No Longer Badgeless!

Yay! Almost 3 months completing my Introduction to Openess in Education MOOC I have now received my badge!! David Wiley sent me a link to the IOE12 badges earned page where I am now listed as having completed my OpenEd Overview badge.

To claim my badge I had to log in to the Mozilla Open Badge Backpack through Mozilla Persona (Mozilla’s ‘identity system for the Web’). I then clicked on my claim badges link – but unfortunately there was an error. Luckily David Wiley managed to fix it fairly quickly (apparently he just re-confirmed the cryptography!?).

After that it was just a simple case of adding the badge to my open badge back pack.

Accepting my badge

The badge could then be added to a group and opened up for the public to see.

I’m still not entirely sure how I add the badge to a page, I’m guessing they’ll be a widget for WordPress…but that’s something for another day. For now I’m just very proud to have my badge!

My profile


Badgeless after IOE12…

The Open University have recently released a report on Innovating Pedagogy exploring “new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world“. The report quite rightly contains sections on MOOCs and Badges to accredit learning. Badges are seen as having potentially high impact in the next 2-5 year.

Badges appear to offer a natural match to Open Educational Resources. These currently lack the context and drivers of accredited material. If they are used for self-study then assessment is optional and the learner chooses which topic to follow next. Badges can return some of the structure and reward that is needed to keep learners on track.

Badges have great potential – I touched on this in my Badge On: Open Assessment post.

Unfortunately for me, despite all my work on the Introduction to Openess in Education MOOC I haven’t received a badge. 😦 It’s not that I haven’t earnt it; I’ve written posts on all the modules and have met all the criteria for the OpenEd Overview course badge. I am not aware of a time restriction on the course either. It’s more a case of nobody has awarded me the badge yet and I don’t quite know what to do about it. The system seems some what flawed. 😦

There hasn’t been a lot of interaction taking place during the MOOC, something I was surprised by, but I have had some contact with fellow student Jeroen Breman (@jeroen69). He was awarded a badge earlier on in the year and so I sent him a tweet to ask how he’d managed it.

@jeroen69 how did you get you #ioe12 badge?  - I've finished  but no badge!

His response was:

At some point,when David had experimented with the necessary code,he awarded a few earned up to that date.Not (m)any more later.

earned one more myself: … and would finish one more, but lack of response makes me less motivated.

Jeroen had been emailing David Wiley too.

did also email him personally, with no response. That happens more often. Don't really want to know what his inbox looks like.

Thanks - looks like he's done with the course and I won't get a badge - shame as it's not what I want to say in the summary :-(

This was important feedback. Jeroen finished by saying:

I will likely run into him at AECT in November and will make sure to get some of these types of feedback across,
His response tweets have left me unsure of what to do. I’ve emailed David Wiley and posted and tagged my intention to be awarded a badge – where do I go from here?

I promised to write about my experience of taking the course, so here goes. I want to be fair and open in my comments – it seems the only approach to take given the nature of the course…

Course Content

The course content was, on the whole, interesting; though it was very US and Wiley focussed. It would have benefitted from more video content (but possibly shorter videos – nobody has the time to watch 2 hour videos, though they could manage 10 minutes – occasionally participants were instructed to “watch the first 20 minutes”). Maybe the course could also have offered a more rounded view by suggesting links to resources that give an opposing opinion. There also was no introduction to each of the resources, no ‘map’ of how they fit together and no questions to consider. Following up on all the suggested links was very time consuming. Some of the recommended reading was 50+ page documents and it was difficult to justify the time to read them. The whole coures took a lot longer to plough through than I initially thought it would. A little more guidance wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Course Managment

What can I say? Things started out well, the site looked well organised and my name was swiftly added to the participant list. Although interaction was encouraged (by commenting on blog posts) it wasn’t facilitated in anyway and I ended up concentrating on the resources rather than reading other people’s posts. By the end of the course the majority of people had dropped out so there weren’t even many posts to read! It all seemed like a good idea in theory but…

Not receiving my badge hasn’t helped. I would really have liked to have practical experience of receiving a badge and embedding it in a site. As Jeroen says, you lose your motivation to carry on.

