What is Open-Source Learning?

A new direction for transforming education

Open-Source Learning is a philosophy of education for the Digital Age. In their day, education frameworks such as Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia met the evolving needs of learners. Today’s challenges and opportunities demand more.

Open-Source Learning empowers students to develop their own learning experiences and interdisciplinary paths of inquiry. In the process of asking big questions and pursuing their passions, students master concepts and skills that extend far beyond traditional curriculum.

Open-Source Learning enables students to amplify and accelerate their learning by participating in virtual networks and online communities.  Students apprentice with expert mentors and collaborate with partners around the world. They also create their own knowledge capital in real time as they learn.  In the process, students develop the skills they need to safely and effectively contribute to virtual communities.

Open-Source Learning offers value, interdependence, and hope. In a world of big problems and fractured informational realities, Open-Source Learning integrates connection: with ourselves, with information, and with others.


Why Open-Source Learning?

In spite of all the attention and money devoted to improving our systems of education, today’s learners remain poorly understood and badly underserved. Students, parents, and teachers are suffering.  And there is no “one size fits all” solution.

We have the answer. Rather than advocating a specific system or required set of techniques, tools, and ideas, Open-Source Learning embraces the idea that everyone learns different things in different ways, and it values diverse approaches to reaching those goals.  We can now connect beyond the classroom with the ideas, resources, and people that can help students on their learning journeys.

Open-Source Learning is free. You can implement Open-Source Learning as an academy, a course strategy, a team effort, or even an individual practice. You don’t need to pay anyone anything for the privilege, and you’ll never have to ask for permission or forgiveness.


You’re Doing Open-Source Learning Right Now

All learning — whether in the classroom, the workplace, or at home — may be considered Open-Source Learning to the extent that it:

  • Is collaboratively constructed
  • Is customized to the learner
  • Is interdisciplinary
  • Develops mental, physical, spiritual, civic, and technical fitness
  • Provides open access to every available resource
  • Enables the use of modern and traditional tools
  • Encourages divergent thinking
  • Increases engagement and social entrepreneurship
  • Requires learners to think analytically, creatively, and collaboratively
  • Invites learners to create real-time value as they learn by curating their explorations on the public internet


Methods and Tools

In Open-Source Learning, each student works with the guidance of a teacher-mentor to develop an interdisciplinary learning journey around a big idea, question, and/or key interests.

Students design their experience by working with a variety of tools – especially resources in the digital realm. One community has even developed open source software that offers more features than big tech, along with sovereign identity and enhanced collaboration tools.

As their journeys develop, students deepen their experience through information-sharing that establishes themselves and empowers others.


For nearly two decades now, Open-Source Learning has consistently proven that mastering concepts and skills is about more than regurgitating content for a test or a grade. In the learning process, we develop our mental, physical, civic, spiritual, and technical fitness, and we learn new ways to think. For example:

  • Open-Source Learning allows students to create and manage interactive learning material that becomes available online to everyone, generating and sharing value that extends beyond the traditional K-16 curriculum.
  • Deeper and more engaged involvement results in significant improvement in academic achievement.
  • Open-Source Learning also creates opportunities for traditional performance evaluation of objective production, including formative and summative tests; and alternative assessment of portfolios, which can include a variety of artifacts, including trans media presentation of content, and the student’s choices related to platforms, media, and design.
  • Participants – students and teachers alike — emerge with progressively masterful records of assessment and authentic work portfolios that tell a far more compelling story than diplomas or résumés.