This article was originally published on Humorality, on September 28, 2009.
Supporting Open and Honest Schoolwork
Stone Clements, a seventh grader at Washington Middle School, has launched a new open source book report project, and is looking for qualified readers, documentation specialists, beta testers, and editors to participate in the collaborative venture. Established under the code name “White Wash,” the team effort will produce a seven page double-spaced paper discussing the major themes in Mark Twain’s classic work Tom Sawyer. The release of the 1.0 version is slated for the assignment’s due date in three weeks.
The junior high student first came up with the idea for an open source project during the school’s recent science fair. “I did a proprietary experiment,” recalls Stone, “and it was a disaster. I was sure that the cup of dirt in the closet would turn a darker shade of brown than did the dirt I left in the yard. Maybe it takes more than one day.”
It was only a week after his science fair grounding was lifted that Stone decided to test the open source waters. He had seen similar efforts work on the Internet, most famously with the Wikipedia project and with the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate.
Once he saw the success that others had found, he was all in. “Sure, I could do this report on my own. But the result would have been limited by my own cultural myopia. With an Internet-based open source project, I can get input from virtually every country on the globe, as long as they speak English and can write like an American seventh grader.”
“We’re very proud of our son,” said Stone’s mother Martha, when asked about the impact this project would have on his future education prospects. “This will open his studies up to a level of work that wasn’t possible when I was young. Doing your own work can be so limiting.” Calls to Stone’s teacher were referred to the principal, at which point the phone mysteriously disconnected.
“The project begins immediately, and is open to those of all ages,” said Stone. “The only requirements are that you regularly participate, and that you are not Mrs. Murray, my English teacher. And no plagiarism; that would be cheating.”
Once the project closes, Stone plans to expand his schoolwork offerings into other social networking systems. “I’ve already asked my math teacher to limit word problems to 140 characters so that I can post them on Twitter.” But for now, the straight-C student is upbeat about the prospects for this current task. “If I can help people from all over the world come together for a common purpose, that’s got to be worth at least a B, maybe even a B+.”