Facebook (Yes, Facebook) Open Academy Brings Open Source to Computer Science Curricula

Facebook - not the first name that comes to mind when you think of open source - has announced that it hopes to bring more open source to computer science curricula.

Open Academy (OA) is a program designed to
provide a practical, applied software engineering experience as part of a
university student’s CS education. The program works with key
faculty members at top CS universities to launch a course that matches
students with active open source projects and mentors and allows them to
receive academic credit for their contributions to the open source code

Students and mentors from open source projects come together at the start of the semester for a weekend of learning and hacking, and then return to their universities and continue to work in virtual teams. Open source mentors support their teams by helping students find and understand tasks and review code contributions. The course instructors at each university meet with student teams at regular intervals to review progress. Some instructors overlay a lecture series to provide further learning opportunities to students.

OA was piloted at Stanford in 2012 and expanded in 2013 to include MIT, University of Texas at Austin, Cornell Univeristy, University of Toronto, Waterloo University, University of Singapore, University of Tokyo, Imperial College of London, Jagiellonian University, University of Helsinki, and Tampere University of Technology and has now expanded to the University of Pennsylvania, UC San Diego, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, UC Berkeley , Purdue, University of Warsaw, UIUC, UCLA, and University of Washington.  

The winter 2014 course will officially begin in early February when all of the participating faculty, students, and open source mentors from around the world fly to Facebook's headquarters for a three-day kickoff event.


OpenCourseWare Consortium Announces Winners of 2013 Course Awards for Excellence

At the recent OCW Consortium meeting in Bali, Indonesia, awards were given in two categories of open courses – text-based and multimedia.

Text based courses include written materials for the course, including lecture notes, assessments, syllabi, calendars and readings.

Multimedia courses also include video, audio or other type of multimedia presentation of materials.

These courses are produced in a variety of languages and developed by institutions committed to increasing access to high quality higher education for everyone.

America certainly does not dominate the winners.

2013 Course winners – text based courses:

·       An American Constitutional History Course for Non American Students, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
·       Delft Design Guide, Delft University of Technology
·       Atomic Physics, African Virtual University
·       Fisiología Humana, Universidad de Cantabria
·       Conocimientos Básicos de Matemáticas para Primeros Cursos Universitarios, Universidad de Zaragoza

2013 Course winners – multimedia courses:

·       Thermal and Statistical Physics, National Tsing Hua University Opencourseware
·       Productos de apoyo y tecnologías de la información y las telecomunicaciones, UNED: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia
·       Basic Arithmetic, Scottsdale Community College
·       Developmental Math, The NROC Project
·       Introduction to Aerospace Engineering I, Delft University of Technology

More Open Courses for the K12 Community Now Offered By Saylor.org

Saylor.org, a longtime member of the open education community, announced a new K12 program of open online courses.

The academic courses are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and use open educational resources (OER) extensively, making the courses, as well as their contents, widely reusable by students, teachers, and parents nationwide.

The list of the K12 courses also suggests ways to use and reuse the courses.

Teachers can flip their classroom without shooting thei own videos and incorporate more engaging digital content into classes.

Schools can get current, Common Core-aligned materials for free.

Parents can provide extra resources to supplement what kids learn in school and accelerate or review subjects. It offers a self-contained curriculum for home school families.

And, on their own, students can do more challenging work or subjects their school might not offer. It will give you experience in learning in a different way and acclimate to an online learning environment which is common in colleges.  You can also review material you learned in school and go further and prepare for your SATs/college.

(And I made it through this entire post without once saying "MOOC.")

Educating K12 Teachers With MOOCs and Open Education

If MOOCs, or more accurately, open education, is going to actually "revolutionize" education, it will have to change not only how we learn but how we teach.

Coursera, probably the biggest player in massive open online courses now, announced a partnership with 12 top professional development programs and schools of education to open up training and development courses (28 to start) to teachers worldwide. The company says it wants to "create a hub of teacher professional development courses aimed at providing teachers, parents, and anyone else who teaches with the tools and skills to help build stronger education systems.”

There is also a new project called MOOC-Ed (for "massive open online courses for educators) from the Alliance for Excellent Education which is an advocacy organization involved in encouraging digital education in partnership with North Carolina State University’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, at the College of Education.

The first free online class they offered aims at providing thousands of regional administrators in the U.S. help using technology effectively to meet the needs of their school.  The seven-week course was set for April 8 to May 24 and was designed for principals, curriculum directors, superintendents, finance officials, tech directors, and others that plan technology use for K-12th grade.

It is always difficult to pick a "good time" of the year, week, or day to get educators to commit to a few hours of professional development. Asynchronous, online courses may be the best solution to scheduling. For the MOOC-Ed course, it was recommended that you needed to commit 2-4 hours per week for the course.

MOOCs for students in the K-12 environment might have more issues than in higher education. (Although all the MOOC reports I have seen on demographics, including my own course, report high school age students participating.) But using open courses to assist in teacher professional development and increase their their knowledge of technology might work very well.

In the "Academia and the MOOC" course I just completed, even though the participants were mostly from higher education, threads of discussion emerged on using MOOCs in K12 education, corporate training, professional development and, of course, lifelong learners who just want to learn new things without any concern for credit.

Coursera has partnered with the College of Education, University of Washington; Curry School of Education, University of Virginia; Johns Hopkins University School of Education; Match Education’s Sposato Graduate School of Education; Peabody College of education and human development, Vanderbilt University; Relay Graduate School of Education; and University of California, Irvine Extension. They also are partnering with institutions and museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, The Commonwealth Education Trust, Exploratorium, The Museum of Modern Art, and New Teacher Center. This is the first time Coursera is partnering with non-degree-bearing institutions and their first attempt to work with early childhood and K-12-level education.

As with the university courses Coursera offers, these education courses will have video lectures, peer forums, supplemental
materials and interactive components.

In their newly-added category “Teacher Professional Development,” you will find:

“Common Core in Action: Literacy Across Content Areas,” from the New Teacher Center
“Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classroom,” from Relay Graduate School of Education taught by Dave Levin, the co-founder of KIPP
“The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools” taught by Mariale Hardiman of John Hopkins School of Education
“Effective Classroom Interactions: Supporting Young Children’s Development,” from UVA, taught by Bridget Hamre, Grace Funk, Allison Leach and Kathy Neesen
“Tinkering Fundamentals: Integrating Making Activities into Your STEM Classroom,” from the Exploratorium
“Student Thinking at the Core,” taught by Barbara Stengel and Marcy Singer-Gabella of Vanderbilt University
“Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes that Stick,” taught by Orin Gutlerner of Match Education
Three science content focused courses for Educators taught by the American Museum of Natural History
Eight part series on the Foundations of Teaching for Learning aimed at teachers in the developing world taught by Commonwealth Education Trust