More on “Intro to Open Ed” Course

Next Monday is the beginning of the Introduction to Open Education course! Hurray! We already have over 20 participants from major US instructional technology programs (Georgia, Indiana, George Mason, South Florida) and folks from six countries outside the US signed up to participate. I suppose the USU participants (my school) are all waiting for next week to sign up… =)

I’ve had someone (who isn’t a university student, and therefore doesn’t need or want credits) ask about receiving a certificate from the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning for successful completion of the experience. So here is what I’m going to do (sorry about the detail, but if you ever want to do this at your university the detail may come in handy):

1. If we call this a “non-credit workshop with a credit option,” then everything works well policy-wise / procedure-wise here at USU. And since the majority of the folks who are participating are not doing it for credit, this makes sense.

2. It turns out that the Center can charge as much or as little as it likes for “non-credit workshops” where credit is not being awarded.

3. Therefore, if you don’t need university credits but would like a certificate at the end of the experience saying that you “successfully completed” the workshop, I will invite you to make a $50 donation to the Center. If you do the specified work and successfully complete the course, you’ll then get an official certificate from the Center signed by me saying that you successfully completed the Introduction to Open Education workshop.

4. HOWEVER, if you would like the certificate but can’t afford the $50 donation, just email me to let me know you want to earn the certificate, and I’ll be happy to send you one at the end of the class for free (assuming you do all the work).

I’m really looking forward to the class! See you all next week!

A Response to Stephen

UPDATE: This is in response to Stephen’s comments on my last post. If I had a dime for every time I titled an entry like this… 🙂 Stephen, it’s nice to have you back.

This article seems to still take the point of view of republishers or educators.

Yes, I am an educator, and this article is written from my perspective. In fact, I titled it *My Current View* on the CC-NC Licensing Option Controversy in OCWs. 🙂 I’m not apologetic at all about this. I want to participate in the work of expanding educational opportunity, and I can only do it as an educator. That’s what I am.

The greatest beneficiaries of open access will be students and learners – people who want to read or use the materials in order to learn, not people who want to republish them for their own personal gain.

Of course. I would augment this statement by saying that many students and learners will benefit because the materials will be adopted and used by teachers and faculty. Educators do have *some* impact – even if limited – on students and learners.

It is true that most corporate – and even some non-profit – entities won’t use material stamped with a ‘NC’ clause. Big deal. Who cares?

I care. We are on a *very* slippery slope the day we begin judging some people or organizations as being worthy of our help and others as unworthy. If someone else feels qualified to make that call, I suppose they can. I certainly am not qualified – I’ll stick to trying to be helpful to everyone I can.

No student working on their own, blogging content, creating mash-ups, or sharing files would ever confuse themselves with a commercial entity, and no such student would be deterred by the ‘NC’ clause. We don’t need to know exactly where the fine line is. The important thing is to get out of this producer-consumer mentality. CC-NC is about sharing in a non-commercial community, a network of learners, not content producers.

If no one is producing content, what is being shared in this non-commercial community? What materials are being shared and studied by the network of learners if there are no content producers? Or is the point that we should work to exclude professionally produced materials from legally and freely circulating within the network, and only allow the sharing of materials produced by amateurs? Why is that a good thing? Why should we discriminate against educators and others who produce educational content for a living? This is would be a blatant case of “discrimination against a field of endeavor,” a definite no-no according to the Open Source Definition.

This, in my view, is the big danger of relying on publishers and industry in general for any aspect of open access and open learning – the danger of becoming bogged down in conditions and arguments that revolve around their needs and interests, the danger of turning what should be free into something that is (in perhaps everything but name) a commercial enterprise.

How does “allowing” people like me to participate in an ecology of sharing equate to reliance on publishers and industry? If some of the content circulating in the network is produced by educators, why is that a problem? Even with the 2500 or so courses worth of CC-licensed material in the university OpenCourseWares, the *overwhelming* majority of CC-licensed content in the world comes from blogs, Flickr, and other sources like those that Stephen mentions above. How is it that, by sharing my course materials in a freely available OCW, I’m participating in a commercial enterprise?

open content

MLK Day Open Education Tribute

When a people find themselves more fully possessed of opportunities to exercise their rights as human beings than another; when a society becomes aware that it is in possession of greater comforts and enjoyments than another; and when at this same moment these prospered people come to understand that it is within their power to extend these same opportunities to those who have before been without them, a solemn responsibility comes to rest upon those more empowered.

This solemn responsibility is the context in which we work.

How are we to fulfill our duty to humanity? Many suggestions have been made. As have many others, Truman simply and concisely expressed the two most important characteristics of any such effort:

“Only by helping the least fortunate of its members to help themselves can the human family achieve the decent, satisfying life that is the right of all people.”

“The material resources which we can afford to use for the assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible.” Truman’s 1949 Inaugural Address

We first affirm that the exercise of force or compulsion will find no home within our efforts. We have neither the moral authority to compel anyone, nor the practical capacity to compel everyone. We believe that when met by genuine opportunities to improve their own lives, many people will respond by seeking to exercise those opportunities.

Our work, then, is to do our part to create these opportunities.

We second recognize that the nature of knowledge is unique in that one need not discard an idea to share it. Unlike material goods that must leave the custody of one to enter the custody of another, when knowledge is shared from one to another, both end the conversation in full possession of that which was given.

Unfortunately, the simple existence of educational opportunity alone will not improve the lives of many. There must also be freedom to exercise one’s right to education and incentives to exercise that right. This may require many social, economic, and political changes that will likely interact with each other in complex ways. But the existence of these interdependencies does not require us to slow our efforts in sharing what we know. Indeed, now is the time, instead, to accelerate them.

The most sustainable work we can do to create these opportunities is to work to freely share what we know. And the most sustainable and appropriate way to do this is to first share how to share. This will enable those who choose to do so to be equal participants in a community of sharing rather than relegating them to the status of receivers and consumers.

Those of us currently engaged in the field we call open educational resources are not so important because of the content or software we freely share as we are because of the example we might set for others. In a time of almost unimaginable greed, we have an opportunity to show that helping your neighbor is still the right thing to do.

Our efforts will neither scale nor succeed until “freely sharing what you know” becomes common practice among common people, until common tools allow this common activity to reach into and out of every corner of the earth, until common sense prevails over common selfishness, and until the opportunities to exercise common rights and enjoy common freedoms displace needlessly common ignorance, poverty, fear, and hunger.

Though very ordinary in itself, this work will bear extraordinary fruit if we will take it up. The work is ours to do – let us do it!