Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taking OER beyond the OER Community; my response 3

Taking OER beyond the OER Community  is a joint initiative of  UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning (COL). I am posting here my responses in the series of online discussions conducted as part of the above initiative.  My responses to the queries on the two themes:- (1)  Policy and capacity (2) What works, what does not and under what conditions? were added here earlier. Today, response to the queries on the third theme Copyright and the development and re-use of OERs is given below (See the forum at http://lists.esn.org.za/mailman/listinfo/oer-forum).

 The capital for our thought process is the unimaginably huge investment made by the generations from times unknown. It is this selfless capital investment that build civilizations, which in turn support and facilitate the continued flourishing of the thought process. Locking them up with copy rights actually means betraying generations and stopping the further development of civilizations. Therefore Laws on copy right including IPR should be sensible towards this truth ( What would have been the destiny of human beings if the people discovered/identified/ popularized the use of Fire and Wheel had taken Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for that?)

Said that, OER is the right path, the path of truth and social justice, and should grow and sustain naturally. The most powerful demonstration of freedoms associated with open content is remixing. In another words, the freedom of the free content is safeguarded through ever increasing remix and reuse. So it is a struggle for justice and freedom where our most powerful weapon is the profound and wide use of OER. Therefore all possible measures are required to be explored to promote the use of OER among teachers, students and public in general.

CC licenses - though they are also copyrights- definitely presents a workable solution to centuries old copyright threats over knowledge acquisition, use and  dissemination. Now national governments are also started to bring about legislation in favour of OER. So history repeats. We have traveled a long way away from public domain. Now through these activities we have to travel further long to return to public domain - and most importantly the weakening environment make it a necessity as we are not supposed to plunder invaluable time and resources at the cost of the health of our planet to reinvent the wheel - and the transit time is taken care of by CC.

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Taking OER beyond the OER Community; my response 3 by Apletters [Anil Prasad] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taking OER beyond the OER Community; my responses in the online discussions

Taking OER beyond the OER Community  is a joint initiative of  UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning (COL). I am posting here my responses in the series of online discussions conducted as part of the above initiative.  The responses in this blog are related to the queries on the following two themes:- (1)  Policy and capacity & (2) What works, what does not and under what conditions?. Discussions on the third theme Copyright and the development and re-use of OERs will commence from tomorrow (15/11/2010) (See the forum at http://lists.esn.org.za/mailman/listinfo/oer-forum)

Theme: Policy and capacity:

Definitely Neil is right in his analysis of the economic changes taking place in the education content market and, in fact, I would say, it is a desired change also. Apart from all other crucial academic issues that demand the production and distribution of OER, now we have environmental causes also.

  1. When knowledge repositories are not open, so called reinventing the wheel will happen at the cost of invaluable natural recourses. Wastage of resources and production of related pollutants to re-invent what is really available!  – we have to prevent it at any cost especially when the evil effects of global warming are becoming more and more visible. Higher education sector can play a crucial role to set knowledge free for a healthy environment – it should be a part of their institutional policy.
  1. But what would happen if environmentally dangerous technologies are also open and fast spreading? It necessitates a well drawn policy on what should be and should not be open and based on that higher education can build and maintain OER.
  1. World in now frantically researching for environment friendly alternative technologies for industries. OER on such researches should definitely be available because spread of such technologies in a short span of time is a matter of concern for the health of our green planet.  It is equally applicable in health care, especially when you require massive training of health workers globally on prevention of various epidemics and to impart livelihood training to underprivileged. Institutions can definitely find funding partners for technology sharing and training etc in the above sectors.
  1. Another point is the need for a workable business model for an institution to develop OER on genuine technologies along with addressing financial requirements for its own existence. Public contributions and grants from governments and charities are regular venues. Apart from the above there are also possibilities like one time consultation and training fee, customized/localized development support fee etc etc  
  1. Finally coming to the issue of rights over the educational content, my personal opinion is that CC-BY-SA is an ideal choice for a better world. 

Theme: "What works, what does not and under what conditions?"


Prof Ulf-Daniel’s selection of topic name 'Big Shift. From Resources to Practices' well suited to the Theme: 'What works, what does not and under what conditions?' In his short note Prof Ulf-Daniel rightly touches the core issues, and hence it is a very effective review of the current situation. Thank you for the note.

Along with all other matters as referred to in the note, I think, providing necessary legal framework in support of the production and distribution of OER is also a very pertinent issue. Academic bodies/institutions and Universities should be required, by law, to regularly develop and distribute Open Educational Resources relevant to their approved curricula for various courses/qualifications.  

In the application of such laws

  • Universities/academic bodies should prominently count the use of OER for the internal assessment of the students as well as for the HR related review of teachers.
  • Universities/academic bodies should engage teams for the collaborative development of peer reviewed OER
  • Universities/academic bodies should engage teams to select and review the OER available in other sources and publish the reviewed content under suitable open license.
  • Once the above is done, Universities/academic bodies should run courses in ODL stream that provide/or refer to majority of learning material from OER domain
I would also suggest that researches should be conducted to the legal frameworks in support of OER. The efforts put in by policy makers and legislators for the promotion of OER/Open Text Books should be identified and popularized so that it would facilitate further legislation in favour of OER in various parts of the world.  

Creative Commons License
Taking OER beyond the OER Community; my responses in the online discussions by Apletters [Anil Prasad] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.