DepEd mulls Wiki-style textbook review

The Department of Education (DepEd) is considering partially crowdsourcing the evaluation of public school textbooks by posting manuscripts of these online for public scrutiny.

“Ilalagay sa website ang manuscript, so that may transparency. Makikita na ng mga tao kung may mga mali-mali. At the same time, dapat sabay habang ineevaluate. So there is the public scrutiny at the same time may expert evaluation ng material,” said Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Alberto Muyot at a press conference today in Pasig City. Muyot is one of four new undersecretaries that were appointed earlier this week by new education secretary Bro. Armin Luistro.

(We’re planning to post the manuscripts online, for transparency’s sake. That way, people can help us spot errors. This will be done along with an official evaluation. So there is public scrutiny and expert evaluation of the material.)

Criticism over errors

The DepEd has been criticized numerous times over the years for publishing textbooks allegedly riddled with errors. DepEd textbooks currently undergo yearly evaluation by a team of master teachers, subject area experts, content experts, and language experts from both within DepEd and top academic institutions. Books are evaluated not only for errors, but also for how well their cover learning competencies, grammar, and their use of language and visuals.

Piracy concerns

However, some publishers are concerned that posting textbook transcripts online may make their copyrighted materials vulnerable to piracy.

“Baka i-download na lang ‘yan o kopyahin. Pinagiisipan namin kung paano namin magagawa na maraming makakakita, and yet, ang concern naman ng copyright owner ay matugunan,” explained Soccoro Pilor, Executive Director of the Instructional Materials Council Secretariat, which is in-charge of the textbook evaluation process.

(Some people may just download or copy the textbooks. We are trying to decide how we can make the manuscripts available to many, while also addressing the concerns of the copyright owners)

Planning, mechanics underway

The DepEd has yet to finalize the mechanics of their plan, which they intend to execute this year. The first batch of textbooks that will undergo this process will include Filipino textbook for grades 1 to 6 and science textbooks for grades 3 to 6. These textbooks will reach public school classrooms by school year 2011 to 2012.

Crowdsourcing —the act of outsourcing tasks to large groups of people through an open call_ has become a popular way of managing information on the internet in recent years. One of the most well-known examples of its success is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia written entirely by volunteers using collaborative, web-based software.

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