Homo Bloggus (Open Ed.)

Applications and Implications of Open Content for Higher Ed

Open Ed: Week 6: Copyright and the Public Domain

Posted by rreo on October 7, 2007

QUESTIONS: Understanding the importance and value of the public domain, how much (what percentage) of this value would you estimate is realized when works are licensed with a Creative Commons or GFDL license? To what degree would the open educational resources movement (and therefore the world) be additionally benefited if OERs were simply placed in the public domain? Please explain.

The value of CC/GFDL is to permit authors to create flexible licenses for their works and choose whether attribution, non-commercial use, or share-alike is attached.

Value of the PD is that items are completely unrestricted to copy, distribution, modification but does not carry the share-alike requirement. I think the share-alike requirement is the extra added-value that open licenses bring to published works. I think 100 % of PD is realized when works are licensed as open in so far as all the PD unrestricted right to modification are maintained, and that the most open of the CC licenses has the added benefit that all derivative works must carry the same right for others. With PD, you could use a PD work to author a commercial product that is no longer freely available to the public. With CC the author can retain copyright while at the same time licensing a work to be easily copied, distributed, and modified by others — high reuse value — that is better than PD.
~I find confirmation of this position and better stated by Wiley and others at: http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/348

(Though I’m confused why, according to Pollock (2006) in the early part of article states that, open/CC licensed works are included in the public domain).

Another issue is that CC tends to get people to put a CC license (notice of unrestriction) on their work, whereas PD may not have a clear notice and potentially mistaken for a copyrighted work and not readily used (though steps could be taken to fix this, I think).

To answer the question above I have to defer to the comprehensive analysis of Thieme’s post (Silent Blog) and agree that it is difficult to answer except for what I have written above.

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Open Ed: Week 5: OER Collections Review

Posted by rreo on September 30, 2007

I will answer the complete question posed for week 5 shortly, but first wanted to present this OER site comparison matrix that I developed recently. While it does not cover the exact set of examples suggested for this assignment, it does provide useful categories for comparison that can be applied to the others. It would be good to compile our collective evaluations into an online resource?

  1. OER Matrix
  2. OER Matrix (PDF)

In terms of evaluating the quality of OERs, I found this guide at Merlot: http://taste.merlot.org/evaluationcriteria.html

Quality of Content:There are two general elements to quality of content:

  1. Does the software present valid (correct) concepts, models, and skills?
  2. Does the software present educationally significant concepts, models, and skills for the discipline?
To evaluate the validity of the content, the reviewers should rely on their expertise. To evaluate the educational significance of the content, reviews can use the following guidelines:
  • Content is core curriculum within the discipline. Core curriculum topics are typically covered to some degree in the introductory classes within the discipline and/or “Everyone teaches it” and/or it is identified as a core area by the discipline’s professional organizations
  • Content is difficult to teach and learn.
  • Content is a pre-requisite for understanding more advanced material in the discipline

I think this is a good guide for identifying the quality of an academic OER for higher ed, but criteria #2 does not lend itself to uses for lifelong learning.

BTW, I was directed to this guide from an item in Connexions by Judy Baker on Identifying Sources of OERs http://cnx.org/content/m14475/latest/

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OpenEd: Week 4 – Review 3rd Report and Comparison

Posted by rreo on September 23, 2007

The Week4 reading is a Feb 2007 report on the OER movement by Atkins, Brown, and Hammond. To begin my review, the reading is distinguished from the other two reports by being a Report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, that is, it appears to be an external review of the key Ed. Program activities of the presently named, OER Initiative. So it looks like the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation requested an external review by outside experts of the OER initiative, including it’s major funded projects, to find out if it is meeting its performance objectives or as a normative means to evaluate Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunites facing the initiative and its grant funded projects (Investments).

The report goes on to review the accomplishments & challenges facing its portfolio of grant funded projects, such as MIT OCW , Connexions, etc. and tends to conclude that these some of these projects together with Web 2.0 savvy populace and well established cyber-infrastructure comprised of key disciplines and other educational organizations/programs that can be brought together, or set the stage for the realization of a strong open content / open learning platform. I believe the Hewlett Foundation concludes that its continued leadership in bringing this about is still important but sees much promise of success.