Barriers to MOOCs

Phil Hill has written a recent post listing Four Barriers That MOOCs Must Overcome To Build a Sustainable Model. His barriers are:

  1. Developing revenue models to make the concept self-sustaining;
  2. Delivering valuable signifiers of completion such as credentials, badges or acceptance into accredited programs;
  3. Providing an experience and perceived value that enables higher course completion rates (most today have less than 10% of registered students actually completing the course);
  4. Authenticating students in a manner to satisfy accrediting institutions or hiring companies that the student identify is actually known.

I’d have to agree that points 2 & 3 have been real issues for me.

In response to the post Stephen Downes says “What I read from this is that in order to be successful, MOOCs need to be like traditional learning. But what if they don’t? What if it’s traditional learning that needs to change“. He says that we need:

  • to get past certificates or degrees (data-mining a person’s record tells us everything we need to know),
  • to get past completion anxiety (go in, get what you need, get out; programs are for computers, courses are for horses)

OK – so it now seems to be my problem…but actually I’m fairly tech savvy, I work in a remote environment, I am familiar with online learning, I was motivated to do the course…. So if I feel a little short-changed then god knows what everyone else must be feeling.

To Conclude

It seems to me that open education is a move in the right direction, but it still has a lot to work out. Traditional models of learning don’t always work, but they are tried and tested and people know what they are getting. With open education there are times when you might not be getting what you expected, but then an argument could be made that you are still getting a free and open education. However education requires effort by both the learner and the ‘teacher/facilitator’ so it’s never totally free! People don’t want to put the effort in and then find they haven’t learnt what they’d hoped to learn and have nothing to show for it. It’s like children at the dentists, the odd few don’t care but the majority feel a lot happier after they get their well done sticker. It helps motivate them to come back next time.

I am really glad I completed the #ioe12 MOOC, I feel a little wiser about quite a few things. However I think we still have a lot more learning to do before we get there…

IOE12 Badge Time?

In January this year I spotted a tweet by a colleague who had decided to try out the Introduction to Openness in Education (#ioe12) MOOC (Massively Open Online Course). The course content sounded interesting and it provided me with a free and easy way to try online learning, so I decided to give it a go.

It’s taken me 6 months to write a post about every module (with a couple of observational posts thrown in):

To get the OpenEd Overview course badge I need to link to all my posts (which I’ve done) and announce my intent to have completed the badge. Which I’m doing now! I’ve also emailed David Wiley – just to be double sure!

Once I get my badge I’ll finish with a summing up post telling you about all the things I’ve learned.

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 and in the 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! 😉

Open Business Models

At first sight the penultimate Introduction to Openness in Education #ioe12 module on Open Business Models looks like one of the drearier ones, no videos to kick off with and just a long list of papers written by John Wiley and friends.

Business isn’t really my thing but I am generally interested in ‘how stuff gets paid for’, from the Internet and public services, to shops and music festivals. If ‘how it gets paid for’ make sense then it is more likely that it is sustainable and will be around for a while. I’ve tried to stop myself betting on ‘how long it will last??’ every time a new shop opens up in town – recession bingo? Anyway I’m sure that one of the first questions asked whenever the ‘open’ word is used is “so if it’s ‘free’ who pays for it?”.

The answer is naturally very complex but some key points are worth noting:

Firstly, there are many business reasons for making products (e.g. resources, courses, books, software etc.) open and freely available.

Giving away ebooks gives me artistic, moral and commercial satisfaction” Cory Doctorow

  • Making courses available online can increase the number of students registering at an institution.
  • OpenCourseWare programmes can be conducted in a financially self-sustaining manner.
  • Authors can find that book sales increase when books are available as free downloads.
  • Free access can have a positive effect on a nation’s economy through scientific progress.
  • Online texts are often have reduced overheads.

However for all these points one could also add “but it is not always the case”.

One not so positive example given is that of Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert cartoon strip. Adams, wrote of his disappointment with readers after he released one of his older books for free online:

My hope was that the people who liked the free e-book would buy the sequel [which was newly available in hard copy]. According to my fan mail, people loved the free book. I know they loved it because they e-mailed to ask when the sequel would also be available for free. For readers of my non-Dilbert books, I inadvertently set the market value for my work at zero. Oops.” Rich, M. (2010, Jan. 22). With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don‘t Need to Sell. The New York Times.

