OpenEd: Week 7

October 8, 2007, [MD]

A friend is coming to visit me this week, so I will finish next week’s reading and assignment in advance, to have more free time.

QUESTIONS: Can you think of license options that CC is currently missing that would benefit the open education movement? As the CC and GFDL licenses are incompatible, how can OCW content be legally remixed with Wikipedia content? Some people claim that the Creative Commons ShareAlike clause provides most of the protections people want to secure from the Creative Commons NonCommercial clause. What do you think these people mean, are they right, and why? Is copyleft good for the open education movement? Why or why not?

Discussion of readings

In continuing our discussion from last week, this week looks more at specific licenses and their application to open education. I particularly appreciated WikiEducator: Memoirs, myths, misrepresentations and the magic, with the wealth of comments below. This also made me think about the problem with using RSS readers - although Google Reader is magical in allowing me to keep up to date with hundreds of different sources, easily share interesting postings with my friends etc, it hides the comments - and I fear that when reading the postings of my classmates in the Open Ed course for example, I miss out on part of the richness, unless I open each posting individually to read the comments. I also enjoyed the reading The Illogical Rhetoric of Share-Alike, which was linked to from one of the readings. (It’s interesting how blog posts are so much more a part of the “conversation” - when reading the huge tomes from UNESCO and OLCOS and the like, they stand alone as monoliths. Perhaps they cite other research findings and reports, but only occasionally am I so interested that I will go look them up. When reading blog posts though, there are a million jump-off points, and I find myself tumbling through a many-faceted conversation, going far beyond our original “curriculum”. Indeed, the discourse and activity around OER is so broad, that I am still struggling to define my own “level of engagement” and very I fit in, where I can make a meaningful contribution - as a current undergraduate student, as a (hopefully) soon-to-be graduate student, as a teacher (formal and informal), learner, participant, activist, creator…

I have always been sceptical of the CC NC (non-commercial) license, as I also mentioned in the previous posting, but this week’s readings made me more skeptical towards the CC SA (share-alike) requirement as well. I mainly focused on the problem of license incompatibility, but in “The Illogical Rhetoric of Share-Alike” we are also introduced to the problems of universities and institutions of higher learning in considering to share major parts of their material with the world. Their main issue is not what other people might want to do with it, but that they themselves might be restricted from freely using the “improved” materials as they see fit - the example being designing a training program for a corporate client, incorporating material that they already had developed, or working with indigenous communities and incorporating material that they would not feel comfortable sharing. These are interesting issues, however I wonder if some of them might not be resolved by thinking that applying a Creative Commons license does not, as far as I understand, obligate you to distribute the material. So if a university was working with an indigenous community, using CC SA licensed material and material from the community, they would have to license all the material as CC SA, but if they only distributed it to the community in paper format, or on a closed learning site, nobody else would have access - whether it is CC licensed or not. I do realize the problem though, and I appreciate the people raising it.

The need for another CC?

As stated earlier, I believe that there should be a CC license that did not require attribution. That does not mean that you are not allowed to provide attribution, and indeed you probably would in normal use in academia - because that is how we do things. However, you would have the option of not providing attribution when that is problematic because of the medium. As far as I understand, the reason to use CC NC is not primarily to prevent people from making money off material, but rather to avoid that open material is “re-appropriated” by commercial entities. In this case, I believe SA does provide sufficient “protection” by making sure that all “value added” is returned to the community. There are many cases in which entrepreneurs and commercial entities can be very important both in adding value (as has been the case with open source!) and crucially in distributing the content.

Stian\ (thank you to Fanch the System @ flickr for the great photos)

Stian Håklev October 8, 2007 Toronto, Canada
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