“We are recommending that the Hewlett Foundation continue to nurture global 0pen educational resources, but to do so on a larger and more diverse scale and in the context of an even bolder goal—to shape a new culture of learning that is now possible in the digital world. We believe that the Hewlett Foundation can play a leadership role in weaving the threads of an expanded OER movement; the e-science movement; the e-humanities movement; new forms of participation around Web 2.0; social software; virtualization; and multimode, multimedia documents into a transformative open participatory learning infrastructure—the platform for a culture of learning.” (p.55)

I think of the three reports this one is the most optimistic about the potential for a global scale transformation of open educational practices that could change all levels of the educational sector. The approach seeks to leverage broad changes in infrastructural innovations across many academic levels and disciplinary interests. I contrast this with the more bottom-up approach to change in educational practitioners/practices that sets the foundation for the OCLOS Roadmap, and the more top-down, policy-oriented approach of the international OECD that targets higher ed. decision makers at the state, national, and international levels. All three approaches are needed and provide unique perspectives. And of course there are many overlapping areas of interest. Changes in copyright law are a keystone to fast track changes for this movement om any approach.

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OpenEd: Week 3.1 – OCLOS Roadmap (OERs)

Posted by rreo on September 16, 2007

I am coming from the practical point of view of a faculty support staff at a large research university where the charge is to support mainstream faculty tech integration efforts. My faculty clients vary in their pedagogical skills, technology competencies, and digital fluency and across disciplines. So I need to choose whatever tools and approaches best suit the individual instructor.

As far back as 2000, I was interested in helping faculty find good learning resources to use in their courses and drew on services such as Merlot. More recently, I had made it a goal of my job to help faculty adoption of social software tools and services — a step forward in empowering them to be able to have access to useful, easy-to-use tools that foster social interaction and to use more “constructivist” or open learning approaches, and to integrate and create learning resources etc. My initial efforts to introduce and train faculty on the affordances of social software tools immediately bumped up against copyright concerns and became a serious conversation stopper for social software adoption. I therefore adjusted my strategy to deal with copyright viz a viz Creative Commons licensing, for example, and discovered OER movement, where I now see all this nicely dovetailing. The open education movement has a much longer history and preceded the emergence of “Web 2.0″ phenomenon ( I think the Open University began in late 80s?).

Still, all my efforts are kind of naive. I learn from the Week 3 reading that the kind of Ed innovations I am working towards are stymied by my University’s institutional culture, and require significant changes at that level to stimulate the kinds of policy and cultural changes that will incentivize faculty to give more consideration to the kinds of educational innovations contained in the OCLOS Roadmap. And the Roadmap makes the case for the potential of OERs to supply an important difference in improving teaching and learning practices, and then identifies the inhibitors, drivers, and enablers of that potential.

With respect to critical inhibitors is the lack of incentives for research faculty to adopt these ed. innovations. Moreover, at my institution, the state has so much copyright over much faculty (and staff) products that even the Creative Commons licensing approach by individuals is rendered in applicable. In other words, even one of the OpenEd enablers is inhibited since we don’t have the authority to assign CC licensing rights as the state owns all but a few kinds of things that a faculty produces. I think technically this means simple things like assignments, syllabi, instructional guides, etc. and most certainly course content and whole courses. (I will save further discussion of this issue for the course week on copyright, but I think this is a serious obstacle for many U.S. university faculty ).

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OpenEd: Week 3 – OCLOS Roadmap (OERs)

Posted by rreo on September 14, 2007

Several months ago I read parts of this report focusing on sections 5.3 and 5.4. With a goal of getting a post out earlier than Sunday for this week, I reread some parts and focused on the exec. summary, introductions, and conclusions.