The key seems to be both audience and timing of release.

Secondly, licences have a key role to play in ensuring that the ‘right people’ have free access to resources. For example we are a lot happier about students having free access to e-books than we are about companies taking free e-books and publishing them for commercial profit. Licences help with mixed market approaches in which companies publish free e–textbooks or resources and supporting then with commercial initiatives. Also many companies are utilising the “fermium” pricing strategy in which some goods are given away for free, while premium services are available for a price.

So these points are interesting but don’t necessarily explain the business model for ‘open’. It seems to me that many companies take the loss leader or freemium approach and hope that money can be made elsewhere. Some use advertising to support products while public sector institutions receive public funding which allows them to share resources. However as Anderson, 2008 puts it in the Wired article Free! Why $0.00 is the future of business although ‘free’ is an alluring adjective, it is not always a good business model“. There are many risks involved and those after sustainable models need to continue to think in an innovative way about approaches. Whatever the situation it is clear that the Internet has allowed people to be more open about business models and create ‘open business models’.

Badge On: Open Assessment

I began the #ioe12 open assessment module by watching the Badges for Lifelong Learning: An Open Conversation YouTube video. The video is a snappy introduction to the concept of open badges with endorsement for them from a number of senior educationalists/academics and CEOs.

Digital badges will make the accomplishments and experiences of individuals, in online and offline spaces, visible to anyone and everyone, including potential employers, educators and communities.

OK, sounds good…but what exactly are open badges?? And what do they have to do with open assessment?

When people talk about open badges they are usually referring to the Mozilla Open Badges project. The project is making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web, through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all. Badges can be issued by anyone (educational institution, work place, online learning organisations) to anyone. These badges can then be displayed publicly on a digital (or non-digital) space (blog, Web site, Facebook, email signature, CV etc).

In the Launch of HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation DML Competition 4: Badges for Lifelong Learning YouTube Mark Surman from Mozilla talks about how they are building an open badge infrastructure system. The first building block is a backpack system where users can store badges (a set of APIs for users). There is also the DML badge competition.

One example from the ioe12 resources is the Mozilla run School of Webcraft in which you can obtain badges. This is through the Peer 2 Peer University, a grassroots open education project that “creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education”. They leverage the internet and educational materials openly available online and so enables “high-quality low-cost education opportunities“.

On closer examination there do seem to be other badging systems, such as the Global Kids system within the Hive Networks system in the US. Their paper Six Ways to Look at Badging Systems Designed for Learning gives an overview of how they badging system works:

  1. Badges as an alternative assessment – This is the idea that assessment can take the form of ‘validated accomplishments’ instead of tests
  2. Gamifying education with badges – The games based achievement system has it’s origins in the Xbox 360 game score system – qualifications filtered through achievements.
  3. Badges as Learning Scaffolding – Badges, as a form of scaffolded learning, reveal multiple pathways that youth may follow and make visible the paths youth eventually take.
  4. Badges to Develop Lifelong Learning Skills – By offering names for their new competencies and supporting communities.
  5. Badges as DML Driver – Badges support digital, media and learning practices.
  6. Badges to Democratize Learning – Some badges change who does the assessment and allow learners to shape the content of their badging system and perhaps even the structure itself.

It’s a really interesting area, and seems to be very much ‘taking assessment to where the students are’. New and different approaches always face challenges and I didn’t feel there was enough on this in the ioe12 module. I expect some of the key problems are around validation of badges, the ease with which badges can be created and standards. Also by focusing on badges I think other ideas around open assessment (such as e-assessment, portfolios/diaries, PLEs, self-evaluation, learner created content) were sadly missed.

Multiplying the Benefit: Open Teaching

In Olympics speak … I think I’m on the home stretch now with the #ioe12 Introduction to Openness in Education MOOC.

Getting your courses from iTunes…

The Open Teaching module is a strange one in that it reflects on the process of open teaching (and learning) – something that I am participating in by taking part in this MOOC and writing this post. It starts out with a Keynote given by David Wiley at 2009 Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology. Wiley starts off with a story that highlights the challenges posed by the move to teaching and learning online (comparing water polo and horse riding polo). There are different tactics and challenges for each, caused in part by the rate of change.

