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The Potential of Open Educational Resources Concept Paper Prepared by OER Africa

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This study commences with a brief overview of the historical context in which current higher education systems in Sub-Saharan Africa have evolved. Without an understanding and appreciation of how higher education (HE ) evolved on the continent it may be all too easy to equate the complex challenges faced by HE institutions today with a lack of resources, motivation or capacity on the part of those who have worked for several decades to address these challenges. In other words, there are sound historical reasons that help to explain the current ‘crisis’ within the HE sector and these are well worth exploring.

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The Potential of Open Educational Resources Concept Paper Prepared by OER Africa

  1. 1. The Potential of Open Educational Resources Concept Paper Prepared by OER Africa OER Africa 1Building African education capacity through openness © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  2. 2. The Potential of Open Educational ResourcesISBN: 978-0-620-45936-5Licence: This work is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License © 2009 Saide This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the work, even commercially, as long as they credit OER Africa for the original creation. [http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses]Author: Merridy Wilson-StrydomCoordinating Editor: Neil ButcherManaging Editor: Catherine N. NgugiCopy Editor: Vaun CornellCover photograph: Melissa Visser (Designs4development)Design and layout: Designs4development, www.d4d.co.za Open Educational Resources Africa is an initiative of Saide P O Box 66093 – 00800 Nairobi, Kenya Copies of this research are available for downloading at: http://www.oerafrica.org Saide – the South African Institute for Distance Education PO Box 31822, Braamfontein, 2017 Johannesburg, South Africa For more information about SAIDE please see http://www.saide.org.za This publication is made possible through the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  3. 3. The Potential of OpenEducational Resources Concept Paper Prepared by OER Africa i © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
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  5. 5. ContentsIntroduction 1The concept of OER explained 3Unpacking the Concept of Open Educational Resources 3Theoretical and Practical Underpinnings 5Open Education/Open Learning 5Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) Movement 61. Rationale for Participating in an OER project: The Potential of OER for Higher Education 8Teaching and Learning Support 8Quality Improvements and Capacity building 8Increasing Access 9Research Potential 9Market Orientation 9Moral Obligation 102. Challenges for OER Initiatives 113. Licensing options for OER 13OER Copyright Debates and Challenges 13Overview of Open Licenses 14Table 1. Summary of CC Licences and their possible implications for the Skills for a Changing World Programme 174. The Importance of Piloting: Contributing to OER Theory and Practice 205. Conclusions 21Table 2. Key recommendations for successful OER initiatives and their implications for OER Africa 216. References 24 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
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  7. 7. IntroductionThe potential of Open Educational Resources (OER) OER Africa believes the potential of OER is besthas gained increasing prominence over the past achieved through a collaborative partnership offew years. A myriad of OER projects and interven- people working in communities of practice (CoPs).tions has and is being implemented in a range We have established OER Africa in the firm beliefof contexts. In a nutshell, the concept of OER de- that OER has a tremendously powerful positivescribes educational resources that are freely avail- role to play in developing and capacitating higherable for use by educators and learners, without education (HE) systems and higher educationan accompanying need to pay royalties or licence institutions (HEIs) across Africa. Our conviction isfees. A broad spectrum of licensing frameworks is matched by our concern that – if the concept andemerging to govern how OER are licensed for use, practice of OER evolves predominantly outsidesome of which simply allow copying, while others and for Africa – we will not be able to liberatemake provision for users to adapt the resources its potential. Thus, OER Africa has been set up tothat they use. ensure that Africans harness the power for Africans through building collaborative networks across theThe concept of OER is potentially powerful for vari- continent.ous reasons, including:1. Because OER removes restrictions around In this position paper we explain the concept of copying resources, they hold potential for OER in greater detail and explain why, and under reducing the cost of accessing educational what conditions, we believe OER holds such poten- materials. tial for HE in Africa.2. The principle of allowing adaptation of ma- terials contributes to enabling learners to be active participants in educational processes, whereby they learn by doing and creating, not merely by passively reading and absorbing.3. OER has the potential to build capacity in African countries by providing educators with access, at low or no cost, to the means of production to develop their competence in producing educational materials and completing the necessary instructional design to integrate such materials into high quality programs of learning. 1 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
