Feel free to look around, but I have moved to a new blogging platform. Most of my posts going back to 2005 have been transferred there.

Social Media Adoption: Responding to Objections

Thanks to a link submitted by Gary into the EdTechTalk del.icio.us folder, here is a post from the ReadWriteWeb tackling the 10 most common objections to social media adoption.
It is interesting to read the point / counterpoint, but it is really
intended to create conversation which we will do on Sunday's EdTechWeekly at 7:00 p.m. ET. Also, here are the links contributed from the network for this week's EdTechWeekly show:EdTechWeekly# 60

Conference: 2008 Distance Teaching and Learning

A reminder to visit the conference web site for the 24th Annual 2008 Distance Learning Conference to be held August 5 - 8, 2008 in my home state of Wisconsin (Go Badgers). The deadline for proposals is January 15th. Recordings of past sessions are in the Resources Library section. Also, check out the link to the UW-Madison distance education certificate program where they provide a great round up of resource links to articles, journals, news briefs, associations, principles / practices, reports, and tutorials.

Books: Time to Order for the New Semester


That SPSS one...

looks interesting;) I dream of being back in school as a full time
student. Wow. It would be great to be able to read that much, but on
the other hand, it's great to apply it (or at least attempt to) each
day. Thanks for sharing. - Alex

Online Learning: So, MIT makes it legit?

This AP article entitled Internet opens elite colleges to all both overjoys me and burns my toast. While I am happy to see the popular press paying attention to Internet delivery of education (especially open and free education), this article still burns me. Apparently, online learning is now legitimate given that "elite" schools are dipping a toe. Unfortunately, you can't get an online degree from most of these elite schools ... that is reserved for real students who attend f2f... yet, MIT and the others are highlighted as leaders in Internet delivery of education ... hmmm ... quite a slap in the face to those who have long been committed to offering quality online education ... including the all important piece of paper when you are done.

IU Graduation: Mine!

Despite winter storm warnings, the graduation went off ... without Granny ... she stayed back at the hotel, but joined us when the snow turned to rain around the time of the basketball game. She has her priorities in order :)

Open Ed - Week 15: Wrap Up

Dr. David Wiley's Introduction to Open Education course has been an amazing experience. I took the course as part of an Independent Study option in the last semester of my Master's Program in Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. I had no idea what "open education" was before the semester started and guessed that it was about openly licensing instructional content. While I later came to realize licensing is a significant consideration, the possibilities of open education reach far beyond content distribution.

Because of my involvement in the course, I also decided to attend the 2007 Open Education Conference hosted by Dr. Wiley and the great folks at Utah State University. This provided me the opportunity to work closely with a great Professor at Indiana University, Dr. Anne Leftwich, to develop a presentation on what evolved into our interpretation of an open learning environment, as highlighted in my week 13 blog post. That presentation has become far more than an assignment in a class or a discussion at a conference. I consider the concepts of openness (the removal of barriers to participation), connections (to peers, to facilitators, to the world), and support (the "someone", the "something", or the"network" there to help) to be a crucial part of the next iteration of my personal theory of learning and instruction.

The most valuable aspect of this experience is the connection to others that I have made through this journey, both within this class and at the conference. My blog roll now has over 50 new "voices" who share a common passion for openness, connection, and support in learning. Each person I have met (in person or virtually) is truly passionate about not only learning, but also the possibilities. We live in a very exciting time where openness, connection, and support in learning has never been easier. Yet, unfortunately, opportunities are being blocked, filtered, banned, or placed behind walled gardens. Sometimes out of greed. Sometimes out of the fear of the unknown. It is so inspiring to know that there are kindred spirits in the world who share my desire to plow though those walls and take advantage of the endless opportunities made possible through greater openness.

Beyond personal connections, I have been happily overwhelmed by the vetted content that was shared this semester. Certainly, on my own, I would never have stumbled upon the reports, presentations, and web sites that we have been exposed to this semester. Specifically, I found the following reports from the first weeks of the semester to provide excellent overviews of the open education movement. I consider them "must reads" for those dipping a toe into the open education waters:

As I noted in week 4, the themes within the OLCOS report resonate most with me as the authors get to the heart of the open education practices that I feel show the most promise. The recommended future actions
consider not only the content, but also the open context in which the
content is used to support learning. The authors extend the focus
to contemplate the broader open educational
to support learners, as well as need for more open
within the learning process.  - see p.29:

 "OLCOS sees a critical lack of educational innovation for
learner-centered and collaborative learning practices and
in which ... individual and groups of learners (including
teachers) will actively use tools and content to understand problems, discuss
approaches and methods in problems solving, and share study resources and

Further, they emphasize the importance of the role of the learner and learning
within which the learners participate- see p. 24:

"A key problem of current open access educational repositories may be that
despite their philosophy of sharing, they see teachers and learners as
consumers of content who primarily want to download useful material. A better
approach would be to support communities of interest around certain subjects."

In addition, the OLCOS report considers the possibilities of using freely available
social software (social bookmarking, RSS feeds, wikis and blogs) to support open
educational practices and to create personal learning environments controlled by
the learner. Using open source software and Internet based technologies to
support learning is something I have been covering with
interest on my personal blog for some time now
. The report also provides a vivid picture of the differences between open
education and closed (or canned) education. The examples of "canned" versus
"open" education within the table on p. 46 contrast the practices within each
system on such measures as:

  • the roles of the teacher and learner (dispenser / receiver versus
    facilitator / active learner),
  • services provided to learner (databases versus RSS feeds),
  • content management (institutional LMS versus PLEs), and
  • tools to support learning (desktop tools versus wikis, blogs).

I also gained an appreciation for the possibilities of a producer driven production model which runs contrary to the consumer driven production models touted within both my MBA and instructional design courses. I did not contemplate the value of a producer driven model when preparing my week 8 post
for this course. I made the observation that a producer driven model
(that does not contemplate the needs of the end user) cannot be
sustained. However, after reading David Wiley's blog post Producers, Consumers and Reuse
and Friedman's observations about how global communities work, I re-thought my observations.
Contrary to my assertions in my week 8 post, a producer driven model is created for an important end user .... the producer. An "a-ha" moment came for me as I read David Wiley's suggestion that:

every good work of open source software begins life as a
producer-driven work ... The secret sauce in both the cases of the good
open source software and the good OER is an actual, bias-riddled,
context-bound, historical person located squarely in a concrete place
and time addressing their own specific instructional problem."

As I stated in my week 9 post, while not guaranteed, it is likely that those with common or shared
interests will benefit, but not necessarily in the same manner, for the
same purpose, or to fulfill the same need. That is the beauty of a flat
and open world that I had not fully appreciated. While I may benefit
from reading and interacting with another person's work, it may be for
either the same or an entirely different reason. Contrary to my week 8 post, not being preoccupied with the needs and
concerns of the broader audience may be a good thing for the
sustainability of open education.

In terms of items we did not cover, I wish we had more time to delve into the issues surrounding the recent release of the Cape Town Declaration. Considering the concerns and rebuttals expressed by Stephen Downes, Martin Weller, Thomas Hoffman, David Wiley, and others who have added their voices to this discussion, is it good document? Does it express the ideas of the greater "community"? Is such a document needed? Will it change any hearts and minds? Does it need to? While I appreciate that the pesky devil always resides within the details and usually more debate is better than less, regarding this particular document, I am less in favor of loading it up with details that highlight points of community dissension (commercial vs. non-commercial licensing, formal or informal education, etc). Instead, I am in favor of an abridged mission statement that simply calls for greater openness, connections, and support in learning. Unfortunately, when we start parsing what "learning" and "open" means (formal / informal, commercial / non-commercial, etc.) within the context of a mission statement, we quickly lose the interest of the other 99.9% of the population who have no idea what we are talking about. Also, I agree with Martin Weller's sentiment that "there are more people aligned against open education than behind it, so
the last thing we need to do is factionalise within our own camp."

Also, I would like to explore where the foundation money should be headed (or is likely headed) in the future. So far, it seems firmly planted in building and maintaining open content repositories and directories. However, I wonder the extent of plans to support open learning networks ... dare I say open online learning ... supported by open educational resources and practices. I was so disappointed to sense (maybe due to my over-sensitivity) the lingering negative stereotypes about online learning during the Open Education conference. Even within this group of "open" minded educators (I couldn't resist), online learning still is discussed as the "alternative" to "real" face to face learning. Also, as I mentioned in my week 9 post, I heard suggestions to hire students (cheap
labor) to sit and "convert" a professor's lecture content and other face to
face course materials into a digital formats. Why? Will learners or teachers use this digitized material? As I have questioned before, isn't this the same mistake made when online courses first came
into being? Will "converted" face to face content support user's needs in online contexts? I think anyone who has attempted to listen to a recording of a 90 minute lecture captured from a small microphone in a lecture hall may agree with me when I say, "I don't think so." Instead of trying to recreate face to face experiences for an online audience by capturing the artifacts of the face to face experience, I suggest we consider a completely separate exploration of how to create and foster new forms of open online education. I wonder if I am a lone wolf in this regard?

