Free Like Freedom

Today finds me too vacation-dazed to really want to make sense of anything but SJSU bureaucracy (don’t ask), but after paring down the list of feeds in my aggregator to a workable 206, here’s an attempt to connect the dots:

Jimbo Wales, the Wikipedia guy, Lessig’s guest-blogger at the moment, is running down a list of things that will be Free Like Freedom (not like Free Beer) in the always-approaching future. One Future Freedom? The Cirriculum, baby. Wales writes:

“In the long run, it will be very difficult for proprietary textbook publishers to compete with freely licensed alternatives. An open project with dozens of professors adapting and refining a textbook on a particular subject will be a very difficult thing for a proprietary publisher to compete with. The point is: there are a huge number of people who are qualified to write these books, and the tools are being created to leave them to do that.”

Talk about a quick way to lower astronomical textbook costs: open-source wikitexts written by teams of qualified profs, texts that evolve with the changing world, rather than becoming outdated every time a technology or piece of history revises the field. (Full disclosure: I just purchased a handful of used textbooks via Amazon)

The New York Times (reg req’d) reports on elementary and high school kids (and teachers) using podcasting, blogs, and Skype. Fourth-graders podcasting, foreign language students talking with students from other countries on Skype, and high school students on opposite sides of the continent commenting on each other’s essays. All of this is based on the presence of broadband access and lots of computers in schools, but that’s an easy sell. The rest of the software involved is…free like free beer.

SO: What we’ve got here is the framework for the future of education, pretty quickly falling into place. Maybe I should take an education class or two: this whole teaching thing is starting to sound like fun!

[tags]education, ebooks, wikibooks[/tags]