“As an industry, it makes no sense to limit educators’ choices; rather, we should provide them [with] the utmost flexibility,” she said. “Though the principal difference is that decisions like this in the U.K. tend to come from the top, and in the U.S. decision making is much more distributed, this type of change can be initiated by the vendors themselves and by educators.”
According to IWB manufacturer TeamBoard, a CFF helps teachers in two significant ways.
“First, a world of content is opened up to them, regardless of the hardware platform they enjoy,” said TeamBoard in a statement. “This can only increase the utility of the interactive technology itself. Secondly, teachers can feel free to invest in the development of their own resources in the CFF without fear that a future hardware brand change (such as changing classrooms or switching schools) will render their investment unavailable.”
“CFF, and open source in general, is where the entire world is going,” said RM’s Ellis. “In the future, people will not be tied or shackled to their software or hardware purchases. With enough pressure and determination, we can spur this change.”
Looking to the future
While the progress in creating a CFF and Viewer in the U.K. is significant, the project is still in its beginning stages, and much work remains to be done, those associated with the effort say.
Marks explained that the CFF will really start to make an impact once it’s integrated with a common learning outcome standard, and once developers have the ability to tag and describe their resources.
For example, SIF requires each resource to be tagged with certain characterizing information, such as the author of the resource, the grade level, and keywords relating to the learning object.
“By having both these standards,” said Marks, “educators can tailor instruction by putting together materials like Lego blocks. Students get tailored instruction, and teachers are better educated by being exposed to vast resources; this is continual improvement happening in real time.”
“We’re not saying we’re done yet,” Ellis said. “[The] CFF is open source, meaning it can be updated constantly for technical changes that occur in the industry.”
Note to readers:
Don’t forget to visit the Next Generation Collaboration resource center. The ability to work together on group projects is seen as an increasingly important skill for the 21st-century workplace, and a growing number of schools are rewriting their curriculum to include opportunities for such collaboration as a result. Go to:
Next Generation Collaboration
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