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Open 5 X 5: Five open permissions meet five reasons for being an open educator

Guest post by David Porter, CEO, eCampusOntario.ca. 

This blog is a remix of a remix. A good thing in my view.

Since 2013, I’ve built upon a presentation that Clint Lalonde of BCcampus created and titled Beyond Free. The original was licensed CC BY-SA, and I’ve since added to it and updated and localized its message to suit different audiences. It remains a winner that consistently inspires instructors to rethink their practices and take a leap into the open realm.

The great thing about Clint’s original presentation was that it stated five great reasons to use OER, beyond the simple, “because it’s free” mantra. What he did in Beyond Free was to build upon the five freedoms (permissions) expressed by David Wiley in his now famous baseline definition of open content. Clint added context to those theoretical freedoms in a way that demonstrated real practice and conveyed a message of possibility to even the most reluctant open educator. The five reasons to move beyond free remain a great explanation for the open education community, and the original presentation remains a reusable and remixable template for anyone to use. Thanks, Clint.

I’m going to reprise those five great reasons in a shortened prose format. The graphic presentation version has many benefits and far more illustrations than appear here. Here are five benefits (reasons) to use open resources and open practices.

 

Benefit #1: Full legal control to customize, localize, personalize, update, translate, remix…

There is no better way make resources your own than to develop them yourself. But a close second is to exercise the provisions of Creative Commons licenses by clicking on the license logo and reading the plain language provisions of the human readable deed. No letters to authors needed, just acknowledgement of the creator with a straightforward citation. A simple, practical, generous starting point to customize an existing learning resource.

 

Benefit #2: Access to customized resources improves learning

Studies, journal articles, and research papers are pointing out what might seem obvious: when you have access to free and open learning resources at the start of your course or program, you’ll likely be successful in your studies. No financial pressures, no workarounds. You are able to concentrate on your course and give it your full effort from day one. More detailed studies are beginning to investigate the effects of localized and customized resources versus the generic textbook approaches aimed at a broadly defined population of learners. I expect localized versions of case studies, illustrations that reflect your culture, and images that engage students because they are relevant to their experience will all contribute to better open resources.

 

Benefit #3: Open provides opportunities for co-creation and more authentic resources

Terry Greene at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario has been engaged in a co-creation project with peers over the past year, soliciting exemplars and advice from seasoned veteran educators to provide a sourcebook for new faculty and instructors who will need support and guidance as they take on their teaching responsibilities.

The Open Faculty Patchbook: Patching Pedagogy Together, for Each Other is a contribution space by faculty for faculty, and carries on open invitation to educators to contribute their authentic experiences and advice for a new generation of higher education instructors. A printed copy of the current “patchbook” was given to new faculty at their orientation session in August 2017. It is a work in progress. Help build it.

 

Benefit #4: Collegial collaboration helps build the commons

My colleagues at BCcampus are pioneers in the use of “sprints” and professional networking among institutions to quickly and purposefully build team capacity and open resources for learners through collegial collaboration. They’ve done it all:

 

Benefit #5: Demonstrate the service mission of higher education institutions

Research, teaching and service are three key principles that guide higher education institutions. Many institutions have experimented with freely available courses in the form of MOOCs. But few have actually done so with freely available open resources and a mechanism for gaining credit through a challenge exam or prior learning assessment and recognition.

OERu.org is a consortium of 30+ higher education institutions from around the globe who have come together to prototype alternative pathways to recognized credentials for learners. The OERU.org partners are working together to provide courses from their own institution as contributions to a first-year program of study that will invite learners to participate in university level courses and also apply for assessment leading to credit towards a certificate, diploma or degree.

Every piece of content, software, and infrastructure supporting the OERu is open source or openly licensed. OERu.org is a demonstration of openness in support of the service mission of its institutional partners. OERu partners walk the open talk.

In Conclusion

Open education is more than freely available, openly licensed content resources. It is also about people, like-minded educators who see the benefits of rethinking the status-quo, and who are willing to see what will happen when we bring teaching and learning into the open.

 

David Porter, CEO

eCampusOntario.ca

davidp@ecampusontario.ca

 

This guest post from David Porter is published as one of many celebrating Open Education in the run up to the OEPS final event, The Promise of Open Education at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Monday 11th SeptemberSign up for the event or join the conversation before, during and after the event with the hashtag#BeOpen’. 

Making Sense of MOOCs

The Commonwealth of Learning in partnership with UNESCO has recently released ‘Making Sense of MOOCs – a guide for policy makers in developing countries’.  The COL/UNESCO partnership reflects the recognition in the recent Incheon Declaration that MOOCs can support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  While the report is written for a developing world audience, a great deal of the content will be of interest to anyone in Scotland interested in developing free online courses.

The first two chapters are concerned with definitions and the benefits and limitations of MOOCs.  The authors describe MOOCs as a form of open education offered for free through online platforms. 
They go on to suggest that what distinguishes a MOOC from other online courses is that:

  • It is designed for, in theory, an unlimited number of participants and as such is related to the scalability of the education service provider. 

  • It is accessible at no charge. 

  • It requires no entry qualifications. 

  • All elements of the course provision are provided fully online. 


There is a useful discussion of what is understood by ‘open’ in open education.  The authors restrict their definition of Open Educational Resources (OER) to apply to materials.  So in their view MOOCs may or may not be openly licensed but if the latter it is the materials that constitute the course that form OER. Our experience with the development and use of openly licensed courses in the OEPS project suggests that this distinction is worth further discussion.

In later chapters concerned with learner centred approaches and reuse and adaptation of courses there is a very welcome focus on designing MOOCs that recognise the situated and social character of learning.  The links between this focus and Open Educational Practice (OEP), which are understood to be practices, which remove barriers to engagement, are worth teasing out further.

I’d strongly recommend a look at this report to anyone with an interest in open education.

Pete Cannell

Mapping OEP in Scotland: Your Stories

Haven’t checked out the OEPS Hub in a while? Don’t miss the opportunity to browse the latest additions, including a growing number of mini-case studies of best practice across the sector, with advice and tips from people who are experimenting and developing open practices and initiatives across Scotland, as well as a variety of perspectives on openness. Case studies recently released include:

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in an interview to date; it’s been great to capture your thoughts and experiences. If you enjoyed reading these, and would like to talk with us about your own open practices and what’s happening where you are, please get in touch!  You can tweet me @BeckPitt or contact the OEPS project.

 

Photo/Picture credits (from top left): Natalie Lafferty (via Twitter), Lorna Campbell (via her blog, CC-BY 3.0), Stephanie McKendry (via her Strathclyde profile), “Open, Open, Open” (CC-BY 4.0 International, Beck Pitt), “Life is Sharing” (CC-BY 2.0, Alan Levine)