On the process side, I loved using my personal blog (my Drupal based PLE ) to conduct the reflective writing assignments for this course. It allowed me to maintain my writings in an open and connected format on a platform that I control. Further, the course wiki provided a great way to present the syllabus. The OPML file of blogs made it very easy to track the writings of others. However, I am not certain all students were familiar with using an OPML file and may not have taken advantage of it. Therefore, in the future, it may make more sense to also offer an aggregation of the blogs on a sharable feed reader such as a link to Netvibes page of blogs or to a link to public Google Reader page. In addition, I think an expanded social networking platform might help to expand and extend the conversation. An asynchronous discussion board or an "always on" IM chat room would be a nice feature for an aggregation of "side bar" discussions. Also, even with time zone differences, an attempt at a synchronous Skypecast or two might be interesting. Yet, I really appreciated the simplicity and "openness" of the current set up!

I want to thank David Wiley, Anne Leftwich, and all those who participated in the discussion ... both inside and outside of the "class ... for making this a wonderful learning experience! Please keep in touch - or at the least ... keep me in your RSS aggregator ... I'll keep you in mine :)

Goodbye to IU! Hello to ODU!

News that I will be heading to the graduation ceremony at Indiana University on Saturday, December 15th and starting the PhD program in Instructional Design and Technology at Old Dominion University a few weeks later in January of '08. It looks to be a great program with awesome people. The PhD program is offered with both residential and distance learning options and I plan to take advantage of both! I'll miss working day to day with the folks I've met along the way at IU, but I'm certain we can look forward to a lifetime of connections and crossing paths!

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Open Ed - Week 13: Future of Open Education

What will the future of education look like? What impact will
the open education movement have? How will we get there from here?

To answer these questions, I decided to circle back to a presentation Dr. Anne Leftwich and I delivered at the 2007 Open Education Conference. We didn't have much time for audience reaction and feedback during the presentation, so I encourage everyone to please add text and / or voice comments to the presentation below. Click on the arrow in the center of the screen to begin the presentation and click on a picture icon to see text comments. Please let me know if you have any troubles with this VoiceThread.

Open Ed - Week 11: OERs vs Learning Objects

Some people believe that open educational resources "fix" many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

I don't have a lot of personal history with learning objects, so I am not coming at this answer from personal experience. However, from what I have read and viewed this week, it seems that open education is the next iteration of the quest to design and deliver reusable educational resources. In this light, as a next iteration, there is a shift in the general characteristics and focus. Likely, in the process, elements were "fixed", but it is unclear to me if the desire to fix problems with learning objects led to the open education movement. Rather, it seems more likely that advances in technology and experiences with what is possible have helped to foster the changes in the characteristics between learning objections and open education.

The following highlights my take on the characteristics of the two iterations:


Reusable Educational Resources

Iteration 1

Learning Objects
Reusable Educational Resources

Iteration 2

Open Education
closed / static / defined / specified
dynamic / free form
re-use / aggregation by designer
use / re-use / adapt / share / to be loosely joined and ADAPTED by user
Intended Setting
classroom / formal education / corporate / military
System / Licenses
proprietary / copyright / locked down
outside of walled gardens / more liberal licensing
Learner focus and interaction
pushed to learner / receptacle / use / touch don't change
pulled by learner / seeker / searcher / participant / re-mixer
Primary design and development consideration
future interoperability
producer's needs / downstream needs secondary
heavy / proprietary systems and formats
light(er) / freely available / common Internet formats and conventions
Sustainability issues
high costs (time and expense)
varies (low to high)
Extent of use
high, but in pockets
Do we know about the extent of use, yet?

As noted by David Wiley, "learning object" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The chart above provides my interpretation of the general characteristics of both Learning Objects and Open Educational Resources. Again, OERs seem the next iteration toward an original goal of reusable educational resources. While some may see the differences as "fixes", others may not. Here is my take:

What seems "fixed" - or at least seems to work better: In this iteration, OERs expand the notion of reusable educational resources to include adaptation and sharing by the learner. This is accomplished through more liberal licensing (diriviative works / share alike), as well as expanded access outside of traditional proprietary walled gardens. By moving reusable educational resources out of proprietary systems and formats into the realm of the Internet, both producers and users can take advantage of common Internet search and sharing functions, including RSS, which allows learners to pull the content versus having it pushed to them in canned packages of learning content.

What still seems "broken" - or at least requires further evaluation: As we have discussed all semester, there are still uncertain or potentially "broken" aspects of OERs. Even though costs associated with elaborate proprietary systems may be eliminated, OERs are not cost free. Therefore, sustainability continues to be a concern. In addition, availability does not equal use. I'm not sure we have a good handle on either the extent of OER use (by teachers or learners) or the best ways to facilitate use of OERs by users. Further, I think there is a lot to be learned from an instructional design perspective about both open educational practices, as well as OERs as instructional content - see my earlier post for more on that topic (down at the bottom).

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Open Ed - Week 9: Elective Reading Synopsis

Questions for Week 9 of the Introduction to Open Education Course for the book The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman:

What can the open education movement learn from the book you chose to read?

Harnessing the Power of Communities: Friedman lists bottom-up and self-organized community development as his "Flattener #4". He uses open source software development to describe the notion of "Community-Developed Answers" (see page112). This bottom-up and self-organized community development process parallels the open education movement. In addition, it helps to explain how an open educational model can be sustained.

Open educational content is often described in terms of pieces of information created by an author (or group of authors) for an audience. However, in a flat and open world, it is important to think about how these pieces fit together, how the users contribute, and how the loose pieces influence each other. Instead of thinking of a global community "collaborating" on an "answer", Friedman describes a network of individuals connecting around common interests. In contrast, collaboration implies members of a group working toward a single goal. However, in the communities Friedman describes, each person brings individual contributions to the network based on individual needs and interests. While they may interact and in turn support each other, they are not necessarily focused on achievement of the same goal or for a specific outside audience.

This last point is an important one with respect to the open education movement and something I did not fully appreciate when preparing last week's post for this course. I made the observation that a producer driven model (that does not contemplate the needs of the end user) cannot be sustained. However, after reading David Wiley's blog post Producers, Consumers and Reuse and Friedman's observations about how global communities work, I have re-thought my observations about producer driven open education models. Contrary to my assertions last week, a producer driven model is created for an important end user .... the producer. As David Wiley notes:

"... every good work of open source software begins life as a producer-driven work ... The secret sauce in both the cases of the good open source software and the good OER is an actual, bias-riddled, context-bound, historical person located squarely in a concrete place and time addressing their own specific instructional problem."

Therefore, while not guaranteed, it is likely that those with common or shared interests will benefit, but not necessarily in the same manner, for the same purpose, or to fulfill the same need. That is the beauty of a flat and open world that I had not fully appreciated. While I may benefit from reading and interacting with another person's work, it may be for either the same or an entirely different reason. Contrary to my post from last week, not being preoccupied with the needs and concerns of the broader audience may be a good thing for the sustainability of open education. Go figure?!

Who owns What?: As part of what Friedman calls "The Great Sorting Out", "ownership" of intellectual property is going to get messier as the world get flatter. On page 253, he asks the following questions about intellectual property rights which are equally applicable to the copyright issues involving open educational content that we covered during Weeks 6 and 7:

"How do we build legal barriers to protect an innovator's intellectual property so he or she can reap its financial benefits and apply those profits into a new invention? And from the other side, how do we keep walls low enough so that we encourage the sharing of intellectual property, which is required more and more to do cutting-edge innovations?

As I noted during my reflection in Week 6, licensing of open educational content involves this trade-off between the needs of the individual and the needs of society to use and build off the original works. This sentiment was echoed in a quote on page 253 from IBM's chairman in which he states his belief that there needs to be a "new path forward" with regard to intellectual property rights; one that both protects the interests of creators, but also protects the communities who use and add to the innovation. While issues of copyright and ownership seem on the surface to be nuisance issues, they are unfortunately very critical to the openness of our ever more connected world and Friedman drives this point home.

