Is there a future for open education beyond privatization? #utpol #utleg

The Utah State of Office of Education (USOE) announced today that “it will develop and support open textbooks in the key curriculum areas of secondary language arts, science, and mathematics.” They also encourage “districts and schools throughout the state to consider adopting these textbooks for use beginning this fall.”

This is clearly a major victory for proponents of open education and a move laden with tremendous potential!

That said, I have mixed feelings about the announcement – or more specifically about the timing and readiness of districts across our state to transition toward open textbook use. Here’s why:

  1. USOE requires Utah districts to conduct standardized testing using a Measured Progress-developed software client that can only be installed on Macintosh or Windows devices. There are no immediate plans for progressing (measuredly) away from this client-based testing solution and no solutions for the iPad or Android tablet devices in sight.
  2. Very few districts in Utah are ready for 1:1 technology access: neither pedagogically, financially, nor culturally. Really.
  3. Any initiative announced just before the Legislative session is subject to immediate suspicion.
Two questions now ring inside my open-education-loving head:
  • Have you ever snuggled up with a netbook to read a good (e-)book?
  • Is this really more of a political move – designed to convince proponents of private and home schooling that public school districts will now gladly hand over students (vouchers) AND develop a viable curriculum for them (open textbooks)?
Openness in education continues to be plagued with more than mere moral dilemmas.

More open?

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