Clay Shirky has a new TED talk out on how the Internet might influence the structure of democracy, making it much more open source. Worth watching and thinking about school law.
Now, your average school leader or education lawyer is not going to jump into open source coding using some unknown programming language ... but they can absolutely start open source coding.
Consider this: What if you put out your school policy in a open, editable Google Doc.? Currently we write school policy in Word. What if we did that in Google Docs? Subtle change, enormous difference.
First, this solves several problems that schools have.
- Not everyone has Word on their home computers and struggle to open the Word files.
- Tablet computers also struggle with Microsoft Office, so another plus.
- You can hyperlink, embed videos, and more. Referencing a state policy on an issue, just link to it. Really want to put an explanatory footnote on a policy, embed an instructional video.
- Multiple people can work on the document at once and no more passing around dozens of versions by email attachment.
- The public always has the latest version of school policy. No more out-of-date links on school website (which is actually a pretty big problem), just link to the Google Doc (editable or not).
And that is just solving the easy problems, let alone the much more important issue of people actually caring or knowing these things exist. Taking an open approach to school policy not only would engage teachers, students, and the community ... it will probably improve the policies (because right now, most of them are not very good)!
Whether or not you like that idea (and most school attorneys will not), we need to be moving toward opening our education law rather than seeking to further close it off in more and more committees and documents that no one ever even knows exists. Our schools are for our communities (they pay the bill). If we can leverage technology to give it back to them, we should.