I wish I had only a little part of the David’s imagination for writing an “alternate future” for OE, but unfortunately, I haven’t!
Then, I tried to elaborate on the OpenCourseWars paper, adding some thoughts while also reducing its US-centric point of view with some considerations ..from an Italian point of view :-):
- The role of the government. I’m convinced that without a clear pronouncement from political institutions on this field OER will not have a real future. In Italy the government is presently (nominally..) committed to Open Source Software but there are still no signals of attention for Open Education (please try this search on Google… You’ll find that the fifth result is …my own blog (!), no comment for the first result… :-)). Maybe we (I and my wonderful Italian classmates) will try to take the role of OE evangelists.. 🙂
- Licensing. David is suggesting two important points. The first is the weakness of the NC and SA clauses of the Creative Commons license. In David’s vision, NC would not resist to a well organized attack launched by publishers while SA would survive. Is it a realistic future? What if would happen the contrary? I feel these licences are still fragile… The most important point (and I was happy to read what I too think) is the need for a someway unified license. I’m ready to add some (few.. I’m only a poor teacher…) euros to the Hewlett Foundation bounty 🙂 if, over the compatibilty between FSF and CC, they’d further simplify the scene. I can deal no more with this terrific compatibility graph!!
- Going beyond the OCW model. I agree with the David’s vision that OCWs are little sustainable. We discussed about it in the past weeks. OCWs are now in their early steps, financed by foundations and encouraged by University boards but their future is uncertain. Of course they are precious resources, validated by prestigious institutions but they are read-only, have generally olny course-level granularity, are high-cost producing and maintaining… My opinion (which I previously expressed) is that a “Wikipedia-like model” may be the winner. In fact, right now we can observe that Wikipedia is presently the very unique planetary project on OER, really multilingual, multi-prospective, crowd-feeded. For now, we in Italy have no OER/OCW initiatives in high education (nor in lower…) but we do have Wikipedia in Italian! And it is vital and growing! It is a real challenge for us: in Italy Universities are just approaching the “traditional e-learning”, generally based on LMSs, with high-protectionist policies: faculty generally live in fear for colleagues eventually spying and stealing ideas and materials.. It’s a long way to OER.. 🙂
- Trib. This point is strictly connected with the “Wikipedia model”. I’m sure this is a key point: maybe the future OER will not be named OER but they will be a mix of institutional content and user (students, teachers, parents, …)-created content. An OCW course could be really a disruptive resource if real students could add their comments, or materials from the real classroom. I’m figuring a sort of balanced content, not only institutional (it would be too read-only…) but also not only user-created (it would be not entirely reliable..). A good OER could result form a dialogue. This course and its evolution may be a good example: some valuable readings from the instructor but also very good content from the students’ assignments, the syllabus modified based on the interaction between the instructor and the students. Wow!
- The competency-based Universities. I’m a little puzzled by the WGU example stated in the paper. Really could the future of higher education be based only on assessments for earning a diploma? This model seems very similar to the already diffused corporate certifications by Microsoft, Cisco and others.. e.g. you can obtain a certification from Microsoft by passing an online test that measures very specific skills. Of course, there is a wide offer of preparation courses.. Well, it seems to me this is very far from the university-as-a-community model… and I’m still devoted to this old, good model… But I have to admit that OER may have a disruptive role for the evolution of educational institutions. Maybe the community will evolve as global networks, breaking the walls of schools and universities, which will retain only a certification role: in the future people will learn from the network and in the network (we can refer to the learning networks by Stephen Downes, grounded on the connectivism by George Siemens), and will only ask to institutions to assess the acquired skills. It might work!
- Mixing free content and paid services. I talked of such a model too. I guess it could be a very reasonable way for sustainibility.
- The general context.
- An e-book reader has recently been launched by Amazon… It’s quite affordable (even if not yet “a $100 piece of hardware”, it’s wireless and… for now … it’s sold out!!! Is it a sign?
- The digital culture is growing among the young people. It’s a pre-requisite for OER.. but, for example, we in Italy have still a large cohort of digital illiterate teachers in any grade of school, including universities. I argue this may be an obstacle because the production of high-quality and valuable resources cannot prescind totally from the participation of the “teaching staff”…
- Language and localization. Will we all have to speak English for full benefit of OER? It’s a point connected with the model: why do we have an Italian version of Wikipedia but no OER initiatives? Is it only a problem of lack of awareness by our educational institutions? Or lack of sponsors? Or a combination of them? I argue that there is no (or very little) space for an “Italian OCW” by a single University, then only if we’ll have a shift in the general (and academic..) culture and the model will be the “wikipedia model” or anycase a bottom-up, trib-based model, maybe we too, as a “province of the Empire”, will have a chance… Alternatively, we can still translate, and translate, and translate…
Some final words for briefly answering to my friends Alessandro and Stian (hey guys, the syllabus was so poor, that you felt encouraged to add a couple of questions? ;-)):
- I don’t see significative effects in K-12 due to the minor impact of “content” in this area. Yes, there are textbooks for elementary and first secondary schools and maybe we’ll arrive to define open curricula, alternative to commercial ones, but we’d have to print them since I don’t think that children should necessarily use electronic media in their early age. For now, I’m convinced that the real effective impact of OER is for high education and lifelong learning.
- For developing countries, OER could be a real opportunity, an alternative to the “market model” that is dominant in education too… Yes, there are significative problems (in the previous weeks we talked about the risk of a “cultural colonization” by means of “western culture” OER) but I see more possibile benefits than threats. I consider especially important the signal that OER, Free Software and Open Education are carrying: it is that knowledge and instruction are not commercial products but they are a right for all the mankind. We, as citizens of the richest countries, have some obligation in this sense.
Questo/a opera è pubblicato sotto una Licenza Creative Commons.