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A Webby Award for Open Education

smarthistoryThe annual Webby Awards (what the NY Times calls “the internet’s highest honor”) were announced today, and in the education category, the very-deserving winner was the excellent Smarthistory.org site (full disclosure–the site is the work of my wife and her colleague, and I’ve had some marginal technical involvement in it myself from the beginning).  Smarthistory is an educational site actually designed and built by educators–two art historians who wanted alternatives for teaching and learning.  Dissatisfied with what textbooks, or even ArtStor, could offer, and not interested in closed models or walled gardens, they started from scratch with open source tools (beginning with WordPress, and now using ModX).  The site is dedicated to open sharing of educational resources, and makes full use of the tools and abilities of Web 2.0.  It’s about art and history…and even more about conversation and interaction around those.  But it’s hard to describe–better just to experience it.  To see a site like this win this prestigious and competitive award, beating established museums and huge well-funded foundations, is more evidence of how when things get done right, they work!


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