Education Team/Replacing Textbooks

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Sugar Labs is in the process of setting up a project for Replacing Textbooks with Open Education Resources (OERs), that is, digital e-learning materials under Creative Commons Sharealike licenses.


The XO-1 cost much less than textbooks in developed countries. This has led to the proposal to replace all textbooks with Open Education Resources (OERs), with the aim of both improving education and saving money that could then be applied to such necessities as electricity and Internet for the XOs. Mokurai has started a project at Sugar Labs to do just that. In April 2011 the booki software from FLOSS Manuals went live, and Sugar Labs set up a testing server to prepare the way for rolling out the project, which is to be opened up to all users as soon as we can manage it.

The use of OERs means that teachers and students can engage in continuous improvement, rather than being completely dependent of commercial publishers and school boards for occasional updates of textbooks. It further means that materials can be translated into the language of any community that wishes to undertake the work, with the more advanced students translating from the official language of instruction (often English or French) to the official languages of the country (Swahili in Kenya, for example), and to their own local languages (Maa among the Maasai, for example). However, Spanish will be our first priority, to support Uruguay, Perú, and other countries of Latin America.


Initial tests will include projects in Calculus by and For Young People, language teaching, discovery learning, the economics of education and ending poverty, and other subjects. Ultimately, we will need textbooks for every school subject in every country for every age in every required language, plus teacher training, versions of a subject (such as health, civics, history or geography) specific to each country, and more. Please look at the OLPC and Sugar manuals at FLOSS Manuals to get an idea of how this can work, and the first set of titles to be translated using FM's booki software.

We need to collect curriculum standards for each country (or state or province) and for each subject, as set out by subject matter expert organizations. We need a library of existing textbooks, and of content that can be remixed to create new textbooks.

Although there is substantial research on computers in education, there is no systematic research program on what can be done using one-to-one computing to teach existing courses better, that is, with deeper understanding by students, or to teach subjects at earlier ages.


UNESCO takes this idea very seriously, and has asked Mokurai to open a discussion on it on their WSIS Web site. He has also created a CrowdRise fundraiser for this project.