What is Open Content?

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way scholars in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content uses Creative Commons and other forms of alternative licensing to encourage not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. As this open, customizable content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, people are learning not only the material, but also the skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources. There is a notable transformation in the culture surrounding open content that will continue to impact how we think about content production, sharing, and learning, and there is a shift in attitude that embraces content becoming more open.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below, most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point Please include urls whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks)

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • In Europe becoming more and more important. The European Commission is therefore launching a new initiative: Opening Up Education. One of the aims is to up-scale access and use of OER to reach a diversified base of learners. The European Commission is gathering information about the availability of OER in Member States and some other European countries: the results so far are written down in country sheets outlining a selection of online portals, repositories, and projects which provide access to digital resources. The information is not exhaustive but provides an impression of the situation of digital resource availability in each country. - guus guus Mar 1, 2013
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 This is the next step for us, following Electronic Publishing. Check out Learnist: http://learni.st/category/featured. Here in Mexico we have to deal with SEP, the Mexican Department of Education, and UNAM, the nationwide university. We're breaking free of their regulatory restrictions but still want to take advantage of available information, and Open Content is how we'll do it. Picture a Learnist-style website, in Spanish and English, that not only "shares information, but pedagogies as well." I envision students sharing as well as teachers.
  • - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013 This is also a huge trend in Brazil. Teachers and students want to be empowered and feel they have more control of what they can do with their content.
  • - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Mar 6, 2013Several states have adopted open content legislation (California, Texas, and Utah come to mind). Some states have committed legislation and funding to build ebooks and digital content to assure quality standards and reduce instructional materials costs.
  • I think the topic is getting lost in the US behind the demand for publishers to create digital textbooks. As more people realize that the information is out three and available, and stop getting caught up in the selection of a device to view it on, we will see more adoption of open course materials.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013 I am discussing this with my Techbrarian and we think this is right on the money!- sharyn.gabriel sharyn.gabriel Mar 7, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 Sharing is mentioned, but I think the potential for creating global, collaborative learning communities was left out. Also: applications for Personalized Learning Networks (PLNs) and Adaptive Learning.
  • Need to be cautious about how significant a development this will be. Writing and editing are skillful processes which usually have to be paid for. Like novelists, journalists, musicians and film-makers, those who can write (or edit) good, attractive and authoritative educational resources are not likely to do it for free; they will need to make a living. The free material is not likely to be as good as the commercially produced material. These are basic facts of economic life which cannot be overlooked.- paul paul Mar 5, 2013
  • One underlying model for most people is to imagine a learner picking up skills and knowledge from such sources. This assumes that the learner has sufficient self-directed dispositions to benefit from picking up content and even guides on how to learn. Perhaps some form of community-based curation of content can be useful. Also, while this offers great opportunities for knowledge transfer/download, it might not necessarily offer deepening/understanding. As such, having 'lesson packages', ie, how such resources can be used etc, plus having a facilitator to support the learning of the students are important. - hornmun.cheah hornmun.cheah Mar 6, 2013 Again, completely agree. - sharyn.gabriel sharyn.gabriel Mar 7, 2013
  • Curators. Not sure if this topic fits here. However, with Flipboard, realists.com and other tools that allow for the collection of articles, students need to learn how to select material and resources that assist their learning as well as push their opinion. Too often we select sources that are in our agreement. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 6, 2013
  • I agree that curators and teaching the concept of curation and research need to be addressed. Just because someone produces material on Biology means they know what they are talking about. We also need to make sure that we realize there is still a business model for open content. School districts and universities need to realize that they will need to subsidize the creation of the material, and gain benefit not from the sale of a book but by an increase in reputation as resources become widely used.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 Forget a global scope for just a moment...picture the Tri-Association (60+ schools in Central/South America and Mexico) sharing open content. Convincing schools to allow their students to take online courses (e.g., via the Haiku LMS) at another school will be difficult, because of the financial competition. But certain ranges of information could be designated as "public domain"...if not for altruistic reasons, then at least for marketing ;)
  • Quite limited. Teachers like commerically produced materials, for good reason.- paul paul Mar 5, 2013 Yes... if the language is right. In countries where the language is an issue (most material is in English or Spanish that we have access to), then the preference is for Open Content that they can produce as well.- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013 It may be true that teachers like commercial materials, but the reason is the significant piece of the conversation. - sharyn.gabriel sharyn.gabriel Mar 7, 2013
  • - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Mar 6, 2013There are opportunities to involve private sector funding of OER content. Creating courses like financial literacy using grants from the banking industry. Community resources like museums, local PBS stations have digital assets that could be incorporated in to courses. This would be a great fit for STEM type industries.
  • This has the potential to turn every student into a teacher, publisher, and potential authority on a subject. It is an enabling process, but one that has many pitfalls.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 No, not yet. But I see this as tied in with our Electronic Publishing and Online Learning initiatives. Coming soon. ;)
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 CK12 from the Khosla foundaton is a promising initiative. Goorulearning is killing it in this space, though.
  • - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Mar 6, 2013Utah Education Network's partnership with CK12

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form. ere.