Thursday, February 2, 2012

Open Content/Open Courseware

I have performed a couple of searches using "open content" as the search term.  I am sure that there may have been some more publications purely limited open content licensing and the open content movement if the search were to have been performed back in time closer to 1998 when Dr. Wiley first announced the open content license.  But the movement has matured so rapidly in the last decade that most of the publication has expanded to cover the open movement in its broader terms.

I did find a couple of thoughts in the article by Caswell, Henson, Jensen & Wiley (2008) See IRRODL Vol. 9, Number 1, February 2008..  One quote that I found meaningful is from Dr. Wiley.  He said:

We believe that all human beings are endowed with a capacity to learn, improve, and progress. Educational opportunity is the mechanism by which we fulfill that capacity. Therefore, free and open access to educational opportunity is a basic human right. When educational materials can be electronically copied and transferred around the world at almost no cost, we have a greater ethical obligation than ever before to increase the reach of opportunity. When people can connect with others nearby or in distant lands at almost no cost to ask questions, give answers, and exchange ideas, the moral imperative to meaningfully enable these opportunities weighs profoundly. We cannot in good conscience allow this poverty of educational opportunity to continue when educational provisions are so plentiful, and when their duplication and distribution costs so little.
While the main focus of this article seems to be on Open CourseWare, I believe that this quote from Dr. Wiley concisely explains the moral foundation for the whole open movement in education.  Translating the openness from software to education serves a different purpose in many aspects.  The open software movement attempts to improve a tool that will benefit people and society using that tool.  The application of openness in education actually improves people rather than their use of a tool.

 The Caswell article points out that the open movement removes limits on the number of people that could be served through distance education.  The reduced costs to transmit that knowledge and the increased accessibility available for access means that content that is available to be shared can affect more people, in more places, for minimal marginal cost.

1 comment:

  1. Darin, the moral imperative is a very fine line to walk. I've always found it very motivating personally, but - even though I find it personally very motivating - I am always a little put off when I hear someone else explaining to me that I have the moral imperative to act. It seems to me that this moral imperative is deeply personal, and an individual must either arrive at it on their own or never really feel it.