Category Archives: OER News

Girls and Women in STEM in Asia: UNESCO Report

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

Curriki was very pleased to be in attendance on March 9th when UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education unveiled their report on girls and women in STEM fields, at the Bangkok Science Center for Education in Thailand.

Titled “A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia”, the report examines the status of girls studying math, science and engineering subjects in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education, and the current state of employment for women in STEM fields. The report was based on in-depth country studies from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam, in conjunction with other statistics from the region. The full 122-page report is freely available here on the UNESCO Bangkok web site.

Key Findings 

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The highest level message of the report is that “early and targeted intervention through education can greatly facilitate girls’ and women’s increased participation in STEM fields”.

While there are a number of interesting variations among the 7 countries studied, substantial consistency was found across a number of key findings.

  • Overall there is a shortage of talent on STEM fields in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Globally, fewer than 30% of STEM researchers are women.
  • Gender differences in STEM topics become especially apparent around age 15, during secondary school education.
  • The gender gap at the secondary level correlates with under-representation of women in STEM during higher education and in the workforce.
  • Within the STEM fields, both in higher education and in the workforce, women tend to be found primarily in biology, chemistry and medicine.
  • Women are very lightly represented in physics, engineering and computer science/IT.
  • These latter fields are more math-intensive, and in school girls report more anxiety around, and lower interest levels in, mathematics.
  • There are fewer female teachers in STEM, implying fewer role models for girls.
  • Gender stereotypes are widespread in teaching and learning materials for STEM subjects.

Recommendations

A few of the recommendations from the report are:

“Teacher education and policies on recruitment must ensure a fair representation of both male and female teachers in all subjects, including mathematics and science, at all levels if education.

  • Teacher education… should be transformed to ensure that teachers are trained in gender-responsive teaching strategies.
  • Promoting more female role models in STEM, whether female teachers…female students and faculty members in higher education, and more broadly more women working in STEM fields, is an important strategy.

Curricula and learning materials should undergo further rigorous review from a gender perspective to ensure that they do not perpetuate gender stereotypes.”

Curriki is particularly interested in the last of these recommendations. We have tens of thousands of STEM materials at www.curriki.org, available for free, to support STEM education for girls and boys in Asia and around the world. We encourage you to upload STEM materials onto the Curriki web site, especially those that show equal participation of girls and boys in STEM learning roles, across the various disciplines, and that reflect both men and women as role models, equally. If you have such materials to upload, Curriki and our large, global educator and learner community will be most appreciative.

Open Source Textbook Study: Students Save Substantial Sums

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

A study from Student PIRGS (Student Public Interest Research Groups) across the nation has found that college and university students could save over $1000 per year if all textbooks were provided open source materials.

The report is based on pilot programs at 5 different university campuses, and is available here. It notes that “According to the College Board, the average undergraduate student should budget between $1,200 and $1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year. That’s as much as 40% of tuition at a two-year community college and 13% at a four-year public institution.” The report notes that the college textbook market is artificial, since there is no direct consumer – producer link, as indicated in the figure below. A handful of academic publishers dominate the traditional textbook market.

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Image from “Open Textbooks: The Billion Dollar Solution”, Ethan Senack, The Student PIRGS, February 2015

Open textbooks are high quality, faculty-written and peer-reviewed materials. They are available online and for electronic distribution in .pdf or other formats. The cost to students for open source materials is minimal.

The findings are based on 21,697 students enrolled in OER courses at Kansas State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), the University of Minnesota, and Tacoma Community College. The aggregate results indicate that students could save on average about $128 per course. Extrapolated to an academic year this is over $1000 per student per year. If all the 11 million full-time undergraduates in the U.S. were using only open textbooks, the aggregate savings would be well over $1 billion per year.

As the growth of open textbooks spreads at the university level, we at Curriki expect increasing activity in the K-12 space as well. State and local authorities could save substantial amounts from their education budgets by moving to open textbooks. Curriki is a repository for a wide variety of open source educational materials, including full courses and textbooks. We’d like to call your attention to several high school level mathematics courses:

Curriki Algebra 1 – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_kathyduhl/Algebra1?bc=&viewer=info

Curriki Geometry – http://www.currikigeometry.org

Curriki Calculus – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_CurrikiCalculusCollection/CurrikiCalculusIntegralCalculus?bc=&viewer=info

There are also many full textbook resources on Curriki. A search for high school math level textbooks alone reveals over 200 resources. We encourage you to search at Curriki for core or supplementary textbook resources that you can use in your classroom!

OECD Report: Education at a Glance 2014

KimJonesimage  By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

 

The OECD report “Education at a Glance 2014″ was released on 9 September 2014.

