For many children, the cost of academic resources can put a good education out of their reach.
Students in poor and developing countries are often unable to afford books, and their teachers either can't access or can't pay for up-to-date online curricula. Even some U.S. school districts are finding that commercial textbooks and teaching materials are prohibitively expensive.
The nonprofit organization Curriki believes technology can help eliminate those financial barriers. Its overarching goal is to leverage technology more effectively in the classroom to deliver better outcomes for more students.
To reach that goal, Curriki has created a website where anyone with access to the Internet can contribute to and use quality and media-rich curricula for free.
Curriki, whose name is a combination of the words "curriculum" and "wiki," also provides a collaborative social network for educators, parents and students, so they can collaborate as well as contribute and exchange free learning resources.
Response to Curriki.org has been strong. More than 5.6 million people from 192 countries have used the site. More than 238,000 people are registered members, and more than 45,000 lesson plans, educational games, learning videos and simulations, digital textbooks, full courses, and other education materials have been contributed to the site.
More telling, perhaps, are the stories about the people who are using it. For example, a teacher at the Setumo Intermediate School, located in a small farming town in South Africa where many students are disadvantaged, uses it to access free science and mathematics resources. Meanwhile, teachers at a school district in Long Island, N.Y., use Curriki to develop, organize and share the content they're creating on American history.
Curriki developed its free, hosted services using a 100% open-source solution stack integrated though a service-oriented architecture. The development and production environments are deployed in a Tier 1 managed hosting environment.
The technology's architecture enables third-party educational partners to easily integrate Curriki services and content into their websites, and the organization is helping to create and propagate useful ways to tag, find and select appropriate learning resources. Curriki plans to add enhanced community capabilities, content delivery through mobile and whiteboard devices, automated assessment tools, and more curated content aligned to academic standards.
Read more about the 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureates.