Open Policy: the Opposite of Open is Broken

The opening resource for the Open Policy #ioe12 module is a video of Cable Green, Director of Global Learning; Creative Commons, giving the keynote at ALN 2011. Cable is “interested in questioning current policy and seeing if we can do a little better”. Cable makes the argument that everyone in world can obtain the education they require but to do so we need to be open with our education through OER and sharing. He starts with the allegory of a ‘learning machine’ that we could quite easily turn on but we need to break the ‘iron triangle’ of access (the assumption that quality, exclusivity, and expense necessarily go together). During the talk he name checks all of the other open areas discussed in the Introduction to Openness in Education MOOC and talks of their importance.

Cable explains that the biggest issue is that we have in the openness agenda is policy. Those that make decisions on policy do not understand the tools used (such as the Internet) and that they are only making decisions within the framework of the business models that they understand. He suggests we focus on policy because it is ‘where the money is’.

Cable believes that the publicly funded resources should be open resources and we need to move towards a public policy. He goes on to highlight areas of best practice (e.g Holland and the Wikiwijs project). He concludes that only one thing really matters – efficient use of public funds. Policy makers goal is to have the highest return on investments, Creative Common’s goal is that open policy embraced by all.

The talk was inspiring, but Cable’s concerns that the open community still has a long way to go ring true.

Only last week the Daily Mail published an article entitled ‘Open access’ move puts thousands of UK jobs at risk. I probably don’t need to explain the detail here as the title gives it away but the Daily Mail is arguing that by providing much of Britain’s academic output online for nothing the £1billion publishing industry that employs 10,000 people here and in its overseas operations could go under. Not only that but researchers in China and elsewhere in the Far East will have access to our research. [In his talk Cable actually states that we need to move away from “not invented here” to “proudly borrowed from there”].The article lacks any exploration of possible business models (discussed in the open business module or by various journals and academics around the Web) or understanding that a mixed model is the one most likely to happen. There is a response from SPARC that makes effort to correct the inaccuracies. SPARC Europe is an alliance of European academic and research libraries, national libraries, library organisations and research institutions. It does feel like we are banging our head against a brick wall a little…

OK, so back to open policy. Most of the other resources are actual open access policies such as National Institute of Health (NIH) Access Policy and the Federal Research Public Access Act and records of country and policy support of open educational resources (OER).

I think it is worth mentioning here current open data policy – in the US the data.gov and in the UK open.gov.uk.

So to end with some words from Cable Green: “The opposite of open is not closed, the opposite of open is broken.

So that’s it!! I’ve finished the Introduction to Openness MOOC! It’s taken me 6 months and a big pocket of determination. My next post using the ioe12 tag will be a sum up of what I’ve learned (about openness in education and about taking a MOOC). Time for a celebratory coffee!😉