Open Source and Education: A Sea Change?
Seems like there's been some uptake lately with regard to the open source movement applied to education. Our own Charlie Lowe is, of course, among the vanguard (edited to add George Siemens here), and now I'm seeing some more rumblings: specifically, an excellent post and subsequent comments at vitia and another apt musing at Mister B.S. that provides an overview of open source and education for the newbies:
If we apply the [open source software] model (as metaphor) to the learning community, the curriculum must be articulated as knowledge-centered, rather than learner-or teacher-centered. The enrichment of the academic commons then becomes the objective, where all “developers” (teachers and students) are also the “users,” working in concert to build, refine, and “debug” the content of the intellectual commons for the benefit of any who wish to participate in its constituent projects.
The roles of students and teachers are fundamentally transformed in the learning community model. In the closed-source/proprietary software model, the relationships are static: developer and consumer map to teacher and student. Only one group has access to the source code of the academic product, and the other, treated only (or posited merely) as passive consumer, interacts with the commons only as recipient and, in the instance of plagiarism, thief. Because the source of the product is obscured as a matter of institutional practice, the consumer has incentive only to demand maximum efficiencies be effected. The logical and reasonable results are those attitudes most frequently lamented amongst the developers of the academic product: customer satisfaction as the guiding ethic, the perception of the educational model as a fee-for-certification transaction, and the sense of passive entitlement among student-consumers. The consequent roles of the teacher are those of clerk and customer service agent, and the institution becomes merely a certificating institution.
Very exciting. :)