OCLOS Roadmap report advocates more of a grassroots approach to influencing the OER movement by thinking globally and acting locally. The Roadmap emphasizes the potential benefits of the OER movement for decision makers and teachers (and learners) who want to leverage innovative educational practices, and I believe implies that there is a reciprocal effect from successful educational practitioners on the OER movement. An important theme is that to obtain the roadmap goals a change in educational practices will have to happen that involve more “constructivist” teaching approaches.

In other words, the Roadmap strongly encourages making open content support open learning, rather than simply providing a new source of open educational resources (content, tools, licenses) to augment traditional teaching and learning. The OpenEd movement exists along side with the open content, open access, small peices loosely joined, PLEs, and social constructivist learning practices. In fact, it might provide an educational policy platform that could unify all of these separate ideas and practices and form a larger strategic approach for enacting educational innovations.

Although the roadmap is not without its pronouncements for taking more strategic and long-term institutional changes and policy, the undertone I hear is that the tactical heart of the battle is waged because educational practices must change in a global, flattened, web 2.0, learner-centered world.

More to come….> OpenEd: Week 3.1

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OpenEd: Week 2 (2nd post) – Giving Knowledge for Free (OERs)

Posted by rreo on September 9, 2007

The report provides a good evidence-based overview of the main issues that are involved with the OER movement. I don’t work with the drivers/inhibitors for developing OERs at the institution level. My interests are more on the drivers and barriers for grassroots faculty adoption at the university level. In this context, (see also my workshop materials in the previous post) the key barriers are lack of awareness of these resources, lack of trust in their quality, lack of knowledge of availability of copyleft resources, as well as the CC licensing system.

My interests are less on efforts to create more “walled gardens” and more to herald and support faculty efforts toward making it easier to search/find, access, manage, remix, reuse, and contribute OERS. I want to improve faculty adoption/contribution but know this issue requires a strong institutional commitment which is not in place at my univeristy (per Ch4 of this week’s reading) or at least I think this is necessary for the big push. Faculty at my university lack a reward system for promotion/tenure for teaching related innovations of any kind let alone to contribute to OER movement, though some of course do just that. Other motivations that might spur faculty involvement if properly supported is that reuse improves quality of an OER, or stimulate the speed up of innovations of new ones in their discipline. Still, as David comments on my Wk1 post, quoting Margaret Mead — “why not start everywhere”, so I will persist in my efforts to make faculty aware of all this.

D’Arcy’s post was a useful perspective on the differences in OER vs. LO approaches and together with readings, stimulated some thoughts for me. I agree that the beauty of the current OER trend is open content creation first, and reusability second, particularly for those of us who don’t have institutional repositories at our colleges/schools to drive or channel our efforts. Right now, overcoming copyright restrictions are more important than format or standards for interoperability as the driver for the average faculty who needs access to simple , just-in-time teaching/learning materials (such as, assignments, tutorials, user guides, rubrics etc.) and often prefer to reformat and revise to suit their own needs. The hope in this bottom-up model is that each new user can provide added-value to the OER, and that at some point some one will add the interoperability piece.

My own motivation was that in the face of copyright restrictions, I was finding a tremendous amount of useful, good quality resources for my own purposes. I was seeing that Web 2.0 was creating a profusion of rich, new sources of copyright-free and CC-licensed materials, and then tied in some new services for open license searching, and saw that there was a new method for finding teaching/learning resources that just needed someone to point out, show how easy to do, prove their credibility, and then train people to take advantage of it.

Back to D’Arcy’s post — he goes on to mentions CC-search of WWW vs. closed collections and I do both. Is it true that a WWW search is just as good at finding high quality resources? Repositories like Merlot, similar to any Web 2.0 service, do provide a variety of value-added services for its members. So I guess for some people this could be valuable and I’m pretty sure that there are fee-based premium services, but this is fairly similar to the way commercial social software tools vendors work. It certainly seems to have sustained Merlot and provides a cost recovery model. Still, for my purposes, I seem to be able to get most of my OERs from my social network.

