Work smarter, teach better, share

Open Educator’s Open Planner, created by teachers Andrew and Jennifer Stillman, is a non-profit online curriculum development and support community. Using open-source software, teachers work in teams to build and refine curriculum. Teachers are encouraged to modify the curriculum to suit their needs, try it and report back on the results. Here’s some of Open Educator’s pitch to “hard-working, relatively isolated and emotionally and intellectually under-supported practitioners.”

Almost all of our expertise is developed “where the rubber meets the road,” through the interactions and judgments we must continually make in the classroom.

. . . there have been few mechanisms by which to document and share the practical wisdom of hundreds of thousands of teachers who must actually implement and use these knowledge products.

Open Educator believes “many of the ailments of the teaching profession can be treated as systemic information failures.”

I’ve thought for years that teachers need ways to share their ideas and successes.

About Joanne


  1. Joanne,

    Thanks for doing this spot on us! I wanted to respond with a few thoughts since it helps me think better about our goals to see us represented in someone else’s words…

    One of our biggest concerns, moving forward, is to develop ways of ensuring coherence and quality in an “open” working environment. Wikipedia does this by affording users extraordinary editing freedom. By the rule of large numbers of users and averaging effects…the net result seems to be that factual content, over time, gets pretty well vetted and enhanced by its readership. By contrast, the Apache software foundation accomplishes high quality by maintaining a tight membership control, meritocracy and control over changes to its “core” products.

    As we imagine a world in which curriculum is actively developed and made freely available by teams of classroom practitioners, how do we both measure and promote the effectiveness of these curricula? Who defines effectiveness? What development model makes the most sense for developing classroom systems that work?

    Our working model imagines that serious curriculum teams would present their curriculum by making a case for it on the grounds of an existing corpus of cognitive research, and then develop an “action research kit” that includes diagnostics by which prospective “users” could partipate in the ongoing assessment and improvement of the curriculum’s effectiveness…

    I attach these ideas, in part, to combat the notion that effective curriculum is just about documenting teachers’ intuitions, as some of our quotes might suggest…rather Open Planner aspires to set up rich, iterative feedback mechanisms in which educational theorists and practitioners can together advance the state of the art.


    Andrew Stillman
    Physics Teacher, Humanities Preparatory Academy
    Co-Founder, Open Educator, Inc.