This page was originally authored by Eveline Yu (2008).
This page has been added to and edited by Erica Toombs (March, 2010).
Curriki is derived from the combination of the words “Curricula” and “Wiki”. Wiki is the platform used to make education materials universally accessible.
It is an Open Source platform that allows universal access to free curricula and instructional material from grades K-12 globally. This repository is intended to attract educators, students, parents, programmers, instructional designers, authors and public officials.
Founded in March 2004 by Scott McNealy, Chairman and driving force of Sun Microsystems, Curriki began as the Global Education and Learning Network. It changed from the Global Education and Learning Community (GELC) to Curriki in 2006. It is "the first all-embracing Internet site instituted to develop, aggregate, evaluate, and support the best of Open Source Curriculum." (Kurshan, 2007). When Sun Microsystems created this independent organization in 2006, its aim was "to accelerate and focus the Open Source Curriculum repository development effort." (Kurshan, 2007). Over 20 Ministers of Education around the world initiated for cost-effective, online curricula and supported the belief in universal access to education.
Curriki's Mission: to empower people worldwide through Open Source Curriculum and to eliminate the Education Divide – the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who do not – by moving learning into the Participation Age.
Curriki was originally based in the United States, but quickly expanded into the UK, India, France, South Africa, and Canada. Curriki's current interface is through a website (similar to Wikipedia), based on open technology infrastructure that enables and supports community content creation. The Wiki tools are built on XWiki, and are custom-designed for collaborative curriculum development. Curriki provides curricula guidelines, publishing tools, and support for following curriculum frameworks or standards. Other technologies such as bulletin boards, blogs, and podcasts are used to improve the curricula. Localized versions of the Curriki curricula can also be created. (Kurshan, 2007). In 2007, there were 5,000 learning resources, over 32,000 registered members, and a growing network of partners.
By October 2009, it has grown to nearly 90,000 educators with another 150,000 Friends of Curriki. (Kurshan, 2009).
XWiki was created in 2004, and is the leader of collaborative Open Source solutions for enterprises. Founder Ludovic Dubost launched XWiki in an effort to incorporate applications within Wiki such as forums, blogs, task managers, etc.), that would be suitable for a professional and scalable use. Curriki is built on the XWiki platform, an open source development platform and "Next Generation Wiki" application developed in Java and released under the LGPL open source license. Due to the fact that Curriki required a mix of free-to-edit and structured content, XWiki was the best choice of platform because of its strength and flexibility. When Curriki community members view the resource pages, they are able to comment, edit, and group together content to create a lesson, course or curriculum.
The platform is completely built on open source code and can be downloaded and used by other parties. However, if the user wants technical support and maintenance of the code, then they should be willing to pay a fee for these services. (Kurshan, 2009).
Team of experts and leadership team
Curriki is led by a team of experts in the educational and technology fields. They manage the community to ensure that it continues to develop and distribute quality, easy-to-use curricula. The leadership team is comprised of Joshua Marks, Chief Technology Officer, and Anne Schreiber.
On March 1, 2010, Dr. Barbara Kurshan left her post as executive director of Curriki. See announcement here.
Partners and sponsors
Curriki receives support and funding from a variety of partners comprised of individuals and organizations that believe that world-class materials should be made freely available to educators around the world, believing that this plays a key role in improving children's learning. Educators and other organizations allow users to utilize existing materials, as well as create resources specifically for the Curriki site. A list of over 25 content partners can be found here.
Sponsors also support the efforts of Curriki with funding or technology.
Purpose of Curriki
Bridging the education divide
Initially focused on developing online curricula in the areas of mathematics, science, technology, reading and language arts, Curriki is an interactive and open repository that empowers and enables people everywhere to learn and to teach. The organization attracts a committed community of educators to populate, modify, and enrich the site; reaching out to a broad community of educators to share in, upload, author or revise content.
There is a need to provide quality learning and the infrastructure to support learning in rural or impoverished areas. Curriki is built to bridge the "Education Divide", a gap in learning opportunities (viewed from international perspective), and the United Nations addressed this as one of the "Millennium Goals", recognizing education as a global necessity. It is believed that if educational opportunities are improved, then this directly improves a country's economy and the lives of its people. The challenge is to make quality education universally available to everyone and the UN urges people around the world to ensure that by 2015, every child is able to complete a full course of primary schooling. (United Nations, 2008). Curriki takes the challenge and believes that the best solution in fostering global education opportunities is to become the best source for world-class learning. Curriki's website aims to cultivate the sharing of ideas in a global and interactive community that includes students, parents, curriculum developers and educators. Its approach in curriculum development is represented by the following 3-D model (Kurshan, 2007):
- Develop curriculum through community contributors
- Deliver the curriculum globally
- Determine the impact by project and by individual
Community of educators
In order to successfully build a community of educators. Curriki provides opportunities for educators to contribute lesson plans, utilize curriculum development tools, and organize resources into a collection, sorted by tags related to content. A personal resource collection can be organized in a manner similar to that of a playlist of favourites. Curriki also fosters collaboration with other education professionals in the opportunity to give constructive feedback on curricula and teaching practices, and to collaborate on creating new curricula in project groups, as well as staying on top of the latest ideas in open source education in the Curriki's Blog. Curriki also utilizes a "Curriculum Review System" which allows master teachers, fellow Curriki members, and volunteers to rate content for pedagogy, accuracy, and technical quality. In this way, Curriki facilitates its own Community of Practice.
Guided tour of Curriki
File:Guided tour.gif A GUIDED TOUR offers a slide show that outlines the various functions and activities at the Curriki site.
Open source and participation age
Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is an idea that, when developers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves (for example: Gnu/Linux operating system, Apache Web server, OpenOffice desktop application). The common elements of an Open Source platform are:
- An infrastructure and process that enable disparate individuals to collaborate on development
- A community that is ennergized and motivated to complete, publish, and support the work
- A critical mass of content that can be used to create an enhanced or customized version suited to the specific needs of a specific community member or locale.
The Open source model directly correlates to the need in education for a common infrastructure to link. The education community with the best materials for and practices in instruction. Wikipedia is a great example of a free, Open Source encyclopedia.
Its sister site, Wikibooks, is a developing Open Source for textbooks, but does not focus on the K-12 curriculum. Curriki differs from Wikipedia and Wikibooks in that it has become a community specifically focused on the K-12 curricula, addressing the full complement of curriculum resources.
Open Source Curriculum (OSC)
Describes how open source technology empowers educational professionals to actively participate in the creation of world-class curricula.
Copyright & Creative Commons licensing
Curriki operates under the Creative Commons, with all of its editorial content copyrighted by Curriki. The online materials are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
All resources added to or created in the Curriki repository, or attached to a Curriki repository resource are shared under a Creative Commons 3.0 license as determined by the author or contributor. The author or contributor must have rights to these materials to share them. This license allows a member the flexibility to use and modify others’ work, including the right to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the contributor's work, even commercially, as long as they credit the contributor for his or her original creation.
It is up to the contributor to choose the Creative Commons license that best describes the rights he or she has to the material. (If a contributor links to outside materials on another web site, these materials need not fall under a Creative Commons license.)
Information Age is the idea that the proprietary nature of intellectual property requires users to purchase rights to use restricted material or "re-invent the wheel" for unrestricted use. The Participation Age, a term first coined by John Debes in 1968 (Rockenbach and Fabian, 2008) challenges this proprietary control by allowing access and sharing of networks where human beings interact to solve problems, create meaningful content, and foster new connections and relationships with people around the world. The increasing number of educational organizations and foundations find the Open Source approach as a way to fill in the education content gap.
Educational uses of Wikis for teachers
Curriki is a community of educators, learners, and commited education experts who work together to create quality materials that will benefit teachers and students around the world. It is an online environment created to support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials to anyone who needs them.
The leadership team involved with Curriki consists of people with a long-time commitment to explore the use of technology to improve education. Hundreds of volunteers, teachers, students, and subject experts donated their time and talent to enrich the portal and deliver valuable educational resources. Initially, the curriculum was geared towards the U.S. K-12 system, however, as more countries (such as India, Canada, France, South Africa, and the UK) are contributing to the system, the learning materials are becoming more localized.
Online Tools: Textbook and Currikulum Builder Textbook Builder focuses on a collaboration of textbooks. The features allow teachers or professors to take a curriculum framework and create/edit a book map, using online, real-time editing tools. Currikulum Builder allows developers and users to share and create lesson plans, course syllabi, learning activities, courses and learning objects. Additional features will include facilitating group activities, discussions, processes, and workflows related to the instructional design process. (Kurshan, 2007).
Creating a website repository
In June 2007, Curriki launched the Currikulum Builder, a content creation of tools and templates that allow educators to author and/or modify curricula based on the Wiki technology. Initially, Curriki had lesson plan "templates", or Wiki-based tools allowing easy creation and modification of educational materials. Subsequently, additional templates were included, providing tools for Quizzes, Student Activities, and General Learning Resources. (Curriki - OLPC, 2007).
