Open Educational Resources: January 19 - February 8, 2009

What does 'Open' mean to you?

What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
Number of replies: 23
Rather than descend into what I fear might be an interminable discussion into what, exactly, is an 'Open Educational Resource' how about we start off on a slightly different angle; as an educator seeking digital content online, what does 'open' mean to you? What rights are important to you as a content re-user to have?

Picking up on a strand in the chat room in the kick-off session today, is something 'open' only if it *doesn't* require attribution? i.e. if it is truly out in the Public Domain? Or is requiring attribution ok (even important)?

Is it ok if a work does not allow you to create derivatives? Even if you don't want to change the work, what might some of the issues be with using a work that doesn't allow derivatives?


Let's try that for a start, but as Sylvia remarked in today's opening session, please don't hesitate to start your own thread. I'm hear to spark some discussion when needed, and I will try to share what expertise I have, but this seminar will ultimately be what you make out of it, so please, join in!
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Cynthia Alvarado -
I prefer to use sources that require attribution. I think it is important to be able to trace the ideas back to their creators. I want my students to realize that information doesn't grow on trees or magically appear, people create it. By inference this means that they, too can create information. I don't need it to be fully in the public domain to be useful, but it does work better most times for my purposes if derivatives are allowed. I am all about the mashup. I like my students to put together and connect things from different sources, showing that they get the original significance and know where it came from (attribution). If you can't make derivatives, it becomes a static piece, which seems to me to be much less useful to both student learning and my teaching.
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by j. Tim Denny -

Scott

A smart start... this word "open" remains hard to capture as so many are using it these days leaving us a bit unsure as to what direction to take.

Open to me means freedom – Cynthia says that attribution is good… I am in total agreement. Yet in order for attribution to work we need to be sure that those you borrow from also follow the same standard -- as ideas begin somewhere and somehow. When we grant attribution does it go to an original source or does it go to the most convenient author? Or might it be good enough to say that we borrowed some ideas – therefore we are not trying to trick others to think that everything presented is one’s original invention.

The brilliance in all of this “open” is that like no time before we are able to access massive amount of information and piece it together in ways that make sense to us. If you are really clever you can share what you learned while offering comprehensible explanations to others. Without “open” it would mean we are back to the age where one had to pay to gain others insights, where information is hidden and thus freedoms restricted.

On a recent exercise to locate reusable resources for community center training I have come across no less than 5 major lists of training materials. This means that others have pieced together lists of courses that I might choose to advocate. It saves me months of work as I can borrow from others rather than creating new. To me, that is freedom.. Yes I wish to give attribution to the hard work that others have done as I stand on their shoulders. I can do that by republishing materials, giving back and sharing with the community and being sure to offer credit for valuable resources where possible.

As I inferred earlier there are also those who abuse “open”, I sometimes come across groups that borrow from the open community; re-brand what has been done and then release as if they have done something major… well not to be totally against it as they are still doing some good… but with open comes easy deception. We need to be vigilant in attacking those that deceive as that is a major part of contributing to the open community. Those that trick others to believing that what they have produced is their original product will harm the open community. So let’s find a kind way of sharing, contributing and offering credit for original ideas.

In reply to j. Tim Denny

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
Clearly, "freedoms" are core to the idea of "openness" - but which one? Is it important to you that you be able to re-sell a derivative work that may have included someone else's seed content? How about not having to share your derived work with others? Is that important?

I think I understood what the person in the chat room was saying about even requiring attribution to be an impediment to reuse (and frredom), but it does seem a bit extreme, and certainly not what I'd see as a mainstream position within either the open content, or open education, or even open source community, from which many of the ideas and practices first came.

I hear what you are saying about continuity in attribution, though my take is typically that people need to make a "reasonable" effort. But it does get tricky - we get this at times with people submitting a course to the SOL*R service I run under a Creative Commons license but either not citing a source properly or indeed occassionally including 3rd party copyrighted materials, which one can't simply 'liberate' under a CC license (much as I'd often like to.)

Here's some other ways to frame this - is http://www.doaj.org/doaj?func=subject&cpid=22 "open" in the sense of OER? It bills itself as a "Directory of Open Access Journals," but do you think you could reuse content from any of the journals listed in here in ways the same way as say content from a course in the Connexions repository (cf. http://cnx.org/)?

