Well, this is my 13th post, so in order to claim my novice badge, here is a recap of the most important ideas I have noticed in the assigned topics.
Our current education system cannot scale fast enough to allow everyone who will want to get access to the training they will need to succeed in the 21st century. Even if we threw money at it without limit, it would probably never get to be affordable enough to accommodate everyone, and allow for upward socio-economic mobility.
Open education, badges, and OER are alternative and complementary paths to traditional higher education. They should not be viewed as a threat by higher education institutions, but as a opportunity to engage in a larger conversation, and allow a greater reach than ever in what universities are all about: creating and spreading knowledge.
Not everyone can be an MIT graduate, but their OpenCourseware initiative, in addition to being generous and useful, has increased their brand awareness tenfold. So there are advantages to making your content freely available, if you’re looking at the right metrics.
Openness is not free. It requires efforts to get out of the walled garden of the LMS and make your content legit for open sharing. Opening up content can also have a cost in lost revenue if it’s no done thoughtfully, especially if your institution’s value-added is all included in its content, and not on the learning experience.
Rogue faculty members should open up their course it it makes sense to them, but institutional initiatives have to be examined as business opportunities, as well as philanthropic initiatives.
Awareness is not enough
Most people still see copyright as an enabler of their inner 2 year old screaming “Mine, mine, mine!”. In my opinion, people value what they create too highly. Most of us will never make a career of what we create; most of us don’t have enough followers willing to pay a premium to see us lecture and support us financially (if we weren’t supported by our institutional brand called the university).
As my colleague Pat Sine always says, “How original is your History 101 syllabus, really?”
Even as we expose faculty members to these facts, their first reflex is to hide and protect. Faculty members at research institutions don’t like their ideas to leak, to then get scooped by someone else when they are about to publish their newest paper.
Open policies, both at the governmental and institutional levels, are safeguards against hurtful privacy. They level the playing field for everyone, and send the message that openness is the best way to enable proper and efficient scaffolding of ideas to help society progress intellectually and scientifically.
Making something available online doesn’t make it open. The digital nature of a resource has nothing to do with its openness.
Because of our current copyright laws, most creative work isn’t open, unless specifically stated by the owner of the intellectual property. The wider use of Creative Commons licensing is a good start in making sure “some” of the work created by humans can be reused by others, without legal restraints.
Hopefully, as some point, the tide will turn and copyright will need to be renewed and claimed instead of awarded by default for a ridiculous amount of time. The nature of copyright, as stated in the 1787 U.S. Constitution (Section 1, Article 8) as more to do with the spread of knowledge and its benefit to society than with letting people make money forever out of cultural artifacts.
When making your course or research available online, you’re making the statement that you’re open to criticism, that you’re transparent in your approach to knowledge creation and distribution.
Unfortunately, the academic publishing industry is setting up paywalls and harsh intellectual property conditions, limiting access to knowledge for the less wealthy institutions (and the wealthiest ones as well, as Harvard took a stand for open publishing). The role of the publisher as the middleman of academia has to be reexamined in order to allow researchers and the public to drill down in research and verify the claims of researchers, as their conclusion might influence decisions that might have a life and death consequence to people following advice blindly.
List of posts
Below is the list of posts as evidence of the completion of the novice badge: