Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Open Education Resources

A brief introduction to Open Education is a talk by David Wiley, who forsees big change in education. How big?

He said all the content, research, support services, social life and even degrees can be obtained without the typical college experience. The reason why is because of the availability of free information through the attributes of the digital age.
He asks: Why do students go to Universities instead of a library?
1. Instructional sequence and the related materials.
2. Library and the institutional repositories of knowledge.
3. Support services - questions and guidance by tutors, professors, etc.
4. Credentials for a job.
5. Social life.

On point 1, this "Manifesto of Open Access" calls for freeing authors and users of materials from the commercial copyright system. The concept of Open Educational Resources is to free the materials created in the process of research and teaching from the restrictions placed by Copyright law. Thanks to the Creative Commons organization, copyright models have been developed that allow the "4R open" sharing concepts - Revise, Remix, Reuse, Redistribute. These models allow the producers and consumers to create a "Pro-sumer" ecosystem of shared Intellectual Property development. It is pointed out that taxpayers fund teachers and researchers, so how is it that publishers, who have little to do with funding or creating the research end up with the copyright?

An example is this free Calculus book offered under a Creative Commons 'sharealike' license, you can read it electronically. These new materials extend the concept of free books from old public domain, to a whole new generation of materials that students and teachers can use without violating copyright law or engaging in piracy.

This is not just about freeing textbooks, but about putting all the educational collateral into a system of sharing, reuse, remix and extending. The great value of this is to drive the incremental cost of informational sharing to effectively zero.

Combine Open Education, as ccLearn advocates, with the fact that online education beats the classroom and we have the recipe for a very different, lower-cost and more effective education. As stated in the article:
“We are at an inflection point in online education,” said Philip R. Regier, the dean of Arizona State University’s Online and Extended Campus program.

When you put it all together, people will be asking Who Needs Harvard?

No comments: