What If K-12 Went Open Source?

Open Source

What if public education systems opened up the curriculum to teachers, students and parents? What kinds of changes do you think each would make and how might that improve the current state of a system firmly rooted in the 19th century?

This may sound a bit extreme, but consider the Android operating system embraced open source approaches and how that has led to incredible success.

The Google Android mobile operating system is open to free modification and distribution by device manufacturers, wireless carriers and enthusiast developer. And¬†because it is accessible to virtually anyone, large communities of developers and enthusiasts self-organized to add new features or bring Android to devices which were officially released running other operating systems.¬†As a result, it has become the world’s most popular operating systems to run on mobile phones, having 81.3 percent of the global smartphone market.

With the culmination of high-speed Internet connectivity, Massively Online Open Courseware (MOOCs) like EDx and Udacity, and teachers that want to explore beyond the curriculum, young people will be free to explore passions, interests and develop skills to become experts in these areas.

How to Open Source K-12 Education

How do we get there? It has to start with parents demanding a change. Too many are comfortable with the status quo, satisfied with A’s and B’s regardless of actual passion or interest that accompanies these empty letter grades. Once parents demand more than bubble sheets and letter grades, the momentum will shift toward change.

Some choose charter schools and some take learning so personally that they choose to set-up a learning environment completely at home, never setting foot in a physical classroom. According to the Brietbart Report website, homeschooling is growing seven times faster than K-12 enrollment in the U.S. But many parents don’t realistically have these options. What can they do? I believe that if they really want change, they need to find like-minded parents in the community and build a new solution.

Open source ideology isn’t limited to smartphone software. It just might be the secret weapon for truly opening up innovation in learning environments. What ideas do you have for open sourcing education? Like the Android operating system, the behemoth U.S. education system could benefit from some very new approaches that inspire thinkers way beyond drill and kill problem sets.

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