Florida adopts open-content reading platform

Tired of investing in expensive textbooks and proprietary software programs, Florida education officials are looking to an open online-learning platform to teach young students basic reading skills.

Advocates of the program say the idea that a public, collaborative, continuously modified online curriculum can be used in the classroom is gaining momentum in schools.

FreeReading.net is a free, sequential, research-based reading intervention program designed for elementary-grade students. Educators are invited to participate in discussion boards; take part in the full, 40-week scope and sequence of lessons; or tailor materials to their students’ individual learning needs.

The site’s content is provided under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, sometimes referred to as the “wiki” license. This license lets any site visitor copy, share, and distribute the content in any medium, as long as the visitor includes appropriate attribution.

“Schools still spend a huge chunk of their budgets—nationally, approximately seven to eight billion dollars per year—on textbooks and instructional materials. That leaves a much smaller pie that schools must [slice] to purchase formative assessment, professional development, and other initiatives that help teachers do their jobs well,” said Larry Berger, co-founder and chief executive officer of the program’s creator, Wireless Generation.

Berger said he believes FreeReading.net can help free up funding for other services that can improve teaching and learning.

Meris Stansbury

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