from Educators' eZine
Why develop and use open source curriculum materials? The Wyoming Middle-school Spanish program, which is funded by the Wyoming Legislature and the U.S. Department of Education's Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), has chosen to do so because using open source materials:
- Leverages limited human and material resources in education;
- Promotes equity of access to top flight information, curriculum, and curricular materials for all educators and their students, regardless of where they work and study or their financial resources;
- Provides a forum for collaboration among educators, which has the potential not only to make better materials available to more people, but also to improve teaching and learning by encouraging educators to learn from each other;
- Supports the constant evolution and improvement of materials as anyone can provide input and contribute; and
- Provides access to materials developed by educators for educators, freeing them from reliance on textbook companies, who must make a profit and thus are financially obligated to focus on meeting the needs of the largest educational demographics rather than using limited resources to meet the needs of relatively small audiences (such as elementary foreign language programs or materials for less commonly taught but critical languages such as Arabic).
The Wyoming Middle-school Spanish curriculum materials, some of which are currently available on Curriki (just serach Curriki.org under "Wyoming"), are good examples of the power and potential of open source materials. This project leveraged state, federal, and non-profit resources to make high-quality materials available nationally and internationally. The development of the 6th-grade Spanish materials was funded by the State of Wyoming, the development of the 7th and 8th grade materials is being underwritten by the U.S. Department of Education through a FLAP grant (Foreign Language Assistance Program). The non-profit organization Curriki is providing the forum through which the materials can be accessed, downloaded, and modified as necessary by Spanish teachers anywhere in the world.
Ann Tollefson is a national consultant in the development, implementation, and evaluation of world-language programs. She has served as the world-language content specialist for the Wyoming Department of Education, a district-level world-language supervisor, and a high school teacher of French. She was also the designer and project director for the Wyoming K-6 Foreign Language Pilot Program that currently serves more than 9,000 children in Wyoming.