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Open Assembly is cloud-based platform for collaborative knowledge creation with open educational resources (OER)

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What is Open?

“Made with Creative Commons” on Kickstarter

Sarah Pearson and Paul Stacey of Creative Commons have created a case study for the very substance of the book project they are crowdfunding on Kickstarter: they’re raising funds to support the development of a book that they will ultimately give away for free under a CC license. The waiting-to-be-written-book Made With Creative Commons is about the ways creators and businesses make money when sharing their work for free under CC licenses. The dynamic duo’s goal is to empower others to create businesses that build upon open content and open licensing. The book will be written collaboratively with backers of the campaign, and Sarah and Paul will be writing regularly throughout the research and writing process in a Medium publication called Made with Creative Commons.

At stake is the idea that if “open” is to go mainstream, we need to develop and support sustainable business models that don’t depend on the generosity of non-profits such as the Hewlett Foundation to promote the open exchange of the knowledge we create.

You can get involved as a contributor to the project (for $150 or more), or simply as a fan (with a contribution of any amount). There are 15 days left to support this campaign!

Open Assembly has been working with Sarah and Paul on our own open business model, using the Business Model Canvas template they modified for the “open” attribute. The experience so far has been wonderful, providing much clarity and reaffirming our sense of purpose–and even suggesting new possibilities we hadn’t quite considered yet. There is no doubt in our minds that Sarah and Paul are laying an important foundation for defining a new generation of business models that reward “openness” and “sharing.” We who are already on the “open” spectrum of activities and initiatives will benefit greatly from sharing our various experiences. And hopefully countless others will also be inspired by coming to understand the ways in which sharing can indeed be good for business.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.57.41 PM

The OER-LMS Oxymoron

As John Rindele pointed out in his presentation at Open Education 11, “a key factor in OER uptake is the ability of resources to be easily accessed, combined with other course materials, and presented in an appropriate context for learning.” For many instructors (for better or worse), the LMS is currently the hub of their course. And yet using OER within an LMS presents some interesting paradoxes and dilemmas given that LMS are still operating within the “closed course” paradigm. Of greatest significance is the near-impossibility of realizing OER’s full potential to enable open pedagogies.

Most online instruction takes places within a learning management system (LMS) such as Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, Sakai and others. Yet little research has examined how learning management systems structure participants’ experiences and replicate or diverge from traditional pedagogy. The ways in which course materials are presented and accessed — and who gets to present what and when — form a key component in the online classroom.

The technology used to deliver an online class influences how students and instructors interact with one another. More than previous technologies, online learning systems have the potential to enhance the collaborative performative nature of teaching, and at the same time, the potential to turn teaching into a static exercise. Just as the architectural design of a classroom qualifies student–instructor and student–student interaction, online course delivery platforms such as LMS provide the framework for class communication. And like the room seating arrangement, degree of access to (natural) daylight and other aspects of the bricks-and-mortar classroom context, the LMS structure largely goes unnoticed and unquestioned. Yet how a classroom is organized, whether in person or online, will influence how communicators interact within that classroom.

In her 2002 critique of online education, Megan Boler argued:

“The brave new world of digital education promises greater access, increased democratic participation, and the transcendence of discrimination through pure minds. We must interrogate the actuality of these hypes: who has access, is participation online transformative, and is transcendence of difference a goal of progressive pedagogies?”

To extend the reach of OER we feel it is critical for resources to be made easily accessible from within the LMS, until we have a better way. This need is greater than providing a simple link.

A MOOC Runs Amok: Update

A pedagogical experiment conducted by a professor at the University of Zurich upset his institution, many of his students, and Coursera headquarters. The debacle surrounding his tinkering with a Coursera course highlighted important issues surrounding Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are actually NOT “open;” meaning, NOT providing users with “the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint….as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective. (Capetown Open Education Declaration)

The emphasis is mine and used to point out alignment with Coursera’s mission: “We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.” i.e., accessible and effective.

