Congratulations to my colleagues in Utah at the OHSU!!!
June 21, 2012
December 16, 2011
One of my good friends, David Wiley, who was also included on the e-mail that Ali sent around about her TEDxPSU – A Closer Look at Cyber Charter Schools responded talking about what I believe is one important exception to the for profit cyber charter school model that I have tried to promote in this space. And with David‘s permission, I post his comments below:
As dead on as it is impassioned. Thank you for sharing. I do want to point out one exception to the gold rush mentality you described so accurately in your presentation (and it does sicken me, and I’m really glad to hear someone talking about it). The exception proves the rule, right? =)
The Open High School of Utah is the antithesis of the gold rush you describe in your presentation. The school invests its own money in aggregating openly licensed materials (curriculum which have copyright licenses that make them freely available with permission to revise and redistribute them) and in creating their own material, which they also openly license. I wrote the OHSU charter in such a way that (1) they are precluded from wasting money on curriculum from providers like K-12 and (2) they are required to share all the material they aggregate and create with the whole world for free under an open license.
Right now you can go to http://ocw.openhighschool.org and download their 9th and 10th grade courses to use to start your own cyber charter, or in your blended classroom, or any other way you want. Next summer the 11th and 12 the grade course will be posted for anyone to download and reuse.
And even though OHSU spends less than $10k on average of to develop each course (which they only pay for once – it’s not an obscene annual license fee – this is a completely open course which we “own” and can use forever), OHSU students’ standardized test scores exceed state averages by .25 – .75 standard deviations in Language Arts, Math, and Science. This in only the school’s second year of operation, and it’s getting better. (Our unique teaching model is a big part of our success, too.)
Of course the first goal of OHSU is supporting the learning of each student. But an important second goal is to cut the legs out from under the gold rushers. Why would anyone pay $1M to K12.com every year when our completely free curriculum has been shown to be as or more effective? A few more years, a few more data in the rear view mirror, and we’ll take the fight directly to the open board meetings of these gold rush schools. How can they claim to be good stewards of public funds when they throw away a million or more each year? They can’t defend that decision forever.
I hope that the model we’ve established at OHSU will be all the ammunition you need for the showdown at dusk that you’re obviously gearing up for. Let me know if you’re looking for a posse. =)
Thank you again for calling attention to this absolutely ludicrous state of affairs.
PS. For folks who have students in traditional schools but have figured out that the textbook publishing cartel is a gold rush as well, check out our $5 textbook work at http://utahopentextbooks.org/. It’s going statewide in high school science in Utah next year, and expanding into Arizona as well!
Well done to the folks at Open High School of Utah for these accomplishments and showing that full-time online learning doesn’t have to be a mechanism for the neo-conservative/neo-liberal agenda to make money.
September 16, 2011
Cutting-Edge Online Charter School Publicly Releases Award-Winning Curriculum Freely Available To Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
From yesterday’s inbox…
September 15, 2011
Cutting-Edge Online Charter School Publicly Releases Award-Winning Curriculum Freely Available to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
In keeping with its mission the Open High School of Utah, a public charter, is the first secondary school to share the curriculum they develop as an open educational resource. Today they announce the release of 20 semesters of creative commons licensed content, bringing the total number of semesters in their repository at www.ocw.openhighschool.org
to 30 semesters. Twenty full courses ranging from math, science, language arts, social studies, and electives are now freely available to anyone, anywhere, anytime! Only one short year after their first curriculum release the Open High School of Utah has garnered multiple accolades and recognition for their exceptional curriculum, teaching model and inovation, including the 2011 Best of State Award in Curriculum Development. Shattering traditional methods, the Open High School of Utah curriculum is built from open educational resources. These resources are the foundation for their content and are aligned with Utah state standards to ensure the highest quality educational experience. The teachers enhance with screencasts, interactive components, and engaging activities to create the finest curricula for their students. The objective behind developing open content is to create free and simple access to knowledge and information through collaboration and innovation. The use of open resources also makes it possible to very easily modify the curriculum to meet individual student needs. This is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Open High School of Utah! Every student’s educational experience can be customized to best fit their learning style, turning the one-size-fits-all, teach-to-the-middle education system on its head. Combine award-winning, freely available curriculum with the ability to modify, enhance and customize and the Open High School of Utah is changing the world one course at a time. Imagine natural disasters or limited resources disrupting or preventing you from providing high quality instructional materials to your students. In the wake of an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand clear across the world to resource deficient Africa, the power of technology and a mission to share their curriculum with anyone, anywhere anytime has allowed Open High to meet the difficult academic challenges of students worldwide without having to step one foot outside of Utah! In California, Pennsylvania and various other places Open High’s curriculum has been tailored by educators to meet the individual needs of their students.When the Open High School of Utah was founded in 2008, they never imagined their mission would spread across the globe as quickly as it has. Through the power of free open curriculum, they have joined the ranks of those who are transforming the way we access high quality instructional materials – now that’s powerful innovation changing the world!
The Open High School of Utah is putting the focus where it should be – on the student. Our mission is to facilitate lifelong success by meeting the needs of the 21st century learner through individualized, student-centered instruction, innovative technology, service learning, and personal responsibility.