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George Siemens

Hi Cole - nice recap of the event. I've been following the OpenEd09 blog-pheromone reflections. I'm finding the post-event summaries revealing and at some level, almost as satisfying as the event itself.


Cole Camplese

Thanks, George. It was a great event and one that has been a little difficult for me to place into context. I think one thing we are going to do here at Penn State is get a group together to watch a handful of sessions and share some thoughts. It might help to unpack some of the content and grab some meaning. It was tough going room to room and not having time to really think about what was happening.

matt meyer

We will need a couple of brown bags just to get through what you present in this post. Sounds like it was worth the price of having to watch some nasty guy get ill into a brown paper bag on the plane. BTW- thanks for NOT sending a twitpic of that.

Boone Gorges

Great recap, Cole. Your post captures some of the energy that made OpenEd so worthwhile.

It was really great to meet you face to face. It's interesting how, even for us techies (the people who are supposed to be the best at connecting online), there's something irreplaceable about in-person interaction. That's why events like OpenEd can be so valuable, and have such a lasting effect.

Cole Camplese

Thanks, Boone. Getting to meet and spend real time talking and hashing through ideas was where this meeting was different. I spend a lot of time traveling to various conferences and events, but I've not attended anything where so many of the people I admire and respect gathered. Thanks for the comment and thanks for hanging out!

Cole Camplese

I think the idea of a series of brown bags locally around sessions from Open Ed is a killer idea. We could get a bunch of people together and watch the uStream and have some conversations around the topics. I wonder if we should uStream us doing this to create a second generation meta event?

matt meyer

I'd say let's take a topic and just do it first. Then we analyze our conversation and see if it makes sense to stream it and how we would market it. Oh, did I just say "market it"? I meant to say 'get it to an interested audience in a meaningful way'.

Cole Camplese

I was sort of making fun of the meta experience of watching a streamed event while streaming us watching it.

Alec Couros

Thanks for this post Cole. One of the highlights of OpenEd was certainly, finally getting a chance to meet you f2f. I'd love to help out with the CI 597 course ... keep me in mind. I have a feeling I am going to learn a ton from the experience so at the very least, I hope to have insight to share.

Bryan Alexander

Terrific summary, Cole. Envy!

David DiBiase

Thanks for this recap, Cole. Annie Taylor pointed me to it (after I read her chronicle about the same event. I want to comment upon your observation that OpenEd '09 participants discussed OER as a "moral imperative." Unfortunately, it's hard to defend the argument OER can be justified solely on ethical grounds.

For a moral imperative to exist, one or both of two conditions must exist: either (a) individuals have a right to free educational resources, or (b) educators are duty-bound to provide them. Neither is the case.

In regard to rights, Article 26 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/) does state that “Everyone has the right to education” and that “education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.” However, the Declaration goes on to state that “higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” In other words, the Declaration recognizes the right of higher education institutions to be selective. If institutions have a right to choose which students gain access to their human resources (faculty), then it follows that institutions also have the right to restrict access to educational resources. OER is therefore not a right that higher education institutions are bound to honor.

What about our duties as educators? At a minimum, these are codified in statements of professional ethics like Penn State’s AD-47 (http://guru.psu.edu/policies/AD47.html). This policy states that faculty members’ primary responsibilities are to “seek and to state the truth as they see it” and to preserve, protect and defend academic freedom. In regards to professors’ obligations to society, the policy does state that they are obliged to “promote conditions of free inquiry…” This could be taken to mean that faculty members are duty-bound to publish only in open-access journals and to share all educational resources freely under Creative Commons licenses. This interpretation, unfortunately, is contradicted by common practice. No faculty member at Penn State or elsewhere would pass up an opportunity to be published in Science, for example, on the grounds that it is a breach of professional ethics to publish in a proprietary, limited-access journal.

Therefore, in fact or in practice, educators in higher education institutions are bound neither by rights nor by duties to participate in OER initiatives.

I don’t mean to suggest that “opening” educational resources isn’t the right thing to do. On the contrary, as you know, I’ve been one of Penn State’s most insistent advocates of OER. That advocacy, and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ simplistic example (http://open.ems.psu.edu), have much to do with the fact that the University’s 2009-14 Strategic Plan includes a commitment to support open educational resources initiatives. Although OER is not justifiable solely on ethical grounds, I do believe that sharing resources freely comes close to what philosopher of professions Michael Davis (2002) calls the “moral ideal” of our profession.

