What is Open Content?


The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is also a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions, and a cost-effective alternative to textbooks and other materials. As customizable educational content is made increasingly available for free over the Internet, students are learning not only the material, but also skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources they are studying in partnership with their teachers.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is 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; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

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

  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 24, 2010 Open content or the open educational resource (OER) movement is increasingly challenging the status of traditional learning resources provided to students in tertiary education. It requires institutions and teachers to rethink what they provide learners and to more clearly understand the distinction between static learning resources (usually print) and dynamic learning resources (usually electronic).
  • Open content will fundamentally change the nature of teaching and learning when it moves from being "content" to being open learning activities and open assessment tasks. I appreciate the term is meant to more encompassing than "content", but the sooner we remove it from our list the better! We are still fixated on "content" and teachers still see themselves as the custodians of content rather than a learning or transformative experience. Much of the material in OER repositories is "content". The real change will be when students and teachers can be assisted in assembling a learning experience that is aggregated from the "cloud" according to particular characteristics. - geoffrey.crisp geoffrey.crisp Aug 25, 2010
  • On one hand OERs promise a new cost-effective approach to creating increasingly improving learning resources through harnessing the potential of the global education community. On the other hand, the promise of these is not yet being realised and I am unsure if they ever will. Educators do not readily adopt others' ideas. WikiEducator does not seem to be achieving what Wikpaedia has. I suggest this is because learning materials creation is about design more than knowledge, and is so much open to opinion in what is 'good'. So we are not heading to a single point of 'truth' but collecting an increasingly diverse collection of ideas. Designers take others' ideas to inspire them to create something else rather than modify it to agree a single final product. This then cuts across the potential efficiency gains. Maybe a technology solution can support the best of both worlds, but we do not seem to be there yet. - terry.neal terry.neal Aug 28, 2010
  • The development of OERs is helping differentiate between what is a pure 'resource' and the 'value added' when a tutor/teacher uses the resource in a particular context, including sequencing and adding discourse elements such as forums etc. The real opportunity for OER resource use is when they are licensed under the Creative Commons 'attribution' or 'attribution share alike' license, allowing for the re-use and -repurposing of the original resource. Additionally, many of these resources will become more granular, allowing them to be combined and re-combined with others into contextualised learning episodes. - derek.wenmoth derek.wenmoth Aug 30, 2010
  • One of the real assets of Australia is the terrific work that is being done by Creative Commons Australia They have been providing leadership and examples for all of us Open Content Licensing, Unlocking the Potential through the Creative Commons, and Legal Aspects of the Web 2.0 Activities`and several more. - Phillip.Long Phillip.Long Sep 1, 2010

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

  • OER is based on both a philosophical principle and an economic one. Information may be everywhere, but understanding sometimes hides in out of the way places! We should be approaching the time in our evolution when we realise that understanding and insight allows us to move to new horizons - so the OER movement should really be about collecting and distributing understandings and insights, in addition to "resources".- geoffrey.crisp geoffrey.crisp Aug 25, 2010
  • Content is one thing as a resource for developing or augmenting course materials; but a course is more than content or assembling bits of MIT lectures. A number of people are actively developing the content of an open course.
  • A critical emerging avenue of open content is in Open Textbooks (e.g. FlatWorldKnowledge) . This development is bringing a more market oriented framework to OERs and with it new avenues for distribution and alignments between Open Textbook material and course lecture notes, presentations, and similar surrounding learning objects that have hitherto been the sole purview of commercial textbook publishers.

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

  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 29, 2010One impact may be in the way teachers plan and develop their courses. Past experience suggests that few teachers will reuse existing material without making changes to suite the local context. Teachers are likely to calculate the cost-benefit analysis of creating their own content from existing resources as opposed to searching for relevant content and adapting this to suite their own learning intentions. In many cases course planning and development work is a collaborative process and evaluating online content may not mesh with existing work practices. Also we should not overlook the value of the planning and development process in what contributes to teaching proficiency (through experience) and we need to be careful that OER are not seen as another form of teaching proofing.
  • A key issue in Australia is the impact of CAL (Copyright Agency Limited) on practices and policies as they apply to open content and OERs. For example, now digital art has a "5% royalty on commercial resales of $1,000 or more that occur after 8 June this year (2010). The royalty will apply to existing as well as new works, but will not apply to the first change of ownership after commencement, even if that is a resale." (Art Royalty Scheme). This applies for the duration of the life of the artist +70 years (a new application of the 'MickeyMouse copyright incarceration principle'). More to the point, CAL rules have granted institutions and academics the freedom to use whatever commercial copyrighted material they wish for the purposes of education assuming that education is restricted to enrolled students in courses that are accessible only for members of the class for the duration of the term. Any attempt to open access to this content puts the university's in jeopardy. As this has been in place for years, the unintended (?) result is nearly all courses have proprietary content somewhere in them making access more broadly nearly impossible. Thus a renewed focus on open content is essential to achieve open access. - Phillip.Long Phillip.Long Sep 1, 2010
  • another response here

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

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.ere.