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I still really like the phrase “open source teaching”, primarily because of the image of Learning Design as the “source code” of teaching. But I’ve held off using this term any further because I don’t feel that the issues above have been resolved. Regardless of the term, I see great potential in the open sharing of Learning Designs to foster improved education for a better world.


16 Responses to “Learning Design and Open Source Teaching”

1. simon_shurville - may16th, 2007 at 10:39 am

I love the concept you describe here and the practicality of your approach. I think that the creative commons license has been incredibly useful for ethical reuse of learning objects such as diagrams one can find on Wikipedia (for example), download, embed in and power point and attribute. Such processes really do streamline academic processes and provide cost effective ways in which academics can be ‘digital rights’ role models for their students and still have time to learn and reflect. And maybe creative commons for learning design will encourage academics to invest the additional work associated with describing learning designs in formal languages and then uploading or publishing them to the world at large. I do sincerely hope so.

My issue is that I have as much instinctive trouble with the idea of attaching ownership to learning designs as I have with copyrighting DNA. I am a realist and appreciate that it takes an individual or organization considerable effort or inspiration to generate and codify a novel and interesting* learning design and that in the real world of activity based costing such effort should be rewarded or acknowledged. And this is part of my worry: how do we verify that a particular learning design was generated by a particular individual? It seems possible that, if incentives exist (be they academic esteem or financial reward), then there could be an epic land grab in which particular ways of teaching are suddenly owned by a person, university or corporate entity. In this admittedly paranoid future it is possible that particular ways of learning and teaching could only be applied in pre-approved contexts or by those with ready cash to hand. To be contentious, are there potential parallels here with drug research costs and the needs of the developing world?

*If* that land grab happened, then I for one would lose sleep. To avoid potential bags under my eyes, I feel that some form of peer review system is needed to help the community to assign authorship in the first place and that some thinking needs to be done on whether academic processes should be licensed at all and if so by whom.

In the here and now I like the concept of open source teaching a lot, it is an advance and my intuition is that it will be a force for good.

Simon Shurville (simonshurville@btinternet.com)

(* this is based on Margaret Boden’s hallmark of creativity)

2. james dalziel - may 16th, 2007 at 7:05 pm

Hi Simon, Thanks for this feedback. At one level, the move towards open licensing of education resources (eg, Creative Commons) for any educational resources (eg, Learning Design, image, article, etc) is a step forward from our current restrictive copyright regimes. Under most copyright law, you have little or no right to use and modify a (complete) work without prior permission from the author - which introduces huge “transaction costs” (ie, the effort required to get this permission) into the practical sharing and improving of educational content.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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