Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Open Book Project announced by H.Clinton - STEM material in Arabic

An interesting announcement was just made between the United States and the Arab League:
Through the Open Book Project, we will work to expand access to free, high-quality, open education materials in Arabic, with a focus on science and technology. Our hope is to lower geographic, economic, and even gender-based barriers to learning. Anyone with access to the internet will be able to read, download, and print these open materials for free or adapt a copy that meets the local needs of their classrooms or education systems.

So interesting! In the beginning of 2000, I also worked on an initiative to share learning resources across Europe. At the time, the MoE of Israel was also part of the project called European Treasury Browser. Before the second intifada broke off, there were talk of sharing resources with them, including the Arabic speaking people.

The European Treasury Browser Thesaurus, which was used to facilitate the multilingual search, had been translated into Hebrew and people were looking into translating it into Arabic too. Unfortunately, no one could decide into which Arabic, as there are so many varieties of Arabic spoken in a wide range of territory across the Middle East and North Africa. Apparently, even the modern standard Arabic has many different variations... In any case, the translation was stalled and due to circumstances, I assume it was not only because of linguistics...

I truly hope that the language will be a non-issue for this great initiative! I understand that search keywords are a complex issue as they are out of context. The content of learning material is (probably) different. In any case, I'll be interested in seeing what's coming out.

Last, a great list of people behind this initiative :) I'm so glad that I've had a chance to work with many of them!
I’m proud that so many trailblazers in open education come from the United States, including Creative Commons, the Hewlett Foundation, ISKME, Meedan, MIT OpenCourseWare, the OpenCourseWare Consortium, and Rice University OpenStax College. Your work is already proving that it has the potential to transform the way students learn across the world. 
See the video of the announcement here: http://bcove.me/qh6ebr2q 
and the press release here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2013/01/203382.htm

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