Intro Open Ed Syllabus

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INST 7150 Introduction to Open Education, Fall 2007


Please use the "edit" link to the right to list your name, school, email, and blog below. If you don't have a blog, please get a free one from somewhere like Blogger or Wordpress. A blog is required for this course. (If you need help getting started, go to setting up a blog. On the discussion page you can introduce yourself. Here is a class participant OPML file (as of Sep 13) including everyone's blogs (Except Rick, Pedro, and Kurt, who I've asked to fix things). Feel free to download, edit, and upload the OPML file to your favorite feed reader, such as Bloglines or Google Reader.

Goals of the Course

The goals of the course are (1) to give you a firm grounding in the current state of the field of open education, including related topics like copyright, licensing, and sustainability, (2) to help you locate open education in the context of mainstream instructional technologies like learning objects, and (3) to get you thinking, writing, and dialoguing creatively and critically about current practices and possible alternative practices in open education.


This is a 3 credit graduate-level course. You should plan on investing approximately 12 hours a week in class-related work. Honestly, the course is going to be a lot of work, but I promise you a great experience if you invest the effort I'll ask of you.

Class Meetings

This class meets only asynchronously online. We may hold optional, synchronous "social" meetings during the semester.


Weekly Reading and Blogging

Each week you should read the assigned material and blog answers to the questions for the week, or simply complete assignments for weeks when there are no readings or questions. Your blogging should demonstrate your understanding of the assigned reading material and should include original thoughts and synthesis. Don't just summarize readings. Making connections between the week's readings and either previous readings or previous blogging (of your own or of other students!) is strongly encouraged. Blog posts should be made by 11:59pm Sunday night the week the reading is assigned (see Late Work Policy below).

Elective Reading Synopses

During the course you should select a longer piece of writing from the Elective Reading Synopses list below in the Schedule. Begin this reading early in the course, and complete the reading and post answers to the questions about your piece as your Weekly Reading and Blogging for Week 9.

Late Work Policy

If your work is ever late, I may or may not accept the work and may or may not penalize the work, depending completely on my possibly grumpy, biased, or elated mood. If this does not seem fair to you, then do not be late with your work.


Each weekly assignment is worth 10 points, for a total of 150 possible points for the course. Weekly assignments will be graded according to (1) the degree to which they completely answer the questions asked, (2) the degree to which they demonstrate understanding of the assigned reading material, and (3) the degree to which original thinking is evident in the writing. An extra point may be awarded when a student draws on and references others student writing effectively. Final grades will be assigned based on the proportion of points earned to points possible as follows:

1.0 > A >= .95
.95 > A- >= .9
.9 > B+ >= .875
.875 > B >= .85
.85 > B- >= .8
.8 > C+ >= .775
.775 > C >= .75
.75 > C- >= .725
.725 > F


Week 1 August 27: Why Open Education?

Removing obstacles in the way of the right to education (Tomasevski, 51 pages)

Free and compulsory education for all children: the gap between promise and performance (Tomasevski, 81 pages)

Testimony to the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (Wiley, 7 pages)

QUESTIONS: In your opinion, is the "right to education" a basic human right? Why or why not? 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?

Week 2: Background Readings in Open Education

Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources   (OECD, 147 pages) Open Educational Resources- Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education (JISC CETIS, 34 pages)

QUESTIONS: There are no questions this week; you'll answers questions about this week's reading in Week 4.

Week 3: Background Readings in Open Education

Open Educational Practices and Resources: OLCOS Roadmap 2012   (OLCOS, 149 pages)

QUESTIONS: There are no questions this week; you'll answers questions about this week's reading in Week 4.

Week 4: Background Readings in Open Education

A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities   (Atkins, Brown, and Hammond, 80 pages)

Interviews with:

  • Susan D'Antoni
  • Mike Smith

QUESTIONS: What do these overviews of the field have in common? What do they emphasize differently? What are the aims of the authors of each report? Do you see a bias toward or against any ideas, organizations, or approaches in any of the reports? Which report spoke the most clearly to you, and why do you think it did? Based on where the field is now, and these initial ideas about where it might go, what part of the open education movement is most interesting to you? Why?

Week 5: Example Open Education Projects

Open University (UK) Open Content Initiative

Rice Connexions

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

UNESCO Open Training Platform


National Repository of Online Courses

QUESTIONS: What do these representative open education projects have in common? What differentiates them? In the context of open education projects, what does "quality" mean?

Week 6: Background Readings in Copyright and the Public Domain

Copyright Basics (Carroll, 9 pages)

Public domain (Various, 10 pages)

Against Perpetual Copyright (Lessig, 8 pages)

An Interview with Lawrence Lessig on Copyrights (Lessig, 5 pages)

Bound by Law (Aoki, Boyle, and Jenkins, 76 pages)

Value of the public domain (Pollock, 18 pages)

Forever minus a day? Some theory and empirics of optimal copyright (Pollock, 29 pages)

Interviews with:

  • Raquel Xalabarder

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.

see also: [1] Gnu Free documentation license [2] Fair Use [3] Public Domain (in italian language)

Week 7: Licensing Open Educational Resources

Creative Commons (Watch the top 4 videos) see also: CC Origins, in Italian (1 Video)

GNU Free Documentation License (FSF, 6 pages)

Free content tutorial (Various, 12 pages)

WikiEducator: Memoirs, myths, misrepresentations and the magic (Mackintosh, 10 pages)

Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons -NC License (Möller, 9 pages)

Open educational resources and practices (Blackall, 8 pages)

Noncommercial isn’t the problem, ShareAlike is (Wiley, 5 pages)

ShareAlike, the public domain, and privileging (Wiley, 3 pages)

QUESTIONS: Can you think of license options that CC is currently missing that would benefit the open education movement? As the CC and GFDL licenses are incompatible, how can OCW content be legally remixed with Wikipedia content? Some people claim that the Creative Commons ShareAlike clause provides most of the protections people want to secure from the Creative Commons NonCommercial clause. What do you think these people mean, are they right, and why? Is copyleft good for the open education movement? Why or why not?

please read also: Il copyleft in tasca, Copyleft in your pocket (italian digital paper, 24 pages, around this topic)

Week 8: Economic Models of Open Education

Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials Print version (Benkler, 32 pages)

Advancing Sustainability of Open Educational Resources (Koohang and Harman, 10 pages)

On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education (Wiley, 20 pages)

Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources (Downes, 16 pages)

Interviews with:

  • Gary Lopez
  • Eric Frank

QUESTIONS: How can you build a sustainable business around giving away educational materials? How can you build a sustainable business model around giving away credentialed degrees? Should governments fund open education? (Do they already?)

Week 9: Elective Reading Synopses

David's recommended books:

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Benkler)

Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm (Benkler)

The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (Easterly)

The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Easterly)

The World Is Flat (Updated and Expanded): A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Friedman)

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (Lessig)

Free Culture (Lessig)

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Prahalad)

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (Sachs)

Development as Freedom (Sen)

Add other recommended books here:

Wikinomics (Tapscott, Williams)

QUESTIONS: What can the open education movement learn from the book you chose to read? Elaborate on at least three points. Which of the ideas presented in the book did you find hardest to believe or agree with? Why?

Week 10: Reflecting on Week 9

ASSIGNMENT: Catch your breath, read your classmates' blogs for Week 9, and post your interlinked thoughts on what everyone is saying.

Week 11: Open Education and Learning Objects

The Learning Objects Literature (Wiley, 12 pages)

RIP-ping on learning objects (Wiley, 3 pages)

Openness, Localization, and the Future of Learning Objects (Wiley, 36 minutes)

QUESTIONS: Some people believe that open educational resources "fix" many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

Week 12: Reflecting on Week 11

ASSIGNMENT: Catch your breath, read your classmates' blogs for Week 11, and post your interlinked thoughts on what everyone is saying.

Week 13: The Future of Open Education

The OpenCourseWars (Wiley, 13 pages)

QUESTIONS: What will the future of higher education look like? What impact will the open education movement have? How will we get there from here? What will be the effects of open education movement upon K-12 education? (alessandro giorni) What will be the effects of open education movement upon high school education? (emanuela z.) What role can OERs play in developing countries? (Stian Haklev)

Week 14: Reflecting on Week 13

ASSIGNMENT: Catch your breath, read your classmates' blogs for Week 13, and post your interlinked thoughts on what everyone is saying.

Week 15: Wrap Up

Blog your overall feelings about the course. On the content side, what did you learn? How will you use it after the class is over? What did we not cover that you realize now we really should have? On the process side, how could the class be better next time it's taught? What would you change? What would you keep? Is there anything we as a group can do after the course is over? (Stian Haklev)

Also, besides describing your experiences and tips, please have a look at the Open Education wiki on :: We can aggregate our experiences there, and use it as a platform for open education matters. (Thieme)