The Capetown Declaration has been under discussion in the UNESCO OER online discussion group (to join the community of interest go to this site) and has also been discussed in several blogs (see Stephen Downes' critique and David Wiley's defense of the Declaration).
My own view is that the Declaration is worth reading and worth supporting (I signed on as a supporter today). However, open educational efforts do extend far beyond the traditional educational settings that are emphasized in the Declaration. One reason that I maintain two blogs about learning resources is because I am interested in furthering the use of open educational resources by academics and students in traditional academic institutions, but I am also committed to furthering the wider scope of self-directed and collaborative educational endeavors that are powerfully enabled by the Internet and the Web.
At the widest extreme, concerns about how OERs and the Web should develop resemble Dionysian versus Apollonian tensions, i.e., tensions between those who want the most freedom, access, and openness and those who want the most reliability, accuracy, and usefulness; those who want to fund developments bottom-up and those who want to fund developments top-down; those who want wide, full, sweeping projects and those who believe in small-scope, local, practical projects. These kinds of arguments never end, because they reflect differences in temperament, plus real differences in needs and desires in different places at different times. The OER polarizations are similar to the contrasts between discovery science and confirmation science or the contrasts between basic research and applied research--neither type of science or research is better or worse than the other, but they are fundamentally different. The current Cape Town debate is useful, because it highlights important differences in educational emphases, intents, and values that will persist. Neither side will "win," but both can contribute. ____JH
This is a preview version of www.capetowndeclaration.org. The site launches mid-January 2008. Send feedback here.
The Cape Town Open Education Declaration arises from a small but lively meeting convened in Cape Town on 14-15 September 2007. The purpose of the meeting was to accelerate the international effort to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices in education. The participants represented many points of view, many disciplines and many nations. All are involved in ongoing open education initiatives.
In Cape Town, this group explored how their separate initiatives could work together to achieve much broader, deeper impact. They explored strategies for opening up and enlivening the world of education. The first concrete outcome of this meeting is the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. It is at once a statement of principle, a statement of strategy, and a statement of commitment.
The meeting that led to the Cape Town Declaration was jointly convened by the Open Society Institute and the Shuttleworth Foundation. Together with others who attended the meeting, the education and information programs of these foundations have committed to pursuing the strategies outlined in the Declaration.
Open education is a living idea. As the movement grows, this idea will continue to evolve. There will be other articulations, initiatives and declarations that will go well beyond the terrain covered in Cape Town. This is exactly the point. The organizations and people behind the Declaration are committed to developing and pursuing additional open education strategies over the coming years, especially in the areas of open technology and teaching practices. We encourage others to do the same.
The Declaration has already been signed by the Cape Town meeting participants. When this site launches officially in January, we hope that thousands of learners, educators, trainers, authors, schools, colleges, universities, publishers, unions, professional societies, policymakers, governments, foundations and other kindred open education initiatives will join us. If you are interested, let us know.