Tom's Two Cents

Setting the Default to “Open”

Setting the Default to “Open”

I just started a new job as Open Education Program Manager for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). My main challenge is getting up to speed with a major project that has been under way for several months. The Open Course Library is taking the top 81 highest enrolling college courses in the state and to creating high quality, openly licensed curriculum for each course. There are dozens of people involved: course developers, designers, librarians, and many other experts. All the challenges of course development come into play, plus some additional things that come with creating a course in the open: content licensing, copyright clearance, and designing for reuse. It’s all there, and it’s a little like trying to grab on to a moving train. But I love it, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

It’s kind of hard to leave off each day. I kind of want to skip Thanksgiving and keep working. Reminds me of when I taught Computer Science at Redlands High School and let my students create a video game as a class one semester. I had to kick them out of my classroom each day because they didn’t want to stop what they were doing. Some of the other teachers were frustrated at me because my students were so focused on my class. I even found one student hiding in the corner of my room, two hours after class, working on creating his part of the game. That’s how I feel here.

But it’s the day before Thanksgiving, and everyone else has gone home, so I’ll leave with my favorite quotes/ideas of the week from a recent OCW Consortium webinar on open access in education and policy given by Reuven Carlyle, State Representative from the 36th District of Seattle, Washington:

  1. If the public taxpayers fund something, it should be open and accessible.
  2. “If we are successful at nothing else in the next year or two, let’s set a goal to fundamentally change the dynamic so that the expectation is one of complete openness … as opposed to openness being the exception. We have to change the social dynamic to one of openness.”
  3. Position open access as a cost savings and one of the most disruptive new approaches, to say nothing of the increased learning that comes of this.
  4. Have a clear, simple message about this. This is not a techno-gadget.  Be clear on the value drivers.
  5. Make the financial case for openness in how it avoids duplication and lack of coordination. We’ll pay for open content once, but we aren’t going to pay for it a thousand times.

Education and Policy (Webinar Nov 2010) from OpenCourseWare Consortium on Vimeo.

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