Unfortunately, Friedman doesn't offer an answer to these complex questions. At the end of this section of the book, he begs, "Somebody, please, sort all this out." This is the same feeling I was left with after reading through the materials for Weeks 6 and 7. While Creative Commons is typically held up as the answer, it is not a silver bullet solution. Incompatibility across the various licenses and author imposed restrictions prevent a completely free flow of information. While Creative Commons licensing may help us get more works into the pipeline, I wonder if it provides the ultimate solution that Friedman seeks?

The Quiet Crisis  - Friedman speaks of the gaps in education, infrastructure, and ambitions as America's "Dirty Little Secret" within Chapter 8. Friedman's answer is "compassionate flatism" which he describes on page 364. He assumes that the world will continue to get flatter, so we should capitalize on it rather than to fight it or keep on doing what we've been doing. Of the five prongs to his compassionate flatism approach, the following are the most applicable to open education:

  • Leadership: Friedman suggests that we need to acknowledge that the noted gaps exist and foster a sense of urgency in order to fix the problems. This relates to open education in two ways. First, open education must be viewed as part of a broader educational solution; as a means of bringing educational opportunities to the masses and as a means of facilitating and sharing innovation. Secondly, it is necessary to demonstrate to our educational leaders that open
    education is not a threat, but rather a means to a better end that should be supported, not prevented. That said, open education is not an easy sell. It is threat to the proprietary walled gardens that most institutions fight to maintain. It is hard enough to get people behind something new, but it is even harder when that something new threatens the established ways of doing things.

  • Muscle building: Friedman asserts on page 369 that the social contract in a flat world can no longer be lifetime employment, but rather lifetime employability. Friedman describes the new social contract on page 369:

"We cannot guarantee you any lifetime employment. But we can guarantee you that we will concentrate on giving you the tools to make yourself more lifetime employable ... more able to acquire the knowledge or the experience needed to be a good adapter, synthesizer collaborator, etc."

What a simple, yet profound distinction that speaks to one of the key benefits of open education - support for lifelong learning. As Friedman suggests, the days of one career at one company are a thing of the past. Therefore, open education is a means to ensure greater access to information and learning opportunities. It also offers support to individuals as they acquire knowledge and the experience necessary to maintain lifetime employabilty.

Which of the ideas presented in the book did you find hardest to believe or agree with? Why?

I found it ironic that Friedman's book is about recognizing and embracing the factors and technologies that have created a flat world, yet he falls back on stereotypes and tired educational traditions in discussing how to prepare students for this new flat world. While I appreciate and share many of the sentiments presented in the passage about "Parenting" beginning on page 385, I feel he is missing the mark on the solution.

In this section of the book he begins by discussing the need for "a new generation of parents ready to administer tough love." His assertion that kids need to appreciate that learning is their responsibility and that it often involves hard work is very much in line with my views that I expressed in a blog post titled, "Be a good girl, have a good time, and learn a lot." These words were my marching orders from my mom every time I left the house as a child. They were more than words. They were expectations about my behavior, my attitude, and my responsibility and a lifelong learner. 

However, instead of embracing the same connective processes and technologies that create and foster this new flat world we live in, Friedman says we must "shut off the iPod" and avoid the "instant gratification" that technology has to offer in order to prepare students for this new flat world. He spends an entire book describing countless examples of how
connective technologies are flattening the world, but then recommends
that students put away these technologies when they learn. Given that the thrust of Friedman's book is about embracing the factors and technologies that have created and now foster this flat world, I find it troubling that Friedman does not make the connection that these same connective processes and technologies can (and should) support education.

Instead, Friedman cites a tired example of how kids are using technology to cheat in school. In an example on page 458, a student uses a cell phone to take pictures of a test. Friedman focuses on the fact that schools are now in the position of banning cell phones to prevent cheating. However, he misses a golden opportunity to consider the broader and far more important impact that technology can have on eduction in this new world he describes - a far more interesting discussion than an assessment of how technology is providing new ways to cheat. Could it be that in this new flat world, instead of banning technologies, teachers should embrace them as new means to educate and assess students? Instead of finding ways to prevent cheating on a test (which has been going on long before cell phones), let us instead focus on developing assignments and assessments which embrace this new flat world - just as we are doing in our global reflective writing project in this class. I would like to know how Friedman thinks we can prepare students for this new flat world by not encouraging them to participate in it.

Open Ed - Week 8: Economic Models of Open Education

QUESTIONS: How can you build a sustainable business around giving away educational materials? How can you build a sustainable business model around giving away credentialed degrees? Should governments fund open education?

Sustainable business model - start with a customer need: As I learned early on in my business courses, successful business models are based on fulfilling customer needs. I found the same to be true in my early instructional design courses. You need to figure out the "needs" in the A = Analysis. Rarely do you see successful examples of effective businesses or instruction that aren't driven by customer needs. This begs the question - who are the customers. As David Wiley notes, a common perception is that customers are educators building courses, but most use is from learners themselves.

However, I fear that some existing OER efforts are driven by some other motivations than learner need. As we read early on and I discussed in Week 2, some of those "other" reasons include:

  • altruism,
  • public relations,
  • publicity,
  • collaboration on shared interest projects, and
  • survival (don't miss the OER train).


While likely valid drivers, these are supply side only drivers. While it is hard to criticize altruism, altruism for the sake of altruism does not guarantee need by the recipient. Further, availability does not guarantee need by the recipient. Some OER models are comparable to all you can eat food buffets. The supply is plentiful, but there is only so much one can consume, only certain things that you want to consume, and much of the time you would prefer to order what you actually want a la carte. Do we really know if learners want to consume large quantities of content (an entire course)? Is it possible that the learner really only wants certain items when s/he wants them? If so, are learners more likely to want the "special order" items such as specific research reports vs. the plentiful belly buster items that make you full, but a little queasy (like 90 minutes of audio captured from a lecture hall)? 

I don't have any research or learner analysis to support my sustainable business model assumptions. However, I have crafted the matrix below to help me illustrate my interpretation of the various types of OER projects and to describe sustainable business models to support them. The matrix is based on two factors 1) the degree of supply side effort, 2) the degree of learner involvement. Supply side effort includes the time and effort to supply the OER, while learner side involvement addresses the degree to which a learner will spend time and energy interacting with the OER. Hang with me, because I think I may have something here ...

  • Upper Left: The upper left hand corner is a lonely place. It includes projects where there is a lot of supply side effort, but very little learner involvement. These are full blown OER course offerings and course ware repositories that learners may find, but never fully engage in. If they do, they never commit to "completing" them as intended by the supplier.
  • Upper Right: The upper right hand corner is a better place, but I'm not sure many OER projects live here. I consider this to be where "credentialed" OER courses would reside. There is a high degree of supplier involvement and learners are motivated to be there.
  • Bottom Left: The bottom left is a decent enough place, too. I consider this to be "quick hit" central. Millions of small bits of information are quickly searched and digested. While there isn't a lot of learner involvement, there is also not a lot of supplier involvement required. I envision a flurry of seek and find activity going on here.
  • Bottom Right: The bottom right is a very cool place. Learners rock here. Suppliers are here to foster activities, but not direct them. Therefore, learner engagement is high, but supplier effort is far less than a full blown class. This is a places where bits of content flow in like water and learners can't get enough. I think this is where open education learning networks reside ... or would reside if they existed. Unfortunately, outside of a few informal learning examples, I don't think we have seen many of examples of this state of bliss ... or at least I haven't.

