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Digital School Program in Poland
Polish Prime Minister’s Office accepted a revolutionary program for the use of free digital textbooks under Creative Commons License in the polish schools.

Poland's government has picked up on the value and necessity of open education in today's digital society: Their digital school program, the largest government-sponsored open education program in polish history, has created a full set of educational materials for grades 4-6 licensed under cc-by license (the fully free creative commons license).

The “Digital School” program with the “Digital Textbooks” component was initially drafted and proposed to the Prime Minister Office by Jarosław Lipszyc (Modern Poland Foundation), Piotr Pacewicz, Alicja Pacewicz (Center for Civic Education), Alek Tarkowski (Creative Commons Poland) with the cooperation of Witold Przeciechowski (Prime Minister’s Office). All those organizations are members of the Open Education Coalition (OER), a network of NGOs and educational institutions promoting open education in Poland.

One of the most ambitious features was the creation of a national repository of training materials. Teachers in all of the test schools will have access to this nationwide database.

The first draft was accepted by the Ministry of Education, but at a later stage of the negotiations, the free licensing requirement was left out. Both the Open Education Coalition and the Modern Poland Foundation took part in the public consultation process; their comments in support of free licensing were taken on board in the very last minute.

As a result of the adopted regulation, schools will be computerized and all educational materials for grades 4-6 will have a Creative Commons license (CC BY 3.0) to allow for easy sharing and attribution. With the license, those resources can take on a life of their own, through re-use, improvement, and wide-ranging adaptations. by accepting the regulation and now also accepting the materials, polish schools will soon be fully adopting the open education model.

The textbooks are available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, in an open format (with the full specification being freely available both technically and legally), and for Web access as required by the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. so far, it appears that the only non-accessible material may be some of the images, which contain embedded text and thus may be inaccessible to blind students.

The initiative is a success for the Open Educational Resources movement, ending several years of hard work. Three years ago, the Open Education Coalition organized the OER conference in the Polish parliament, where for the first time in Poland, the need for free public educational resources was expressed. Since then, the coalition has grown substantially from four to over 15 organizations. the initiative has cost the government 45 million złoty (approx. 15 million USD), and is the largest government open education project in polish history.

Using educational materials in a free and unrestricted way is crucial for an effective, contemporary educational system. The right to use, re-use, improve and adapt human knowledge to one’s needs will be the next big step in education. Now we just need the rest of the grade school materials, and perhaps some translations for the non-polish speakers out there.

Will digital and free textbooks be the future of education?

Further reading:
http://nowoczesnapolska.org.pl/2012/04/03/free-textbooks-are-part-of-digital-school-programme/
http://creativecommons.pl/2012/04/digital-school-program-with-open-textbooks-approved-by-polish-government/
Digital school materials: http://wiki.wolnepodreczniki.pl

Authors: +Sophie Wrobel +Kellya Clanzig +Alexander Becker

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5 comments
 
Finally, I know a few CC text books in the web, but non with the support of a state. This is a game changer!
 
Poland is right - Ithink it's a step for free education and it's really great!
 
Very good move by Poland! This is definitely the step into right direction. I hope that politicians in my country will be inspired by this.
 
Will digital and free textbooks be the future of education? Yes it is. Been trying to promote a similar project in Portugal, but it is really hard to go against installed interests. Way to go Poland!
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