This is the article I read:
Open curricula, or Open Educational Resources (OER) is free, adaptable curricula that can (and hopefully will) displace traditional textbook publishers. Using open curricula saves a school district money. Instead of paying for textbooks, which are incredibly expensive, they spend on printing and/or a web-based platform for hosting and managing digital curriculum. The article states that this can cut costs by as much as $50 per student. The article goes on to give four reasons why open curricula will replace the traditional: 1) The transition to digital is accelerating. More and more schools are going digital. 2) The number of full, open curriculum options is growing. EngageNY provides one option for open curriculum , and more are being developed. The K-12 OER Collaborative, an initiative supported by eleven states and a host of organizations, including the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and The Learning Accelerator (TLA), is helping to seed the development of multiple full-course, high-quality open curricula. 3) The user experience of open curriculum will get much better. As the number of options expand, so too will the quality of the experience. One of the big limitations of open resources has been the user experience. Until now, open curriculum hasn’t been able to take advantage of the web’s power to make difficult, time-consuming things happen at the click of a button. Even the EngageNY curriculum is paper-based. Teachers must download large PDFs and read them like old-fashioned instructional manuals. But this is changing rapidly too. 4) Open curriculum is more teacher centered. One of the biggest benefits of open, digital curriculum is that it invites teachers to make changes to the lessons.
“We have an opportunity to take back the curriculum!” education technology consultant Karen Fasimpaur told educators at a SXSWedu event. “What if we took the $5 billion annually spent on textbooks and invested that in teachers and their work?”
This is exciting and potentially a game-changer. No longer constrained by the textbook adopted by a school district, teachers can access free content and also edit and adapt it to their own needs. The concept is based on MOOCs (massive open online courses) that have been in place at the post-secondary level now for a few years. As more schools go digital this will allow for teachers to tailor content to meet their student’s needs more effectively, and for free. My own school hasn’t adopted new textbooks for years, I’m assuming because of cost (instead, we have spent a gazillion dollars on a 1:1 MacBook Air program). This another way to level the playing field for both teachers and students. Even poorer school districts could have access to the same high-quality curricula that better funded school districts have. I look forward to the day when education is equal-access, free and open, and it won’t matter what neighborhood you live in, you can still get an excellent education. It seems a long way off but the open curricula is a good start.