Currently, Curriki is the only site to develop a complete Open Source Curriculum based on a comprehensive curricular framework that includes:
"Donate" to Curriki
Curriki does accept monetary donations from partners and sponsors. Beyond monetary donations, educators are encouraged to:
Some future projects for Curriki include developing free and open source tools for teachers, including grade books, embedded learning objects and assessment tools. (Kurshan, 2007). Curriki also intends to include tools to aggregate textbooks from Open Learning Resources.
The Top Ten Projects for 2010 include: (Kurshan, 2010).
- Build a comprehensive K–12 core curriculum that is high-quality, standards-aligned, free, open and sharable
- Provide standards alignment capability so members can reference resources based on state (or subject) specific standards
- Develop a “Curriki Educator” program for professional development around open and shared content that addresses teacher effectiveness
- Improve the Curriki platform to enable a best-in-class user experience
- Grow the community through expanded use of social networking facilities such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Create additional content and curriculum tools that allow for the development and sharing of student activities
- Provide activities parents can do with their children around the core content in the Curriki repository
- Link assessment data to the Curriki content repository so content selection is driven by student test results and collaborate feedback of the curricula
- Provide new tools for easily building and using specialized collections
- Build an open and shared curricula community that will change the way we think about teaching and learning
Membership fees: As Curriki grows, they intend to determine if there are a set of services and functionalities which add enough value to the basic services that members would be comfortable paying a fee for premium access. Think of this similar to the upgraded account on Linkedin or Flickr. (Kurshan, 2009)
Advantages & disadvantages
Curriki offers the opportunity to dramatically expand access to quality learning while being cost effective. The power and success of Curriki lies in its members' effort to join and contribute to the site, building a wealth of valuable educational resources on a global scale. Using the Internet as a medium, this eliminates a number of economic and structural barriers to both free exchange of knowledge and access to resources around the world. Another advantage of the Wiki-like system is the ability to upload and download files in various format such as .txt, .doc, .pdf, .html, and other online resources. Educators can find and share an abundance of lesson plans, materials, textbooks, and worksheets that are far better than current generic worksheet sites on the web. This also replaces the need for individual teachers to spend time re-inventing the wheel for similar lessons and activities already available and allow teachers to spend more time customizing the available resources according to their needs. Curriki allows teachers to share their creative and innovative ideas to other teachers around the world. Curriki's review and member rating system allows users to provide feedback on contributed materials as well as serving to refine the search for high-quality resources. Finally, a powerful advantage of having Wiki technology is that anyone can author and share their work, greatly reducing the reliance and capital spent on print publication and other print material. This is especially valuable in areas where education is not easily affordable.
Disadvantages & criticisms
There is a downside to this system where special interest groups may try to push their message through biased lesson plans and materials, but this has happened with all forms of curricula. As such, Educators can review and choose the resources that are suitable for their own classes. Copyright issues come into play as there is the assumption that the author or contributor must have rights to these materials to share them. As this site operates under the Creative Commons Licensing, one must assume upon posting your resources that they will be shared, reviewed, edited and reworked. Those who are not comfortable with the open source nature of this collaborative site need not participate, however those that choose to participate must still respect the rules governing proprietary work and are obligated not to post material that they do not have authorship or rights to. This is an ongoing concern in all online sharing forums. Another suggested disadvantage of all Wiki-style platforms is users editing with malicious intent, or subtle changes to compromise the integrity of entries. As this Curriki site is used primarily by educators, in order to benefit other educators, this does not seem to be a major concern or common occurence. There may be other disadvantages and criticisms as well, but it seems that the advantages to sharing educational knowledge globally outweighs the negative aspects of such systems.
Curriki is cost effective and supports the idea of "open source" in education for everyone, closing the Education Divide. It brings together not only students, teachers, and parents, but the Ministries of Education, curriculum developers, and other policy makers as well.
"Curriki will be a digital crossroads for those who want to teach and those who want to learn. Together we can eliminate the Education Divide. Freely sharing through community is the right thing to do for educating an increasingly interdependent global population in the Participation Age." (Kurshan, 2007).
In summary, Curriki has been described as: Wikipedia meets Amazon meets iTunes for Teachers. (Batchelder, 2009)
- Community of Practice
- Connectivism: Teaching and Learning
- Constructivist Learning Environments
- Creative Commons
- Educational Blogging
- FOSS/Open Source Software
- Knowledge Building Communities
- Wikis in Education
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