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Open Access Education and Resources

The Future is Open Disruptively Open!

School's Open on GreenbaordStudents today are born into a culture of free and open resources. Access to Information and tools has been available since they were born. In the future, students will continue to demand access to free materials both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Through constructivist education, many will create and contribute to the pool of available educational learning materials.

The movements towards open education resources, and courseware are wide and varied. One of the leaders in spearheading open education is certainly MIT who opened their first site offering all the resources for 32 courses in 2002. Their OpenCourseWare lives up to the school's mission to advance knowledge and educate students to serve the nation and world. By 2009, they had over 1900 courses available online.

In 2005 MIT OpenCourseWare joined forces with like minded groups to form the OpenCourseware Consortium. Movements also include the Open Access movement led by librarians who fight for free use of learning and research resources, and people like Wayne Macintosh founder of WikiEducator who fights to provide training for teachers in the use and development of open materials and working towards free education curricula. Lawrence Lessig too, fights for the openness necessary to allow creative works built on past culture., Students for a Free Culture, Open Source Education Foundation, Open Educational Resources, Creative Commons and the Free Culture Movement also have done much to promote access to open and free educational resources.

With schools facing ever shrinking budgets, it would be hard to imagine that teachers and administrators would not take advantage of the wealth of resources that are open and mostly free. With costs of textbooks increasing and the availability of information on the web, students are demanding teachers consider alternatives to expensive time-limited textbooks. This movement towards open education and open resources is beginning to shake up the status quo and giving rise to what many would consider a "disruptive innovation." With more and more materials available for free anywhere and anytime educational institutions will need to consider their offerings and consider the use of open resources. Publishers will have to open up options to compete against all that is free, and schools will have to specialize to continue to be relevant.

In the video above, Chris Anderson of TED talks about the power of many in an open world. He uses the term "Crowd Accelerated Innovation" to describe the strength of the crowd in a digital age. In order to create such innovation in organizations, he says welcome the crowd (those with a common interest), let the light in by being open and visible and dial up the desire because innovation is often hard work done by many. He says start by giving away your biggest secrets because by giving away you will get a lot back from the crowd. He points out that today on the internet one person can speak to millions. "talented students don't have to have their potential and dreams written out of history by lousy teachers. They can sit in front of the world's finest..the world's universities are opening up their curricula and thousands of individuals are sharing their knowledge and data online." People are finding new ways to learn and respond to their learning. He believes that education doesn't need to be "painful top-down silos." To the TED organization learning is many to many and the light needs to shine on the best of what is out there. He asks the question, "What if that crowd could learn to be net contributors rather than net plunderers.?That changes everything! ....You're part of the crowd that may be about to launch the biggest learning cycle in human history." He asks, "Who is the teacher? His answer: "You." We are all part of the crowd.

For more details on Free and Open materials in education see The Cost of Free, a wiki developed by several of the EDUCITIZENSHIP 2020 members. See specific information on available open materials on Cost of Free.

Next up, see Digital Books and Resources