27 open solutions to everything in education

Read the best articles published on Opensource.com in 2017 on how openness is improving who we educate and learn.
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Open education resources


Openness (from open source software, to open hardware, to open principles) is changing the paradigm of education. So, to celebrate all that's gone on this year, I collected 27 of the best articles published on Opensource.com in 2017 on the subject. I divided them into broad themes, rather than ordering them by popularity. And, if these 27 stories don't satisfy your appetite for information about open source in education, check out our companion article on how education is leveraging Raspberry Pi and Linux.

Open is better for everyone

  1. Book review: 'OPEN' explores broad cultural implications of openness: Scott Nesbitt reviews David Price's book OPEN, which explores the idea that "open" isn't just a technological shift, rather it's "how we'll work, live, and learn in the future." 
  2. Jump-start your career with open source skills: VM (Vicky) Brasseur points out how to get ahead in the workforce by learning open source. This advice isn't just for programmers; designers, writers, marketers, and other creative professionals are also essential to the success of open source.
  3. A graduate degree could springboard you into an open source job: Citing research that shows that Linux skills lead to higher pay, Joshua Pearce makes the case that open source proficiency and a graduate degree are an unbeatable career combination.
  4. These 3 practices revolutionized Penn Manor's school culture: Charlie Reisinger shows us how open practices are creating a more inclusive, agile, and open culture in a Pennsylvania school district. Charlie says it's not just about saving money; the district also gains from "open leadership principles that foster innovation among teachers and students, help to better engage the community, and create a more vibrant and inclusive learning community."
  5. 15 ways to empower students with open source tools: I write how open source gives students the freedom to explore, tinker, and learn, whether they're learning basic digital literacy or expanding on those skills with fun projects.
  6. Developer opportunities to code for good: Open source is often the backbone of socially beneficial projects. As Ahn Bui, vice president of Benetech Labs, states in this interview: "Establishing open data standards is an integral step in breaking down data silos. Those open standards will provide the foundation for interoperability and in turn, translate to more organizations building together, often more cost effectively. The ultimate goal is to serve more people at the same cost or even less."

Open education resources for remixing and reusing

  1. Can academic faculty members teach with Wikipedia? LiAnna Davis, director of programs for Wiki Ed, discusses how open educational resources (OERs), such as Wiki Ed, are providing high-quality and affordable open source learning resources as classroom teaching tools.
  2. Are textbooks in or out? The state of open educational resources: Cable Green, director of open education for Creative Commons, shares how the face of education is changing in higher education and what Creative Commons is doing to facilitate it.
  3. School systems desperate for standards-aligned curricula find hope: Karen Vaites, community evangelist and chief marketing officer of Open Up Resources, talks about the nonprofit organization's efforts to provide open, standards-aligned curricula for K-12 schools.
  4. How the University of Hawaii is solving today's higher ed problems: Billy Meinke, educational technologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says that transitioning to OER in college courses will "empower faculty to take control of what content they teach with, which we expect will result in their saving students money."
  5. How open courses are slashing the cost of higher education: Saylor Academy's director of education Devon Ritter reports how Saylor is building its college credit-eligible courses on openly licensed content, with the goal of making higher education affordable and accessible to more people.
  6. Open educational resources movement gains speed: Alexis Clifton, executive director of the State University of New York OER Services, describes how New York's US$ 8 million investment is spurring growth in open education and making college more affordable.
  7. Open project collaboration from elementary to university classrooms: Aria F. Chernik from Duke University explores OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy Research and Innovation), a collaboration between Duke and Red Hat that's building a 21st-century, preK-12 learning ecosystem that is open by design.
  8. Perma.cc stops scholarly link rot: Virginia Tech's Phillip Young writes about Perma.cc, a solution to "link rot," which is the high probability that hyperlinks in academic papers will disappear or change over time.
  9. Open education: How students save money by creating open textbooks: OER pioneer Robin DeRosa talks about "the freedom that the openly licensed textbook introduced, and the overarching idea that education and learning should be contextualized in inclusive ecosystems that enhance the public good."

Open source tools in the classroom

  1. How an open source board game is saving the planet: Joshua Pearce writes about Save the Planet, a board game that empowers students to solve environmental problems while having fun and contributing to the maker community.
  2. A new Android app for teaching kids how to read: Michael Hall talks about Phoenicia, a children's literacy app he developed after his son was diagnosed with autism, the value of coding for good, and why user testing matters more than you think.
  3. 8 open source Android apps for education: Joshua Allen Holm challenges us to use our smartphones as learning tools by recommending eight open source apps from the F-Droid repository to try.
  4. 3 open source alternatives to MATLAB: Jason Baker's update to his 2016 survey of open source mathematical computing software presents alternatives to MATLAB, the expensive, proprietary solution nearly ubiquitous in mathematics, physical sciences, engineering, and economics.
  5. What does SVG have to do with teaching kids to code? Retired engineer Jay Nick talks about how he uses art as a creative way to introduce students to coding. He volunteers in schools, using Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) to teach an approach to coding that combines principles of mathematics and art.
  6. 5 myths busted: Using open source in higher education: Kyle Conway, who holds a PhD in fine arts from Texas Tech, shares his experience using open source tools in a world ruled by proprietary solutions. Kyle says there's a bias against using open source in disciplines outside of computer science: "Many people think non-technical students can't use Linux, and they make a lot of assumptions about people who use it in their advanced degree programs. … Well, it is possible, and I'm proof."
  7. A list of open source tools for college: Aaron Cocker outlines the open source tools (including presentation, backup, and programming software) he uses while working on his undergraduate degree in computer science.
  8. 5 great KDE apps to help you study: Zsolt Szakács offers five KDE applications that help anyone who wants to learn new skills or cultivate existing ones.

Coding in the classroom

  1. How to get the next generation coding early: Bryson Payne says we need to teach kids to code before high school: By ninth grade 80% of girls and 60% of boys have already self-selected out of a STEM career. But it's not only about jobs and closing the IT skills gap, he suggests. "Teaching a young person to code could be the single most life-changing skill you can give them. And it's not just a career-enhancer. Coding is about problem-solving, it's about creativity, and more importantly, it's about empowerment."
  2. Kids can't code without computers: Patrick Masson introduces the FLOSS Desktops for Kids program, which teaches students at underserved schools to repurpose older computers with open source software, such as Linux, LibreOffice, and GIMP. Not only is the program breathing new life into broken or decommissioned hardware, it's also giving students important skills that may translate into future careers.
  3. Is Scratch today like the Logo of the '80s for teaching kids to code? Anderson Silva offers suggestions for using Scratch to spark kids' interest in programming, just as LOGO did when he started using it in the 1980s.
  4. Learn Android development with this drag-and-drop framework: Eric Eslinger describes App Inventor, a programming framework for building Android applications using a visual blocks language (similar to Scratch or Snap).

Throughout the year we learned that there is an open solution to everything in education, and I expect this theme to continue in 2018 and beyond. Are there open education topics you'd like Opensource.com to cover in the coming year? If so, please share your ideas in the comments.

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Educator, entrepreneur, open source advocate, life long learner, Python teacher. M.A. in Educational Psychology, M.S. Ed. in Educational Leadership, Linux system administrator.

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