Open Policy #ioe12

At the heart of the movement to open educational resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general, and the World Wide Web in particular provide an opportunity for everyone to share, use and re-use it.

Kathy Casserly & Mike Smith, Hewlett Foundation

The course topic ‘readings’ consider the area of pushing for legislation within the US to increase public access to data generated by publicly funded grants. Examples being the expansion of National Institutes of Health Public Access policy. However, I have previously written about the Research Works Act H.R.3699 which would undo this approach if my understanding is correct.

In the UK the Research Councils are requiring research data to be made openly available as it’s a ‘public resource’. Increasingly there is a requirement for research institutions to have a Data Management Plan in place prior to funding being granted, as I’ve previously mentioned.

Brazil has a very interesting openness approach as outlined in the OER into federal legislation article.

The bill deals with three main issues: It

1) requires government funded educational resources to be made widely available to the public under an open license,

2) clarifies that resources produced by public servants under his/her official capacities should be open educational resources (or otherwise released under an open access framework), and

3) urges the government to support open federated systems for the distribution and archiving of OER.

When reading this for education I was minded of the robust approach taken by Brazil towards pharmaceutical patents for the good of the national public health that I have previously encountered. There does seem to be a will in that country to work for the educational benefit of its peoples.

But more generally across the globe there are problems in policy at different levels:

  • within institutions
  • in government
  • etc.

where they don’t understand the technologies and make decisions within existing parameters.

Most of the resources in higher education are digital, non-rivalrous and we just need to license them properly, using Creative Commons licenses for example. Cable Green argues that by licensing and opening work there can be greater leveraging of a global workforce that will take one’s work and maybe translate it, make it more accessible, or improve it in other ways.

Cable suggests that there are instances where the policies of institutions have been circumvented.

Where the faculty have come together and said “we are the Academy. Our job in the Academy is to advance knowledge. Our job in the Academy is to share knowledge to the extent that it’s what we are about. We will not only publish in the journals, but we will provide a free, accessible version of our research as well to anybody who would like to access it.”

Cable Green, Creative Commons, (video)

By following an openness policy there is increased potential for sharing and learning from each other:

  • across an institution (intra-openness)
  • and crossing institutional boundaries (inter-openness).

This also has the potential for financial savings. But Cable suggests that we need to move towards a ‘not invented here’ to ‘proudly borrowed from there’ stance so that resources can be shared. Additionally there are general advantages for society if people have increased access to education; good quality curricula and affordable up-to-date ‘textbooks’, constantly maintained and with use of the latest technologies.

There is a movement where some universities are proving resources and instruction openly. “The OER university (OERu) is a virtual collaboration of like-minded institutions committed to creating flexible pathways for OER learners to gain formal academic credit.

The OER university aims to provide free learning to all students worldwide using OER learning materials with pathways to gain credible qualifications from recognised education institutions.

There is a much reduced fee for assessment and credit from the institutions. Obviously there is an outreach and community mission to this approach, but there are potentially widespread general implications to the approach, meaning a shift away from the status quo in higher education provision.

Currently the ‘anchor’ partner institutions of OERu are:

Other interesting things happening in this area are the University of the People and Wikiwijs in the Netherlands. Athabasca University in Canada has a policy that prior to building a new course the academic must go out globally and look at what OER materials are already available.

But there is a challenge with all of this; existing structures are difficult to change. The current ‘preferred’ institutional model of higher education is one of gatekeeper and rivalrous resource model.

#Change11 Openness Revelation

For years I’ve been enthralled by the concept of openness in education. I’ve written numerous blogposts:

I’ve developed an extensive bookmark collection over the past three years or so:

But being involved in the MOOC Change11 has prompted me to think about the whole topic in much more detail once again, particularly the David Wiley (post 1, 2, 3, 4) & Rory McGreal weeks.

I have written about the concerns I have in getting the message out onto a big enough stage quickly enough to prevent corruption or being usurped. However, (and thanks go once again to John here for introducing me to this) after seeing this video of Michael Nielson’s TED Talk, which has had a profound effect on me, and with the lack of responses I’m seeing from decision-makers, I am inspired to put out my messages straight into an open arena via this blog. Hopefully, it will mean that the ideas get taken forward and I will receive appropriate attributions, but it will certainly mean things happen faster from my perspective, which may mean less frustration for me though there could be more ‘fallout’ as a result.

