Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Badge Widget

David Wiley developed a light-weight Badge Displayer. Had to try it out of course. And it wonderfully displayes the one badge that has been awarded so far! (Expecting a few more at some point ... ;-)).

Badge(s) from #IOE12

. . .

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Intro to Openness in Education - OpenEd Overview Badge.

With my posting of a summary of my learning about the Open Policy topic, I have jumped all but one hurdle to earn the OpenEd Overview Badge in the Intro to Openness in Education 2012 course. The last hurdle is this blog in which I try to link 12 individual posts and announce my intent to have completed the badge.

Occupy Education

What resonates in my mind after looking at so many different topics around openness is the enormous struggle there appears to be between the the way we used to do things and the suggested movement towards open access to education. Cory Doctorow even calls it a war, in the Open Source section. The Open Licensing section (of the course, not necessary my summary) provided several critical insights in how big business is trying to hold on to their copyrights, by continuously changing the law to keep prolonging rights that were intended to promote creativity, not block it. And in Open Policy Dr. Cable Green gives several examples of where existing business models (read the publishing industry) are lobbying for laws that prevent individuals and institutions to develop competing open resources. Some faculty are fighting back by boycotting existing business models, in favour of Open Access.

Some weeks in the course, and inspired by the many spinoffs of Occupy Wall Street, I though of coining the phrase 'Occupy Education' to signify that we should start taking back something that was actually ours in the first place; public education! And a google search showed the term was already in use, in particular in relation to a strike by high school students in Chile for almost a year already.
Did anyone hear about this? I certainly did not. 
Now I do find sites that are more in line with my initial thought, that public education is not for sale.

Projects in Openness

Over the past ten years all kinds of small projects popped up that experimented with opening of Content, Courseware, and Educational Resources. Perhaps initiatives in these areas happened under the radar of the establishment, or were seen as funny little experiments, doomed to fail. But ten years in, the existing business models are starting to notice these annoying little bugs, and start brining out the insecticide, in particular the one they know best: lawyers. See for example David Wiley's blog about the Boundless case

Somehow I feel that initiatives involving Open Science and Open Data are tolerated more by the existing business models, as they accelerate opportunities to earn more money. 

I am wondering how long it takes before some BIG contributor to institutions where professors such as David Wiley practice Open Teaching methods including Open Assessment (I know, weak link, but hey I am trying to get all 12 topics in ;-)) start telling the governing bodies of such institutions to stop employing such harmful methods. 


Dr. Green states "cooperate and share - we all win." 

But what about existing business models? What about the poor employees of the publishing industry who will loose their jobs because of this evil movement? 

It is high time that existing business models start looking at how they can contribute to Open Business Models, or else start preparing to disappear. I have the feeling that the openness in education movement will turn into an avenge that cannot be stopped. 

By the way

And hereby I announce my intent to have completed the OpenEd Overview Badge

Open Policy

The final topic in the Intro to Openness in Education course discusses policy. How are governments dealing with the issues of openness?

Dr. Cable Green

In "The Obviousness of Open Policy", Dr. Cable Green discusses the boring politics and policies underlying open education.

He argues that current educational practices will not enable to fulfil the growing demand for education--he uses the example of a predicted doubling of higher education demand, requiring 4 additional major universities every week for the next 15 years.

Some basics/background:

  • The world's knowledge is a public good and the Internet is an ideal tool to share, use and reuse it. 
  • OER are teaching, learning and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under a public license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. (Free as in free beer AND as in freedom; not only the cost are important, the freedom to use and improve materials is critical.)
  • The Cape Town Open Education Declaration, starting with: "We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use."
  • Common dream is affordable access to knowledge for everyone. 

The problem

Most policy makers at institutions, systems, state and federal government (around the world) do not understand technical and legal tools that collectively can turn on the learning machine. We need to help them understand. 

What are the tools?
  • We have the Internet - a 'free' distribution network; 
  • We understand the affordances of digital things - We know that storage is essentially free, that distribution through the Internet is essentially free and that making a large number of digital copies is essentially free. 
  • Cost of hardware is going down rapidly
  • Connectivity rises
  • Use of social networks and access to devices has created a new mass willingness to share. 
Why focussing on Open Policy? 

Because this is where the money is. Most countries spend between five and six percent of their GDP on education. Dr. Green states: "Publicly funded resources should be open licensed resources." Because you as a tax payer paid for it, you should have access. And as governments are public policy setting bodies, they are in the excellent position to encourage or mandate open licenses. Further, next to getting access to the resources we already paid for anyway, we need to shift from NIH syndrome to a 'Proudly Borrowed From' mentality. 

Ask any legislator if they care about efficient use of tax money, saving students money, and increase access to education. Nobody is going to say no. Further arguments that work with most people include: 
  • Cooperate and share - we all win. 
  • Affordability - Students can't afford text books. 
  • Self-interest - Good things happen when I share. 
  • It's a social justice issue - Everyone should have the right to access digital knowledge. 
What s possible with open policy?

