Free and Open Source Education

I was looking to see if there is anything similar the free and open source movement in the field of education. Something that comes remotely closer is MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative, which is basically a collection of slides used for teaching. It neither gives access to MIT faculty nor gives any credit or recognition for its users. What I was looking for is the exact principles of free and open source software applied to education. Where text books, course materials, and classes are free and open to all, no admission or tuition fees, except perhaps fees for conducting examinations and evaluating answers.

I remember this hugely successful experiment in education, in the town I grew up.

Anyone who has done pre-university education in South India, might recall how stressful the two years are. All most all students go to private tuitions, often skipping the regular classes. At that age, you may feel you are loosing something if you do not take tuition classes. I considered them both corrupt and evil. These tuitions were mostly conducted by the teaching faculty themselves, out side their normal work. They charged hefty fees (and paid no taxes for them). It was a conflict of interest for them. Some faculty members would publicly advertise their tuitions in regular classes and \*hint\* that students taking them would score better grades. They would teach disinterestedly at school, hinting that for anything more students must come to their home tuitions. It has harsh on students life, apart from spending 7-8 hours at school, they had to now spend another 3-4 hours running up and down private tuitions. I guess now there is a legislation banning teachers in public institutions conducting private classes.

In such an environment an officer GopalaKrishna Murthy (known as GK) at an insurance company had started "Discussion Classes" or DC. Its concept was simple: One or two brilliant students of 2nd year tutored students of the first year, and so on. There ware no fees, no admissions, no recommendations or pre-requisites. It was an entirely voluntary effort. GK only let his house garage and terrace be used for the purpose. As a result the number of students taking proprietary tuitions dwindled. Only rich students who wanted to buy better grades went to them. [or only paid the tuition fees there, but attended DCs]

In a sense that was the spirit of open source applied to education! And it was quite a success.

Conditions in US are different, but seem much worse. The cost of education is so high that students have to work to be able to pay for their tuitions. When it is the time to enjoy the knowledge of science or art, they serve food in restaurants or throw newspaper. Some may put it as one way to learn life, I see it to be unfortunate at that age.

Remember that to attempt to replicate conventional education techniques as open source is missing the point point of open source. true open source would be taking a project a working in a cooperative level on a global basis much more like the development of software. Grades, standards and structure should probabley change but that that doesn't mean you should compromise quality if anything it allows everyone to put in there best effort without really being measured on a trivial basis

Posted by snowdogf on June 28, 2006 at 09:19 PM PDT #

Dear Sirs, I am student from Madagascar. I would like to continue my study in USA but i have not enough financial to support me in my study there. I am from family,parentswho are very low income.They cannot assist me in my study. So I apply for a full scholarship or financial aids in order to conitnue my study in the united States of America. Sincerely Joachin

Posted by Randrianalisoa Joachin on September 06, 2006 at 02:56 PM PDT #

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