USF World News

USF Alum Receives Fulbright Award
May 7, 2012

Michael Jones, a 2007 graduate from USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, will receive a Fulbright grant to study pedagogy methods and trends in Laos.

Graduating with a master’s in Teaching from USF, Jones’ interest in developing open access academic curricula began as an education consultant in Cambodia. His work in designing curricula for schools in the Siem Reap Province made him well aware of the limited resources available in the country and consequently, in the developing world. “While well-funded classrooms are great, there has to be a way to help educate with as limited resources as possible,” said Jones.

In August 2011, Jones founded Open Equal Free, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide schools in developing countries with training, lesson plans, news, resources and networking opportunities to provide education at the lowest budget possible. The organization currently has over 500 free, online lesson plans that give teachers across countries the teaching assistance they need at no cost. To do this, Jones’ ensures that Open Equal Free too operates on a shoe-string budget of no more than a $4000 monthly budget.

Approximately 119 countries are using the resources the organization provides. “Every country that has the internet is using us. In the last 28 days, we’ve had 4500 users.” The organization works mostly in collaboration with intermediary agencies like NGOs that have an established physical presence in different regions of the world.
Using his Fulbright award to further his understanding of education strategies in developing countries, Jones will also explore the use of modern technology in local schools over the 10-month grant period he will spend in Laos. In particular focus, he will study pedagogy trends, factors that make a certain pedagogy catch on and NGO effectiveness in implementing popular pedagogies.
At the end of his study, Jones hopes to have created a new curriculum, as well as documented research that will provide a framework within similar regions. Intent on making education accessible to everyone everywhere in the world, Jones is an inspiration story with years more to tell.