OpenEd: Week 10

November 1, 2007, [MD]

I’m posting this weeks contribution early, since I am going away to Quebec for the weekend. I chanced upon a few posts that seem to be saying similar things.

Both Catia and Antonio have read Coase’s Penguin or the Nature of the Firm. Catia discusses the different non-monetary incentives that can induce people to contribute to common projects, and how this can possibly be distorted by “unilateral appropriation of the content”, ie. some company making money out of adding value, without returning their additions to the community. In this case, a share-alike license would perhaps be very useful (although the problem it introduces with incompatibility with other open licenses has previously been discussed).

Antonio makes an interesting point, in that volunteers are great at dissecting, editing and recombining existing materials, which is a good argument for making as much material as possible available under open licenses - even if it is not yet in perfect pedagogical shape. Much has been argued about the granularity of different projects, and how that contributes to the ease of peer-collaboration. Perhaps it is true that a math textbook is better written by a few tight-knit collaborators, but their job would be immensely much easier, if there was a large selection of math problems, graphs, illustrations and photos, etc, that they could choose from, under an open and permissive license. (After they had produced a first draft, a community process could also be used to peer-review and improve the book).

Andreas, who read the same book as I did, Wikinomics, takes this one step further and states that many cases of peer-collaboration have been essentially unplanned, more process-driven than planned. Even IBM states that they did not know exactly where they were going with participating in the open source process, but wanted to be part of the movement. Andreas therefore argues that we cannot blueprint a peer-created commons process, but we can perhaps “prepare the ground”, as farmers do - in this case it might mean creating the right tools for the job (Wikimedia, Commentpress, Drupal, synchronous collaborative editing etc), providing enough raw material (resources under open and permissive licenses, texts, illustrations, videos, sound, etc), providing the license infrastructure needed for interaction between different projects (Creative Commons BY, GFDL), and then see what the community comes up with.

In this sense, Wikipedia is an incredible OER, not just as a finished product, but as a repository of information, illustrations, charts, etc. that are easy to find and all licensed under the GFDL.


Stian Håklev November 1, 2007 Toronto, Canada
comments powered by Disqus