In three parts: First, what are OLS and EduCommons? Second, what is the status of the projects? And third, what is the purpose of the January meetings?
First, what are OLS and EduCommons?
Open Learning Support is a new partnership with the OpenCourseWare (OCW) project at MIT, in which USU will build infrastructure to facilitate the development of informal, self-organizing learning communities around the OCW materials, and play a role in catalyzing the emergence of the communities. The research team for this project is partly funded under a National Science Foundation CAREER grant awarded for the study of informal, self-organizing online learning communities and the role of reusable educational resources (“learning objects”) in supporting informal learning.
EduCommons is a project to build a “SourceForge for educational materials.” EduCommons will be a space where individuals can carry out the distributed development of free and open educational materials. In addition to creating materials, EduCommons will serve as a home to projects building derivative works based on the MIT/OCW materials and provide a home for OCW localization projects.
Second, what is the status of the projects?
Both OLS and EduCommons have received Phase I funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and are currently underway.
Third, so what are the late January meetings for?
The OSLO Group has put together a draft technological / sociological feature set for both pieces of software. These meetings are an opportunity for the community to provide feedback regarding the features and direction of the projects. We are hoping to hear ?did you consider this?,? ?have you overlooked this?,? ?how about the way XYZ software implements that feature?,? and, perhaps occasionally, ?this part looks pretty good!? The meetings are also opportunities for people or groups interested in participating in the development of OLS / EduCommons to formalize their participation.
We?re hoping that the meetings will be extremely productive and of great benefit to the whole community. While we will structure the meetings around design drafts circulated before the meetings, we will also leave some open time for emergent outcomes. We?re very open to different, very different, and even wacky interpretations of how these projects might achieve their goals. The only topic related to the projects which is off the table a priori is whether or not the projects are good ideas generally and should or should not proceed.