Consequently, I’ll be posting in the next couple of days the text I developed to initiate an institutional Openness Community, and for which I haven’t received any satisfactory feedback.

Michael Nielson TEDTalk video:


#change11 Playing catchup part 1

Due to me having another spell in hospital and surgery for an ongoing medical problem I found that I missed the entire Rory McGreal week in the Change11 MOOC. During the spare time that I’ve had this week I’ve been trying to catch up with Rory’s week and keep pace with Nancy White’s week as well. Not sure that I’ve done either real justice. However, I’ve decided to jot down notes via blogposts to enable me to have some record of this section of the course to I can perhaps return to it in the future.

This might just turn into a list of items I picked up here and there, from the Twitter stream, from the course notes and other participants’ blogs. I was travelling a such a pace that I can’t necessarily remember the original source, for which I apologise.

Catchup from Rory’s week:

Rory’s Change11 MOOC notes.

Stephen Downes Slideshare presentation:

An interesting discussion developed around John’s blogpost relating MOOCs to Communities of Practice (CoP). [Note to self – remember to read the comments to the post]

Hosted on the Athabasca University (AU) Space [a hosted Dspace repository by the looks of it – I’m interested in digital repositories] was Rory’s ‘Open Education Resources (OER) for assessment and credit
for students project – Towards a logic model and plan for action

The audio recording of Rory’s presentation for the Change11 MOOC.

I found this blogpost useful to help my thinking. Which led to the Guardian article. [Unrelated Aside: which led me to an interesting hacking article]

This Flickr Attribution Helper [screencast] will be useful for educating colleagues and students alike in correctly attribution CC licensed Flickr images; useful for OER production.

Rory’s Landing blog.

A pdf preprint paper ‘The Creation of OpenCourseWare at MIT‘ charts the genesis and evolution of the project at MIT. [Hosted on the MIT Dspace digital repository]

The link to this paper: Open Educational Resources: Enabling universal education, Tom Caswell, Shelley Henson, Marion Jensen, and David Wiley, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 2008, vol 9 (1), also meant that I now had access to a useful journal that I didn’t know existed before.

This UNESCO / iipe publication ‘Open Educational Resources
the way forward: deliberations of an international community of interest by Susan D’Antoni [pdf]
‘ will prove useful in the work I’m doing at my institution.

Rory’s notes did lead me to investigate the Commonwealth of Learning, where again I found some useful resources that well come in handy, and the launch of the UNESCO / COL OER Basic Guide.

I’ve run out of time again, so I’ll stop there for now and hopefully continue again later/tomorrow.



David Wiley #change11 mooc week 5 – post 2

This week’s topic has inspired and energized me into revisiting notions I’ve had for a few years. Unfortunately, I’ve found that whenever I try to take them forward there is such inertia from within the institution that they never get off the ground or they falter shortly afterwards. One area that I have found particularly frustrating has been trying to get institutional buy-in to the development, production and use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). There just doesn’t seem to be the interest or passion at the top level. However, the efforts David has made and continues to make are inspiring.

David Wiley: iSummit ’08 Keynote Address from isummit 08 on Vimeo.

David wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, as he outlined in the video. I should also learn from my own past ‘failures’ (for example the disappointments expressed in my previous post) and use them as a springboard to try again and achieve more.

To this end I’ve decided to develop a grassroots community approach to openness within my institution. To achieve this I’ll need to put together a convincing argument that senior management will allow me to take forward. I wonder if members of MOOC Change11 will help me to develop this argument throughout this week (week 5)? Here are some potential questions I need answers to.

  • What points do you think would be useful to make? Are the following useful for a community to discuss?
    • What technologies would be appropriate for the community members to use to produce & host OERs?
    • How can we promote the use of Open Journals for publishing research?
    • How can the reuse of OERs be encouraged within the institution?
    • Can we aggregate appropriate subject specific open content as a community for within the institution and beyond?
    • How can we promote the sole use of open content and open textbooks within a course?
  • How can I convince management that a grassroots approach would be appropriate?
  • Would it be sustainable as a venture?
  • Would it have any direct benefits for the institution?

I look forward to any input or advice you can give. Many thanks.

