks for students in the developing world". These textbooks will cover areas typically included in the first two years of undergraduate study - I'm sure many developed world students will use them too.

Another interesting approach comes from the Centre for Open and Sustainable Learning, part of the Utah State University in the USA. They are involved in a range of projects such as Creative Commons for Education, creative learning environments using advanced visualisation, and open course ware (OCW). Even better, all their materials are CC licensed too.

Wikieducator is also part of the whole open content movement, acting as a hub for those interested in this area. The portal itself hosts free content for education, and the people behind it network to find ways of funding open content projects. Meanwhile the Bazaar is a similar approach, but a wider scope, as it's a community for exchange and use of both open content and free & open source (FOSS) software.

The University of Art and Design Helsinki has recently collaborated with UNESCO to offer the Young Digital Creators kit, a free kit for schools and other educational organisations, which includes a variety of approaches, tips and more for helping young people to make creative content. To support the activity, the kit includes a number of FOSS tools. UNESCO also has another project for producing CDs of FOSS tools and open content for education, which I previously blogged about here.

Finally, the mother of all open content projects, Creative Commons has a great archive of materials and useful advice for licensing your content in more open ways.

Update (24/10/2006): UNESCO's Virtual University project hosts a number of online discussions of Open Educational Resources for Higher Education.

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