Or, how about the education you'd get at one of the "open learning" agencies, say BC's own TRU Open Learning (cf. http://www.tru.ca/distance/about.html)? To what extent is this the sense of 'open' that you understand it in "open educational resources" versus some other sense of "open."
In reply to j. Tim Denny

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Colby Stuart -
Because of my relationship with Open Source and prototyping, I tend to view "open" with different layers of meaning. These layers include behaviours like permissions, application, referral, feedback, contribution, creative development and credit or citation.

I think one of the most challenging aspects of "open" is rights management. This has more to do with business models and revenue. Another challenge - and this impacts the academic and publishing worlds - is citation and credit. For those that are basing their reputations and positions on citation, this limits their play in the Open Source system.

Might be interesting to explore "how to" develop a citation system that works in Open Source so that people who are developers get the credit - and related revenues - if their core elements or contributions are used to build something with commercial viability.

Might also be valuable to develop a system for the open learning environments, so that they are exempt from cost and yet have a system for referencing and giving credit to those who generated the content or applications that they are using in learning environments. This would create value for everyone then.

To me, open means sharing, learning, applying, feeding back the learning from application, contributing back. It's a virtuous cycle. Open does not mean taking and using because that is a one way model causing a value drain.
In reply to j. Tim Denny

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by ABC Given -

Greetings,

The meaning of open is in the eye of the beholder. I provide copyright help, clearances and training for faculty and staff.

Open source is encompassing all the less restrictive copyright licenses (GNU, Creative Commons, Open Source) and they are a great source because they gives flexibility to educators to re-use and maybe even adapt.

In my workshop on copyright freedom, I include some general directories that give also open source resources. I explain that there is a license to go with each list item – just read the terms of use and see if it suits your re-use purpose & always acknowledge/cite your source:

Directory of Open Access Journals http://www.doaj.org/ see some titles are under Creative Commons License, others under restrictive copyright licenses; Directory of Open Access Repositories OpenDoar http://www.opendoar.org ; Open Educator – Open Planner http://www.openplanner.org/sitemenu ; LAMS Central Repository http://www.lamscommunity.org/lamscentral/ ; Free Software Directory http://directory.fsf.org/

evilFALSE: Open Source = no copyright & no terms of use

smileTRUE: Open Source = less restrictive copyright terms

smileTRUE : PUBLIC DOMAIN = NO COPYRIGHT (author/copyright holder has to state clearly the work is public domain OR, in Canada 50 years have passed from the death of the author/creator)

Copyright is complicated as the copyright holder of an educational material/learning object can be an organization and not the creator of the material: employer (college, university, institute, government), or a commercial publisher (books/textbooks or software/multimedia) or a foundation/professional association.

Multimedia in a learning object can be tricky as its elements can be parts of other works that can be copyrighted/trademarked (software, images, video, music, data …) .

It gets complicated – just read the terms of use and understand what you can do & what you can not. Permission to re-use content as you want can be granted by the copyright holder for free or a fee (or may get rejected).

Anca

In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Jeffrey Keefer -
I am starting to think about this for the first time, and while "open" implies "freely available and accessible" to me, I do realize the importance of attributing work to those who created. I think about this from the perspective of being "fair," as I do not want to give the impression that something is original if it is not.

This is not always the easiest to do, and the cloudy part seems to happen when things are adapted (as so many things are in education).
In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
The standard line on this, from for instance Wiley's work (cf. http://www.osbr.ca/ojs/index.php/osbr/article/viewArticle/797/768), is that open content should enable the 4Rs, the rights to "Reuse, Redistribute, Revise, Remix."

Another way this often gets framed is around the three 'ways' in which something can be open, "legally, socially and technologically" (cf. http://www.openknowledgefoundation.org/three_meanings_of_open/).

I find both of these helpful ways to think about specific situations. So, for instance, the 'Open Access' journals I mention above typically ensure your right to redistribute and reuse (though still with some caveats), but definitely not your right to Revise and Remix. They would be, I think, socially open, in that people are not trying to hide them away, but to a lesser extent legally and technologically open.

So, if you buy into this general notion of openness, which of the 4Rs is most important to you? All of them? Some of them? Why? And why, if you want yourself in an open way, is it important to use resources that guarantee ALL of these rights (or to share yourself in a way that does)?
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by j. Tim Denny -
Scott

If I can answer for just one of the 4r's I would put "redistribution" at the top... well above the others.