Sustainable business model - base it off of customer need: So, what does all this mean to the question at hand? All of this helps us to guess (without the benefit of true learner analysis of needs) where we should focus our time. As depicted by the colors (red - don't go there; yellow - proceed with caution; green - hit it, baby):

  • The Red (Dead) Zone: I consider the upper left quadrant to be a red (don't go there) flag. Unfortunately, a lot of OER projects may live here. David Wiley notes that the numbers of available courses are well into the thousands. I wonder how many see much learner engagement and at what level? I struggle to see the point of building a business model that would support projects that fall the upper left quadrant. Again, these projects involve significant supplier effort to replicate and duplicate courses with no assurance that learner will ever engage. Should we really concern ourselves with sustaining this model unless we know we are supporting learners.
  • Credentials Make It All Worthwhile: The upper right hand corner has some potential, but deserves a yellow caution flag. You need to proceed with caution because it is going to be costly. To get learners motivated to interact with a full blown course, they are likely going to be seeking more than just content. They will likely need interaction and credentials for their efforts. My bet is that they would rather have help and get credit for doing it. Therefore, the competition to OER's at this level of supplier and learner involvement is "for free" paid alternatives.
  • Loosely Joined Bits: Setting up a business model for this sector seems like a no-brainer and it can be accomplished on a shoe string budget. Offer up your OER content online in low touch bits. With the advances in search, this means making your liberally licensed bits of content easily "searchable" by major search engines and directories. A distinguishing feature of this model is the low touch nature of the transaction - customers download their orders and away they go.
  • Learner Driven Bliss: Targeting this sector also seems like a no-brainer, but few seem to be treading into these waters. Learners are driven to participate based on something else beyond supply side tutor support and credentials. Instead, I suspect it is for not only connections to quality content, but also connections to other learners. I think the UK Open Lab Space is the best example I have seen of this model. They are offering up a) quality resources as they already exist in their regular (for fee) courses, b) tools for learning connections, but c) no personal touch from "tutors" (as they do within their regular for fee courses). I am really interested to follow their efforts, as I'm not sure anyone has really figured out how to set up and facilitate such a blissful place.

Sustainable business model - finance and fund those that support customer need: So, again, what does all this mean to the questions at hand? How can you build a sustainable business around giving away educational materials? You can do it by first concentrating only in areas that fill a learner need - not just supply side needs. Avoid projects that have high supplier "touch", but low learner need. At the Open Ed conference, I heard a suggestion to hire students (cheap labor) to sit and "convert" professor lecture content and other face to face course materials into a digital format. Why? Do learners want this? Isn't this the same mistake made when online courses first came into being? Will this support any user's needs? I don't think so. I would put such efforts is in the upper left red (dead) zone. Instead, I would recommend focusing on models to support the other three areas:

  1. Set it free model: Again, the lower left hand corner seems like the easiest and least costly. As content is developed and created for other uses, make freely licensed and easily retrievable copies online. Likely most content is already "online" in some fashion, or could easily be saved to a server, so set up a process to break it out from the walled gardens. Don't password protect it. Don't copyright it. Set it free!
  2. Credential it model: This model supports efforts in the upper right hand corner. I'm struggling to see a difference between this and a traditional online learning program with courses, activities, tutors, grades, and transcripts. I think there is far more demand for this than OER suppliers recognize - or maybe acknowledge. However, this model has MAJOR supply side challenges. I doubt that many of the major players will offer such a model at their home institutions given the prevalent perceptions of online learning withing these organizations. Online learning is still perceived as inferior (OK for some, but only as an alternative) to face to face learning. For the first day or so at the Open Ed conference, I asked a few of the major players if they were using their own content to foster online learning programs, but I stopped when all I got back was, "Our institution doesn't offer our education online." In other words, you can have our content, just not our "education". However, they may be more agreeable if it is separate and not equal credentialing - "continuing education" credits and the like. To offer this full blown type of service, I'm not sure it can be done without passing tutor and administrative costs on to the learner. However, if the content is good and credentials mean something, I think learners are willing to pay - maybe as membership fees or as part of a conversion set up, as outlined by Stephen Downes. Yet, if the ultimate goal is to find ways to offer open education without cost to the learner, then I think this is a great place for foundations and government money to go - to shift endowment and donation money currently supporting the red (dead) zone into these projects.
  3. Blissful connections model: Supporting the bottom right corner can be done relatively cheaply - certainly at far less cost than either the upper left or upper right quadrants. Pulling existing content out of walled gardens, adding a content management system, and tossing in a few asynchronous and synchronous communication tools and you are off to the races. All of this can be done with open source software and $100 / year hosting package. However, I also feel this is a great place for foundation and government money to go. Money to support active learner engagement ... Go figure?!

Open Ed - Week 7: Licensing Open Educational Resources

Based on the readings and assignment for week 7 in the
to Open Education

As I noted at the end of
post last week
, it is likely that most supporters of the OER movement feel
the more "open" the work, the greater the value. Further, I agree with Brian
Lamb's observation
his 2007 Open Ed keynote
that when a person sees a CC at the bottom of a
page, he or she likely thinks ... "oh, that guy is not a jerk" and considers the
work freely available to use, modify and re-use as he or she sees fit.
Unfortunately, this misinterpretation can lead to potential nasty repercussions.
However, how often does this misinterpretation come into play? Do the variations
in license provisions impact how users actually use content? To answer these
questions, it is necessary to consider how open content is used and how this use
is affected by open content licensing.

Open Content Use: To this point, almost everything I have read
about the open education movement is written from the perspective of the content
producers - the ones putting out content for others to use. Just as they
consider what repository will be best, they consider what license will be best.
However, the questions this week begin to shift the focus to what license is
best for users of the content. More specifically, what
license provisions best support the users of open content? What follows is based
on my assumption of how open content is used and how the various license
provisions impact that use. These assumptions are based solely on how I image
how open content is used based on my experience and the stories that
were shared in hallway chats with content producers at the OpenEd conference -
obviously a biased and unscientifically derived viewpoint. However, at this
point, I am not aware of any other measures of use.

It appears to me that producers of open content may be off the mark in
their assumptions of how learners use their content. It is my interpretation
that most producers of content think users will approach the material in the
same manner as students in a class ... digest all of the material in a syllabus,
read all of the content, take the exercises, etc. Further, many people envision
the possibilities of mash-ups that create amazing new derivative works. However,
I am not convinced that is how users actually use these works. In hallway chats
with the good folks at the UK Open University, they noted that the vast majority
of hits to their Open Ed site come from Google searches where people are
searching for content and find the Open University course material. Users spend
a few minutes on the site and then are off to other places.

It appears to me (from my admittedly biased and unscientific "research") that
users gather the content like squirrels gather nuts. The content is taken back
to the learners own environment (whether it be an informal or formal one) where
it is digested or stored. I doubt that the learner spends much time on the content
producer's site. They get what they want and they are gone  - back to the
den ... er ... learning environment to chew on what they gathered. Further,
I haven't seen much evidence that suggests much slicing / dicing or derivative
works are created from the open content. Instead, I feel the most likely use of open
content is "read only" access. Therefore, it appears that users are primarily
concerned with access to high quality freely available

The Key Licensing Provisions: If my assumptions are correct and
access is the primary concern of users, then how do the key Creative Commons
provisions affect them? The following chart highlights four key provisions under
the various Creative Commons and GFDL licenses. Through a review of various
works and publications listed in the syllabus, as well as from recent blog posts
, I have summarized the following: 1) the paper napkin definitions of
the Creative Commons provisions from the perspective of both the producer and
user, 2) possible talking points in support of the provisions, and 3) possible
talking points against the provisions.


No Derivatives

Copy-left / Share Alike


Paper napkin definition taken from the Creative Commons folks - 
cut and pasted directly
the CC FAQ
and the
definitions page

As the creator: "You let others copy, distribute, display, and
perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but
only if they give credit the way you request."

As the user: "You must attribute the work in the manner specified by
the author or

As the creator: "You let others copy, distribute, display, and
perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based
upon it."

As the user: "You may only make verbatim copies of the work, you may
not adapt or change it."

As the creator: "You allow others to distribute derivative works only
under a license identical to the license that governs your

As the user: "You may only make derivative works if you license them
under the same Creative Commons license terms."

As the creator: "You let others copy, distribute, display, and
perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for
noncommercial purposes only."

As the user: "You may not use the work in a manner primarily directed
toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation."

Those who say, "It makes sense to me" may also think ...

  • Give credit where credit is due.
  • My work in its entirety expresses my idea, so if it is messed with
    it is no longer my idea.

  • This keeps future works "open".

  • Protects the open work from commercial evil-doers who will 
    re-distribute the work commercially and financially profit from
    another person's efforts.

  • Re-use of open works by commercial entities impairs the "openness"
    of the work as access is restricted to paying customers.
  • Rules in practice are (and should be) different for corporate
    entities than individuals.
  • Use of content by members of commercial entities is not the same as
    re-use and distribution by commercial entities.

Those who say, "Ba-humbug - get rid of it" may also think ...

  • Who cares who created the original works? Attribution is just about

  • Citation conventions include "credit" when the work is cited in
    academic papers.
  • Attribution parameters are almost never clarified within the
    original work.
  • What about derivative works? How many authors parts of parts must be

  • Not very open if you can't do anything with it.

  • Can't remix with works of different licenses.
  • Prohibits choice of downstream users.
  • It isn't "open" if it is only open for some.
  • Restricts use in developing parts of the world where it is possible the
    only  practical or available means of distribution is through
    commercial entities.

  • Makes re-use impossible for anyone who wishes to re-use the work in
    any commercial venture - no matter how small or large the venture.

Implications for open content: As we found in this week's reading
and in the summary above, some view these provisions as protections of the
openness of the work, while others see them as restrictions on use. This
disconnect may be due to the difference in perspective between content producers
and content users. However, this disconnect may also be due to different
assumptions about how open content is actually used - which to me is the most
important, yet largely unexamined, consideration.

The consideration of use also leads to my reflection on the major question of
the week - Can a work that incorporates these Creative Commons licensing
restrictions support "open" education? Based on my assumptions about use, as
well as my appreciation of the need for licensing trade-offs, I think so. As I
last week's reflection
, making content freely available to users involves
practical trade-offs to support the needs of content producers and the needs of
the content users. I fully understand why some content producers would want
restrictions to control how their work is used. As I touched on last week,
the restrictions can serve as an incentive to producers by protecting those who have
invested time and money in creating the work. By accepting these provisions as
part of a trade-off, content users gain far greater access to works which would
otherwise be hidden away or available only for a fee. Like all trade-offs, you
win some things, but so does the other side. Here is my take on some of the key
trade-offs and the implications for open education:

  • Derivative works / Share alike: Clearly, full support for
    remixing and derivative works does not exist under the current mix of
    licenses. As shown in the chart below from the Creative Commons.org web
    site, there are substantial license incompatibility issues when works of
    different licenses are re-mixed. If most licenses are incompatible with each
    other, how can Creative Commons be considered "supportive" of the open
    education movement? My answer lies not in an assessment of the licenses, but
    in my assessment of the actual needs of the user.













It is very cool to imagine a world filled with unrestricted mash ups where a
bit of something here and a bit of something there creates something else that
is more than twice as cool. However, I am guessing that read only access likely suits the needs of the vast
majority of users. Therefore, I doubt that the CC restrictions on derivative works,
including share alike provisions, impact most users who primarily use content produced by others as
background information. Based on my interpretation, even if they end up building their own work after using the work, this is not necessarily the same as creating a derivative work. Therefore, I
would say additional "openness" with regard to derivative works and
share-alike provisions ends up being a "nice to have" rather than a "need to
have" in the vast majority of situations.

  • Commercial vs Non-Commercial: Regarding the non-commercial
    provisions, I also don't think this is a major issue to the vast majority of
    users. Commercial users can access the content (for information purposes),
    but they are just restricted on how they re-use it. Again, I don't see this
    being a problem for most users. If it is, these users certainly have the
    ability to ask for extended permission for their specific use. While it is
    an added step, it seems a fair trade-off in order to give access to content that
    would otherwise (under traditional copyright provisions) be locked down from
    view and non-commercial use.

This give and take with regard to the various content licensing
provisions seems to satisfy the needs of the vast majority of content producers
and users. It appears to me (from my admittedly biased and unscientific
"research") that users primarily want access to high quality freely available
information. I do not disagree that the trade-offs associated with derivative
works, share-alike provisions, and non-commercial use are barriers to
unrestricted use. However, as I don't feel that unrestricted use is the goal of
the vast majority of users, the Creative Commons provisions seem a fair
trade-off. For most users, accepting restrictions in areas that don't usually
stand in the way of their use of the material seems a fair trade-off to freely
access open content.

Check it out: K12 Online Conference

The free online K12 Online Conference kicks off today. It is fun to follow the excitement by following the "official" conference tweets at http://twitter.com/k12online, as well as the fan tweet reactions from the "FO07k12O" (that is friends of 07 k12online)! The WP blog is really well organized, as is the wiki. Here is a link to the schedule. Good stuff!

Open Ed - Week 6: Copyright and the Public Doman

Based on the readings for week 6 in the Introduction to Open Education Course, here are the questions we are pondering:

QUESTIONS: Understanding the importance and value of the public domain, how much (what percentage) of this value would you estimate is realized when works
are licensed with a Creative Commons or GFDL license? To what degree would the
open educational resources movement (and therefore the world) be additionally
benefited if OERs were simply placed in the public domain? Please explain.

Question 1:

Understanding the importance and value of the public domain,
how much (what percentage) of this value would you estimate is realized when
works are licensed with a Creative Commons or GFDL license?

To answer this question, one must first agree that there is inherent *value*
in the public domain and that this value is greater than can be found in
copyrighted works. While I agree there is value in society being able to access
works in the public domain, especially for education uses as discussed further
below, I cannot overlook the value of copyright to both society and individual
copyright holders. I believe copyright protections play a role in innovation.
Individuals receive protections which allow them to benefit (financially and
otherwise) from their works. In turn, these innovations better society. However,
I also appreciate the lost value associated with copyright protections. As
Pollack proposes in the
of Public Domain
, reduced barriers can encourage more people to be creators
of derivative works. Further, as Lessig lays out in
perpetual copyright"
, I agree that there is much public good to be derived
from limiting an indefinite "monopoly" on a work.

This brings us to a notion of "trade-offs" between copyright protections and the
public domain. Pollack describes this trade-off in
Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright
where he notes on page 17:

"The basic trade-off inherent in copyright is between increasing
to promote the creation of more work and reducing
protection from
existing work."

It also brings me a step closer to an answer to the question at hand. I feel
that it is possible that Creative Commons and GGDL are just that trade-off.
While creators of content receive more limited projections, society benefits
from the work that is made more freely available. I would argue that the value
of this trade-off depends on which license is used (the subject of next week's
reading). Yet, I feel that Creative Commons and GFDL licensing offer a very
high percentage of the value associated with the public domain. The individual
receives some degree of protection and control over his or her works. In turn,
society benefits form the increased access, reduced restrictions on use, and
likely greater numbers of created works.

Question 2: To what degree would the open educational resources movement (and
therefore the world) be additionally benefited if OERs were simply

placed in the public domain?

With regard to the OER movement (and education, in general), I feel the more
open the work, the greater the value to society. Therefore, I feel for
educational purposes, the "openness" of the public domain offers greater
benefits than from either Creative Commons or GFDL licensing. I think that most
of us share Brian Lamb's observation
his 2007 Open Ed keynote
that when you see a CC
at the bottom of a page, most of us think ... "oh, that guy is not a jerk" and consider
the work freely available. However, that is clearly not the reality. As Pollock
notes on page 3 of the
of the Public Domain
, "... 'freely' must be loosely interpreted ..."

This is especially the case with regard to the potential for non-commerical
restrictions imposed by some creators. A non-commercial restriction poses a
barrier to anyone who may want to use the works in the scope of a commercial
educational venture. In addition, restrictions regarding the licensing of
derivative works can also pose a problem, especially when works of different
licenses are combineg. Therefore, to meet the needs of "open" education, I feel
that the public domain provisions offer a far greater opportunity for openness
than either Creative Commons of GFDL licenses.

Open Education - Week 5: Comparison of Projects

Week 5 - Introduction to Open Education - Comparison of Open Education Projects

UNESCO MIT OCW  National Repository
Outside Funding Sources
  • Hewlett
  • Individuals

Premium Partners
  • Foundations:
    • Hewlett
    • Mellon
    • Lord
    • Kabcenell
  • Corporate Sponsors
  • Individual Donations
Stated Area of Focus
Gives free access to course materials from The Open University. "A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc." " A collection of openly available and free online courses and course materials that enact instruction for an entire course in an online format." "UNESCO facilitates a collaborative access to existing free training courses and promotes open licensed resources to specialized groups and local communities for development."

"MIT is committed to advancing education and discovery through knowledge open to everyone."

"NROC is a grwoing library of high-quality online course content for studetns and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement"
Contributors  of Content
Open University
  • Anyone
  • Option to collaboratively develope
Carnegie Mellon
Open Partners:

Others who successfully submit

  • academic institutions,
  • publishers,
  • teaching organizations,
  • US state and federal agencies,
  • international distributors
Target Audience of Learners
Adults Anyone
Post secondary:
  • for credit - bring your own instituion
  • non-credit
College Level
  • High School
  • College Level
Open Resources (Content)
Course materials
 Course modules
Courses in Economics, Statistics, Causal Reasoning, and Logic.
Course materials
  • lecture notes
  • exams, and
  • other resources from more than 1700 courses
  • materials may not reflect entire content of the course
Full Courses
Open Learning Practices
  • peer forums
  • no access to tutors.
  • facilitated using Moodle.
  • cognitive tutors
  • virtual laboratories
  • group experiments
  • simulations
  • assessment and evaluation that are built into all courses
  • OCW does not grant degrees or certificates.
  • OCW does not provide access to MIT faculty.
Repository or Directory?
Research / Quality Control
Research Lab
  1. Contextual studies
  2. Effectiveness studies
  3. Component studies
  4. Learning studies
  5. Assessment studies
  6. Design studies
  7. Dissemination studies
Designs each course from submitted materials


  • Attribution

  • Non-Commercial
  • Share Alike 2.0

  • UK: England & Wales

  • Attribution 2.0

  • Generic


  • Attribution
  • Noncommercial
  • Share Alike 3.0

  • Unported  

Full Copyright?


  • Attribution
  • Noncommercial

  • Share Alike 3.0 United States

Full Copyright?

QUESTIONS: What do these representative open education projects have in common? What differentiates them? In the context of open education projects, what does "quality" mean?

I completed the matrix above to help me understand what these sites provide, who is "behind" them, what steps are being taken to address "quality" ... all in order to try to get a sense for similarities and differences. Here are a few things that come to mind:

Repository / Directory: As noted above, some repository sites host content while other sites are directories (pointing to content). Some are a hybrid of the two. Obviously, online content needs to be housed "somewhere", but I question why (in this day of Google and other search engines) efforts aren't moving away from repositories - or specific OER directories for that matter? Wouldn't our efforts be better spent on properly categorizing and tagging the original content so that it can be "found" by the increasingly sophisticated search engines? Why should learners and teachers be forced to travel from one site to another to find content? Shouldn't they be able to pull in the content that is properly identified and tagged?

The back room: It amazes me the outside funding that has poured into these OER initiatives. As noted above, major foundations (including Hewlett which is listed on all but one of the sites) play a major role in building and sustaining these efforts. Tied to above, I wonder how these open education spaces would evolve if the funding sources shift focus? As noted several times during the recent Open Education conference, it costs thousands of dollars to put a single course up on these platforms. Apparently, this cost must be associated with back end digitization and formating of content and not with instructional design, as most schools (aside from the Open University and Carnegie Mellon) are not using THEIR OWN content to support their own blended or online programs. In fact, I asked several people during the conference if their institutions used THEIR open content to support THEIR own learning programs and each looked at me like I had two heads. I found this reaction fascinating. What a waste of effort? If you take the time and money (apparently thousands of dollars per course) to make an existing courses content "available", why on earth would you not design it to also support your own online or blended learning initiatives? Circling back to Brian Lamb's keynote, there is a hint of arrogance in originality, right?

Quality:In discussions with the awesome folks at the Open University, I found that their upcoming conference this month will have a major research focus. Their representatives told me that, in general, research is lacking in this area. If the focus is on putting out content (as information) versus education (as content + practices), I would agree. As Anne and I discussed in our presentation (and quoting D. Wiley), "content is necessary, but not sufficient" to support education. Therefore, I wonder what is the true educational value of some of these initiatives that do not fully consider how learners will use the content? Again, I found it strange that so few conversations at the Open Ed conference focused on learners and how teachers and learners would use the content in the support of learniing. My guess is that localization (in other words, how the content is used to support learning) will be the focus of future research into "quality".

Similarities and Differences: Getting back to the main point of this exercise ... the similarities tend to lie in the focus on open education as "content." Therefore, activities focus on what to "do" with the content (how to digitize it, how to store it, how to categorize it). While I am repeating myself, I see open education as much more than content. Therefore, I appreciate the institutions that are differentiating themselves by recognizing that learners need more. For example, the Open University also offers forums for peer support. Carnegie Mellon invites learners to bring their own institution and use the courses for credit at their own sponsoring institution. To me, these practices - that expand the conversation beyond content - are currently the exception, but with hope they will one day be the rule.

 p.s. I also noted the various licensing choices from various CC licenses to full on copyright. I guess we are tacking those issues in Week 6.

Making Connections: Dave, Jeff and My New Friends

While I was out making new connections at the Open Learn Conference (check out EdTechWeekly #47 for some highlights), Dave and Jeff were charging forward making new connections of their own during the New Media Literacies in Learning Landscapes Conference in Charlottetown, PEI . As Will notes, "we're not quite there yet" with some of the fun and messy new technologies they are trying out, but as we all know it is not about the technology - or the content in the case of OpenEd. The connections are where it is at and I'm so fortunate to live in a time when technology (even messy and sometimes rat infested technology) allows me to make connections with folks like Jeff, Dave, Scott, D'Arcy, Jim, Brian and Keri. I am one lucky gal!

Open Education - Week 4: Overall Reflections on Weeks 2, 3 and 4

The following is a reflection on the following readings from the
to Open Education

Week 2:
Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources
the Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development
Week 3: Open
Educational Practices and Resources - OLCOS Roadmap 2012
from the
Open eLearning Content Observatory
Week 4:
Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements,
Challenges, and New Opportunities
for the Hewlett Foundation

Questions for consideration: What do these overviews of the field have in
common? What do they emphasize differently? What are the aims of the authors of
each report? Do you see a bias toward or against any ideas, organizations, or
approaches in any of the reports? Which report spoke the most clearly to you,
and why do you think it did? Based on where the field is now, and these initial
ideas about where it might go, what part of the open education movement is most
interesting to you? Why?

Aims of Authors:

OECD Report - This May 2007 report summarizes a recent OECD study of
the OER movement. Per the
, "Work on education at OECD seeks to develop and review policies
to enhance the efficiency and the effectiveness of education provisions and the
equity with which their benefits are shared."
web site
provides information about the project, including the
studies and site visits
that were compiled during the study. In general, the
aim of the project is to assess
educational resource
(OER) initiatives in terms of their
"purpose, content, and funding." The report includes an analysis of the
incentives and barriers and suggests ways to improve the access to and
usefulness of the resources.

OLCOS Report: Per the
web site
, the OLCOS project (from 1/2006-12/2007) is funded under the
European Union’s eLearning Program and "aims at building an (online)
information and observation centre for promoting the concept, production and
usage of open educational resources, in particular, open digital educational
This Roadmap report, produced at the end of the first year of the
project in January 2007, offers a status update of open education initiatives as
well as recommendations for the future.

Hewlett Foundation Report: This report is billed as a review of the
funded projects within the Education Program of the Hewlett Foundation
(specifically, the "Using Information Technology to Increase Access to
High-Quality Educational Content" initiate), but is ultimately a recommendation
of future initiatives for the
Foundation Open Educational Resources Initiative

Similarity in Themes:

All three reports share similar:

  • definitions of Open Educational Resources (OERs),
  • interpretations of the key benefits and incentives to participants, and
  • observations about the current state of the open educational movement and
    its hurdles.

Definitions of Open Educational Resources (OER): All three reports
share similar elements within their definitions of an OER, including:

  • access to content and resources (most often digital),
  • made available for free to the end user,
  • for the benefit of educators and learners, and
  • offered with an open license to use, remix, and share content.

Benefits / Incentives: Each report highlights reasons for participating
in the OER movement. As noted in the OECD report, these reasons include
"technological, economic, social and legal" incentives for participating as
creators and supporters of content development. Some highlighted benefits

  • for governments - promoting lifelong learning and social inclusion,
  • for institutions - altruism, public relations, and collaboration across
    research and learning institutions,
  • for individuals - altruism, publicity, feedback, collaboration, and
    recognition of ones work.

Current Status and Hurdles for OER Movement: Each report highlights
numerous OER initiatives and notes the historical focus on: a) copyright issues,
b) open content generation, and c) content storage considerations. Each report
also observes similar hurdles facing the OER movement, including the need to:

  • contemplate sustainability issues and develop economic models to fund Open
    Education initiatives,
  • address intellectual property concerns and open content licensing efforts,
  • provide incentives for researchers and educators to create and distribute
  • improve access to content,
  • increase the quality and usefulness of content being shared, and
  • spread the word about the value and availability of Open Education beyond
    pockets within the developed world.

Differences in Emphasis

While all three reports forward a similar view of the history and current
status of open education movement, each has a slightly different take on the
future. The reports differ on whether the priority should be on open educational
resources, practices, or the entire learning
. This variation in emphasis is important as it is a sign
that there is not consensus on what "Open Education" means, what efforts should
be supported, and who (individuals, governments, or educational institutions)
should be responsible for open education creation and access. Readers of all
three reports are left to contemplate if future efforts should focus on creating
and supporting 1) open repositories of content, 2) open communities of practice
among content producers, 3) open communities of learners ... some combination of
all three?