The six key changes are:

Analog > digital
Tethered > mobile
Isolated > connected
Generic > personal
Consuming > creating
Closed > open

Wiley introduces the idea of book-ification of TV, originally coined by Lawrence Lessig, basically TV on demand. This can obviously be applied to our on campus courses – “why do I have to be in a room at 10am to hear you give that lecture” (see my recent post on flipping lectures). All this applies to education because the historic monopoly institutions have had is being challenged on almost every front. Students can now go to other places for their content: Opencourseware, Wikipedia, Public Library of Science,, Google Scholar, Flat World Knowledge etc. and for their support services: ChaCha, Yahoo Answers, RateMyProfessor, email, IM, Twitter etc. and for their social life: Facebook etc. However institutions believe they are the only place students can get degrees, but what about technical credentials – MCSE, RHCE, CCNA?

It seems that everything that a University provides is being offered by someone else. Institutions aren’t even cheaper. Institutions have to innovate and change. E-learning is not enough – it may be digital and mobile but isn’t necessarily connected, personal, creating or open. Openness underpins many of the values that e-learning is missing, need to be able to access courses and be able to modify them, you need to be able to be creative. Wiley goes on to advocate MIT Open Courseware and other open projects he’s been involved with (such as getting students to write on blogs). He explains that there is a role for OER in the classroom. By being open you hope certain things will happen but in reality different things happen that you don’t even expect. Wiley is making moves to be even more open and this course ‘Introduction to Open Education’ is one example of this. He talks about the self-management process of getting students to comment on each other’s writing. [Personally I haven’t found that that has happened much but I’ll talk more about that when I reassess the course at the end]. He also mentions that students were keen to get certificates at the end (which led to a newspaper writing that “professors print their own diplomas, who needs Universities”!). Wiley has also explored using gaming in teaching

The keynote was given in 2009 so a little dated but Wiley sees the future as being disaggregation, while people will consider what is the value of integration (through institutions). HE needs to move away from using policy to defend tradition (as the music industry are doing) and to change. “Don’t innovate to avoid the Doomsday scenario, do it for the students”. It still seems a pertinent warning given the current climate in HE here in the UK.

Other notable resources on the module are Wiley’s article Open Teaching Multiplies the Benefit but Not the Effort which looks at practices like encouraging student blogs and their effect on the quality of outputs. The article concludes with an interesting question, one that may split the academic community

Do we professors, who live rather privileged lives relative to the vast majority of the planet’s population, have a moral obligation to make our teaching efforts as broadly impactful as possible, reaching out to bless the lives of as many people as we can? Especially when participatory technologies make it so inexpensive (almost free) for us to do so?
I believe the answer is yes. —David Wiley

Graham, Hilton, Rich, and Wiley’s paper on Using Online Technologies to Extend a Classroom to Learners at a Distance analyses the Introduction to Open Education online course (this course) originally given in 2009 through a survey conducted on students.

The MOOC Guide and MOOC YouTube video introduce the idea of MOOCS (an area I’ve already covered in some detail). Fini’s The Technological Dimension of a Massive Open Online Course: The Case of the CCK08 Course Tools and the MOOC Model for Digital Practice are more in depth looks at the role MOOCs have to play in learning.

The MOOC model takes a look at research gaps and future directions explaining that the model is so new that it has been subjected to little research so far. oherent research agenda would help assess both the overall viability of the model and the conditions under which it might achieve its potential. Some specific pedagogical issues and questions given are:

  • How can a MOOC support deep enquiry and the creation of sophisticated knowledge;
  • What is the breadth versus the depth of participation;
  • Can participation extend beyond those with 
broadband access and sophisticated social networking skills;
  • What are the processes and practices that might encourage lurkers, or “legitimate pe
ripheral participants”, to take on more active and central roles;
  • What is the impact or value of even peripheral participation, specifically the extent to which it 
might contribute to participation in the digital economy in extra-MOOC practices;
  • What strategies can maximize the effective contribution of facilitators in particular and 
more advanced participants in general;
  • Is there a role for accreditation, if any, and how it might be implemented.

I’d like to reflect on these questions more after I’ve finished the course.

Professional Development Using Open Content

Earlier this month I had a guest blog post published over on Brian Kelly’s UK Web Focus blog entitled Professional Development Using Open Content. The post was part of a series of guest blog posts on open practices, originally intended for #openeducationwk.

