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Monday, February 21, 2011

Buy One, Get One?

Well certainly if I buy one, I should get one, contends the author of  a blog post at Of course, in the marketplace, "BOGO" offers appear regularly, and the literal interpretation of this concept in the post is intended to refute the idea that the free sharing of (educational) content is akin to socialism.What?

Could I look at your syllabus? Do you mind if I use those test questions? Hey, that's a great assignment. Can I incorporate it into my class? I must admit that I've never been told "no" when I've asked if I could use or modify someone else's content. Thus, I've always been a little puzzled by the reluctance, at least when faculty come together, to applaud the opportunity to opening share their content. I remember in the "early days" of exploring use of the object repository in WebCT, faculty were very concerned about openly sharing their work.

Of course, many if not all institution policies say that if work is created during contracted time with the institution, it does not belong solely to the developer but at least in part to the college. That leads to another point made by the blog's author about work created using taxpayer dollars (NSF and DOE grants, etc.). For example, "When you pay (through the Department of Education) for a brand-name university in New England to produce simulation-based educational games that can help almost anyone learn basic physics, do you ever get to play that game? No."

The post notes another example of research (conducted with NSF funds) that leads to an article publishing the "groundbreaking" findings. . .that we don't get to read.

I guess I never thought about the source for some of the research articles, etc., that I might have found interesting had I been able to see them without a subscription OR about various other content created with, perhaps, taxpayer $$ to which I don't have access. Of course, there are logistical challenges to openly sharing content, and perhaps that's more the issue in most cases than individuals not wanting to share it. 

I wonder if the federal government's foray into the OER world will make a difference?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that you posted this today! I spent part of the morning listening to David Wiley give a keynote presentation at ITC's eLearning conference on this very topic. His presentation was all about sharing and non-rivalrous activities. For example, if you share knowledge with someone else you don't lose access to it yourself. The next step to true sharing is open licenses. Open licensing gives others the right to re-use, re-distribute, revise, and re-mix your content. To a large extent open licensing solves the issues raised by copyright.

    The presentation went on to talk about learning analytics and how that might same the LMS. If we had learning outcomes tied both to content and to assessment we could in theory see exactly where a course wasn't working properly and we could modify and improve it -- continuous improvement in content and instructional design based on data. Wow!