Archive Page 2

Google’s Open Access Data Archive

Via the incredible Peter Suber, a Wired article about Google’s plans to host terabytes and terabytes of scientific data to which they will provide free and open access.



Whether or not it was a response to my Open Education License draft is unimportant – Creative Commons has announced CC0 – the new CC license aimed at the public domain.

CC0 is a Creative Commons project designed to promote and protect the public domain by 1) enabling authors to easily waive their copyrights in particular works and to communicate that waiver to others, and 2) providing a means by which any person can assert that there are no copyrights in a particular work, in a way that allows others to judge the reliability of that assertion.

Video from MIT OCW

It’s great to see open education getting press. (More will be coming next week!) At the recent MIT OCW Milestone Event the movement got a lot of praise from Tom Friedman of Flat World fame. Catch the video of Friedman’s keynote talk on OCW over at YouTube.

Supporting the Microlibrary

Many iterating toward openness readers know about COSL’s Microlibrary project. The Microlibrary has received funding from the AT&T Foundation, the Qwest Foundation, and the OpenContent Foundation, but we hit a new milestone this past week when we received a donation from a business (not a foundation) reaching out to the community. is a local company here in Utah, and “offers the finest collection of house plans online with home plans from top architects in the United States and Canada.” Many thanks to the guys at ThePlanCollection for their support!

OER Handbook

COSL’s Seth Gurrell is blogging our new OER Handbook project. The project goal is to provide a free online resource (and low-cost printed resource for offline use) that provides an introduction to the OER world and helps people learn how to participate. We’ll be starting with materials from Wikieducator, OLCOS, our recent OER Interoperability meeting, and other places around the web. If you know of additional sources, please let Seth know!

We understand fully that the project won’t succeed if only a small number of people are involved. Seth will be working diligently to make sure that we have good participation from the community in the project, and will make sure that this open project stays open from start to finish. He currently is asking for the community’s feedback on the table of contents. Please get involved and help make this resource the best it can be.

Come Work at USU!

The Instructional Technology Department at Utah State University (my academic home and the home of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning) has a faculty opening. We’re not looking for expertise in a specific area of instructional technology – just a super smart, hard working, great-to-get-along-with colleague to help move the field forward.

The job description is online, and the first steps of the application process are all electronic. Personally, I’m excited by the follow excerpt from the description:

Applicants must be able to teach courses in one or more of the following general areas:

1. learning sciences,
2. instructional design,
3. research methods,
4. e-learning/distance education,
5. open education,
6. multimedia design and development,
7. performance improvement and training,
8. learning theory,
9. school library media,
10. assessment/evaluation.

See number 5? Open education isn’t an afterthought here – we actually put it right in the job description. 🙂

The job is posted as “open rank,” meaning that we’re open to junior and senior faculty, and everyone in between. Come join the family and work in one of the most enjoyable, rewarding academic climates you’ll ever experience!

(If you have a blog, I’d really appreciate it if you would run a small mention of this announcement on your site!)

Social Objects and Campfires

Just found an interesting article about “social objects” via Stephen Downes. Back when I was writing more actively about learning objects, and the desperate need for us to consider the importance of social interaction in learning, I recommended that the proper way to think about educational content was as a campfire. The campfire does, of course, have important nonsocial functions (like providing heat) just like educational content has important nonsocial functions (like conveying information), but the most important function of both the campfire and educational content is the manner in which it draws people together. A good campfire is a thing around which storytelling, singing, and other social interactions happen. The same is true for the best educational content – it draws people into arguments, explorations, discussions, relationships, and friendships.

Martin’s original post referenced by Stephen led me into several by Hugh, plus video of Jyri’s talk that seems to have started the whole thing. Two points from Hugh that are worth reiterating here:

  • Social Networks are built around Social Objects, not vice versa. The latter act as “nodes”. The nodes appear before the network does.
  • My overall marketing thesis invariably asks the question, “If your product is not a Social Object, why are you in business?”

Without a campfire all you have is a bunch of tents setup and people wandering around disconnectedly. The campfire provides a place for people to congregate and interact. The campfire appears before the singing starts. Likewise, the proper way to view online content is as a “place” for people to congregate around in order for social learning interactions to happen.

The second bullet is perhaps the most revealing, though. If your educational materials are not “social objects” – in other words, if you don’t already understand that their main purpose is to bring people together so that social learning interactions can happen – why are you producing and sharing them? A relevant follow-up question is, if you are not providing the functional space for these social learning interactions to happen in (or at least pointing to a space where they can), why are you producing and sharing them?  This is the key question for all OER and OCW projects.

Support Open Education!

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