Today, I have some great news to share with you. It gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of OpenCurriculum: our online platform to create, access and share K-12 learning content. OpenCurriculum is the product of two years of work driven by a vision of open, collaborative, and free educational content for all.
This is a follow-up to our official launch / demo day event at the Hub, San Francisco, end of last week, where we were judged as the venture with the biggest impact. Just one look at what we have created easily explains why.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty product details and features, I want to talk about the significance of the launch in the context of moving open K-12 education forward. 2-and-a-half years ago, I made a very strong commitment to opening up K-12 curricular content creation and distribution, coming in with a very strong belief in democratization and freedom in education in development of society. Fortunately, there were some amazing models and ecosystems to tap into, like open source software, Wikipedia, Mozilla and the OER movement, to discover patterns and best practices, alongside discovering opportunities to fill gaps. We have worked hard so far, with very limited resources, to stay true to our mission of bringing openness and innovation to K-12 education. Today, I am psyched to bring you into this vision as we open our doors to the community! All this means more discovery and access to better educational materials, more authentic local educational discussions and more & easier emergence and dissemination of ideas and best practices.
Today’s launch will reveal many new features within OpenCurriculum. I’d like to personally walk through some of my favorite ones:
Create and share to YOUR heart’s “content”
Beginning today, we are not only bringing resources to the platform ourselves, but we are making it easier and easier for you to bring and share your resources with the your friends and the world. With the introduction of user profiles and user resources & collections, it has never been easier to create new worksheets, and quizzes/tests, and lesson plans. Apart from having very streamlined interfaces to create / import these materials from scratch, you can now bring in existing content you have from your Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive and 6 other sources. Use collections to organize all these materials, either for your personal or school needs. And all of these can be shared with a simple click of a button.
Huddle up in Projects
We wanted to recreate the experience of working across departments in schools, school districts and local K-12 educational organizations to share curricular resources on the web, either privately or publicly. This has been a painful process for teachers so far, and they are forced to rely either on bad / exorbitantly-priced tools or on platforms misfit to serve their needs and represent their identity. Beginning today, we are bringing in early institutional partners into sharing on our platform using easy-to-use workspaces called Projects. You can start discovering some of this content from the home page. Projects allow communities to work collaboratively on shared material, and interact with each other in creating better and newer learning content. It also replaces the needs for learning management systems like Blackboard and Moodle in many cases.
We would also like to open up accepting sign-up applications for early adopters of Projects, so sign up today to be the first to try Projects.
Knock knock, let’s collaborate?
Our premise from the very first day of the conception of OpenCurriculum has been that if we work together on common goals, rather than work collectively on individual goals, we can achieve something greater not just for ourselves, but for the community. Launching now, all open community educational articles are open for collaboration – which means anyone can make any changes to the article content and submit it for moderation. With your contributions, we can bring better and more content in the commons.
To make this process even smoother and social, we are launching the Notifications feature. So just like on your social media accounts, when another member offers feedback on your work, you are instantly notified on the top-right-handside of the page. Isn’t that amazing?
More resources and even easier to find
With a stronger search functionality, and our work in bringing in resources in the hundreds on a weekly basis, we are all set for over 10,000 resources on the platform before the end of August. Welcome to the world’s new one-stop shop to discover learning materials!
This is just the beginning
As we release our platform, we realize and want to tell you these are very early stages. Neither are things on the platform perfect now, nor do we think we have even accomplished the tip of the iceberg. And so, you can consider this release a BETA one. In the weeks and months to come, with your help, we are going to take the platform, the content and the community to the absolute next level, and have some really exciting features and sub-products in our pipeline (that are currently small experiments) – that we will share with you when the time is right. To give you a little hint into things: we will increasingly focus on better localization for content, improve facilitation of content exchange, and make the content more useful outside of our website.
Now, I need your help. We want more people to be able to take advantage of the product beginning today, so I would love if you could share this post or the website itself with your friends (teachers and non-teachers) on social media or through email. Share feedback with us and tell us what we can do better. Together, we can make the lives of teachers and all educational organizations around the world easy!
Thanks to Sean Connolly of Neighbor.ly for the picture