The OECD report focuses on open educational resources (as
content), specifically the "chunks of learning" or learning objects. They
emphasizes the importance of creating open digital educational resources and of
supporting (funding and sustaining) open repositories. In contrast, the OLCOS
stresses the importance of expanding the conversation beyond OERs as
- see p. 44 ...

"What partly hampers a stronger uptake of the open content philosophy is the
notion that this is about content as products, whereas, basically, it is about
learning practices and processes that among other things need openly shared
content to thrive. A product-centric view is a barrier to innovation in the
development of content services that can be used in constructive and
collaborative forms of learning and knowledge creation."

The Hewlett report recommends a focus on the infrastructure to
support open participatory learning. The authors recommend that
the Hewlett Foundation play a leadership role in fostering a broad based Open
Participatory Learning Infrastructure (OPLI), or "the platform for a culture of
learning". While the authors leave the task of detailing and designing such an
infrastructure to the future, they emphasize a set of general objectives as
stated on p. 57:

"The proposed OPLI seeks to enable a decentralized learning environment that:

  1. permits distributed participatory learning;
  2. provides incentives for participation; and
  3. encourages cross-boundary and cross cultural learning."

Report that Resonates:

All three reports provide many "aha" moments and helped me to understand the
current state of the open education movement. However, I was most inspired by
the views of the future within the OLCOS report. The recommended future actions
consider not only the content, but also the context in which the
content is used to support learning. This report focuses beyond static resources
to open educational practices and open
within the learning process.

While the OECD report touches on the sharing of static course content (syllabi,
lecture notes), it falls short of contemplating broader open educational
practices to support learners. In contrast, the OLCOS report extends the focus
as noted on p.29 of the OLCOS report:

 "OLCOS sees a critical lack of educational innovation for
learner-centered and collaborative learning practices and
in which ... individual and groups of learners (including
teachers) will actively use tools and content to understand problems, discuss
approaches and methods in problems solving, and share study resources and

... and emphasizes the role of the learner and learning
within which they participate- see p. 24:

"A key problem of current open access educational repositories may be that
despite their philosophy of sharing, they see teachers and learners as
consumers of content who primarily want to download useful material. A better
approach would be to support communities of interest around certain subjects."

The OLCOS report provides a vivid picture of the differences between open
education and closed (or canned) education. The examples of "canned" versus
"open" education within the table on p. 46 contrast the practices within each
system on such measures as:

  • the roles of the teacher and learner (dispenser / receiver versus
    facilitator / active learner),
  • services provided to learner (databases versus RSS feeds),
  • content management (institutional LMS versus PLEs), and
  • tools to support learning (desktop tools versus wikis, blogs).

In addition, OLCOS report considers the possibilities of using freely available
social software (social bookmarking, RSS feeds, wikis and blogs) to support open
educational practices and to create personal learning environments controlled by
the learner. Using open source software and Internet based technologies to
support learning is something I have been covering with
interest on my personal blog for some time now
. While the Hewlett report
also notes the explosion of social software as a driver for open participatory
learning, I don't subscribe to the notion that there needs to be an
"infrastructure" (as in their Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure)
designed to support it. It already exists. It is called the Internet.

My Interest in the Open Education Movement:

The aspects of the Open Education movement that interest me the most focus on
open dynamic educational practices, communities, and
networks. Both practices and online networks
to support learning are near and dear to my heart as a student in an online
instructional systems technology program. While preparing for the Open Education
Conference, Dr. Anne Leftwich and I have been working on a way to diagram our
vision of open educational practices and the interaction between
those practices and open educational resources. Our desire is to
spark a conversation about:

  • how open resources can be presented to and accessed by learners,
  • how learners can openly use / remix / share resources, thoughts and ideas
    with fellow learners,
  • how learners can receive support and feedback within an open learning
    environment, and
  • how open resources can flow into and out of this process.

In terms of the last point above, we want to discuss ideas to sustain the
resources that are created during this open learning process. As we see it, too
often the learners efforts are locked up behind a walled LMS garden only to be
blipped away when the semester is over. How can these thoughts, ideas and
artifacts be preserved for not only the learners involved in the creation, but
for those who come after? While still evolving, we attempted to diagram our
vision as follows:

Open Educational Practices: As
notes, a focus on open educational practices "is where instructional design
fits into the big picture of open educational resources." I agree and suggest
that, as shown in the diagram above, the key open practices
include learners:

  1. accessing relevant content,
  2. engaging in practice, and
  3. receiving / giving feedback, guidance and support.

Linking these specific practices within an instructional process is hardly a new
concept. Within his Instructional Transaction Theory (also published within
famous instructional design theory manual - "The Green Book"
), Dr. David
Merrill summarizes Gange's assumptions about these practices:

"Information which does not include presentation, practice, and learner
guidance is information but not instruction."

Within this same paper, Merrill shares his concern "with the current emphasis on
information and the lack of emphasis on appropriate instructional strategies." I
share this observation within the context of the open education movement. Yet, I
am fully aware that any link back to instruction, instructional strategies, and
instructional design will turn off some who cringe at the words
instructional design for the implication of a top /
down plan wherein an all knowing hand feeds knowledge to learners. However, I
view instruction (and specifically instructional design) as a process that
supports learning by contemplating the best possible opportunities and
conditions for a learner to take control of his or her own learning destiny.

It is my belief that open educational practices not only connect learners to
resources, they also link learners to other people within both formal and
informal learning situations. Using myself as an example, as a student in a
formal graduate program, as well as an informal learner within the edublogger
community, I learn every day from this process of:

  • Presentation - when the thoughts and ideas presented from over
    300 edubloggers wind up in my feed reader, 
  • Practice - when I reflect on the thoughts and ideas of others
    within my own blog (dare I say, my PLE), and
  • Feedback - when I read, receive and participate in the back
    and forth comments and counter-posts among bloggers help guide my

No one at my university set up this process for me. I stumbled upon it myself,
but it offers an open process that facilities my learning.

Open Resources: I consider open resources to include both the resources
used to support learning and the bi-product of learning
experience. In other words, the original source content, as well as new and
re-mixed content generated from the learning process. While the reports we read
discuss numerous efforts aimed at the creation, presentation and storage of
original source content, there appears to be little focus on the artifacts of
the learning experience. As
observes in his reflection: 

"... producers of open educational resources look at consumers as merely uses
of the content. They do not see them as collaborators on the usefulness and
effectiveness of resources, or as colleagues who re-share the resources that
they have remixed."

How sad and how true. Learning Management Systems are filled with hours of
thought and reflection, yet after each semester the content is blipped away or
blocked from view when the learner is no longer a paying customer (I mean,
student). Attention must be focused on how the bi-products of open education can
be saved, categorized and openly stored for use by the learner and those who
come after.

An Example - Worldbridges Academy: For the past year or so, I have
participated in informal open education projects at
The primary goal of these projects has been to create and foster open
collaborative learning communities incorporating open educational resources,
as well as the practices discussed above. While my efforts to design a
CMS Academy
proved to be great practice for my own learning (and
development of my observations above), I had far less success in fostering
the learning of others. In contrast, those spearheading recent efforts at
the Webcast
have connected dozens of learners who have now successfully
learned the ins and outs of webcasting. As highlighted in the diagram below,
the Webcast Academy learners use / create / re-mix / share resources as they
engage in a well conceived learning process of presentation, practice and
  • Presentation: Content is presented to learners in open
    interactive webcasts
    (facilitated via Skype) as well as
    open content
    indexed on the Academy web site
  • Practice: Learners complete
    related to core webcasting skills. In practice sessions, learners try
    out their new found skills and either post recordings of
    their live
    or requests help when they get stuck.
  • Feedback: Learners receive feedback on their efforts from experienced
    webcasters, as well as peer learners. As a supplement to scheduled live
    webcasts which provide learners with real time support, asynchronous
    discussion boards and blogs are offered on the Academy web site. In
    addition, learners also use Skype group text chats as a means of
    receiving immediate feedback and support from experienced webcasters and
  • Resources: Learners are encouraged to use and modify the free resources
    found on the site, as well as to re-mix or create new resources that
    they feel would forward the learning community. New resources, including
    student projects, are indexed on the WebcastAcademy.net site and made
    available for anyone to download or access via RSS feeds. Learners can
    also keep up with new content via RSS feeds that are available at many
    levels (top, by user, by taxonomy term, etc.)

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Web Conferencing: Join us for test of WizIQ - Today!

