This week, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent story about the rise of openly-licensed educational materials. Simon Owens’ article touches on many of the open education landmarks we’ve been celebrating over the past year, including the Department of Labor’s TAA-CCCT grant program and open textbook legislation in British Columbia and California. Owens interviewed CC director of global learning Cable Green as well as David Wiley, the Twenty Million Minds Foundation‘s Dean Florez, and several other experts in the space.
Upon its launch a decade ago, Creative Commons was embraced by the artist and literary community, and its iconic logo began appearing on the sidebars of thousands of blogs, web pages, and Flickr photos. By 2005, the nonprofit estimated there were 20 million works that utilized the license, and by 2009 that number had climbed to 350 million. But while the organization has always embraced its grassroots enthusiasm, it continually sought recognition and adoption from larger, more traditional institutions.
The philosophy behind this goal is simple. “The public should have access to what it paid for,” says [Cable Green]. “Free access and legal access to what it bought. The tagline is ‘buy one get one.’ If you buy something, you should get access to it.” And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Creative Commons activists have identified education materials as a prime target for their view. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had surpassed auto loans and credit debt, coming in at an estimated $1 trillion. And a not-insignificant contribution to this burden has been the rising cost of textbooks.
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David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham University in Utah, has been immersed in the OER community predating the creation of the Creative Commons license. He was inspired by a group of technologists who met in 1998 to rebrand the free software movement as “open source,” and he later worked to develop an “open content” license that would allow content creators to share and distribute their content easily. “The only difference was that all of us who were initially involved weren’t lawyers,” he recalls. “We were just making stuff up. It was scary, because there were hundreds of thousands of people who were using these licenses, and if any of them actually went to court, who knows what would have happened?” Imagine his relief then when the Creative Commons license was formed. “I put a big notice on our website saying, ‘please everyone, run away from our licenses as fast as you can. Here are real lawyers that have done something similar but way better.'”
You’ve all heard of the TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design), the annual meeting of great minds with amazing 20 minute speeches that share what they’ve been doing with their lives. But not all of you may have heard of TEDx—spinoffs off TED that are independently organized around a central theme or idea.
TEDxNYED is one of those spinoffs—“an all-day conference dedicated to examining the intersection of education, new media, and technology, will take place on March 6, 2010 in New York City.” The speaker line-up includes our own Larry Lessig (founder and board member of CC), Michael Wesch (a cultural anthropologist who created those awesome YouTube videos like “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us”), Neeru Khosla (Co-founder of the CK12 Foundation that submitted seven open textbooks to California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative), and David Wiley (big thinker in open education and associate professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at BYU).
CC Learn is partnering with TEDxNYED and Whipple Hill to help with this amazing event. With currently 300 or so people expected to attend, space is limited, so please apply if you would like to join. “TEDx NYED is particularly seeking applicants who work in and around education and who are dedicated to reforming schools from the inside-out as well as outside-in. Those interested in attending should apply at http://tedxnyed.com/apply.”
From the press release,
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“TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited
to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology,
Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our
future… The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists — is
almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane
Goodall, Frank Gehry, Paul Simon, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.
At the TEDx NYED event, live speakers, two Ted Talks videos, and networking
sessions will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The
TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx
events, including ours, are self-organized.”
A prominent member of the open education community, Stephen Downes is a researcher, blogger, and big thinker in open education and access related issues. He frequently debates with other open education advocates via the medium of the Internet, once in a while meeting up in person at conferences to hash out more of the same. I thought I might capture his slice of insight into the future of open educational resources and how he views them evolving in an ideal world.
So I caught up with him via Skype; and though different operating systems and timezones may have jumbled some of our conversation, I was still able to catch most of his words, if not the heart of his views. Below is our chat transcribed, in more or less the same fashion as it progressed.3 Comments »