Feeds

How to fix your kids' education for $200m

Open source brains

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Screengrab of Curriki's Social Studies offering

Open Source Social Studies

"How do schools decide when to move to new books?" McNealy asks. "Who decides how smart the people making these decisions are? Did they actually go out and get statistical information on how the kids are doing or did they get their information from the McGraw Hill sales rep?"

Muscular hippies

If Curriki pans out, it could well establish a much lacking structure to online education. Students today, for example, can find plenty of pages on calculus or American history on the internet. The sites, however, vary in their quality and presentation.

"We are not trying to beat anybody," McNealy said. "We are just trying to push this effort forward. I want the idea of community engineered, community developed, free, open source education to win."

Ideally, this model would replace the "no child left behind" mentality where we cater to the lowest common denominator with what McNealy describes as a "no child, parent or teacher held back" philosophy.

"I took statistics in college and did it in 18 hours," McNealy said. "I would have raced through Harvard in a heartbeat if given the chance."

The self-described golf major was "disappointed" with his Ivy League education.

"This would help solve a lot of the problems," McNealy said. "I think a lot of the curriculum is dumb, useless, irrelevant and poorly presented."

And, for the text book makers worried about this Curriki concept, McNealy warns through analogy.

"Newspapers can fight eBay and Craigslist or figure out how to ride the tsunami."

For example, McNealy sees Curriki leading to, say, a version of third grade math for the Shanghai school district and another version for the New York school district. "Everybody in the world doesn't need to create different content delivery sites. They can use us for free. The only thing we ask is that you make your content free for everybody else."

The textbook makers could then grab the, er, "Fedora" version of New York's third grade math text and print it up and certify it. "We can lower the engineering costs upfront, and give them a reference implementation. There's a lot of value they can add on top of that."

Over the next year, Curriki hopes to pull in anywhere between $10m and $20m. The project's leaders have set up a donation system to help meet that goal. Eventually, as mentioned, Curriki wants to raise close to $200m, so that the project has a proper endowment.

Many will find McNealy's touchy-feely, free market spin on education repugnant, while others will find it fanciful. The Sun co-founder wants to see cheaper, better course materials and a way to let bright children learn faster. Curriki seems to accomplish this by, in part, routing around the teacher, once the material has been supplied.

Curriki also makes a number of huge assumptions, including the belief that what has worked in the technology world can be applied to education and that much overlap at all will exist between different countries, which have very different approaches and expectations from education.

In short, how welcome or effective will a "raging capitalist" mentality be in this sphere?

The scope of Curriki appears daunting but not out of the realm of McNealy's experience.

McNealy does not dismiss such challenges and admits that he's gone after and failed at a number of similar projects.

"I have done bigger, crazier projects. Trust me." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
Intel, Cisco and co reveal PLANS to keep tabs on WORLD'S MACHINES
Connecting everything to everything... Er, good idea?
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.