What is Open Content?

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way scholars in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content uses open licensing schemes, like those of Creative Commons, to encourage not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. As this open, customizable content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, people are learning not only the material, but also the skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources. Recent data from Edcetera indicate that open educational resources make up three quarters of the content in most MOOCs; paid content, such as required textbooks, is less than 10%. These data reflect a notable transformation in the culture surrounding open content that will continue to impact how we think about content production, sharing, and learning.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 27, 2014 This isn't just one of my sentimental favorites. I was sold on the power of Open Content when some geeky friends and I wanted to put together instructions for using OpenSimulator in an attempt to get schools to adopt 3D virtual worlds. I published the "OpenSimulator: School Quick Start Guide" (http://www.scribd.com/doc/57959626/OpenSimulator-School-Quick-Start-Guide)
    via a Creative Commons license in 2011. More than 20,000 people have seen this ebook. I keep pointing out that it's going on three years old now and half of the info is woefully outdated, but I still get e-mails from nerds who've read it for the first time. I published the Jibe/Unity guide the next year (http://www.scribd.com/doc/81798024/Jibe-Unity-School-Quick-Start-Guide)...it's been seen by 15,000. I haven't had the time to do this kind of thing lately, but next I want to do one for MinecraftEdu. The possibilities for such Electronic Publishing are endless. I'm leaving after this year and the school wants me to put together a guide on how to create online courses using Haiku. I will if I get to share it with everybody. OK, so we've got SMG (not Subject Matter Experts, but Subject Matter Geeks) sharing info with other educators. What's the next step? You guessed it, COLLABORATION! Picture a Google site where someone can say "Let's write a guide for Subject X." Perhaps some kind of filtering would be required so we get authors who actually know what they're talking about. Then the writers work together to produce a guide. Everyone else would know that if they can't find a guide on Subject X anywhere else, they can find it on this site. Unlike my guides, the info would be continuously updated. As the description mentions, the key is targeting the publication content to a particular audience...fellow educators.
  • Textbooks are on their way out. Everyone is trying to find places for free content. If we are spending all of this money on devices, the tradeoff has to be the money we spend on materials. In addition the textbook companies are about profit, not about quality education. Open Content opens the door to break free of the robotized Pearson curriculum and get some real innovation and ability to have materials that suit the needs of the students in a particular teachers class, not what can be generalized for the entire world. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • In many ways, this topic links to the machine learning topic because the key to effective OER use is *quality* and machine learning allows OER providers and consumers to implement schemes to predict and assess effectiveness. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014
  • The life-span of digital textbooks will be limited. Instead, open content will be curated, differentiated, and packaged, creating a personalized curriculum for each student in the class.- anton.inglese anton.inglese Feb 8, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 27, 2014 Great description. Would like to see the potential of collaborative efforts mentioned. The concept of schools being able to produce their own customized textbooks is especially exciting. If you knew what a hassle it was getting regular textbooks shipped to countries like Mexico, you'd understand! And even the ebooks we find don't always do exactly the job we want. For example, for some subjects we'd want text in both English and Spanish.
  • As educators attempt to customize teaching and learning experiences for individual students, content will need to be considered as modules instead of courses. There may be several modules for each standard to meet the specific needs of a diverse student population. Open Content may be the only way to grow a deep resource pool.- ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • I would like to see a mention of educator evaluation and reviews. Open content is open... and there needs to be a way to vet for quality. School boards are hesitant to leap away from books with the argument of how do you know the materials are quality materials. I see guidelines, certifications and educator reviews being paired with this. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • As Ryan pointed out, granularity is a big issue. The reusability of an OER can be hampered by too fine of a grain, but then again, mixing and mashing to suit specific needs is hampered by too large of a grain.
  • Let's look at the open issue from the OER provider side of things, too. Open does not mean free. Even if the OER is free to the user, it is not free to create, maintain, vet, etc. The end result is commercial companies (e.g., textbook providers) who have the capacity to perform these functions collecting and maintaining OERs and selling them to back to districts and states who are deseperate to pay for them because they lack the time and capacity to build and maintain their own OER respositories. Lo barato cuesta caro. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014
  • OER also opens all kinds of interesting curation issues (mostly relating to quality) that must be addressed. For example, if an OER has been in a repository for three years, the content is still accurate, the creator is highly regards, and it has been used two times with good results; two times with mediocre results; one time not reported; and has a three star rating, does this mean the resource should be weeded? - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014 - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 10, 2014
  • Why are we not retooling our school librarian curricula and roles to emphasize OER curation??? Instead, we are eliminating the only person on the building with curatorial expertise, thus sending educators further up the creek (I teach in this area and seem to be the only person who has changed my course to align with this need). - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014 - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 10, 2014
  • When curated and packaged, open content could be used to create unique, digital textbooks for each student.- anton.inglese anton.inglese Feb 8, 2014
  • A core question to me is if the category should be called "open content" or not. Hard question to answer. In many ways, also emphasized in previous Horizon reports, it's about much more than open content. Other relevant terms I've come across are "open education practices" and "opening up education".- oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen Feb 9, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 27, 2014 Covered in (1) above, I think. Sorry, I tend to get carried away when I discuss stuff like this. ;)
  • One big challenge is developing content distribution exchanges both internal to districts and nationwide. Also creating collaboratives to develop, vet and share that are easy to use and administer will be important. - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • Open content is the foundation of personalized learning--a curriculum that can be adapted to the needs and interests of each learner.- anton.inglese anton.inglese Feb 8, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 27, 2014 Two projects on the proverbial drawing table. Maybe the MinecraftEdu guide would be the best as my collaborative effort premiere.
  • LearningRegistry.org is a clearinghouse for metadata and paradata for OERs. It's bit aspirational and ungoverned at this point, but the organizations who are using it are moving toward a more structured model. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014
  • OERCommons.org; NSDL.org - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Feb 4, 2014

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.