In fine-tuning the chapter on creativity chapter in my upcoming book, I wanted to write about the explosion of opportunities that teachers and students now have to make that leap from consumers to creators of knowledge within their learning process. I was honored to interview Neeru Khosla this morning; Neeru is the co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit CK-12 Foundation. If you don’t know what CK-12 has to offer you as an educator, you, your students, and your school are missing out.
Starting about seven years ago, using privately-raised funds, CK-12 started generating high-quality curriculum units for K-12 school, primarily in STEM subjects. They pay experienced, qualified educators to write content; it is reviewed through multiple stages; it all meets various state and national standards. You can go on their website and see the THOUSANDS of units they have built…and it is all completely free.
They have now added another layer of use for teachers and students. You can either download books as is, or you can take materials from multiple sources, design your own text materials, and add, edit, and customize. Where students have access to computers, teachers just distribute what they have collated. Neeru told me that they are working with a school that does not have student access to computers, in which case the teachers have designed, copied, and distributed hard copies of texts for $4.60 a copy, a small fraction of what a similar book would cost from the publisher.
Why is every school in America not taking advantage of this resource? Beats me. We spend an enormous amount on textbooks that feed our assembly line mentality of learning when we could save that money and turn over the creative reigns of learning to our teachers and students. We can pay our teachers a stipend to generate their own customized curriculum using seeds from a free, qualified source like CK-12. Everyone wins…except the shareholders of large publishing companies, to whom I apologize.
If you look at CK-12 Foundation’s vision statement you will see they are moving in the direction of developing an adaptive learning platform, and if they are as thoughtful and successful in that venture as they have been with making free content available to schools, we are in for another large boost in the expansion of transformed learning opportunities.