Link to the best, don’t recreate the same old stuff

I followed a link on a tweet today to Jeff Jarvis’ blog post and I’m so glad I did.

Sometimes you come across some work that strikes a chord with your own work or beliefs. This was one of those moments. In his TEDxNYED video Jeff talks about using the best resources that are available and simply linking to them, instead of reproducing them. It does mean reassessing what education is, what format it takes, after all if you can access some of the best lectures in the world online, for free, (as I wrote about here and here) what is the value of sitting through someone else delivering the same topic without any interaction?

I remember something I wrote in the Social Media Co-Lab forums:

Posted on: Fri, 11/14/2008 – 07:29 Following on from Free

I think we should be tapping into what others are providing without having to repackage the material into the ‘corporate identity’ of an institution. Doing so simple seems a waste of time and effort, and doesn’t necessarily reward (not financially speaking; more citing and recognition) the original author. If we are working towards a vast educational community approach to resources, I feel we should be finding (and passing on) the best examples of material already produced, and not necessarily recreating them.

For example, I was recently passed a link to a site where someone was creating screencasts of how to use various software. The individual had won an award for this site. Fair enough, what he’s created is a good resource now, all very uniform. But it doesn’t really align with my own philosophy. Why not just create a wiki linking to the best you can find of other people’s screencasts of how to use software? It may look more different and dirty but I’d say possibly it gets learners thinking about a few things: they see that not everything useful has to come from a recognised, uniform resource; they as learners can go out and find material and they need to evaluate its credibility; they themselves can produce material to share; they can be part of the bigger community (for example, by editing the wiki linking to all these resources).

Which received a response from Will Richardson (yes that Will Richardson):

Posted on: Fri, 11/14/2008 – 12:49 Rolling Your Own as Opposed to Rolling Others

(Or something like that…)

Just picking up on what Mark said above in terms of choosing between making yet another how to screencast or collecting the best of what’s out there and spending time reading and thinking rather than creating, I agree. I like the effects he cites in terms of

“they see that not everything useful has to come from a recognised, uniform resource; they as learners can go out and find material and they need to evaluate its credibility; they themselves can produce material to share; they can be part of the bigger community (for example, by editing the wiki linking to all these resources).”

Not that it totally relates here, but a while back on my blog I posted about the need to take photos of beautiful places we visit when we can gets tons of photos of those places already on Flickr with a CC license that would let us remix and reuse them. Now I know that I want pictures of my kids while they are actually snorkling in the Barrier Reef, etc. but I wonder sometimes why some have so much trouble with using what is already out there instead of re-creating it in yet another way.

It’s Friday, and I’m tired, so I hope that made some sense. Yes, we want our students to be creators and connectors, but we also don’t want them reinventing the wheel either.

Well, here’s Jeff’s video for you to watch yourself (watchout for the language).

Social Media Co-Lab was created by Howard Rheingold

Kahn Academy – DIY OER to Educate the World

Last Friday was an interesting day. I was tipped off by a colleague, Paul Leman, about the Kahn Academy when he sent me a link to Glen Moody’s blog post. At first sight the Kahn Academy looked like a fantastic resource, with 1000+ videos on various topic for students of all ages. But being one who never takes things on face value, I wanted to check things out and see what others were saying about this resource. That’s when I found David Wiley’s post which explained how there was no Creative Commons license attached to the content. I had a look and he seemed to be right. David had written to Sal Kahn the creator of the Kahn Academy previously, but he decided to drop him a further email. Then, as is evident from the comments David received on his post, everyone was immensely pleased to see that by the end of that day Sal had acted on David’s call and prominently displayed the CC license on the Kahn Academy homepage making it an OER for reuse, remixing, sharing, etc. I immediately embedded this video in my Daily Interests blog under the title Education for the World until I had time to write in more detail.

Now I have to take my hat off to Sal Kahn for a truly immense resource. What he has achieved with the Kahn Academy is nothing short of incredible. Single handedly generating instructional videos covering subjects including:

What a wealth of information. This has to be place in the category alongside Academic Earth and Udemy.

This story excites me on a number of levels. Perhaps one of the most significant is the difference anyone can make by openly publishing knowledge online to freely educate others. It’s an approach I’m trying to take myself to make a difference, however small; it is something that I passionately believe in. More power to anyone and everyone doing the same.