Realizing the promise of open resources

By William McCallum

All of our curriculum here at Illustrative Mathematics is released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, which allows anyone to “copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format” and to “remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially,” on the conditions that attribution is given and that others’ rights under the license are not restricted. This is both super scary and super exciting.  

It’s scary because allowing someone to make arbitrary modifications to your curriculum is like allowing someone to make arbitrary modifications to the structure of your home. The Illustrative Mathematics curriculum is carefully crafted, with a lot of attention to details that are not visible on the surface, such as sequencing of learning experiences, mathematical connections, and instructional routines appropriate to the specific learning goals of a particular activity. Arbitrary modifications could break mathematical coherence and pedagogical design; basically, the house could fall down.

It’s also exciting because of the potential to reach a much more diverse group of teachers and students than we would be able to reach with a single platform for the curriculum. Because of the open license, our curriculum can be seen as the source code for multiple versions. Schools and districts have different needs and requirements with regard to user experience and services, and offering multiple versions both makes it possible for their teachers and students to meet those needs and gives them the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum they want.

The IM Certified partnership program solves the problem of what’s scary and realizes the potential of what’s exciting. IM Certified partners create versions of the IM curriculum that offer different options around user experience and service, and provide access to the catalog of IM Certified professional learning that is aligned to the curriculum. At the same time, IM Certification ensures that the modifications our partners make are faithful to the original mathematical coherence and pedagogical design. Also, IM Certified partners have early access to the latest versions of the curriculum, and a portion of every sale goes back to support the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the materials.

For a current list of IM Certified partners, visit our partner page. As an organization committed to access for all, IM will always offer one partner with the free online version of the curriculum. If you want to be sure you are getting access to a curriculum that is up to date and has the IM seal of approval, look for the IM Certified logo.

William McCallum
Founder and President at | Website

Bill McCallum, founder of Illustrative Mathematics, is a University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona. He has worked in both mathematics research, in the area of number theory and arithmetical algebraic geometry, and mathematics education, writing textbooks and advising researchers and policy makers. He is a founding member of the Harvard Calculus Consortium and lead author of its college algebra and multivariable calculus texts. In 2009–2010 he was one of the lead writers for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. He holds a Ph. D. in Mathematics from Harvard University and a B.Sc. from the University of New South Wales.

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