The greatest strength of "open" is the ability to freely share with others. If at the least we are able to send a manuscript, essay, video or journal article to another person who might be able to gain from such information; then what more powerful tool can be extended to the world?

actually as Wiley describes "Reuse" a subset of "redistribute"... thus in my opinion there are 3r's not 4.

see:
  1. Reuse: use the work verbatim or exactly as you found it.
  2. Revise: alter or transform the work so that it better meets your needs.
  3. Remix: combine the (verbatim or altered) work with other works to better meet your needs.
  4. Redistribute: share the verbatim work, the revised work, or the remixed work with others.

If I can pick the second most important R it would be Revise... So often around the world materials are inaccessible. Even if they are accessible they may be in a language incomprehensible to those who should have access to information... My it be organic techniques to potato blight, commercial crops in the Himalayan foothills or whatever it may be... getting information in the hands of those who need it is only step one, but being able to localize it through translation and if necessary contextualization is also important.



In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Gina Bennett -

Over the past couple of weeks I have been co-facilitating orientation workshops for new students. My role is to provide some guidance about accessing the college network & online learning resources & my co-facilitator is a library technician who explains how to access & use the library’s databases. So I have been learning more about the information that our institution pays for, information that must be accessed via a special portal with private username & password.

As I was listening last night to the librarian explain the complex process of navigating to the portal, logging in, & searching for resources in the databases, my first thought was ‘Why would you bother with this process? Why not just google for your information?’ My second thought was ‘How could you trust this information? If it’s behind this complex wall, cut off from the flow of information, so difficult to access & to respond to, published only by certain (paid) people, so DATED … how valuable can this information really be?’

Yes, yes – I *know* that peer-reviewed pay-for-view information is certainly not all bad & I’ve used it myself (although not since I completed my thesis & was required to use such sources). And I was a little surprised myself last night at my very visceral reaction to the library part of the workshop. Maybe we will struggle to define what an ‘open’ resource is but surely we can agree that walled garden information is NOT open.

So I suppose I would subscribe to the ‘virtuous cycle’ idea that Colby Stuart refers to above.I think information is sort of like electricity: it’s only useful if it circulates. The more it circulates, the more power it generates. Of course you have to know how to use it, how to evaluate it. But you certainly can’t collect electricity in a jar.

Gina

In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
Gina, I love this phrase "cut off from the flow of information." That's exactly what it feels like, and yet the irony is that we bloggers, who publish everything out in the open, are made to feel like the marginal ones even though often the stuff we write is critiqued, examined and improved upon 100 times more than some of the academic 'peer reviewed' materials.

And while I'm not one to promote silos, even when they are open, imagine what it would look like if instead of explaining how to use the complicated proprietary databases, the librarian had showed them http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/b/bib/bib-idx?c=oaister;page=simple

I really thank you for this comment - one level I knew this argument, but I don't think it's ever been so crystal clear for me as another case for openness.
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: OAIster

by Gina Bennett -
Holy cow. That 'oaister' site you referred me to is cool. A gigantic library-type search of open stuff. I gave it my usual acid test: a search based on the word 'kerguelen' (weird island in the south Indian Ocean). I got 585 hits, all of them (apparently) open!!!

Thanks, Scott!
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Colby Stuart -
Oh, but Gina...electricity in a jar is a light bulb! We could use that as a metaphor for new ideas.

Aren't new ideas what we're after with all this discussion about open and mash ups and creating value from contributions that build on other ideas? This is "open".
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Dr. Nellie Deutsch -
This is a great way to start Scott. For me, "open" means accessible to use and modify with credit given to the creator/s. Open is not always free of cost.


Listen to Jeff Thomas of the Science Faculty at The Open University talk about OpenLearn (open and free) as an approach to creating and reusing educational resources.

In reply to Dr. Nellie Deutsch

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
Nellie, this is a great clip, thanks for sharing it, I had never seen it before. I am always on the look out for additional 'persuasive' materials on the benefits of openness, and there are some good arguments here. Thanks!
In reply to Dr. Nellie Deutsch

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Paul Stacey -
This is an excellent clip. Two things stand out for me one is the idea that putting their course material out through Open Learn creates a "shop window" to the Open University's educational offerings - a marketing/promotion benefit.

