Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thanks to WSIS for hosting this OER debate

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this oxford-style debate, both invited contributors and commentors. I also want to thank WSIS for creating the space for this event. Thank-you.

I have listened and read David Wiley and Stephen Downes go "head-to-head" on this and similar topics in the past. And thanks to both of them for their boldness and thoroughness. After years of struggling with the issue of copyright and educational resources I believe it has never been so clear to me as it is now. Lurking upon and commenting within this debate has been an excellent personal learning experience. And is very well aligned with some of my current writings on the subject;

What has emerged for me is as follows;
  1. There are two distinct views within this debate and I believe they have different and opposing interests.
    • Independent Learner (adult or otherwise): I consider this collective of individuals as the largest block of OER consumers and creators. In my opinion, from an educational resource consumer perspective, they can almost completely ignore copyright due to fair-dealing / fair-use (All they need to do is honour the BY). And > 70% want to contribute with a NC license. I appreciate Stephens reference to flickr on this. The independent learner (whether self-directed or institutionalized) is the target group for OER creation and consumption. All mass collaboration projects are examples of this, and its success. - I feel this group was under represented in this debate.
    • Institutional Faculty, Staff and Employees: This group is restrained by their being associated with large institutions (whether public, private, commercial, academic, govt; they are NOT independent learners) And they have to work within the guidelines (and legalities) of their institutions and cannot claim fair-use / fair-dealing. And cannot publicly encourage their students to claim fair-dealing / fair-use.
  2. both institutions and individuals should be left to decide the licensing scheme they would like to use by choosing one that would best support their values and mission. Dictating the licensing scheme keeps people from contributing to OER.
  3. we still need to be very weary of commercial interests impacting access to educational resources, cause they will come at it from many different directions. This Michael Geist post titled, "Q.Do Digital Locks Trump Educational Fair Dealing? A. Yes." pretty much sums it up for me. And is why I voted NO for OER to favour commercial use.

Suggestion: Next time a similar debate is run please invite a few copyright lawyers with differing views (include fair dealing / fair use perspectives) and invite a selection of independent learners from different age groups.