Those of us committed to open education would argue that such a mission can only be accomplished if education, pedagogy, courses, content, data, etc., are actually and truly “open.”

Meanwhile, back to the MOOC that ran amok.

The professor’s intention was to see if he could get students to migrate to a non-Coursera platform and spur a discussion of the hazards of data-mining in free online courses. Unfortunately, he was not “open” with his students and therefore, many reacted with anger instead of engaging in reflection about the fact that their behavior and Non-open MOOC-cow.jpgemotions in the course’s online forum were being tracked by Coursera, without their consent and for the benefit of Coursera.

Professor Dehaye’s position was described in a Wired Campus blog post:

“The professor (or someone posting in his name) wrote about how he did not want to assist the company in its efforts to collect and monetize student data. He said he had been contacted repeatedly by the company about the data.

‘I feel they are fishing for business models, which I am certainly not going to give them,’ Mr. Dehaye wrote in the post, which was first reported by Inside Higher Ed. ‘I don’t want to tell them how to track you.’ “

George Siemens provides a thoughtful update in a recent blog post congratulating Dehaye for having the courage to “draw attention to Coursera policies and practices around data.” He concludes by saying:

“The MOOC Mystery was about an academic doing what we expect and need academics to do. Unfortunately it was poorly executed and not properly communicated so the message has been largely lost. Regardless, Dehaye has started a conversation, raised a real concern, pushed buttons, and put a spotlight on unfair or opaque practices by organizations who are growing in influence in education. Yes, there are ethical concerns that need to be addressed. But let’s not use those ethical concerns to silence an important concern or isolate a needed narrative around what MOOCs are, how they are impacting higher education and faculty, and how control is being wrested from the people who are vital counter-balancing agents in society’s power structure.”

Paul-Olivier – thanks. Let’s have more of this.

CCK08: Connectivism & Connective KnowledgeA lively exchange of comments follows, and at one point Siemens draws a comparison to analogous experimentation within the first (ever) massive open online course, CCK08,orchestrated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2008:

“Stephen Downes subscribed all learners to one of the discussion forums during the week on power and control in learning. Learners were understandably outraged. Suddenly their inbox was assaulted with dozens, hundreds, of emails. The point that he was trying to make was on the power that faculty have in a course. Numerous learners swore off the course and were understandably upset. The point was made clearly and concisely and most learners, once they finished deleted their forum notification emails, understood what had happened. Overall it was successful…”

Open Assembly firmly believes that the data that is aggregated on our platform belongs to our users. Users are free to request that data at any time, including its deletion from our databases. That is an important dimension of “open”, as important as the capability of engaging any course or other resource within usage rights defined by David Wiley’s 5Rs framework:

CONTENT  IS “OPEN” TO THE EXTENT THAT ITS LICENSE ALLOWS USERS TO ENGAGE IN THE 5R ACTIVITIES:

Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Europeana: July is Public Domain Month

Happy Public Domain Month! Our open resource colleagues in Europe are especially busy this month promoting the Public Domain standard for shared European cultural resources:

Here at Europeana, we talk about the Public Domain a lot. Do you?

You know by now that we care about sharing the metadata and objects that you have carefully digitised. We have great ambition for how this data can be shared with and used by others, how it can be used in schools, in apps and to share memories with your loved ones. We also believe that where possible, the fewest restrictions should be put in place for those sharing and using your great, rich and colourful data.

So what has this got to do with the Public Domain? Why do we talk about it every day in the office here in The Hague? Why should you be talking about it? Well, making cultural heritage available to everyone is our business. One of our fundamental principles is that works that are in the public domain before they are digitised, should remain in the public domain (i.e. free from copyright) once they are digitised. With 7,607,443 objects available via Europeana declared to be in the public domain, we think this is also really important to cultural heritage institutions and we want to share with you a few tips and tricks on how to apply the Public Domain Mark. What better way to do this than to pack all of this into one month, dedicated to the Public Domain?

