Week 4: Education and the Control of Knowledge

This week in our Open Source course, we are focusing on education and the control of knowledge. A leader in the education sector for open source is Open Up Resources. Open Up is an openly licensed, nonprofit collaborative that was formed in an effort to develop comprehensive and high quality standards-aligned core programs to K-12 schools. (Open Up) School districts spend more than $8 billion on textbooks and other instruction materials annually, however, there are huge gaps between district needs and publisher offerings for these materials. In a study done by EdReports, they reviewed 16 middle school math programs and found that only one was deemed standards-aligned across every middle school grade. (EdReports) Open Up’s goal is to deliver consistent educational materials to the changing K-12 student’s needs. Before releasing their open source curriculums, Open Up beta tests them with hundreds of students in multiple districts in order to strengthen the curriculum through feedback. Open Up also provides curriculum support for students with disabilities. They cover the entire educational spectrum for grades K-12. Through open source publications of their curriculum, Open Up provides incredible savings to districts. This also reduces the royalty payments made to the instructional material publishers and authors providing a further decrease in costs to schools. Open Up is proving to be an extremely beneficial tool in changing our education system through the use of open source.edu_open20up

Not only have there been drastic changes in the Open Source education sector, but IP in education, and specifically college research, has seen policy change as well. Penn State announced that the University no longer owns intellectual property from research done with or by the college. It was quoted that Penn State aims to “spur growth with more flexible IP policies, manage master agreements by building end-to-end partnerships, create a culture of entrepreneurship, and raise revenue by aggressively marketing existing Penn State IP.” (IP Policies) This policy change exemplifies an incredible step towards open source innovation through education. Though certain researchers may obtain patents on their products or discoveries, the fact that the University as a whole will no longer seek to obtain ownership rights to over the inventions is incredible for open source. Penn State could lay the groundwork for much more inclusive University-sponsored research between colleges and other research-based firms.

There has been other concern as to the increase in the number patents by Universities across the US. It is believed that such a drastic increase, as a result of the technological boom, may lead to less innovation. “The increased focus on patenting academic inventions has raised a number of concerns. These concerns range from the effect on the direction of research, on the actual costs and benefits of patenting and licensing, to the effects on the diffusion of and access to publicly funded research results.” (Academic Patenting) Open source has quickly become a popular solution to innovation. Companies such as Tesla, who are now releasing their tools and data to the public, have given much attention to the Open source community. Although there are many benefits of patents, the general trend to secure data and research among educational institutions should

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