By Sara Bernard
Once upon a time, textbook writers would write textbooks and teachers would teach what was in them. Teachers would make up their own lesson plans, and if they were willing, shared them with their colleagues.
But technology is changing the scenario. Now, not only are educators combing the Internet for lesson plan ideas, they're able to create the curriculum -- and the textbooks -- themselves, as well as share, edit, and customize them for use in their own classrooms.
Wikis (a.k.a. collaborative Web pages) and nonprofits devoted to enabling open-source curricula are springing up everywhere. One of the most well-known, Curriki, encourages teachers to both publish and download materials -- anything from a vocabulary quiz to a full biology textbook -- and vets its content through member ratings and incentives such as the annual Summer of Content Awards, which offers grants for specific contributions.
Other open source curricula sites out there include: