Week 3 of the virtual conference on Open Educational Resources in Higher Education continued the week 2 providers perspective by adding viewpoints from faculty participants. Here's a sample posting in the discussion forum from Prof. Steven Lerman who was chair of the MIT faculty when the OpenCourseWare project was launched and is now chair of the OCW Faculty Advisory Committee. _____JH
I hope I can provide some additional fuel for the discussion that
has been going on. There have been several major issues raised and
many useful ideas. I won't even try to comment on all of them,
but here are a few thoughts.
First, the entire Creative Commons licensing movement
has been enormously valuable in encouraging the creation of
open educational resources. We at MIT use it for all our materials
on our OpenCourseWare site. It provides a standard way to release
materials that both the creators and users of educational materials
can readily understand and rely upon. For the creators, it provides
some assurance that their work will be acknowledged by anyone
using the open resources they have created. For users, it provides
a degree of assurance that they can draw upon open educational
resources without fearing subsequent litigation about copyright
as long as they adhere to the terms of the license. Worldwide,
the number of educational resources being provided under Creative
Commons licensing is now very large, and it still is growing
exponentially. The Creative Commons licenses
obviously can't cover all conceivable situations, but they cover
a very wide range in a clear, consistent way. I would urge all of us
to advocate for the use of this type of licenses in the organizations
to which we belong.
Another important element of the discussion has been the
usefulness of open educational resources in countries that are less
developed and less economically privileged than others. In my view,
developing countries have a great deal to offer to education in
the rest of the world. Some of the professors in universities may
find the time to build entire courses and make the content open.
Even if the high teaching loads and large numbers of students they
have make this infeasible, they can provide modules that adapt the
materials from other countries to local issues. For example, in my field
(civil and environmental engineering), many of the examples of
design approaches, materials, and technologies we use with our
students are based on our assumption of a particular cultural
context and often lead to capital-intensive solutions.
The problems we treat in our courses and the solutions we focus
on are heavily conditioned by the economic and social assumptions
we make. It would be extremely valuable both to students the
developed and developing countries to see new case studies,
methodologies, and technological approaches that make more
sense in contexts other than the wealthier, developed countries.
My third comment for the evening has to do with the incentives
for participating in the open educational resources movement
among educators. I would urge universities around the world to
adopt policies that encourage the owners of that content
(usually the faculty members who create them) to make them open.
This should include valuing the creation of such materials
(and the decision to make them open) in tenure and promotion processes.
These contributions aren't likely to displace other criteria;
they can however, be additional things for faculty promotion
and tenure committees to consider. We should evaluate and value
the creation and provision of open materials just as we do
textbooks or other work that improves education.
Best wishes, Steve ------- Prof. Steven R. Lerman