who is taking leadership with OER?

who is taking leadership with OER?

by ABC Given -
Number of replies: 17

Interesting article in a blog -- Michel Geist's Blog (Lawyer, Prof. at U of Ottawa and expert in Internet & Copyright) Comparing the Fine Print at the White Hse and the PMO (Canada) Websites, by Michael Geist published Jan 21/2009 http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3626/125/

The Us Government will be using Creative Commons Licenses for 3rd partry published materials posted at its websites, while the Us Govt  publications funded by taxpayers' money & posted on the Internet, will continue to be public domain (no copyright).  The Canadian Govt is still using the exclusive Crown Copyright.


In reply to ABC Given

Re: who is taking leadership with OER?

by Scott Leslie -
Anca, thanks for this. I wish I had better news. My sense is that there is movement within different provinces to open up some of their educational resources, but that at the federal level there doesn't appear to be much of a dialogue (nor much of a body able to speak or lobby for this). Love to hear that I am wrong, as it's something I'd love to help with, but given the current governments penchant for DCMA-style copyright reform (meaning - much more draconian and closed laws) it's hard for me to see this happening in Canada anytime soon.

What about others - is anyone else having luck in their country getting publications funded by taxpayer dollars either put into the public domain or published under 'open' licenses?
In reply to ABC Given

Re: who is taking leadership with OER?

by Laura Proctor -
Hi Anca:

Good question to which there are probably many answers.

My perspective is that "we", meaning those in this discussion and like-minded people everywhere, are taking the lead by seeing the great value in sharing of knowledge. It is an attitude adjustment which involves, among other things, recognizing that knowledge belongs to everyone in the first place (and everything each of us does builds on the work of people in the past from whom we have learned!) and trying to make knowledge a "commodity" will not improve the world (just make a little money for a few who likely already have lots of money).

Some evidence that this shift in thinking is moving forward that I have noticed are:

  1. California's new law on OER - see http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/9903 for a commentary. The link to the legislation in that post is out of date (now that there is a new session, so you can see the documents associated with the law by searching for the Bill Number AB 2261 in the Prior session (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html)
  2. UNESCO has an OER toolkit and community reaching out to the world http://oerwiki.iiep-unesco.org/index.php?title=Main_Page
  3. The Commonwealth of Learning launched the Learning4Content WikiEducator hub to support and encourage development of open resources http://www.wikieducator.org/Learning4Content
  4. And, of course, there is http://solr.bccampus.ca/cms2/ which gives B.C. educators a place to share their resources.
My question for myself right now is what, specifically, I could contribute that would be useful? And, where/how to contribute? A partial answer for me is to get out the materials that I have used in the past teaching various aspects of linguistics and consider how I could reformat them for the current "web". Thanks to everyone in this discussion for helping me move forward on that one :-)

In reply to Laura Proctor

Re: who is taking leadership with OER?

by Scott Leslie -
Laura, lots of good examples that you point to (especially the Californian law, which was an impressive feat). I would add (though don't have the URLs handy) the work done in Utah to create the Open High School and mandate state-level funding for OER, as well as Cable Green and his crew in Washington state for advance politically the agenda of Open Textbooks.

And part of me wants to agree that things are exactly as they should be, that sharing and openness need to grow one project, one person, at a time. But Anca's original post was talking about the Federal level in Canada, and at that level am not sure there's many of us who know how to get action, action which would be useful not just from an OER standpoint, and not just from the standpoint of signaling a larger cultural shift in that direction, but action that would also speak to more transparent government. I am all ears if anyone has ideas how that change can happen here.
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: who is taking leadership with OER?

by Gerry Paille -
Open High School of Utah: http://openhighschool.org/

FHSST: Free High School Science Texts: http://www.fhsst.org/

The later is a project from the University of Cape Town.
In reply to ABC Given

Re: who is taking leadership with OER?

by Paul Stacey -
I liked Ancas post about the new White house site and thought I'd share another related observation.

I watched a small bit of the inauguration over the Internet courtesy of UStream. In addition to the video stream there was a text chat box in which someone mentioned that the white house web site had already been updated to reflect the new administration. So while listening to Obama's speech I quickly jumped over the the white house site and cruised around through some of the sections. The page that impressed me the most is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/change_has_come_to_whitehouse-gov/ where it states:

"One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it." There is even a link to a form where your feedback can easily be submitted.

Wow. This shows in my view remarkable leadership. Not only in its use of technology to "open" up legislation to the public but in understanding that a democracy is about providing a voice for all citizens. That a president is open enough to hear what people have to say about legislation before enacting it is impressive. Equally impressive is the tech savviness of the approach.

I know this is not specifically an OER example but leadership requires a mind set before it can translate in to action. Great to see a political leader who gets "open" and shows how it can be implemented through action.