There is huge amounts of money available. Many research grants from public money do not require any public access to the results. Some policies are now becoming available, e.g. the Federal Research Public Access Act requiring US research institutions with budgets over 100 billion USD to make research data, results and publications accessible for free after a six months period. 

There are barriers

In general the existing 20th century business models are threatened by this new way of thinking. 

What is important?

Dr. Green argues that in the end only one thing matters: the efficient use of public funds to increase student success and access to quality educational materials. And everything else, including existing business models, is secondary.


What is already happening?

Different institutions, government bodies such as research grants providers, and governments are already putting open access into policy. Many are mentioned in Dr. Green's speech, for example the NIH Public Access Policy. Also many faculty are standing up to existing business models, denouncing current pricing structures.

Government policy

Being Dutch and living in the UK, let's see what is going on in my neck of the woods...


Green already mentioned the WikiWijs (WikiWise) initiative. The Dutch government, together with the Dutch Open University and Kennisnet (knowledge net) launched this open, internet-based platform, where teachers can find, download, (further) develop and share educational resources.

It is difficult to find policy papers of the government around the issue ...


Similar to The Netherlands, government web sites do not easily give answers to search on openness.

An Open Educational Resources project is coordinated by JISC and the Higher Education Academy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Open Business Models

Discussing my participation in this course over dinner last week with an editor of educational publications for a large global publisher, I was confronted with the comment that all this openness was bad for society. It would mean a lot of people loosing their jobs, and not alone in (educational) publishing.

I responded with something sarcastic like how big business should probably not think that because something worked for hundreds of years, it would keep working for hundreds of years and should probably think about reinventing themselves from time to time. And combined that with something more constructive like the massive growth in demand for education in the near future.

But what type of business models are there that fit an openness model? This section of Intro to Openness in Education looks at some of the ways institutions, organisations and companies are trying to tackle this issue.

In 'A sustainable model for Open CourseWare development,' Johansen and Wiley are listing 3 questions surrounding Bringham Young University Independent Studies programme's participation in OCW:

  1. What does it cost to "open" an existing BYU IS course?
  2. How does opening up affect paid enrolment in the course?
  3. If impact on enrolment is positive, is this alone enough to sustain an ongoing open publishing project?
Their study shows that it is possible to sustainably offer open access to (existing) courses, given that a small percentage of participants will subsequently enrol for paid courses. The additionally generated income from these new funds the conversion costs. It is uncertain if the existence of OCW in itself had a negative effect of enrolment.

Giving away books
In answer to my friends concerns for the future of employment in publishing, let's look at what business models are out there for books.

In a study of the effect of making digital versions of books available for free on sales of books, Hilton and Wiley interviewed 10 authors and examined sales data for two books.

“All of the individuals we sur- veyed felt free digital downloads increased the distribution and impact of their book. None of the authors felt that print sales were negatively affected. Data from our book sale comparison suggest that in the case we studied, free digital distribution did not negatively affect sales. “ (Hilton & Wiley, 2010).
Reasons for making free electronic versions available:
  • Visibility of an author's work 
  • Morally the right thing to do
Note: The study presents very interesting user perspectives, and I would therefor nominate John Hilton and David Wiley for the OpenEd User Perspective Badge!

Text books
One business model is employed by Flatworld knowledge - a commercial college textbook publisher offering free online versions of the text books. Students can buy different versions of the textbook, such as printed chapters, audio versions of the book or chapter, or print a PDF. In a study of the sustainability of this model, Hilton and Wiley (2011) find that revenue from sales would mean a three year period until break even. 

It is obvious that open does not mean free. While there's are many good reasons to open up access to knowledge in many different ways, the read ins in this topic show that openness costs money and that money needs to come from somewhere. The magic formula has not necessarily been found. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

OpenEd User Perspective - My survey results

Thanks for all of you who responded to my request to fill out a short questionnaire! In this blog I will summarize and discuss the results.

Research question
In a recent post I vented my frustration with the limited interaction in the Intro to Openness in Education course. Realising that there are different ways in which people participate in this course--e.g. on/off campus, grad students, professionals--I wondered if there is a difference in perception about factors such as interaction.

Given some of the comments I had read in some blogs about class discussions, I would even go so far to assume that on campus participants in the course would be more positive about the interaction than off campus participants.

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel (or better: knowing how difficult it is to develop a good instrument) I decided to see if one had been developed before. I selected one by Ward, Peters and Shelley (2010). They asked participants rate dimensions of effective instruction for different course formats. These dimension were used again and subjects were asked to rate them from low to high as to how they related to IOE12.

Three questions were added about location (on/off campus), intentions (university credit, badges, etc.) and a field for comments on interaction in the course.

Participants in the course were targeted for the questionnaire. This was announced through my personal course blog, through twitter using the course #-tag and to individual participants where possible through email, blog comments or direct tweets.

Forms in google documents produces a summary which includes a link to all data. In five days after the announcement of this short survey, eleven fellow participants filled out the questionnaire; two on campus and nine off campus participant, with a variety of intentions.

For further analysis, one submission was excluded. The participant had selected all 1's, stating "[..] I was very interested in the course but work overload made me difficult to follow it properly. [..]"

The extent to which the dimensions of effective instruction relate to the course is shown in Table 1 and graphic 1. 

Graphic 1 - Dimensions means and standard deviation. 

Table 1. Dimensions of instructional effectiveness. 

The participants score Intro to Openness in Education high on dimensions quality and amount of content, encouraging active learning, respecting diversity, ease of access, and minimising costs. The other dimensions score considerably lower. But there are big differences on opines in the individual scores. 

To examine differences between on and off campus participants, means for respective groups are shown in Graphic 2. It appears that the on campus participant score all dimensions considerably higher than off campus participant. Because of the small number of subjects, it is impossible to establish any statistical significance at this moment. 
Graphic 02. Dimension means per group. 

Comments about the interaction were mainly focussed on two areas; one technological and one about human interaction. The 'blog broadcasting' on the course page was mentioned a couple of time, as being a hinderance, for example "the DS106 posts were overwhelming and diluted the actual content of the course." In general participants commenting on the human contact had expected more interaction: "I would have loved to build more meaningful relationships with other participants, but it just didn't happen."

The survey discussed in this blog originated from a feeling of lack of interaction between all actors in the course Introduction to Openness in Education 2012, combined with an interest in the user perspective on the different topics in the course (anyone else considering completing the user perspective badge? yes? ;-)) I assumed there might be similar frustrations in other participants, and suspected it might be different for on-campus students, who could talk about the topics at least once a week in class ( I assume; correct me if I'm wrong.)

To be honest, I feel the dimensions of effective instruction are quite a shaky part of this survey. Rating them and how they relate to the course ... low to high ... does anyone really know what that means? I assume you are all expert survey answerers, and went along nicely. Thanks for humouring me! One could question though if people had the same ideas when doing the rating. It would be good to develop a better instrument when repeating this with a larger audience.

Obviously the small sample size is the other reason why results need to be taken with a pinch of salt. OK and the fact that it was quite the convenience sample perhaps. The results could be used in a more qualitative study perhaps, when a survey would be complemented with interviews and or other data.

I do think the difference in responses between on and off campus participants is striking and could warrant a more serious study!

Thanks again for your interest and support!


Ward, Peters, and Shelley. 2010. Student and faculty perceptions of the quality of online learning experiences. The international review of research in open and distance learning, 11 (3).

Monday, April 2, 2012

OpenEd Assessment Designer Badge - Announcement

OpenEd User Perspective 
(Apprentice level, complete for one topic to earn the badge)

The open course Introduction to Openness in Education offers a variety of badges to recognise completion of part of the course. One of those is the Assessment Designer Badge, in which the student design their own badge, and encourages peer students to complete it as well. For this purpose I suggest the OpenEd User Perspective Badge.

The course topics focus heavily on their theoretical background, discussing key figures and milestones and  theoretical frameworks. And we do see and listen to some MIT faculty at the kick off of their Open Courseware project. But what does it all mean in practice?

This badge encourages the students in the course to interact with users of the topics of the course; the researchers using open data, faculty designing open courses, developers designing open educational resources, students in open courses, etc.

- Define a research question.
- Identify a user or group of users.
- Collect qualitative and/or quantitative data from the users.
- Analyse the results and publish a blog, announcing your intent to complete this badge.

As I would have to complete the badge myself, I have put together a little survey for students in this course.
Please take 5 minutes to fill it in! I appreciate your support!

Go to the survey.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Participating in an Open Course - interesting and boring at the same time

For the past 2+ months I consider myself a participant in the course Introduction to Openness in Education. Having been interested in topic in this area for quite some time, and running into all kinds of related topics at the recent AECT conference, I thought the course was an excellent opportunity to dive deeper in the matter.

And I must say, there have been some eye opening experiences so far. From the historic perspective, to the many interesting videos such as the coming war of general computing, to rather impenetrable topics like open science and open data.

On the other hand the course proves some of the disadvantages of distance learning; it is rather lonely and I feel very little connection with the community of learners.

Since readings about Open Teaching I realise that my participation is an additional bonus to the students in the on campus course at BYU; that is, the material is available anyway, so why not open it up to the world, and their contributions can add some extra dimensions to the course.

I agree and I highly appreciate the opportunity. What is lacking however is interaction. It took me a while to realise that there was actually a group of people meeting for a weekly class. So I bess there is discussion about issues for the regular students.

The how to guide of the course states:
"You engage socially by reading, pondering, and responding to others’ posts and tweets. [..] These interactions should be organic and driven by your own desire and interest." 
Personally I have received one response to a blog post, and I think the person did not continue with the course themselves. I try to end my posts with a blunt statement, or a question, and it has not sparked any discussion yet. It could be my questions that are boring of course ...

From the start I have tried to keep up with the blogs posted by others and added my to sense from time to time. In other's blogs I sometimes see a comment from the teacher. and not much more.

Does this say something about our desires and interest? Or 'too busy'? Or other priorities?

Self-study ... Motivation ... I guess the badges keep me going ;-)