My point is that if strategic plans like Penn State’s are to have any lasting impact, the case must be made that OER is a sound business strategy. One of our College’s most successful distance education programs -- the professional masters degree in geographic information systems -- has embraced this strategy. Program faculty members have voluntarily and publicly “opened” substantial portions of ten courses in the past year. Feedback from one tuition-paying distant student suggests how the business strategy works: “The ability to access course information … was critical in my decision to choose Penn State over other distance education providers. Distance education was new to me and I had some concerns regarding quality and value. When I discovered the wealth of well-presented information provided for GEOG 482 and other courses in Penn State's GIS program, I immediately felt an increased level of comfort with the quality of education I would be receiving” (Foster, personal communication, 27 July 2009).

Penn State is not the first institution that comes to mind when one thinks of progressive intellectual property policies. However, I believe we are at the forefront of the transition to what David Wiley (2009) has called “OCW 2.0” - the “new generation of OpenCourseWare projects … built around sustainability plans.” Wiley suggests that “second generation projects [could be] integrated with distance education offerings, where the public can use and reuse course materials for free (just like first generation OCWs) with the added option of paying to take the courses online for credit.” The College of EMS’ fledgling example demonstrates that Penn State is well positioned to create a sustainable OER initiative that is based on sound business strategy while still being true to the moral ideals of higher education faculty.

Davis, Michael (2002). Profession, Code, and Ethics. Burlington VT: Ashgate.

Wiley, David (2009). The Future of OCW, and “OCW 2.0″ Iterating toward openness | pragmatism over zeal. (Blog) Retrieved 25 August 2009 from http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/881

Cole Camplese

Hi David. Thanks much for the comment and very thoughtful response. I think on many levels (as I attempt to unpack your comment and the context from the event itself) we are all saying something similar. I think David Wiley's conversations at this year's event were very consistent with the notion of sustainability at the core of the progression of the OER movement. With that said, there were lots of people who put (in my opinion) too much stock in the notion that OER is just the right thing to do. I come at this from a slightly different perspective as I am not directly involved in the production of distance learning to support net new students. My focus has been squarely in the notion of supporting open in the resident experience. I know this is very different than where most people engaged in the OER conversation spends their focus, but it is something I firmly believe in.

I can appreciate your perspective related to the ideas of moral imperatives ... I spend way too much time in meetings where the focus is on enrollments and dollars to believe we will engage simply b/c it is the right thing to do. I think you are working hard to find the right balance between open and opportunity. I've thought for quite some time that we hide what we are embarrassed about and I think that is as true in eLearning content as anything else. You and your team create quality learning experiences for students and seem very happy to let the World see them. I believe you do that b/c you have created something that actually encourages people to play first and pay second. I applaud that effort and think more of us should be willing to go that route.

With that said, I do think at some level it should be part of our strategic plan and fabric that we attempt to provide as much access to open materials as possible. I feel like Penn State does carry some responsibility to provide access to content -- again I'm not foolish enough to think it needs to go beyond that. I am seeing changes percolating throughout our Institution as more and more faculty are willing to live their academic lives in a more open sense. Is an open course blog an OER? I think so ... and by that metric I think we are going well into the open teaching and learning territory. In my mind OER is so much more than a series of instructional screens. Its open ePortfolios, peer groups discussing art, its faculty sharing annotated photographs on Flickr, and so much more. I see the opening of education as a part of the social changes on the web in general and I like it.

I think a great deal about the work you and your team have done and think it is *the* model for OER 2.0 at PSU. What I am working towards is something more of an overall culture change -- where the default is to teach and learn in the open. To borrow from John Mott, to build the bridge from the course management system to an personal learning network. It is a vision that focuses on content that is mixed with social opportunities, external resources, and other open opportunities. In short I couldn't agree with you more ... I'm just trying to reframe this conversation so it makes sense in my view of the academy.

Again, thanks for the thoughtful comment!

Chris Lott

With due respect-- and recognizing that it isn't the sole motivation and certainly not something that will (alone) satisfy institutional mandates, the concept of a moral imperative is bigger than-- and far beyond-- any UN codification of human rights...

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