Thursday, October 13, 2011

Open Content

I was watching David Wiley's two videos (video 1 and video 2) on Open content, open publishing and open educational resource, oh and creative commons licensing too! I haven't had the chance yet to read the articles yet - but I plan on doing that before the weekend comes. I thought I would start off this week's Change thoughts on Open Content with my own history with it - and the cognitive dissonance that goes along with it!

So one side of the brain acts in the persona of the student.  As a student (and I've been a student for a very long time), I am all for open content!  I wanted to see the professor's syllabus before the semester started. I wanted to know what the course content would be so I could prepare for the course in advance, or just figure out which courses would work well together. I also wanted my professors to have their content as open content because it meant that I didn't have to keep reams of printed paper material (not always searchable) but I could find it on the web (something like a school repository).  Alas, this didn't really happen on the departmental level, so in a rogue fashion I created the PocketID (Pocket Instructional Design) wiki, which contained thematic outlines for each course in my instructional design program, as well as other useful information for students.  Not many faculty took to it, but I am still advocating for its use and for open content on campus.  I also advocate for people to put their content on our campus OCW (but that also is an uphill battle).

OK, now let's switch sides! I will take on the role of faculty or instructor. This coming spring I am scheduled to teach a new course on research methods for the instructional design program (yay!). For this course I am developing everything from scratch - content, syllabus, objectives, rubrics - the whole thing. Provided that the materials I use are not copyrighted I plan on posting them on PocketID, so they can be there for all. For any copyrighted materials (like journal articles) I plan on putting a proper citation and then people can use their library subscription to get the stuff.  Then this past weekend I was thinking to myself oh no! What if I have typos? What if some of these sentences make sense to me, but not others? What if someone takes my stuff but doesn't give me attribution?


Now, I won't be posting rough drafts, but still there may be typos, or things that I discover along the way that need fixing. I also don't expect to get paid for people using my materials under a creative commons license, but I would like some attribution. I had to come to terms with the fact that things will never be perfect, there can always be a better revision made. In the end, things will have to be good enough to go online, and then update them as  needed. After all, if someone finds a typo, they can tell me and I can fix it ;-)

As far as attribution goes, I decided that I didn't care much - for one reason: an idea (or intellectual output) cooped up is an idea that's no good. No idea is borne out of the mind of one person and eventually someone else will have it and show it to the world - so to hoard some intellectual output is counterproductive for everyone. It's better for things to just be out there and to be used, than withheld for a very long time and then find another avenue out.


As an aside, I am not sure if this was shared somewhere in the #change11 MOOC, but I came across this Guardian piece the other day on OER.  Personally, most OER that I have seen is too specific for the uses I wanted (so they don't fit into my own course development) or they are too general (so they aren't that useful).  Someone else on #change11 posted this paradox but I found that it perfectly described my issues with OER content up to now :-)
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