Friday evening, I wrote in a blog post:
If you are a large for-profit education company—say, an LMS vendor or a textbook company—give $5,000 to the DS106 Kickstarter project. At that level of contribution, in addition to all the benefits of the lower levels, you’ll get a mention as doing a really swell thing on the fabulous e-Literate weblog.
I'm thrilled to say that it took Instructure less than 24 hours to step up to the plate:
That is just spectacular. We should all take note of a company that did not hesitate when presented with an opportunity to help out a great grassroots open education project. I very much hope that other education companies will step up to the plate.
There are a couple of things that I think are particularly praiseworthy about DS106. First, it's a course that teaches digital literacy in a way that has proven effective and inspiring for a wide range of students. That's huge and much needed in and of itself. But I also think that the course presents a replicable model for doing open education on a wide range of topics on a small budget, while teaching students some basic digital literacy through its very structure. Even if the course subject isn't something like digital storytelling, the DS106 model has each student set up her own blog and participate in a distributed community. If you think that is an unreasonably high barrier, then you probably haven't set up a blog recently. Having students set up their own web sites, understand how they work at a basic level, and learn what it is like to have a digital space of their own is a good and appropriate set of educational goals for an incredibly broad range of learners.
You may wonder why making a contribution would be worthwhile, given that the project has already well exceeded its initial funding goal. If you'd like to get a sense of what the DS106 organizers may do with the extra cash, then read Jim's post about it, including the comments. For me, a common theme jumps out that I find very exciting, and that theme is about making the DS106 model easier and more accessible to a wider range of students and teachers---developing WordPress plugins that make course setup simpler, developing a languages course using the same teaching model, and so on. I would very much like to see a community grow around helping to spread this model, test its limits, and make it more accessible to people who want to do open education across a wide range of subjects.
That's why I'm hoping that folks like Ray Henderson, John Baker, Adrian Sannier, and others with significant budgets will step up and add further funding to this project. And, of course, you don't have to be a captain of industry to make a contribution. You can contribute whatever money you think you can spare as an individual. Remember, DS106 achieved its initial funding goal in less than 24 hours, before Instructure stepped up. Individuals making $5 and $25 contributions did that. Your contribution matters. In fact, one of the lessons of DS106 in general is that you don't have to have deep pockets and an enterprise IT infrastructure to make a big impact in education. To the degree that large contributors like Instructure are stepping up, it is because they are following your lead. Before smARThistory was "acquired" by Khan Academy, it was funded by contributors like you in a Kickstarter project.