Many of you have told me that you want to help in the fight against EduPatent problem but don’t know what to do. What if, in five minutes, you could not only participate in the fight but also help bring about what may very well be the single most important development in the history of e-Learning to date? I’m not blowing smoke, here; I mean it. Five minutes. Change the world.
Here’s how:There is a bill in committee in both houses of the U.S. Congress right now. It’s called the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT) Act. I just published an article with the details, but the gist is that it would take the estimated $20 billion in proceeds from the impending sale of analog television spectrum and put it into a trust for developing digital content and technologies for education. The annual interest on the trust is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1 billion. That’s one billion dollars. Every year. Going toward creating educational content and educational technology.
But it gets better. The R&D roadmap for the Trust, developed by the Federation of American Scientists (an organization composed mostly of Nobel laureates), hits all of the hard stuff that we may never get right without proper funding–intelligent tutoring systems, immersive simulation authoring tools that are usable by faculty, robust integration standards–you name it.
Best of all, any technology funded by the grant is released to the public domain by default. (The Trust’s board can approve exceptions if necessary, but the policy is to release the software to the general public unless there is a strongly compelling reason to do otherwise.) Think of a billion dollars a year of prior art being created and documented as a wall against EduPatents. For that matter, think of a billion dollars a year of new digital content and teaching tools. This could fundamentally change the landscape for e-Learning.
So what can you do? If you’re an American, write your Congressman (or Congresswoman) and Senators. The Digital Promise web site has a “Take Action” section where it is trivially easy to look up your Congresspeople by entering your zip code, choose and customize the text of your letter, and email it off to the appropriate parties. If you want a higher touch approach, you can spend a couple of bucks and have your letter hand delivered to your Congresspeople.
And regardless of whether you are an American, encourage all of your American friends, colleagues, relatives, acquaintances, etc., to do the same. This bill is making progress, can get passed, and will benefit from a letter-writing campaign. This could really happen.
And you can make it happen. Just DO IT.