Next Steps:
I will continue to make faculty aware of search/access to OERs via workshops and conferences. More important next steps emerge from what I see others involved saying/doing, and that is, working with my unit to create ways to improve OERs. This means methods and tools for adding-value to them, such as, to make them easier to share/remix/convert or import into other systems, or to assign copyleft licensing notices.

Other thoughts:

1. join/form organizations involved with this

2. sponsor events and conduct workshops

3. promote social software tools and formation of personal learning environments

4. collaborative filtering of OERs

5. collaborate with our library to foster digital fluency and assist with data archiving

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OpenEd: Week 2- Giving Knowledge for Free (OERs)

Posted by rreo on September 8, 2007

My interests on the topic of OERs are mostly practical. I work as a higher ed faculty support staff and do a little online teaching. I need convenient access to good quality materials for my faculty training efforts, for faculty to use for their teaching, and for my own teaching and learning. So about a year ago, and in partially in response to faculty always raising the Copyright concerns issue in workshops, I began to create a workshop designed to alleviate their copyright concerns by showing the range of public domain, copyleft, or Creative Commons-licensed resources available online. In the process, I discovered the OER movement that was already tackling the same problem.

I will use the content of this slide show as an initial post for this weeks assignment, and follow it up with some fresh thoughts from the OECD 2007 reading later.

Audience: [faculty presentation]
Provides a general overview of copyright-copyleft-public domain with respect to media resources and then demonstrates through examples the wealth of open content digital resources available on the web, including some tools to help create, manage, remix and reuse them.

Here is the Slideshare presentation I developed:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://s3.amazonaws.com/slideshare/ssplayer.swf?id=105723&doc=overview-of-open-educational-resources-oers-faculty-presentation287" width="425" height="348" wmode="transparent" /]

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OpenEd: Week 1 blogging assignment

Posted by rreo on September 1, 2007

Why Open Ed? QUESTIONS:

In your opinion, is the “right to education” a basic human right? Why or why not?

I’ve never thought about this. We certainly take it for granted in this western world /US. Education may come as part of religious/political instruction, military service, or in the process of learning a craft/apprenticeship. So I guess I would need more clarification about what we mean by education. Does it mean fundamentals of reading, writing, and math, or world literature and history? Even in US we have differences of opinion of schooling, NCLB, and SOLs vs School 2.0 on other extreme.

The issue of age is involved. The rights of education may apply only or more strongly to children versus adults. There are real social reasons why an adult right to education might not be practical in certain developing nations – I suppose, not sure — as there may be a shortage of able workers and they may be needed to provide essential survival functions, growing food, fighting disease etc. necessary to keep their own children and others alive. Still, with an agreed “right to education” in place, the world organizations would be in a better position to lobby for the population being denied, and help to fix the situation by addressing the political or economic factors, if that’s what it took.

But now as I begin to read the articles, I learn that a right to ed. has a fundamental correlation to several other important rights such as, to vote, to health care, to human rights, to a democratic society, … so we get to a chicken/egg type situation: which is the more important problem to take care of first, the right to education or some other right, and I think some are saying that people have to have some level of literacy to successfully deal with these other important issues.


In your opinion, is open *access* to free, high-quality educational opportunity sufficient, or is it necessary to *mandate* education through a certain age or level?

My initial sense is that a primary school education should be mandatory. I think young children need more directed learning to a certain developmental level. After that level is reached, exposure to open access resources and a more self-directed approach could be progressively inculcated. But I now see that’s an ideal situation and does not take into account the all the complex arguments from others in the course about capacity and right to refuse.

The post about the Italian clergy who believed practical education was a precursor for religious education makes me think about the $100 laptop program that aims to provide computational and maybe Web access to certain developing regions. Perhaps simple access to information via the Web, or a right to Web access. is a sufficient precursor for a kind of self-education that could build capacity , or at least leverage it.

There is good evidence in Tomasevski article that support for a primary education is the proper strategy. I think this approach could work well with a well-developed Open Ed system that can more effectively fill in the secondary and tertiary educational needs — both pedagogically and economically. But if there is one thing that I learned as an Anthropologist it’s that this strategy will likely NOT apply to all countries / cultures the same.

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