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  9. 9. The concept of OER explainedUnpacking the Concept of Open Geith and Vignare, citing Ahrash Bissel of Creative Commons, describe OER as follows:Educational ResourcesThe concept of OER was originally coined during a Open Educational Resources [OER] representsUNESCO Forum on Open Courseware held in 2002 the efforts of a worldwide community, em-(D’Antoni, 2007; Johnstone, 2005). During a follow- powered by the Internet, to help equalise accessup online discussion, also hosted by UNESCO, the to knowledge and educational opportunitiesinitial concept was further developed as follows: throughout the world. They are teaching, learn- ing and research resources that reside in theOpen Educational Resources are defined as public domain or have been released under and‘technology-enabled, open provision of educa- intellectual property license that permits theirtional resources for consultation, use and adap- free use and customisation by others. It is thetation by a community of users for non-com- granting of freedoms to share, reprint, translate,mercial purposes.’ They are typically made freely combine or adapt that makes them education-available over the Web or the Internet. Their ally different from those that can merely be readprinciple use is by teachers and educational online for free. (Geith & Vignare, 2008, p. 2)institutions to support course development, butthey can also be used directly by students. Open While each of these definitions differs slightly, theEducational Resources include learning objects key tenets of OER are that these are educationalsuch as lecture material, references and read- resources, which are freely available and adaptable.ings, simulations, experiments and demon- Many OER advocates around the world also call forstrations, as well as syllabuses, curricula, and publicly funded research and educational resourc-teachers’ guides. (http:// opencontent.org/blog/ es to be made available freely as open educationarchives/247) resources. Funders are increasingly recognisingThe OER community of the Development Gateway that the job of research is incomplete if the resultsdefines OERs as: reach a very select audience only (SHERPA, 2006).Digitised materials, offered freely and openly Drawing on their work in the Open e-Learningfor educators, students and self-learners, to use Content Observatory Services (OLCOS) Project,and re-use for teaching, learning and research. Schaffert and Geser (2008) note that:(Bekkers, 2007, p. 1) The knowledge society demands competenciesIn a recent report reviewing progress within the and skills that require innovative educationalOER movement, the following definition of OER practices based on open sharing and evaluationwas used: of ideas, fostering creativity, and teamwork among the learners. Collaborative creation andOER are teaching, learning and research sharing among learning communities of OER isresources that reside in the public domain regarded as an important catalyst of such edu-or have been released under an intellectual cational innovations. Therefore, OER shouldproperty license that permits their free use or re- become a key element of policies that aim topurposing by others. Open educational resources leverage education and lifelong learning for theinclude full courses, course materials, modules, knowledge society and economy. (Schaffert &textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and Geser, 2008, p. 3)any other tools, materials, or techniques usedto support access to knowledge. (Atkins et al., These authors continue to argue that simply2007, p. 4) making use of OER within a traditional teacher- 3 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  10. 10. centred learning paradigm will have little effect In explaining the concept of OER, it is useful in developing the competencies noted above. For consider the main theoretical principles, as well as this reason, it is important to focus simultaneously practical applications on which the OER approach on open education practices that are based on a has drawn. These include, amongst others, open competency-focused, constructivist paradigm of education or open learning principles and the free learning and promote a creative and collaborative and open source software movement. engagement of learners with digital content, tools and services in the learning process (Schaffert & Guntram, 2008, p. 3).4© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  11. 11. Theoretical and PracticalUnderpinningsOpen Education/Open Learning to determine what, how and when they want to learn than do traditional approaches to education.The concept of OER draws on the principle of The aim is to provide learning opportunities for aensuring the right to education for all (as stated in diverse range of learners both originating from,the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). This is and learning in, different contexts. Within opensometimes referred to as Open Education or Open learning approaches, there is commonly referenceLearning. Understanding the basic tenants of open to learner-centred approaches, as well as resource-education/learning is critical to understanding theOER movement, and its potential. based and autonomous learning. This means that the learner is central, ‘learning to learn’ is in itselfConsider the following observations made by a goal, and the learner develops critical thinkingSir John Daniel, the CEO and President of the Com- skills and the ability to learn independently. Thismonwealth of Learning: philosophy becomes increasingly important in the context of lifelong learning and the need for• Half of the world’s population is under 20 years people to be equipped to function in the knowl- old. edge society.