Follow this initiative via the #PublicDomainMonth hashtag or @Europeanaeu

 

Europeana: Open Data Gets Creative

The re-use of (open) digital content is an essential part of the Digital Agenda for Europe. Several activities are already stimulating the re-use of cultural heritage in order to demonstrate the social and economic value of cultural content. With the publication of the Europeana metadata under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) in September 2012, further development of innovative applications based on this metadata is now possible. Europeana Creative takes this a step further by facilitating re-use of the digital objects themselves.

Europeana Creative is a new and exciting open data project and online portal providing access to more than 30 million digitized cultural heritage objects from Europe’s libraries, museums, archives and audiovisual collections. It aims to facilitate the creative re-use of digital cultural heritage content and associated metadata. The project was launched at the end of February 2013 at the Austrian National Library in Vienna and will run for 30 months. 26 partners from 14 European countries with diverse backgrounds are contributing to the project. These include content providing institutions with world famous collections, creative industry hubs and organizations, the tourism and education sectors, living labs, software developers and multimedia experts, as well as think tanks.

Partners will be developing a number of pilot applications focused on design, tourism, education and social networks. Building on these pilots, a series of open innovation challenges will be launched with entrepreneurs from the creative industries to identify, incubate and spin off more viable projects into the commercial sector.

Europeana Creative

Link to video

Open Access Could Be the Solution to Rising E-Book Prices

ProQuest, a company representing 11 academic publishers, recently notified the Boston Library Consortium that the cost of short-term e-book loans would be raised, effective June 1. Each time a client checks out one of the e-books, libraries pay a portion of the title’s list price and after a certain number of loans the library automatically buys the title at full price.

Oxford University Press has raised the cost of short-term loans across the board. A 28-day loan that once cost 30 percent of the title’s list price will now cost 70 percent. The press also doubled the price of seven- and 14-day loans, while one-day loans jumped from 15 percent of list price to 25 percent.

Two months later, after the announced cost shift on short-term e-book loans, Ms. Stearns and John Unsworth, the Boston consortium’s president-elect, wrote a stern letter to The Chronicle accusing the commercial publishers of “price gouging.” The letter referenced continuing dissatisfaction with scientific-journal pricing.

Publishers contend that the e-book-pricing model was still in beta, and that recent changes are simply a market correction.

Publishers say that the model was intended as an alternative to Interlibrary Loan, but that it had instead became a way for students and professors to access low-circulation titles like scholarly monographs without libraries’ paying full freight for them. At issue is a short-term loan model for e-book purchasing that allows libraries to offer large catalogs but pay for only those books that are actually used—and not to pay full price until books have been used several times.

In March, the Oberlin Group, a consortium of 80 liberal-arts colleges published a statement calling for an end to “restrictive licensing agreements” that prevent e-books from being shared among libraries the way hard copies pass through Interlibrary Loan. The statement, signed by Mr. Geffert and 65 other academic librarians, called the current model of e-book exchange an “existential threat” to the “ecosystem of sharing.”

These pricing increases should drive the effort for affordable, Open Access alternatives to traditional publishers, promoted by organizations like SPARC. Digital technologies and the Internet have made knowledge accessible to all, leaving us with the potential to take the power back from publishers and remove the restrictions to access caused by the high prices imposed on consumers.

Read the original article by M. Scott Brauer for The Chronicle here.

Catherine Cronin: Assessment in Open Spaces

Catherine Cronin shares her experience teaching in a truly open learning space as the progressive “thinning of classroom walls”, making an effective case for open pedagogy.

“Learning and pedagogical relationships are transformed when we engage with students in open online spaces or networked publics. These can become ‘third spaces’ of learning, beyond the binary of informal and formal learning. Once a closed classroom (physical or online) becomes open to the world, assessment options multiply, with many more opportunities for student choice, voice and creativity, and of course, feedback.”

Catherine Cronin: https://flic.kr/p/fEznQK
Catherine Cronin: https://flic.kr/p/fEznQK

“In terms of assessment in these open online spaces, students collectively created the rubrics for assessing their presentations and digital media projects. But that was not the whole story. Through engaging in open practices throughout the term, we became a learning community that was not confined to one classroom or one online space. The classroom walls thinned progressively as the term progressed, so that we truly became nodes in a broader network — sharing work openly, engaging in discussion, inviting and giving feedback. The main assessments for the module — the presentation and digital media project — were opportunities for students to chose their own topics, media, tools and ways of working (individual or team), to express their own authentic voices, and to share, engage and learn beyond the bounds of our classroom.”

Entire post here: http://bit.ly/1pa3vkf

A (Meaty) Question To Chew On: #FutureEd

Recently, in the context of an experimental MOOC she was teaching at Duke, Cathy Davidson asked the question: “Why have we so quickly adapted to a new mode of collaborative, cross-disciplinary, instrumental, just-in-time, non-expert knowledge-making everywhere except in school?”

Her argument:

“Whereas everyday, everywhere learning has become a hallmark of our social life and work life in the post-Internet era, education–K through 22–remains largely wedded to the disciplinary silos, formal knowledge taxonomies, summative assessment measures, and formal credentialing apparatus designed for the research university of the late Industrial Age. The Internet went public on April 22, 1993. We’re still teaching like its 1992.”

Open Assembly was founded with the goal of seeking a solution to the problem Cathy Davidson’s question highlights, with a software framework for collaborative teaching and learning designed to let us engage with each other and with content inside the classroom–much the way we do everyday, in every other context. Open educational resources (OER) inherently facilitate sharing and collaboration, and the Open Assembly platform is specifically designed to leverage that capability.

Julie’s Journey: Make It Open

As in my last post concerning collaboration, I have been doing some research about Open Research. More about that in a moment.

What am I researching? My goal is to extend the thesis I will be turning in for a grade this semester into an on-going research project that collects data about air quality on my school campus. The whole point of this project is to make more people aware of greenhouse emissions, something we cannot directly see, so it is a given that my results will be open access. The end goal is to create a website with the data, similar to what UC-Berkeley has done with BeACON.

So, I have found out a few new things. What I will be doing with my project is called “open access data.” Meaning all of the data, and results models and graphs, will be available to anyone. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a great example of efforts to create ways that data and research can be more available.

Then what makes “open research” different than what I described above? The answer: collaboration. A project can be considered open research if the “end goal,” or the final output, is likely to change, since multiple research entities are adding input and thoughts to the overall research. Besides the availability of data and results, as in open access, the experimental methodologies and techniques are also available for your studying pleasure and are open to improvement.

There are many websites that are trying to support this type of collaboration, and while Open Assembly is not specifically designed for research, it IS optimized for collaboration. As such, its tools can be adapted for any collaborative teaching or learning context. For example, with a research topic or project taking the place of an official college course and syllabus, the “Comments” feature allows other users to add notes, pertinent resources, and materials.

My current project has a certain end goal, but if you’re interested in providing input or getting a closer look, be sure to email me at julie@openassembly.com to gain access to the course and experience how I am using Open Assembly for Open Research.

CEO Domi Enders Presents at EdLab Demo Night 4/1/14

OpenStax College Survey Results (Part I)

From CNX 2014 in Houston via Beck Pitt of OER Research Hub comes Part I of the results from research conducted to determine the impact of Open Stax College textbooks on both educators and students.

“The top three types of OER used for teaching/training by respondents were reported as follows: open textbooks (98.8%), videos (78.0%) and images (72.0%).”

“The top three purposes for using OER in the context of teaching/training were reported as follows: 1) as a supplement to one’s own existing lessons or coursework (96.3%) 2) to get new ideas and inspiration (81.5%) and 3) as “assets” (e.g. images) within a classroom lesson (80.2%). Of note is that a third of educators reported using OER to interest hard-to-engage learners (34.6%) and a quarter reported that they use OER to make their teaching more culturally diverse (or responsive) (25.9%).”

“Almost 90% of respondents thought their students saved money by using OER (89.0%), whilst almost 60% thought their institution benefited financially by using OER (59.3%).”