The other is that it connects the original author with others who adapt and modify the original materials in inventive ways. This is a key aspect for me but one that I have a lot of questions around.

I've noticed that virtually every OER effort starts out with an institution's own faculty authoring courses, always deemed of high quality, which then can be modified by others. The presumption always is that we'll author OER and make them available to others. Why are there no OER initiatives that start with the premise that there are lots of existing high quality OER out there, so lets just find the best resources and modify/adapt them for our own academic use? Is it because all faculty believe they have a unique understanding of their domain and want to create courses that reflect that uniqueness? I wonder if the OER movement will ever evolve to a mode of development where OER are collaboratively developed right from the onset by faculty across multiple institutions? Will OER initiatives eventually generate communities of academic peers who share a common academic domain and agree to collaborate on it together over time (like open source software)?

Paul
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Dr. Nellie Deutsch -
Hi Paul,
Thank you for finally saying what many of us feel. I have been involved in Wikieducator because I believe that's a neutral place where faculty across multiple institutions can collaborate on initiatives and eventually generate communities of academic peers who share a common academic domain and agree to collaborate on it together over time (like open source software). I invite everyone to join a free online workshop on how to use the wiki and collaborate with others.

Warm wishes,
Nellie


In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Paul Stacey -
The question of what is meant by “open” is a fascinating one. I like the range of responses that have emerged so far.

Scott mentioned Thompson Rivers University “open learning” which has meant that students can enroll at any time (as opposed to the typical fixed schedule of enrollment/course start dates) and can take as long as they need to complete the course (as opposed to a fixed end date). In that context open means open enrollment and completion. However, the actual resources used are not open in the sense that we are discussing here.

I think to some extent "open" educational resources can be defined along legal, economic, technological, and socio/cultural dimensions each of which sit on a continuum line from closed on the far left to fully open on the far right.

For the legal dimension at the right end of the contiuum is Public Domain. If we really want fully open educational resources we’d be placing them in the public domain where the resources become a public good and all are free to use them as they see fit. At the left end of the contiuum is full Copyright all rights reserved. Something like Creative Commons licenses, which many OER use, sits in the middle of the contiuum. Creative Commons licenses are not as fully open as Public Domain, but they are not as closed as full Copyright either. Its interesting to reflect on the elements of Creative Commons that make it uniquely positioned between full copyright and public domain. Creative Commons provides the author with a means to request attribution, to specify whether it can be used commercially or not, and to allow modifications of the original work but require those modifications to be shared back for the benefit of all. In my view these Creative Commons attributes touch on some of the economic and socio/cultural dimensions of being open. Here in British Columbia we’ve created a derivative Creative Commons license we call BC Commons that parallels Creative Commons but limits open, free sharing to the BC public post secondary institutions in our province. On the continuum BC Commons is clearly to the left of Creative Commons but still provides a mechanism for OER on a local regional level.

The economic side of open has two sides. On the access side a key dimension of open is whether it is available for free. On the use side a key aspect is whether open resources you are sharing can be used by others for financial gain.

The technological side of open for me addresses the changeability of an open education resource. Many OER initiatives are primarily producing Adobe Acrobat .pdf resources. These resources are not very editable and should not, in my view, be the targeted format for producing open resources. Clearly on the technology continuum .pdf resources are somewhere toward the left side.

The socio/cultural dimensions of open are many. One aspect is who the resources are open to and for what purpose. A major component from my point of view is the actual intent of the author producing OER. Why are they producing OER? What is motivating them? What do they hope will happen? A lot of OER initiatives say they are seeking to solve the global shrotage of educational resources. If that were the sole motivator then it seems clear to me public domain is the way to go. For many OER initiatives public relations and marketing seem to be significant motivational factors. In higher education there are many socio/cultural barriers to embracing the use of OER - primarily fears. Fear of competition and loss of students to some other institutiion, fear of scrutiny and critque, fear of others degrading the integrity of your educational resource through modification, ... A major socio/cultural dimension and significant untapped motivator for educators is the desire to connect with professional peers who share a passion for a common academic domain/subject area and interest in developing the best educational resources possible for teaching. I expect this motivator will emerge over the next years of OER development as a key driver.

