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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CK12, Curriculum Hacks, and Cognitive Surplus


CK12, Curriculum Hacks, and Cognitive Surplus rattling around in my head today. Received an email today from the fine folks at CK12 and it seems that their robust learning platform and community are growing exponentially. They are growing and sharing at a speed and quality point, where more folks besides just those in the state of Utah, will have to begin to pay attention to this disruption.

Side mirror with warning legend
In my rear view mirror I can see and hear me pontificating as a young curric developer of a soon to be launched virtual high school about how crowdsourced curriculum will change the world and education as we know it.
“if even 1% of the teachers within the US started Moodling their curriculum, a snowball effect will occur that will forever change the archaic US education system.”
Truth is the idea wasn't insanely original, but it was dismissed as insanely optimistic and Utopian. Again, the timing wasn't right, the content wasn't as close to ready as it is now, and the platforms for sharing, collecting., and curating across platforms and operating systems didn't exist in the state it sits today, and perhaps tomorrow. To steal language form an email sent recently by my good friend Bill Fitzgerald,
"As part of this work, we are building an open content platform that anyone can grab and use. It converts pages created and stored in the platform to ePub and mobi, so it's a pretty effective ebook publisher that works with both iPads and Kindles (or phones/tablets with Kindle/ePub reader apps).".
The curriculum text book resources built and designed by the fine folks at CK12 and the community at large are by no means the be all end all when it comes to content curation and instruction. But, what they are is a huge disruption to the textbook industry and an opportunity for schools and districts to get ahead of the curve. It is resources like these, built by professionals for professionals that will help to transform our current state of vendor-centric content providing.
Clay Shirky in Cognitive Surplus says,
Cover of

“This linking together in turn lets us tap our cognitive surplus, the trillion hours a year of free time the educated population of the planet has to spend doing things they care about. In the 20th century, the bulk of that time was spent watching television, but our cognitive surplus is so enormous that diverting even a tiny fraction of time from consumption to participation can create enormous positive effects.” ― Clay Shirky
Help me think through the possibilities. Don't dismiss or snark about the roadblocks, because we as a collective have the power to not only dismiss the roadblocks, but overcome them.
  • What would it look like if you pulled together 30-40 of your brightest teachers across each subject area and invited them to participate in a two-day curriculum hack, equipped with protocols, as well as experts in, content, curation, assessment, and data use? 
  • What would your dream "curriculum" look like? 
  • What could it look like if we truly empowered our best teachers to do this work? 
  • Besides political ickiness, what is to stop us, and to that point, what would we need to avoid that, embrace it, or plow through it? 
If we can reward them both in financial and intrinsic means, we may be on to the disruption that many of us have seen on the horizon for years. 
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