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Et Tu, Brute? Crowdsourcing The Death Of The Textbook

Browse recordings: livestream.com/educon5

Session Three: Saturday 3:00pm–4:30pm
Room 211
Bill Fitzgerald
Affiliation: Founding Partner, FunnyMonkey
Conversational Focus/Audience:
All School Levels
Conversation Description:

The traditional textbook model revolves around a fixed, unchanging printed text. This model has significant weaknesses; many teachers spend a fair amount of time preparing lessons and activities that extend, augment, or replace textbooks. These teacher-generated materials, along with a growing body of freely available open content, have some significant advantages over traditional textbooks - including price, more timely updates, and the complete flexibility to modify or customize a text, to name a few.

Teachers already prepare educational materials as part of class preparation. If these materials were shared, in a reusable format, under an open license we would have a growing body of teacher written, classroom tested material that can be then be remixed, reused, improved, and redistributed.

In this session, we will examine ways to connect with educators to author, share, and reuse content, using tools many of us are already using, to increase the reach of work many of us are already doing.

Conversational Practice:
This method of developing and using content is predicated on continuous, ongoing conversations between teachers. In this context, the definition of "open content" expands to encompass not just learning objects (those stale, encrusted metaphors of centralized control), but the concepts taught, the activities used, and observations around what worked and what didn't within a specific lesson or unit. The process of converting a traditional textbook into a learning tool that captures an ongoing conversation about a subject at a specific point in time does more than simply replace some dead trees with a more vibrant (and cost effective) alternative. It helps reshape our learning habits in school to resemble our learning habits in life. On the practical side, this session will also cover how to set up your very own remixing engine, using open source components that can be assembled and installed by a moderately technical person in 30 minutes or less.


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