In reply to ABC Given

WikiEducator and open textbooks

by Valerie Taylor -
I have a meeting coming up to talk about Open Textbooks. I have been working on OERs, and WikiEducator projects which I wouldn't characterize as textbooks, so I could really use some help. It isn't right on topic, but this seemed like an appropriate place to ask.

What do you see as overlap / complementary functionality between WikiEducator and Open Textbooks? I haven't spent much time thinking about textbooks per se lately. They are just really big OERs or collections of OERs. However, there is some authority baggage that comes with a "textbook".

It will be a while before the education community moves beyond textbooks, so it is appropriate to step back and think about transitioning processes that include the notion of open textbook - whatever that is (or isn't).

Specifically, addressing these objectives...
Our task is to look at different ways to make free, open textbooks a sustainable resource for faculty and students.
At the same time, we are working to create a vetting procedure to review textbooks and recommend texts that meet our quality standards.

We know it has to be
* free, or very nearly free,
* easy to use, get and pass around,
* editable so instructors can customize content,
* cross-platform compatible,
* printable,
* and accessible so it works with adaptive technology.
And that's just the short list.

I'm particularly interested in
  • sustainable - this could mean a lot of things - regular controlled revisions, ownership for the base content, ?? what does it usually mean to others when it comes up
  • vetting - do you see this being handled with WE-provided functionality
  • printable - do you think the WE collections and PDF functions would meet most people's requirements and expectations for a printable textbook

I think WE cross-platform is ok, but is there anything specific happening for mobile device or OLPC display?

What do you know about WE and adaptive technology? I think it is all ok-enough for California Community College access requirements. I'll hear more shortly as I have a blind student in my class this semester. She uses several different technologies, but she is reluctant to talk about this much. I understand, but I would really like to know much, much more.

In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: WikiEducator and open textbooks

by Scott Leslie -
Hi Valerie, this strikes me as very 'on topic' - while there are likely some useful distinctions to make between OER and Open Textbooks, they are often talked about in the same breath and certainly have many overlapping goals.

I found it interesting that you said "there is some authority baggage that comes with a 'textbook'"; I don't necessarily disagree with this but also don't know that I see as a lot different than issues facing the general open content/open education movement. I would love to hear more about how you see this problem.

You also mention WikiEducator, wonder if it's an appropriate platform from a number of perspectives. My take is that WikiEducator could very well be an appropriate platform; it's based on Mediawiki, the software that runs Wikipedia, so it has access to a wide range of techniques to deal issues of quality control and 'vetting' - it just depends on how the project itself is structured (and I guess on wikieducators' willingness/ability to enable additional functionality on a per project basis if needed).

I have not done accessibility tests with Wikieducator and am very interested to learn of your experiences. I would be surprised if, at a purely technical level, it doesn't pass with flying colours, as I think that's a strength of the platform, but obviously accessibility is more than just a code compliance issue, and I don't know what sort of affordances it has to make navigating it less cumbersome with a screen reader.

In terms of platforms, I guess the other one to mention is the one that runs Connexions, named Rhaptos. It is open source, and I believe the Connexions folks have always had print output in mind as one of the possible ways to sustain the project, so it may be a good fit. Cheers, Scott Leslie
In reply to Scott Leslie

Re: WikiEducator and open textbooks

by Barbara Dieu -
Oh, I thought Connexions was running on Plone, but apparently they have combined it with Raptos.

I am slowly adding material to Wikieducator but although media wiki is solid and reliable, I am not very happy with the time it takes to edit the layout or add the info.

Dspace is also on an open source platform (not sure which) and Le Mill serves lots of the Eastern European countries.

In Brazil, conversations about OER are starting from a legal point of view mostly. I have attended one of their first workshops and joined their discussion list.(in Portuguese). From what I could gather, Wikimedia Brazil is also involved and so is the Creative Commons BR.
In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: WikiEducator and open textbooks

by Scott Leslie -
Hi Barbara, Dspace definitely has its place, though not so much from the perspective of authoring content. Lemill is an interesting suggestion - I hadn't thought of it outside of its use for individual resources, don't know if it would support that, but it does look like a nice environment for sharing and remixing individual resources.
In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: WikiEducator and open textbooks

by bronwyn hegarty -
hello valerie
I am not sure if this information will be of use but here goes. One of the vet nursing lecturers created a wikibook - I posted links previously. she was updating it this year and wanted to create a pdf for posting out on CD. Plus she wanted the pdf to update the lulu.com version.

wikibooks was problematic at creating a pdf e.g. there was no table of contents and some other items which I am not sure about.

I know wikieducator is working towards "book" pdfs but I am not sure how long this will be in the making. Originally she chose wikibooks over wikieducator to create the book as there was more functionality for creating an e-book.
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: WikiEducator and open textbooks

by Dr. Nellie Deutsch -
Hi Bron,
I am sure you realize it, but perhaps others do not. Every page on Wikieducator can be converted to a pdf file.
In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: WikiEducator and open textbooks

by Scott Leslie -
Valerie, another thing I can't let pass by because the announcement came out this week is that Flat World Knowledge moved into public beta this week (cf. http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/736). It is an interesting initiative in that they are a business built on open textbooks, the business model (as far as I understand it) to offer free unfettered access to the electronic copies of the textboos and make money off of print versions.