EducationataGlance2014The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has 34 member countries, and they included data from 10 additional countries in this report. The report looks at educational attainment and impact on economic and employment results in 44 countries across Europe, North and South America, Africa and the Asia / Pacific region.

Key findings include:

  • The economic divide between tertiary-educated (college or university-educated) individuals and those with less education is growing.
  • The level of unemployment is 3 times lower among those with a tertiary education (5% vs. 14%)
  • Those with tertiary-level educations earn twice as much as the average of those with less education.

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“Education can lift people out of poverty and social exclusion, but to do so we need to break the link between social background and educational opportunity,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “The biggest threat to inclusive growth is the risk that social mobility could grind to a halt. Increasing access to education for everyone and continuing to improve people’s skills will be essential to long-term prosperity and a more cohesive society.

A press release from the OECD with a high-level overview of the key findings is at: http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/educational-mobility-starts-to-slow-in-industrialised-world-says-oecd.htm

A 55 slide summary of many of the key results is available at: http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/OECDEDU/education-at-a-glance-2014-key-findings

You can access the full 568 page report at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/education-at-a-glance-2014_eag-2014-en

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Curriki shares the objectives of increased access to education and improving work-related skills for people across the world. Curriki helps to spread educational opportunity to children in all countries by providing over 50,000 free and open K-12 educational resources at www.curriki.org/welcome.

10 Most Popular (and Free) Math Resources on Curriki

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

If you know a math teacher or a student who’s interested in math, please tell them about Curriki. Did you know we offer more than 15,000 free online math open educational resources (OERs)? Here are our most popular math resources over the past year.

 

  1. fractionsTeaching Fractions  – this collection includes lessons and videos, including “Fraction Operations” and “Fun with Fractions.”
  2. Math for Americas: Lessons, Activities and Problems – designed for middle and high school students, this includes collections of lessons, activities, and problems organized by subject (pre-algebra, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, geometry and more).
  3. Geometry_mobile2Curriki Geometry PBL Modules –  Curriki Geometry comprises six Common Core State Standards (CCSS)- aligned projects. The projects are available in both PDF format for easy download and in an online course format at www.currikigeometry.org.
  4. Division (video) from Khan Academy –  This video is an introduction to division: what it means and how to do it. You can find links to many other Khan Academy video resources here.
  5. algebra2For Students: Project-based Pre-Algebra – This unit is meant to provide supplemental support to a standard Pre-Algebra course and is meant to connect the world of math to that of art. These projects follow the typical sequence of a standard 7th/8th grade Pre-Algebra course.
  6. Relationships between Quantities and Reasoning with Equations – By the end of eighth grade, students have learned to solve linear equations in one variable and have applied graphical and algebraic methods to analyze and solve systems of linear equations in two variables. This unit builds on these earlier experiences by asking students to analyze and explain the process of solving an equation.
  7. FHSSTMathematics - This collection is a full course of material in the form of a textbook provided by FHSST (Free High School Science Texts). FHSST is a project that aims to provide free science and mathematics textbooks for Grades 10 to 12 science learners.
  8. Area of a Triangle – This lesson walks students through a classic optimization problem involving building the maximum area of a triangle, expressed in terms of an angle. The lesson uses a worksheet in The Geometers Sketchpad.
  9. algebra1Curriki Algebra – These modules are based upon the domains and Common Core State Standards clusters. They contain daily lessons based on the four algebra domains and the standards and standard clusters found within. The daily lessons are based on 50-minute sessions and build up to a culminating project-based activity.
  10. Math eTextbooks -  A collection of free math eTextbooks including algebra, statistics and probability, calculus, geometry and more.

Please help us spread the word and share this list with a friend or colleague!

Common Core Adoption: A Tale of Two Districts

janetpintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Curriki is following the rollout of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with great interest, and you will see us report on this regularly in this blog.

Since we have a broad international audience, here is a quick description of the Common Core initiative in the United States. K-12 education in the U.S. is primarily the responsibility of individual states and localities. The CCSS is an initiative whose origins date back to the 1990s. It is sponsored by the state Governors and state education authorities, and currently 44 states (out of 50) are fully participating. CCSS addresses Mathematics and English Language Arts only at present (Science and Humanities subjects are not covered).

According to Wikipedia, “the nation’s governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bipartisan organization to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states…Standards were released for mathematics and English language arts on June 2, 2010, with a majority of states adopting the standards in the subsequent months.”

Curriki is supportive of the objectives of CCSS and we believe that we can contribute significantly, whether in the role of supplementary curricular materials or indeed, in a more central role.