As the OER movement evolves and matures I expect we’ll see a diversity of open approaches that can each be situated along these multi-dimensional open contiuums. As opposed to some singular definition of what open means I hope we can all adopt an OER vision that supports a continuum of openness and a diversity of ways by which people can participate in being open from small regional openness to sharing globally with everyone around the world.

OER will not benefit from a one size fits all approach to open.

Paul
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
to pick up on a point here (and sort of as a segue to next week's discussions on 'Creating OER')...

I was looking at an OER site of video from Columbia University today - http://ci.columbia.edu/ci/. It is very good, nice little video snippets surrounded by an attractive frame, but they were all RealVideo clips that I had to watch in the context they were already embedded, i.e. there was no obvious way to download them or even link to them outside this frame.

Should this matter? Does it matter to you? To what extent were these maybe not full open? Is this maybe a case where they were open on a some of the axis that Paul points to (social, legally) but not technologically? Are there more subtle ways in which we can understand technological openness?
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
...and to answer a part of my question - as I look closer, it seems clear that the site I cite doesn't even meet the 'legal' sense of openness, as at the bottom it states clearly "Columbia Interactive is being provided to you for your own use.
Any copying or distribution of Columbia Interactive materials is prohibited." So 'open' in the social/access sense only.

Still think this question of the availability ot the source materials is interesting and worth discussing, hopefully more next week, but I realize now this wasn't a great example to choose.
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Nicola Avery -
Hi, at my uni, they recently recorded some videos and experimented with showing on the public website as webisodes, this was the first time video had been released for viewing publicly. There was no way to download them though and in that sense it did not 'feel' open to me, even though people with appropriate software could view them.

I asked around various depts and they said they had a 'todo' to set up a Surrey YouTube channel but due to staff / resources had not progressed further. In one case they were unaware of what things like widgets were - such as Add This / Download type buttons but once explained they were in favour (however this was only a few members of staff, could not claim that this is representative of the university) I had asked re copyright because it appeared to be an external company in one case but apparently the uni owns the rights to them.

They are progressing with various things including ability to download videos from the website - they hope to have completed, in the next six months. Having options to 'do stuff' with the videos does seem more flexible just by them being present on the page.


In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by ABC Given -

What does Open mean? I am training educators on copyright issues so open resources pose a personal ethical dilemma that I emphasize: if the Creative Commons license requires: Share alike – then each user of the content has to decide for themselves if

they choose to respect/respect this requirement if the CC license indicates this re-use.

Closed access content management systems like WebCT/Blackboard or Moodle are

becoming the norm for course modules in N. America, and therefore the share alike becomes difficult.

Each institution has also its own contracts and direct costs for course development, plus there may be different union/association agreements for copyright ownership. Sometimes open source initiatives need a consensus/strategy at the institutional level or government level.

Paul, in today’s message, outlined the full picture for open educational resource. It may be a mind-boggling big picture, but small steps are encouraging.

More open courses enhance the prestige of an institution and could be a small advertising price to pay and gain more students to enroll in the paid course offerings section. My marketing background – besides the Copyright Officer role tells me that there is more value in developing and giving away as an insittution some of your intro. courses as Open Source Courses.wink

Anca

In reply to ABC Given

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Scott Leslie -
Anca, you've probably seen this already, but Gerry Paille brought up a very similar point just now at http://scope.bccampus.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=2101. You are right about closed LMS providing a barrier to sharing, not just because of ShareAlike but for a number of reasons, which is something I'm interested to dig into more next week when we tackle the issue of 'Creating OER.'

The issue about local labor/IP agreements is a real one, and can vedry much be idosyncratic. While I don't want to give the impression that OCW is the ONLY way to do OER, you might find http://www.ocwconsortium.org/share/toolkit.html helpful if you are interested in ways to get OER efforts going on your campus. This is the OCW Consortium's 'Toolkit,' an attempt to collect resources and arguments together for change agents trying to get OER efforts going on their campus, part of which includes resources around the different value propositions about OER as well as discussions about IP and faculty association issues.
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: What does 'Open' mean to you?

by Dr. Nellie Deutsch -
Scott and Anca,
I have stopped using both of my Moodle sites and had to think twice before joining this workshop because I am finding Moodle very confining. I now use Wikieducator instead of Moodle with my high school students. My students and I love the open layout and the wiki codes that allow for fast organized editing.

I used to be passionate about Moodle until I came across Mediawiki.