The 2009 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by Obama this week includes a provision that makes permanent the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy. This policy requires NIH-funded research to put electronic copies of their peer-reviewed research into a publicly accessible and searchable online database.
(Thanks to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access for this news and work in this area.)
This is a smart policy that benefits everyone and is consistent with the idea of public access to government-funded work.
This is a policy for the education community to consider emulating. There are many great publicly-funded projects in education that exist in isolation and unknown to others. If these projects were publicly accessible and sharable, the benefits would accrue to the community at large. I don’t know any educators who would object to that.
Even more interesting, if publicly-funded curriculum were open licensed and centrally housed and managed, this could be an important step to beginning a revolution in the textbook industry. If a large portion of the money that is spent on textbooks were redirected toward professional development, customization, and alternative delivery systems, the benefits for teachers and students would be great.