The OpenClass Exchange platform is designed to enable educators both to access open course materials and to get in touch with and support each other.
During 2013, teaching staff at primary and secondary schools have seen a huge increase in the educational software and number of apps available to them. However, while they have a growing range of digital tools, the actual educational content remains highly fragmented and difficult to find. Now leading educational materials and services provider Pearson has set out to meet the need for more systematization with its OpenClass Exchange platform, which assembles and organizes open, high-quality, online educational content. This new feature of OpenClass, Pearson’s Open Learning Environment, draws on Open Educational Resources (OERs) and also brings together flows of curated educational content that is already available online. OpenClass Exchange, which has been developed in partnership with the MIT Media Lab, thus opens the way towards making resources available by pooling academic knowledge and the means of interacting and sharing values and best practice offered by the Internet. Matthew Leavy, President and CEO of Pearson’s Pearson eCollege and Pearson Higher Education Learning Technologies, explains that the platform enables teachers to access “the necessary tools and best practice for interacting with their students.”
Open content platform
The OpenClass Exchange basically enables teachers to search and access digital course collections drawn from eTextbooks, course resources and other online educational content. The OpenClass Exchange comprises a catalogue of over 680,000 items, including videos curated from YouTube EDU, Khan Academy and TED Ed. It will also include a collection of complete OER college courses from the Open Course Library. All these documents are stored in Google Docs to make it easy for teaching staff to access, browse and download materials. Using this personalized management facility, educators can also create new documents themselves and exchange them with their peers. This feature is very similar to Apple’s open software for creating manuals in its iBooks Author application.
Added social functionality
To complement the resource platform, OpenClass Exchange adds communication, sharing and collaborative tools for educators, inspired by the Open Source web culture and its values. In fact Pearson plans to develop a fully-fledged ecosystem dedicated to the education profession, so that they can dialogue with each other and share best practice. Moreover, Pearson is inviting teachers to improve the educational content on Open Exchange on an ongoing basis, in the same way that coders continually improve the source code of a piece of computer software or web application. Explains Scot Chadwick, Vice President and General Manager of OpenClass: “What we’re trying to do is enable a community around OpenClass that connects instructors.” The idea is that educators from different countries teaching the same subject will interact with each other as they give courses at their local schools. And, as on Twitter and Facebook, teachers will also be able to ‘follow’ each other and ‘like’ posts – just as nowadays all their students do.