This is one of the reasons I have an issue pushing the Non Commercial restrictions on OER - I understand there are some realistic fears people have about comercial interests profiting off of free materials and imposing roadblocks for people to access the free versions, but so far those are edge cases. Instead what I see is people wanting to make a small living by adding value that people (learners and instructors) actually want, while still giving away the knowledge for free and indeed improving on its original state.

Anyways, hope it is of interest, cheers, Scott
In reply to Scott Leslie

More open textbooks

by Valerie Taylor -
Thanks everyone for the feedback about Open Textbooks. It is good to know that you see Open Textbooks as OERs and these general conversations apply.

I did get a note back from Wayne Mackintosh at WikiEducator, that there will be a lot more about this coming shortly.

About vetting and the perceived authority of the textbook - This is an interesting issue. If authors get their textbook published, it immediately gains status as a reliable source of information on the subject. Exactly what does that imply? Many instructors rely on the publishers' commitment to the textbook as a sign that most or all of the material contained has some legitimacy and authority.

If we move away from textbook publishers doing the due diligence, then how is that "star quality" conveyed? Most instructors and their institutions put a lot of stock in the current system. For example, part of the articulation agreements that allow our community college courses to be accepted for transfer to a four year university are based on the use of known, suitable textbooks - usually the same ones as those in use for the equivalent course offered by the 4-year school (and written or peer reviewed by the department chair). What happens to this accepted foundation if you don't have textbooks prepared, published and distributed through that system?

Obviously, there are lots of other / better ways that this might be handled in an OER environment, but until there is something in place that provides this level of "quality assurance" and credibility, getting Open Textbooks adopted is going to be tough sledding.

Is there anything available now or in discussion that addresses this vetting, credibility-bestowing? What would your institution and/or your colleagues need to replace the publishers' selection, review and commitment as evidenced by the $100,000s publishing, marketing and distribution costs?
In reply to Scott Leslie

Other rating systems

by Valerie Taylor -
There needs to be some kind of recommender / reviewer network - perhaps peer-to-peer, that allows people to review OERs and then gain status as a trusted reviewer. Sort of like Ebay seller status.

I read way too much Stephen Downes to suggest that any one organization should own and operate such as system. But having some connectivist mechanism for pulling this all together out of the "ethers" needs to provide the trust / credibility / authority indicators to help adopters and learners identify the OERs that best suit their needs.

Is there any evidence that there is support for this? Are there any actual implementations?
In reply to Valerie Taylor

Re: Other rating systems

by Scott Leslie -
Valerie, I have 2 different takes on this. One is to point to http://www.oerrecommender.org/ as actual infrastructure that has already been implemented to provide recommendations on related OER material. It may not be exactly what you are describing (it does not, for instance, contain the idea of a review or rating) and is not IMO widely adopted, but is an interesting early proof of concept.

But the second is to point to the earlier discusson around 'How do you find OER.' One of the cases I was trying to make there is that one's existing personal learning networks are the best way to collaborative filter/recommend OER. People grumble that this does not scale, that it requires work, is complicated, etc, but that's exactly the point - rather than expend energy on centralized and ultimately unsustainable efforts at generic recommendation systems, if we each start to craft our own learning networks as integral to the way we work, teach and learn online, then a natural by product is more high quality OER recommendations then you can shake a stick at. My delicious account's 2391 items, the vast majority references from trusted sources, is more than proof of that.
In reply to Scott Leslie

Another view

by Valerie Taylor -
Judy Baker recently posted a Knol about Peer Review of Open Textbooks. Let me know if this is helpful or not. See http://knol.google.com/k/judy-baker/open-textbook-peer-review/3crn0pa33wl6g/2#

This is a very traditional definition of "textbook" which is fine. The traditional textbook model is somewhat limiting, with the continued reliance on the existing sources of authentication. Does the author or the reviewer need to be a known authority or person of status at four year university to be qualified to write or recommend a textbook? If this is the criteria, then it isn't really scalable to any great extent.

A somewhat broader interpretation of "textbook" that includes wikis and other collaborations, collections and publishing tools, suggests more opportunities and challenges for consideration. Scott suggests a personal network approach, which also works, with limitations. However, it doesn't scale in a different way. How big is the biggest personal network you are prepared or able to manage? Are you missing some of the good stuff, because your personal network does extend wide enough or deep enough?

There needs to be an expansion and recognition of citizen academics, just as there has been an enormous growth in world-class citizen journalism. Some aggregating and filtering would be extremely helpful.

Perhaps some RSS feeds with a dash of Delicious and Napster on the side?