Blog Post

Open Source Learning: Esther Wojcicki


On my odyssey through San Francisco's technology and learning visionaries, today's stop is the head office of Creative Commons and a meeting with the chair of its board of directors, Esther Wojcicki.   Linda Stone was kind enough to make this introduction to one of the legendary thinkers in the area of learning, education, technology, and the free flowing, sharing, distribution, publishing, and collaboration of ideas.  I read her blog for the Huffington Post regularly ( and admire the way she threads issues of free speech and free access into think pieces about the point and mission of learning.   I also admire enormously her dedication to ensure that "education" and "learning" are not antithesis.   She is someone in the trenches, not only continuing to teach high school journalism and English but also working as a top administrator within the California public school system to ensure excellence in many different areas.


If there were more educators like Ellen Wojcicki, we would have the finest educational system in the world.  As it is, we do not.  As readers of this Cat in the Stack blog know, the state of education in the U.S. is one of my "issues."   Like health care, Americans pay an enormous amount for education relative to other nations and we get less.   We rank seventeenth among industrial nations, for example, in the level of educational attainment of our citizenry.   No Child Left Behind has continued to leave many children behind, and it certainly has not done much to prepare our kids for a life of dextrous, open thinking in an era of enormous change, crisis, and also opportunity. 


One recent project in which Wojcicki was involved was the National Writing Project which hosted a site where teens across the country could write open letters to "The Next American President," about their aspirations for their future and ours.  That is the kind of visionary thinking with which I associate Wojcicki, being able to think about how teens think and find ways to allow them to express themselves well, to communicate with one another, but also to communicate outward to the world.


Esther is also one of the PI's for one of our 2009 HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Awards, for Student Journalism 2.0.   Here's the description:  "For journalism students, the digital age requires more than hands-on reporting, writing, and publication of stories. Students must also embrace the capabilities of the Internet for virtual collaboration, viral dissemination, and feedback loops that inform and deepen original stories. All of these web-based opportunities depend on knowledge and proactive application of open content licensing, such as with Creative Commons, and appropriate metatags and technical formats. Student Journalism 2.0 engages high school students in understanding legal and technical issues intrinsic to new journalistic practices. The lessons learned during this pilot project will be documented in anticipation of a national-scale, follow-up project."

Below is the Wikipedia entry On "Esther Wojcicki."   And make sure to check out her blog on the Huffington Post.  She's inspiring!


Esther Wojcicki is an American journalist, educator,     and current chairwoman of the Creative Commons board of directors.  Wojcicki has been a pioneer in exploring the interface between education and technology.  


Esther Wojcicki was valedictorian of her high school class,[4] and graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in English and Political Science. She received a secondary teaching credential from UC Berkeley, as well as a graduate degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Berkeley. She has an advanced degree in French and French History from the Sorbonne, and both a Secondary School Administrative Credential and a M.A. in Educational Technology from San Jose State University.[1][2]

Esther Wojcicki has taught at Palo Alto High School since 1987, where she currently teaches journalism and English. There she began the journalism program which has grown to become one of the largest in the nation.[5] She has worked as a professional journalist for multiple publications and blogs regularly for The Huffington Post.[1]

Esther was the 1990 Northern California Journalism teacher of the year,[1] and was selected as the California Teacher of the Year in 2002 by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.[5] She served on the University of California Office of the President Curriculum Committee where she helped revise the beginning and advanced journalism curriculum for the state of California.[2] In 2009, she was awarded the Gold Key by Columbia Scholastic Press Association in recognition of outstanding devotion to the cause of the school press.[


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