ON OER AND TEACHING: Screenshot of CNX 2014 Presentation Slide (Beck Pitt, CC-BY):

Beck Pitt-OER ResearchHub

NB. The top 3 responses from students are in red.

Also included in Beck Pitt’s report were a number of interesting and insightful responses from educators to questions re. the impact of using the open textbooks on their own teaching practice, such as the following:

“[It’s] more satisfying to offer free materials and have the freedom to modify them as I wish, to make the product students receive more like how class operates.”

OER is not only the only sustainable path forward with regard to increasing the affordability of education, but is also key to providing instructors and students with content and courseware that they can actually adapt to their needs–and ultimately own.

Domi Enders, Open Assembly

Looking forward to Part II, thanks Beck!

Open Research: OER Research Hub Course Launches June 2014!

The OER Research Hub, sponsored by the Open University (UK) and the Hewlett Foundation, focuses on the question ‘What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?’ The project combines:

  • A targeted collaboration program with existing OER projects
  • An international fellowship program
  • Networking to make connections
  • A hub for research data and OER excellence in practice

OER Research Hub is launching a course on Open Research in June 2014, hosted by the School of Open (available as a stand alone during the summer). OER Research Hub will at the same time be releasing the remainder of their research instruments (e.g. interview and survey question banks, consent forms, a final version of the ethics manual etc.). These instruments are/will be available on a CC-BY license via their website, and are of great value to researchers,  instructors and admins seeking to understand, evaluate and chart the impact of OER.

Open Education Week 2014

A movement and opportunities it creates in teaching and learning worldwide. Submit your contribution by February 28!

There are many ways you can contribute to Open Education Week: upload an informational or inspirational video, host an event in your community, send links to resources about open education, hold a webinar, and promote open education week in your social media networks. To contribute a video or resource, or to have your event or webinar featured on the Open Education Week Events calendar, use the submission form at openeducationweek.org. Multiple resources or events can be submitted. Click here to fill out a form for your contribution.

Deadline for submissions is 28 February 2014.

Open Assembly Moves to Next Level in Milken-Penn GSE Competition

Open Assembly is proud and tickled pink to have been selected to compete as a semifinalist for a series of prizes in the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC). Launched in 2010, it’s the first business plan competition to focus exclusively on educational ventures. The Milken Family Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (GSE), entities committed to innovation and excellence in education, formed this partnership with the intent to nurture entrepreneurial activity in the education space.

We’re competing in the categories of Innovation in Online Education and Open Educational Resources. Deadline to submit our biz plan is March 11, 11:59 pm.

Once Upon a Time, Textbooks Were Hard to Create…

Kathi Fletcher, Shuttleworth Fellow, pitches the excellent software project she directs–an advanced and comprehensive textbook creator/editor–with a Pixar style of pitch: “Once upon a time textbooks were hard to create….”

The moral of the story is that textbooks can truly be “a pleasure to create, cheap or free to buy, always up to date, and part of a much more interactive and engaging experience….true engines of learning”

Check out the Textbook Editor and OER Importer at: http://editor.oerpub.org

MOOC Rival OERu Puts Accreditation on Menu | Times Higher Education

MOOC rival OERu puts accreditation on menu | News | Times Higher Education.

OALIB_Open Access Library

OALIB_Open Access Library allows free access to a database of 125,546 openly accessible academic articles

Why Open Education Matters

Published on Jun 5, 2012
Degreed’s entry in the Why Open Education Matters video competition.

Open: Decreasing Costs, Improving Access, and Increasing Quality of Education

By David Wiley, Prof. at Brigham Young University, March 29, 2013.

While “open educational resources” initiatives like MIT OpenCourseWare generated media buzz during the 2000s, a new wave of initiatives is leveraging OER to dramatically decrease the cost, improve access, and increase the quality of secondary and higher education for the average student. This presentation demonstrates how “open” is shaping the field of education, and what is coming in the future.

This talk was delivered at the University of Georgia during March, 2013.

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