Cyrus Stoller home about consulting

Open source education materials

Software developers work together on open source projects that help to power products and services that are changing the world. This collaborative atmosphere is conducive to learning how to write good software. Recently, I’ve been wondering whether these open source principles could be used to help teachers improve their curriculum materials.

Sites like Github make it easy for users to engage with and observe the development process of open source projects. In addition to being a datastore for the actual software, Github has created a social network that users can harness to assign credibility to projects that they may build on in future work. Based on the assumption that good developers know other good developers, users can figure out how to prioritize which projects to pay close attention to. For example, if the maintainer of Project A, whom I respect, is contributing to Project B, I’m more likely to follow the progress of Project B over Project C, which is written by people I don’t know.


My hypothesis is that professional educators would be willing to foster a community for open source course materials. Of course, most won’t contribute. That’s fine. The vast majority of software developers do not contribute to open source software either.

Websites like allow teachers to buy, sell, and share teaching materials. But, to me a five star rating system from anonymous users that I don’t know feels like a website operating before social media.Another issue with such data warehouse sites is that the materials are relatively static.

Building a network that allows users to assess credibility is much more nuanced. To do this effectively, you need to foster a community where people can build and track meaningful relationships with other users. One of the most exciting things about Github is that repositories are alive and constantly changing. The same should be true of the materials that teachers use in the classroom.

Potential workflow


Next Steps

If you have thoughts about this idea, I’d love for you to send me an email. And if there’s enough interest, I could be persuaded to start this website as an open source project.

Category Idea