At the time I was off on holiday so forget to mention it, but I think it sits nicely with my other posts for the #ioe12 module.

Open Data Now!

Aaaah, the one I was waiting for – the #ioe12 open data module.

Created on Pixton

I’m just in the process of writing the slides for the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2012 (IWMW 2012) so this module came in handy. My parallel workshop is entitled Big and Small Web Data and open data definitely falls into the remit.

A piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike.Open Knowledge Foundation

The opening TED talk by Tim Bernes Lee is primarily an advocacy talk for open data. Tim talks about how the community feel that was around at the start of the web is similar to the community feel now around open data. While people he asked people to put their documents on Web many years back he now wants people to put their data on the web. This is primarily because “you can do all types of stuff with data” and you can link it up – linked data. He explains that the more things you get to link together the more powerful it is. Tim ends by encouraging a communal shout of “Raw Data Now!” because “data is about our lives“.

It was an enthusiastic talk but lacked depth: no discussions of what exactly it is and the reasons why people might to or not want to be open with their data or the challenges that they face in doing it.

The Wikipedia entry offers a better overview exploring the roots of open data (e.g.Mertonian tradition of science, the open movement), the lack of an agreed definition, commercial issues and the ‘reluctance’ to put licences on data – which causes uncertainty. The arguments for and against open data are contextual and often depend on the type of data and how it can be used. I see the two key arguments for open data as being the use of public money to fund research (i.e. we paid for the data) and the advancement of science through collaboration. The arguments against open data are less clear but centralise around safety, commercial and reputation incentives for controlling data use and the cost of preparing data for publication.

One of the more interesting resources for the module is the Web site and their open data community section. This is the US government Web site which was launched in late May 2009, part of the process of “rebuilding confidence in government and business” (Aliya Sternstein). The site was a forerunner for the uk one which appeared in beta version in September 2009 and went live in January 2010. The open data community section of the site is primarily a series of forums and blog posts looking at international governmental data sharing.

There was also the Open Data Commons which comprises of a set of legal tools to help users provide and use Open Data. This includes licences (additional licences to CC) and dedications. The site was set up by
Jordan Hatcher (who I actually worked with on the JISC PoWR project) and was
transferred to the Open Knowledge Foundation in January 2009.

Other resources include a list of where to find open data on the Web (e.g. CKAN (Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network), Infochimps, OpenStreetMap and more) – very handy. The comments add a lot of good resources too. There are also details of the New York Times linked open data work and a link to the Linked data site which provides pointers to resources from across the linked data community. Good to see a list of tools there including tools for publishing and consuming linked data and for end users.

The whole ‘open data’ movement is becoming so huge it was almost impossible to give a snap shot by just a few resources. I still feel there is so much to learn and then there is also so much discipline specific data/tools too. Phew!

Open it Up: Introducing Open Science

Mouse Embryo

Open science is a relatively new area of interest for me. I’m not a scientist, though I did do a psychology degree (well a joint honours degree: Psychology and Literature – a lot of Freud…don’t think that counts!), but I’m quite keen on science “as a way of pursuing knowledge”. In my newish role as an Institutional Support Officer for the Digital Curation Centre open science has a big role to play. To get to the point: good research needs good data, good data is (more often than not) open data and open science promotes open data.

So “yes!” to open science.

The OpenScience project (6 interrelated projects writing and releasing free and Open Source scientific software in a collaborative environment, led by Dan Gezelter, a chemistry professor at Notre Dame, currently over 470 software programmes available) gives what I found to be the most useful definition:

  • Transparency in experimental methodology, observation, and collection of data.
  • Public availability and reusability of scientific data.
  • Public accessibility and transparency of scientific communication.
  • Using web-based tools to facilitate scientific collaboration.

The #ioe12 module on open science kicks off with a slick TED talk by Michael Nielsen, one of the pioneers of quantum computation. Nielson tells a collection of open science stories looking at the successes e.g.

  • Tim Gower’s polymath project which asked the question ‘is massively collaborative mathematics possible?”, he ended up with over 800 comments.

And the failures e.g.

