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Curriki a 'dangerous and exciting proposition'

An online network to share educational materials with disadvantaged teachers and parents offers a potentially revolutionary shift.
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Flying in the face of proprietary educational software, a new online educational community allows educators to share curricula with the goal of expanding educational resources for everyone, reports eSchool News.

Called Curriki, the software melds social networking with open-source technologies to create an ever-evolving online resource for teachers and students. The online advantage is that teachers from all over the world can exchange curriculum ideas, network with other teachers, and it's all free.

The concept of Curriki was developed by Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems. It's founding was a way to provide disadvantaged teachers and students around the globe with free access to high-quality educational content. McNealy started the nonprofit organization and hired longtime educational software designer Bobbi Kurshan. In an interview with eSchool News, Kurshan talked about applying the controversial notion of social networking to open curriculum.

Kurshan calls Curikki "a dangerous and exciting proposition" for education; exciting, she says, for its ability to revolutionize how educators approach and integrate new learning resources in their classrooms--and dangerous for its potential to shake up the current market for traditional, standards-based curricula in schools.

Kurshan hopes that Curriki will level the educational playing field, giving teachers and students access to a global array of resources. She says that Curriki isn't simply about giving teachers access to more resources--it's bigger than that. Kurshan believes the site also will help start "a wave of conversations in schools about what it means to be open."

By any standards, the concept seems to be working. Curriki launched in October and can boast 15,000 registered users, with more educators coming online daily.

"I could go on and on," wrote William Kaufmann, a parent who uses Curriki to find resources for his two children. "I am very enthusiastic about this site and its potential."

The drawbacks are that Curriki is constantly evolving, which has some teachers and school boards who are bound by state standards, wondering about the efficacy of the content. And there is the translation factor for curriculum comes in the native language and could be misinterpreted.

Kurshan encourages users to judge the program based on its educational merits and potential. If an instructor finds the pedagogy to be sound, he or she has the ability to update the lesson and modify it to make it work within any given educational system.

"Users have to understand that they are part of a process," said Kurshan.

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