Late add to the Webcast-a-thon!! Test of WizIQ, a new web based web conferencing option for educators. Join the test as part of the Worldbridges webcast-a-thon - see link to session within the schedule at 22:00 GMT here -> http://tinyurl.com/267a7u

Jeff Lebow: Nomination for Technology & Learning Leader of the Year

I am writing to nominate Jeff Lebow as T&L's 2007 Leader of the Year. I have had the pleasure of knowing Jeff since 2006 when I was first a lurker and then an active participant within EdTechTalk.com, the online educational community founded by Jeff and Dave Cormier. Jeff has been devoted to growing online communities for over a decade. After receiving a master's degree in Training and Learning Technologies from the University of New Mexico and teaching in Korea, Jeff began to focus his community development efforts around live interactive webcasts supported by online content management based websites.

EdTechTalk is a shining star within Jeff's Worldbridges network of online communities. At it's core, EdTechTalk is a online professional development community, as well as a testing ground for those inspired by the possibilities of technology use within the field of education. It is an place to share and discuss what educators around the globe are doing to invigorate the learning experience. It is also a place to experiment.

Jeff's tireless efforts to create and support open online learning communities and live interactive webcasts consistently test the boundaries of what is possible using free and open technologies. Jeff seeks out the latest technologies to support learning and open communication. To that end, Jeff has facilitated hundreds of live interactive webcasts with educators and students, hosted countless community based websites, created learning environments in Second Life, and webcast numerous educational technology conferences. Jeff should be applauded for not only his efforts to facilitate the online communities and webcasts, but also his own personal financial support of this effort. While the EdTechTalk community has plans to seek financial support though grants, Jeff has to this point assumed primary responsibility for the community's ongoing hosting expenses.

On a personal level, I am extremely fortunate to participate in a weekly live webcast co-hosted with Jeff and Dave Cormier. Within our EdTechWeekly webcast, we share and discuss information about news and resources related to educational technology. In the late summer of 2006, Jeff developed the format for EdTechWeekly and invited me to participate. The format is simple, yet highly effective as a means of sharing learning and technology news and resources with fellow educators. Educators in the EdTechTalk community are asked to join the EdTechTalk network on del.icio.us, the free social bookmarking site. Educators then contribute links about news and resources related to learning and technology within the EdTechTalk link folder. We then discuss the contributed links with the community during the weekly live interactive webcast. The format is a highly innovative means of using technology to support professional development among educators. As of today, educators have shared over 2,250 links to news and resources about learning and technology. We recently celebrated the one year anniversary of EdTechWeekly and I look forward to many more years working along side Jeff and the EdTechTalk community of educators!

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EdTechWeekly: Links for September 16, 2007 Web Cast

Join us at EdTechWeekly on Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m. ET on the EdTechTalk.com channel of the WorldBridges network. Here are the links we will be discussing during this week's live webcast. Feel free to add your suggestions by adding a del.icio.us tag of "for:edtechtalk" to your favorite links. See you Sunday night!

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Open Ed Week 3: Follow along ...

Interested in following along and participating in the Open Ed conversation this week? Grab your PDF reader and download the file Open Educational Practices and Resources by the Open eLearning Content Observatory Services. Also, don't forget to update your feedreader with blogs of the class participants found in the latest OPML file located on the Intro to Open Education course syllabus. New folks are encouraged to add their names (and blogs) on the participant list. Lurkers are welcome, but participation is more fun!

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Open Education Week 2: Giving Knowledge for Free

This week's reading for Introduction to Open Education is a May 2007 report entitled  Giving Knowledge for Free - The Emergence of Open Educational Resources. It is a 140+ page summary of a recent project by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to study the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. The project's web site is at www.oecd.org/edu/oer and provides additional information about the project, including the case studies and site visits that were compiled during the study, as well as a free download of the report.*

What's in it for individuals, for society, for educational institutions? That is a primary focus of the study and the paper. The paper cites a laundry list of reasons to produce OERs, including such things as:

  • altruism,
  • outreach to undeserved learners (non-traditional and lifelong learners),
  • public relations and publicity,
  • collaboration on shared interest projects,
  • flexibility in course content delivery,
  • support for online learning initiatives, and
  • survival (don't miss the OER train).

While the reasons provided are compelling, the study reports far from universal adoption with growth in pockets mainly in North America and the UK. The report, and especially the case studies of individual institutions, paints a picture of the reasons why. While the OECD report lists possible misuse, sustainability concerns, differences in definition, and other operational concerns (such as getting the word out and storing / organizing  / cataloging the resources), there appears to be a huge hurdle facing the OER movement:

Educational institutions view participating in the OER movement as giving away their most prized and valued asset - intellectual property.

An illustration of this reluctance is found within the OECD case study for Athabasca University. As Canada's Open University, Athabasca is routinely cited as a leader in openness. On p.3 of the OECD's Athabasca case study, it is noted that the university is "dedicated to the removal of barriers that restrict assess to, and success in, university-level studies". Yet, Athabasca is far from approaching the OER movement with open arms. As stated on p. 6 of the case study, "The University intends to proceed with great caution in making any other course resources open ... The University is attracted in principle to making its resources openly available. It is hesitant and extremely cautious at so doing because of a concern about the protection of its assets from the competition." They struggle with the idea of allowing their hard work and efforts to fall into the hands of for-profit entities.

This perception of "giving away the farm" must be overcome. I would argue that in order for the OER movement to receive widespread support within educational institutions, it must be shown that intellectual property is not tied exclusively to content. A distinction must be made between the content an institution makes available and the education it provides. Content is but one part of education. An educational institution and its members possess and offer students many other important assets, such as teachers who support learners, as well as the ability to offer learners credentials in the form of certification and degrees**.

* While the paper is being given away for free on the website, I found the work's copyright provisions (no reproduction, copy, transmission, translation etc. without permission) ironic given the theme and content of the project.

** The distinction between content and a more holistic view of an educational institution's offering is highlighted within the OECD case studies:

  • In the Athabasca case study (p. 7), "Athabasca places strong value on the alignment of its course materials with the online support for students working with that content."
  • In the Johns Hopkins University case study (p.2), "Materials on the OpenCouseWare website make clear that the courses are not available for credit and that the courses do not provide access to faculty members."
  • In Open University case study (p. 7), the Open University in the UK is evaluating approaches to openness within their open content initiative funded by the Hewlett Foundation - see project site at the www.openlearn.open.ac.uk web site. One option under consideration is a "conversion model" in which learners accessing the open content can transfer into fee-paying courses if they desire the additional support and credentials.

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EdTechWeekly: Links for September 9, 2007 Web Cast

Join us at EdTechWeekly on Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m. ET on the EdTechTalk.com channel of the WorldBridges network. Here are the links we will be discussing during this week's live webcast. Feel free to add your suggestions by adding a del.icio.us tag of "for:edtechtalk" to your favorite links. See you Sunday night!

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OpenEd Week 1: Right to Education a Human Right?

Note: The following reflection is based on the readings and discussions being conducted during Week 1 of the Introduction to OpenEd course.

In your opinion, is the "right to education" a basic human right? Why or why not? In your opinion, is open *access* to free, high-quality educational opportunity sufficient, or is it necessary to *mandate* education through a certain age or level?

OpenEd: My Feed

As noted in an earlier post , I will be using this blog to host my reflections in my OpenEd class. For those in the class who only want to get a feed of the OpenEd content, here is the RSS feed for my OpenEd tag only. I have also attached an OPML file of all valid blog feeds from the class roster on the wiki (as of 08/30/07). Feel free to download and amend as desired. Thanks!

On-cursed: Bad first day back to school!

Bad first day back to school for On-cursed ...

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New Semester: Mine!

Today is back to school Monday for me (and for many here in the US). Just wanted to point to an Introduction to Open Education course I am taking from Dr. David Wiley at Utah State University. As a participant in the course, I will be posting regularly on this blog to reflect upon the various open content, open education, and content licensing topics we will be discussing in the course. Looking forward to starting the conversation!

Mammogram: Mine (and Yours, too)

To all the 40+ edtech chicks out there, go get your ANNUAL mammogram. I got my annual screen today and want to remind my edtech sisters to make that appointment. It isn't my favorite experience, but a heck of a lot better than the head in the sand altenative! Squish, squish and you're outta there ;)

8 Things: 5 + 3 More

I was tagged by Christy Tucker to share in the latest "random facts" meme ... now up to 8. Since I shared 5 back in December, I thought I would add 3 more now:

From December:

Anniversary: Hubby's

Roll 136 - 1
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