• Today, there are over 30 million people who are fully qualified to enter a university, but there It is important to differentiate between distance is no place available. This number will grow to education and open learning as these concepts over 100 million during the next decade. tend to be conflated often. The term ‘distance education’ describes a collection of methods for• To meet the staggering global demand for advanced education, a major university needs the provision of structured learning. Its object is to to be created every week. avoid the necessity for learners to discover the cur- riculum by attending classes frequently and for very• In most of the world, higher education is long periods in order to listen to it being spoken mired in a crisis of access, cost, and flexibility. about. This does not mean that there is no face-to- The dominant forms of higher education in face contact, but rather that most communication developed nations – campus based, high cost, between learners and educators is not face-to-face. limited use of technology – seem ill suited to Instead, it makes use of different media as necessary. address global education needs of the billions Distance education, therefore, provides techniques of young people who will require it in the of educational design and provision that – under decades ahead. (Daniels, cited by Atkins, Seely certain circumstances – can bring better chances Brown, & Hammond, 2007, p. 33) of educational success to vastly more people atThe importance of finding ways of expanding edu- greatly reduced costs. Nevertheless, the provision ofcational opportunity cannot be underestimated. distance education does not automatically equateOpen education/Open Learning seeks to put in with openness in education. As Rumble points out,place policies and practices that permit entry to for example,learning with no or minimum barriers with respectto age, gender or time constraints, and with …the technological basis of distance educationrecognition of prior learning. This is a key educa- may...lead to a closed system if undue emphasistional philosophy on which to build systems and is placed on ‘programmed’ media such as texts,approaches that ensure rights to education. Open broadcasts, audio- and video-cassettes, com-learning is based on the principle of flexibility in puter-based instruction, etc, where the contentorder to increase access to education and often is pre-determined and communication is oneforms part of broader equity efforts in society. This way [from the teacher to the student]. (Rumble,approach allows learners much more freedom 1989, p. 31) 5 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  12. 12. Both in Africa and internationally, a vast amount of Hepburn (2004) continues to note that society has distance education provision is closed in many re- always seen the value of ‘that which we hold in spects. Consequently, although distance education common’ as a basis for building greater value and is a collection of educational practices that has dem- hence, maintaining common resources is ‘good onstrated great potential for increasing openness in for all’ – or a public good. As described in Hardin’s learning, the terms should not be confused. Further, essay on the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, one of the the concept of OER has great value in both distance challenges with maintaining common resources, and face-to-face educational provision, depending such as grazing land or road networks for example, on how they are used. is the tendency towards overuse and possible depletion. However, in the context of open educa- Working within a human rights perspective, tion or software the opposite is true – information Tomasevski (2006) presents the ‘4-A Framework’ for on websites and open software does not become understanding access to education. This includes depleted as more users make use of it. In fact, the a distinction between the ‘Right to Education’ and more people make use of the resource the better it ‘Rights in Education’ (see also Geith & Vignare, is developed as users become co-developers and 2008; Tomasevski, 2006). The concept of rights to provide feedback and in this way lead to improve- education is based on the availability and acces- ments. In sum, sibility of educational opportunity, while rights in education include the acceptability of the educa- …In this inverse commons, the grass grows tional offering in terms of language, culture and so taller when it is grazed upon. (Hepburn, 2004, on, together with the ability to adapt educational p. 6 citing Raymond, 1998) provision to the specific context in which it is being offered (for a detailed explanation of this approach to access see Geith & Vignare, 2008). This ap- Free/Libre and Open Source proach is also consistent with the open education Software (FLOSS) Movement paradigm. The OER movement also has some roots in the Open Source Software movement (Keats, 2003; The increasing focus and investment in OER has Moore, 2002). Open source, in the context of also been stimulated by a growing movement software engineering, refers to the fact that the to make information and knowledge more freely source code for a software programme is kept accessible as a reusable resource, as a public good. open (or made available to other users), and that The metaphor of the ‘commons’ has been used to the software is freely available. Anyone is free to understand the concept of the public good. The modify the software programme as long as they literature on OER makes references to a ‘global edu- freely distribute their programme with its source cation commons’, ‘learning commons’ and so on code (Keats, 2003). Liang (2004, p. 24) notes that (for example Bissell & Boyle, 2007; Hepburn, 2004; the FLOSS model has been important in creating a Schmidt & Surman, 2007). In 2001, Lawrence Les- ‘counter imagination to the dominant discourse of sig (who later launched Creative Commons – see copyright’ and in this way has created an alterna- below) published his book entitled ‘The Future of tive approach to how the production and distribu- Ideas. The fate of the commons in a connected world’. tion of knowledge takes place. The concept of the commons refers to: Moore (2002) argues that the values of the open Resources that are not divided into bits of source software (and content) movement can be property but rather are jointly held so that any- shared by higher education. She notes that HE one may use them without special permission. includes the idea of learning communities foster- (Liang, 2004, p. 33) ing development and sharing of ideas through a peer review system. The same values underpin the A wide array of creations of nature and society open source software movement. For this reason, that we inherit freely, share and hold in trust she asks: for future generations. (Hepburn, 2004, p. 2 citing Bollier, 2003)6© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  13. 