For the assignments of this last week of the course, I have accepted Alessandro’s invitation to produce a group presentation on Google Docs about our feelings towards the course. If you want to see our work, click here.
As regards this week’s cross-blogging, the impression I’ve got is that we have been a bit in trouble with the course assignments. Some participants are late in their blogging, others have not posted anything on the topic yet. Probably, none of us has the same degree of imagination as Dr Wiley, or maybe we are a little tired, this is the second-last week of the course. It is also difficult to synthesize the other participants’ interventions because I have read predictions about the future of Open Education that are very different the one from the other, the only common aspect is that we are definitely sure that the OER movement will have a significant development in the future, but nobody is quite sure about its positive or negative effects. Here is a list of the posts that have impressed me most.
I have liked Dr. Wiley’s idea of writing the chapter about the future of the OER movement in an autobiographical form, as if everything had already happened. It has given the narration a more realistic flavour, there is more credibility in what he writes. At a certain point in my reading I was afraid that he was going to give us no hope in a positive development of OERs in the future but, as it happens in all the best novels, everything has been set and the surprising ending has been assured. Wiley discusses the problem of the future of the open education movement in higher education from an essentially U-S centred viewpoint, and that could not be different, it would be too difficult to figure out a worldwide scenario. This is exactly the reason why I will try to figure out what can happen, I hope at least what might happen, in my local reality, old little Italy, in the near future.
When I started to read about learning objects last week I was a little confused and felt rather ignorant about this topic: I had previously tried to learn something about them by myself because in Italian higher education there was a lively debate on them, but my attempts to understand something beyond the various theories and technicisms in books and to use an open source software to check if I could produce something useful for the "Internet community" were both unsatisfactory. After I have read the other participants’ posts I feel better, first of all because I have learnt something more from their articles (some posts are really excellent, it is a pity that only a few people have read them) and because we share some feelings about learning objects and open education.
Some people believe that open educational resources "fix" many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
If we compare the definition of OER given in Wikipedia ("Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses re-mix, improve and redistribute") to Wiley’s last definition of learning objects ("Any digital resource that can be freely adapted and reused to mediate learning", 2007, http://opencontent.org/presentations/bcnet07/ ) one can assume that open educational resources should include, among other things such as full courses, course materials, content modules, collections etc., learning objects as well. In fact, the UNESCO report at the 2002 William and Flora Hewlett Foundation forum claims that "Open Educational Resources include learning objects such as lecture material, references and readings, simulations, experiments and demonstrations …" (The Learning Objects Literature, quotation reported at page 351).
For this week’s assignments I have read "Free Culture", by Lawrence Lessig. The reason why I decided to choose this book among David Wiley‘s recommended books was because Alberto, a member of my professional community of practice, advised it in one of his posts, and also because it is available in Italian, my mother tongue language, not bad after eight weeks of readings in English! J
This week’s readings have clearly pointed out that social production based on commons, rather than property, has become a significant force in the economy, and that in the knowledge society an effective social production system is developing next to a market production system. New large-scale projects have been developing on the social motivation bases that have been defined "commons-based peer production" by Bentley (Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials, page 2). Generally, people think of sustainability in terms of money, but I agree with Downes who states that money "is only one part of a larger picture" (Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources, page 29). There is no sustainability of any OER materials without peer interaction and cooperation or incentives (that can be monetary but also non monetary), which should take place at all levels:
The reading of this week has been very interesting and a novelty for me, as I have to confess I did not know very much about how to license creative/cultural works, but now that I should know a bit more than the past I am so confused about the answer that I’ll start with referring to my personal experience.
The papers of this week are all concerned with the issue of copyright and the public domain from an American viewpoint and have underlined the limits of the current copyright law. In Italy, the law provides a limited copyright duration which varies with respect to the different categories subjected to copyright (medicines, musical CDs, software CDs, books, etc.). Unfortunately however, in Italy the situation is even worse than the States because the law does not provide the concept of fair use for educational and scientific purposes. This means that if a teacher, for example, copies even some small parts of copyrighted material for educational purposes, he could be fined and persecuted by the law. Unfortunately, this has happened several times: recently, an Italian teacher, Enrico Galavotti, found "guilty" for having published parts of artistic and literary works belonging to our world cultural heritage on the Internet to illustrate his lessons to his students, has received a fine of 4,750 Euros for the period 2002-2007 by the SIAE (the Italian company in charge of the protection and the respect of copyrights). This behaviour has aroused a wave of opposition and protest against the restrictions of the Italian copyright laws for educational purposes. Many intellectuals and the public opinion have sided in favour of the educational freedom and free circulation of intellectual content for no profit aims and against the restrictions of copyrights for educational content on the Web (read for example: Massimo Mantellini, "Troppi vincoli per scuola e cultura", Nòva, Sole 24 Ore, 15 febbraio 2007; Vincenzo Moretti, "No copyright, please", La Stampa, 11 febbraio 2007]. A petition in favour of no profit education, teaching and culture and against the limitations imposed by the present Italian copyright law has been started this year and is still open…