  • John Stockton’s quantum wiki (quiki). It was like Wikipedia but specialized on quantum computing. Nobody was interested in contributing.

Nielson argues that although open science leads to an acceleration in the rate of scientific discovery there is much stacked against it. The situation still stands that writing a single mediocre paper will do more for your career than writing lots of brilliant comments on blogs. Scientists aren’t rewarded for sharing their data. The successes (like polymath) only work because they use unconventional means to an conventional end (the end result was a scientific paper).

Nielson speculates that this is changing. This often because openness has been embedded into principles. The Bermuda principles used on genbank (a genetic sequence database) state:

  • Automatic release of sequence assemblies larger than 1 kb (preferably within 24 hours).
  • Immediate publication of finished annotated sequences.

The aim is to make the entire sequence freely available in the public domain for both research and development in order to maximise benefits to society. In my working environment I’ve seen the situation changing due to research council guidelines (such as the EPSRC) and through funder requirements.

However lots of data is still locked up and it is routine for scientists to hoard data. The open science movement want to change the culture of science and the value of individual scientists. Scientist need incentives to share.

I thought it was interesting that in the ‘definition of open science’ blog post on the Science Commons web site Cameron Neylon is quoted as saying:

I think for me the most striking outcome of [a session to define it] was that not only is this a radically new concept for many people but that many people don’t have any background understanding of open source software either which can make the discussion totally impenetrable to them.

It appears again that understanding the open source movement is essential for getting a grip on all the open ‘products’. Yet people don’t know the history. I’m starting to feel like I’m repeating myself. In the The Meaning of Open Content #ioe12 post I actually wrote “It appears that it is incredibly difficult to understand the terms used in the open movement without understanding some history and background.“. At least I’m being consistent!

The Introduction to Science Commons Concept paper uses the fictional case-study of a Brazilian postdoctoral student to explore some of the concepts behind the open science movement. Open science is often about access to science research through open access journals but it is also about allowing us to mine the data that is there. This data mining is sometimes carried out through technical means (semantic web, linked data, open data) but often takes the form of collaboration – human to human. Eliminating the legal and technical barriers to building a “semantic web” for science is what Science Commons is all about.
Perhaps the result would be dramatic; some fairly impressive scientists and computer scientists believe so. Perhaps it would be more modest. But where it is practicable to do so, lowering those barriers is clearly a good idea. It might be a great idea.

Science Commons takes many forms. The Science Commons Publishing Project promotes effective use of digital networks to broaden access to all three types of information: data, peer-reviewed journal articles and metadata. It does this by encouraging pragmatic open access publishing, self-archiving and facilitating the use use of metadata. The Science Commons’ Licensing Project is working on simplifying licensing and the creation of a ‘research commons’ (a funded place researchers can put open research. They are advoicates of the semantic web and keen to promote common formats for interchange of data.

Another key area in the open science movement is open notebooks, making the entire primary record of a research project publicly available online as it is recorded. The wikipedia article gives a good overview with links to key practitioners and software. The article also explores the arguments for and against opening up notebooks. The biggest deterrent to researchers is the possibility of data theft and difficulties regarding patents and publication in peert reviewed journals. Another concern is data deluge – the importance of curation and validation of data are highlighted here, issues that fall under the DCC remit.

The final ioe12 resource is a overview of a session ran at a Open Education 2011 Meeting by Sarah Kirn and Ahrash Bissell on Open Science and OER: Where do they Intersect? The premise of the session was is that “‘open’ efforts may not be so seamlessly interoperable as we might think.” Kirn and Bissell see open science as “democratization of the capacity for anyone to ‘do’ science as well as the elimination of the barriers to accessing the outputs of scientific research“. This strikes me as being the first true indication (though it has been implied) that the ‘citizen science’ concept also falls under open science. Their write up from the discussion session considers ‘citizen science’ changes anything and if it is diminishing the expertise necessary for science, or is it expanding it (by requiring new and additional roles), or simply shifting it to new places. There was also discussion of the worries that opening things up means that people can ‘mess things up’. It seems this concern is ubiquitous in both OER and open science conversations. The worry was data is more sacred – it’s clear that dataset integrity is crucial for accurate archival and referral.

The ioe12 resources give a useful introduction to open science. It’s definitely an area I intend to find out more about!