Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Open Education Maths Course for Secondary Schools

Open Education Resources (OERs) have been in the press a lot of late - for very good reason in my opinion. After all, if we really do believe in the notion of an accessible education for everyone, it is reasonable to expect that there will be a quantum of resource available that students and teachers can call on for little or no cost.

So why do schools invest large amounts of $ on text books when there are many resources already there? There are of course lots of answers to this ... but from a simple perspective ... Is it viable to use OER for a traditional secondary course? Is there enough out there for a teacher to find and use without too much stress?

Well, being a maths teacher in a past life, I set myself the goal of finding an open source text book to start with that would serve the purpose of my text book for a secondary course

A simple Google search turns up plenty of options - but the one I settled for was CK-12's flex book - they have a number of mathematics and science titles that are appropriate for secondary level. One of the nice things is that CK-12 offer both PDF and web versions of their texts. Of course, the PDF doesn't have any of the video tutorials that the web version does - but you can simply provide both versions for your students ... The best of both worlds.

The videos in the web version ... Turned out they are from Khan Academy - and that reminded me of the potential power of the Khan Academy online tutorials and related system ... And here they are matched with a text book! Brilliant!!

So - in my mind a great line up to supplement any Maths course ... You have a text book, large numbers of video examples and you as the teacher. All you need to do is change to a free textbook ... Maths content doesn't appear to change much year on year (that's the subject of another debate!) - so this should work.

Want to give it a try? Just think - if it worked ... And with a Maths text costing say $40 per copy ... And 30 kids per class, and (in our case) maybe 6 classes per year level ... That means we could save $7200 per level on texts, plus any annual replacements.

And let's be really honest ... If you can be bothered looking ... you will find plenty of free resources from texts to video to ... you name it. Today's teachers and students have the world at their fingertips. It's really time to start harnessing some of this great power.

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