Posts Tagged 'sustainability'

Cape Town Declaration Spoof Both Funny and Depressing

There’s a hilarious spoof of the Cape Town Declaration on Open Education on the iCommons listserv. Gave me a good laugh, and definitely worth a read.

I say hilarious, because the spoof really is funny. However, the spoof is also deeply disappointing because its subtext is a completely irrational, anti-sustainability mindset that is the single biggest threat to the success of the open education movement. Continue reading ‘Cape Town Declaration Spoof Both Funny and Depressing’


OERs, Producers, Consumers, and Reuse

No, this isn’t another tired post complaining that we should think of all “consumers” as also being “producers.” Of course we should.

This is a post about a much more subtle problem with the way we’re thinking, that I am increasingly convinced is putting the field of open educational resources (OER) at risk. Continue reading ‘OERs, Producers, Consumers, and Reuse’

OCW and Legislative Funding

I am extremely pleased to announce that the Utah Legislature has provided $200,000 to Utah State University for OpenCourseWare-related activities in the 2007-2008 budget year. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first state or federal funding to be set aside anywhere in the US for opencourseware-like initiatives, and only the second governmental funding so allocated world-wide. The Dutch government provides partial funding for the Dutch Open University’s openER program (which also happens to use eduCommons). The Hewlett Foundation provides the rest of the funding for openER.

Props go to Representative Stephen Urquhart for his great wiki-based Politicopia initiative, by which he encouraged normal folk like myself to send in worthy ideas, his awesome intern Scott Riding, and to USU President Stan Albrecht (who is a long-time supporter of USU OpenCourseWare) for last minute work down at the Legislature to make sure that legislators understood what OCW is about.

I’m still in shock… It’s awesome… 🙂

OECD Paper on Sustainability

I recently finished a report on the sustainability of OER projects in higher education for the OECD. The report draws on papers written by Downes and Dholakai earlier this year (2006) for the February OECD meeting in Malmo.

I wish I could claim that the report contains an earth-shattering revelation about how to make what we do “sustainable in the eyes of our home institutions.” This phrase, “sustainable in the eyes of our home institutions,” translates roughly into “our home institutions kindly allow us to continue working on our projects so long as funding for the project comes from an outside source.” Thinking we can find an infinite source of outside funding is silly, and so we have only one other choice, really – make the OER projects we do so central and critical to our institutions that they have no choice but to continue them once the outside funding goes away…

Can you imagine being asked to calculate the ROI of a university website? Can you imagine what your perception of a university that didn’t have a website would be? OER projects like OCWs have to rise to the status of “website” – they have to become absolutely core, I-can’t-imagine-a-university-without-one, features of our institutions, that we simply find internal money to indefinitely fund – like the rest of our websites.

On Sustainability

Several interesting thoughts about sustainability are making the rounds after our recent conference. I thought Kerry struck a particularly alarming chord:

Eisenhower National Clearinghouse is a good example – once, home to a plethora of math-based lesson plans, tutorials, java applets, etc. – now a paid subscription site due to the end of NSF funding.

Is this really the eventual end of opencourseware and other open education projects once Hewlett funding and other sources dry up? Do the resources disappear from those who can’t afford them (trans. those who need them most)? Saying things like “oh, the Internet Archive will still have them” is only helpful as long as people keep funding the archive.

I think the best strategy, and the one enabled by our choices of CC licenses, is to simply proliferate copies of all this content around the globe on the personal home pages of interested people. Kind of a low-tech version of LOCKSS. As long as some undergraduate interested in physics has 10 megs of personal web space, as long as some postal clerk interested in literature can afford $10/month to host their personal website, these materials will always be available. Because they are more than just materials that someone is looking to make a buck from. They’re a contribution to the cause of educating and benefiting humanity. And that makes them special. Call me sentimental, but I think people will treat them that way.

Thoughts from the Hewlett Open Ed Grantees Meeting

So I’m sitting here in the annual Hewlett Foundation Open Education Grantees meeting thinking… what is the future of open education? Where is it going? I think there is only one answer: localization. Continue reading ‘Thoughts from the Hewlett Open Ed Grantees Meeting’

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