#ioe12 Coffee Breaks with a Little Open Licensing Thrown In

Doing an online learning course is just like being at school….I’m playing catch up already! Actually I was pretty good at school, it’s just now that life gets in the way!

I have finally worked my way through (most of the) the first module on Open Licensing and will share some thoughts on it in this post, but first I wanted to tell you about my #ioe12 coffee break! (I know, I’ve started with the coffee break rather than the learning – making sure I get my priorities right!)

#ioe12 Coffee Break

Some colleagues at the University of Bath are also taking part in MOOCs and early this week, at the suggestion of Jez Cope we met up for a “#ioe12 tea break” (naturally I had a coffee). Jez, an ICT Project Manager from the Chemistry department, and I have both registered for the Introduction to Openness in Education course while Marie Slater and Julian Prior from the e-learning team have signed up for the Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2012 Syllabus offered by the Society for Learning Analytics Research.

We started off by comparing the 2 courses. The lak12 course looks a little more structured than the ioe12 one. It is divided up into weeks and specific dates are given for each week. At the moment only week 1 is available. There are also introductory notes for each week and explanations for the resources listed. The ioe12 course takes a more “in at the deep end” approach and I think I might have struggled with some of the first topic resources if I hadn’t had a reasonable back ground in the area already. There was no overview of what the resources were or the angle they were coming from. It was very much up to us to decide what we made of them and whether we agreed with them. I guess it’s a good lesson in the Internet generally – every Web resource has an agenda, does this one align with yours?

All 4 of us at the #ioe12 coffee break were already struggling to spend time on the course. Julian admitted having started a MOOC before and doing nothing for it bar signing up on the registration page. We all agreed that you get out of it what you put in and it’s very much up to you how much work you want to do. If nothing else, an online course offers links to excellent resources, almost like a topic driven filter of your rss feed or Twitter stream. Julian and Marie had signed up for their course at the recommendation of their line manager. Jez and I were doing the course as a form of CPD (continuing professional development) and largely in our own time. I wonder which of us will get the most done?

So coffee and tea break over here are my (brief) thoughts on open licensing.

Open Licensing

The resources given in the first topic were collectively in support of sharing and putting works into the public domain. Jez has written a really good overview of the concepts explored and I really don’t want to out do him ;-). A few thoughts…I read Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity by Lawrence Lessig many years ago and I really liked his ideas around our need to understand free as a part of our cultural ecology. Much of what he says is very US centric (though the Copyright Term Extension Act did mean that both the US and UK now have the same copyright terms of life + 70 years) but some of ideas have really concreted my feelings in this area. For example:

  • Copyright policy is not just about enabling commercial success but is about what level of control we are going to exercise over public reality.
  • Intellectual property and physical property are very different.
  • Over zealous copyright stifles creativity and innovation. Creation always involves building upon something else.
  • Ideas are non-rivalrous – people can’t use them up by using them.
  • Piracy is complex.
  • Openness is a commitment to a set of values
  • The ‘public good’ is not something that can only be measured by profit.

I have to admit I didn’t read the two papers by Rufus Pollock, they were both pretty lengthy and not particularly recent. I’ve bookmarked them and will take a look at them on a lengthy journey sometime soon. I had a look round his Web site instead. Rufus Pollock is the founder the Open Knowledge Foundation and their ideology is definitely one to be noted (the promotion of open knowledge leading to better governance, culture, research and economies). I felt that some of his comments on his blog didn’t necessarily align with where the Open Knowledge Foundation seems to be now. e.g .“This is because our philosophy is that what is important is CONTENT. It is NOT about the fancy bells and whistles, the flash plug-ins, and all the other meretricious tartuffery of the modern web” . For reference a tartuffe is a hypocrite who pretends to religious piety. Maybe the commercial Web fits this description but the Web in which I work doesn’t. Maybe I don’t get it, but I quite like the modern Web. Am I going off topic?

Before I go here are a few other blog posts that do a much better job at distilling the first topic: