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This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2006 (Index of presentations)

Free the curriculum: Supporting educators with open content

Leaders Kevin Driscoll, Rob Lucas
Track Wikis in Education
License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the workshop leaders
Kevin Driscoll is a computer science teacher at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Cambridge, MA, USA. In the classroom, he teaches an original curriculum for grades 6-12 with emphasis on identity, community-building, cut'n'paste cultural production, free software, literacy, and independent learning. Kevin is currently working with co-presenter Rob Lucas on TeachForward, a non-profit online community to encourage open sharing of education materials. Along with this work, he is a hip-hop DJ and intimate collaborator with Internet-based artist Claire Chanel.
Rob Lucas taught 6th grade in North Carolina from 2003 to 2005 as a member of Teach for America. He is a 2003 graduate of Harvard College, and in June 2006 he completed a M.Ed. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he received the Reynolds Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship. While teaching, Rob organized a lesson-sharing wiki called the Teachers' Lounge, which was featured in the Christian Science Monitor, NEA Today, and the New York Times. He is currently working with co-presenter Kevin Driscoll and others to found a successor site called TeachForward.
Each year thousands of teachers across the globe commit an act unthinkable to the software engineer: they work in parallel isolation, solving the same problems at the same time with little to no communication. Worse still, their solutions are often dropped into dusty filing cabinets never to be seen by another soul. In the US, new teachers feel unsupported while experienced teachers feel unrecognized. This isolation leads to stress, burn-out, attrition, and poor educational outcomes for students. To end this frustrating cycle, we need to build a tool that gives teachers a place to share lessons, offer feedback, and access the works of their peers. The successes of the free software movement and Wikipedia community provide models for the creation of an educators' commons. Collaborative development, open content, and rigorous peer review nurtured the construction of a powerful operating system and comprehensive encyclopedia. Applied to the education community, these same principles can support the growth of a vast curriculum; diverse, freely available, and throughly documented. Previous attempts to connect teachers online have failed to find widespread acceptance. In this workshop, we will be identifying the teaching community's unique combination of needs and talents to design a tool for the open collaboration and sharing of teaching materials.
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