Photo by ninhale via Flickr Creative Commons

The upcoming academic year 2014/2015 represents a key year in the CCSS rollout. While CCSS outlines standards and requirements, it does not provide curricula. It is up to each state and each district to determine what materials to use. Publishers of textbooks and other learning materials are naturally working toward adhering to CCSS standards. But this is a very large change and some updated textbooks are being criticized as just representing a rehash of older material rather than a fully top-down restructuring and redesign in order to fully adhere to the spirit and guidelines of CCSS.

Here’s an article comparing the experiences of two different districts -

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29cc-curriculum.h33.html

One district is in the state of California (Long Beach) and the other is in Florida (Orlando). According to the Edweek article:

“They solved that problem in very different ways. The Florida group scoured the market and chose a suite of materials from a major publisher. Their colleagues across the country, dissatisfied with that same marketplace’s offerings—and limited by their thin pocketbook—wrote their own curriculum.”

The article notes that many districts across the country have delayed updating textbooks and curricular materials as they waited to see what publishers would produce. The district in Florida picked materials primarily from one publisher based on perceived “reflection of the common core and for having a better digital component and better interventions for students with weak skills”.

However the Long Beach district in California took a different path. Given their budget realities, and the slow schedule for CCSS rollout at their state level, they chose to retain their existing mathematics and English language arts texts, but to build new curricula and materials around those.

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One way to do this – enhance or develop curricula to align to CCSS – is to make use of Curriki! There are over 50,000 open educational resources on Curriki. These are available for free to build new curricula and supplement existing curricula. For example, Curriki Geometry is a complete geometry course, free at currikigeometry.org. Curriki’s Project-Based Learning and Common Core Aligned Geometry course will help your students build the skills and confidence that will help them conquer mathematical problems and develop 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and teamwork.

We will continue to report to you on CCSS adoption experiences and issues across the U.S. 

Early Childhood Education Pays for Itself

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

The US is lagging behind other developed countries in Early Childhood Education. Many children enter school (Kindergarten and then primary school) unprepared and they tend to fall further and further behind during their many years of education. Early childhood education leads to improvements in students’ cognition and social and emotional maturity, and provides long-term positive results and cost benefits to society at large. 

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Childcare and PreK (before kindergarten) education provide many such benefits according to earlychildhood.nyc.org:

Cognitively:

  •  Improves school performance
  •  Raises math and language abilities
  •  Sharpens thinking/attention skills
  •  Reduces special education placement
  •  Lowers school drop out rates

Socially and emotionally:

  •  Improves and strengthen interactions with peers
  •  Decreases problem behaviors
  •  Encourages more exploratory behavior
  •  Helps adjustment to the demands of formal schooling

Long-term positive results and cost savings of Early Childhood Education:

  •  Increases lifelong earning potential
  •  Achieves better academic outcomes
  •  Lowers rates of teen pregnancy and incarceration”

Here are some sites where you can investigate the benefits of, and issues around, Early Childhood Education:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/early-childhood

http://www.earlychildhoodnyc.org/resources/aboutECE_whyImportant.cfm

And we have some excellent PreK resources on Curriki, including:

Shapes and Colors Science Kit -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_cabocesmst/ShapesandColorsScienceKit?bc=

Meet a Puppeteer -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Nobiah/MeetaPuppeteer

Improving Learning -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Folwell/50littleThingsTeachersParentsandOthersCanDotoImproveLearning

Reading List for PreK – 

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_briansharky22/PreK-KReadingList

Math Games -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_3rdGradeMathGames/MathGameTime

But we need more! If you have open educational resources suitable for PreK, please contribute these at:  

http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/contribute-content/publish-resources/

Technology Helping To Personalize Student Learning Experiences

SU13StudentsReportCoverBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Students learn in many different ways, whether they’re a visual learner preferring pictures and shapes, or an auditory learner preferring sounds and rhythms. Oftentimes, we use a mix of learning styles and techniques to process information.

Unfortunately, traditional textbooks simply can’t meet students’ diverse learning styles, since every student has unique interests, attention spans, and needs. So how do we ensure the success of every student? The key to a personalized learning experience is technology.

A recent study from Speak Up published this month explored how K-12 students are using digital tools and resources to enhance their schoolwork activities.

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Infographic- The New Digital Learning Playbook: Mobile Learning

Key findings from this year’s report entitled The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations include:

  • Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.
  • 29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same.
  • Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.
  • One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork.
  • In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.
  • High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.
  • Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”
  • Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).

With the right access to different kinds of educational resources that fit different learning styles, we can allow children to learn at their own pace using various learning methods that meet their individual needs. We have an opportunity to customize education for students everywhere and to provide the education they need to shape their futures.