13. Since higher education and open source soft- The idea of open content has its background inware movement share these values, is it possible the open source software movement, and canthat higher education might use an open source be considered a license agreement, a philosophy,metaphor or model as the academy comes to a way of doing things, as well as the contentterms with its changing landscape – as insti- produced and distributed according to thetutions strain to integrate technology across open content license agreement. As philosophy,content areas, struggle with operational tests of open content refers to the principle that contentsystems and processes associated with integra- should be freely reusable so as to make knowl-tion, and scrutinise the impact on faculty roles edge available as common knowledge for theand student learning? (Moore, 2002, p. 44) common good. A key fundamental of open con- tent licensing is that any object is freely avail-Thus, the development of open licensing as an able for modification, use and redistributionalternative to traditional copyright of educational with certain restrictions. (Keats, 2003, p. 2)materials has drawn heavily on the FLOSS move-ment and the lessons and practices that haveemerged from this movement over time (seeSection 4 in this paper) (Atkins et al., 2007; Bekkers,2007; Schaffert & Geser, 2008; Liang, 2004) . Keatssums this up as follows: 7 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  14. 14. 1. Rationale for Participating in an OER Project: The Potential of OER for Higher Education Universal access to knowledge – with full the full text is restricted to subscribers. Evidence freedoms to localise that knowledge – is not just shows that making research material Open a matter of development, science or security. It Access increases the number of readers and is a matter of the right to development. Open significantly increases citations to the article – access fulfils this right in support of human in some fields increasing citations by 300%. enrichment and health, and is one of the (SHERPA, 2006) pre-eminent methods to achieve the human rights goals and bridge the divides, digital and physical, between the developing and developed Quality Improvements and worlds. (Rossini, 2007, p. 22) Capacity Building The sharing and review of content, as well as Several arguments can be made for why institu- participation in collaborative open content tions, faculties, and individuals should consider development initiatives, serve to enhance quality making their educational content freely available. through additional review processes and the use Many of these were highlighted in the earlier sec- of standards to facilitate adaptation and sharing of tion on open learning. resources. In addition, when materials are openly available, faculty are noted to make an extra effort to ensure that their materials are of exemplary Teaching and Learning Support quality (Smith & Casserly, 2006). The research conducted at MIT found that the MIT OCW provided useful teaching and learning Further, capacity of academics and students is support for students and provided a means for developed through participation in collaborative staff to update their courses and advise students. content development processes as members of Further, academics are able to share their work, communities of practice (Moore, 2002). This capac- research and courseware with others in their field. ity development can be in various areas, including This provides opportunities for collaboration, for in content/subject matter, instructional techniques, building on work others have started so minimis- online approaches, review processes, production, ing duplication. This has the potential to raise the presentation and publishing of educational ma- academic standing of faculty members (Caswell et terials. This is particularly important in an African al., 2008; Smith & Casserly, 2006). In addition, evi- context where expertise and knowledge, in the dence is emerging that research published in open form of textbooks and journals, are often imported access journals is cited more readily than research from other developed countries, most notably the published in restricted access journals requiring USA and European countries. This challenge and paid subscriptions (Rossini, 2007). Consider the related benefits of the OER movement are summed following example: up in the following quotation: If an article is ‘Open Access’ it means that it When we use textbooks in Africa that were can be freely accessed by anyone in the world developed in the US or Europe, we obtain using an Internet connection. This means that content that may not be locally relevant. Our the potential readership of Open Access articles purchases go to support the publishing industry8 is far, far greater than that for articles where in that part of the world, and contribute to our© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  15. 15. dependency on that industry. More importantly, This potential benefit does, however, raise a per-this dependency means that African academics plexing paradox. A context in which funding and/do not develop a strong tradition of authoring or expertise for high quality materials develop-and publishing learning content, although of ment is not available, as is common in many Afri-course there are some exceptions. Because of cost can countries, implies some degree of institutionaland unavailability factors, it is not uncommon underdevelopment. In this context, simply makingfor institutions to use out-of-date textbooks and use of other freely available content would notolder journals articles as learning content. This build the human capacity needed to develop themeans that students may not be exposed to the institution (and the HE sector) in the longer term.latest ideas in the discipline of study. (Keats, In this way, the use of existing materials can create2003, p. 2) the illusion of developing capacity without actu- ally building any human capacity in a sustained manner. For this reason, OER Africa places muchIncreasing Access emphasis on the development of communities ofOER has the potential to support HE access in practice around OER initiatives in order to facilitatevarious ways, depending on the ways in which OER capacity building.is approached and used. The 4-A Framework foraccess was briefly described above. OER has thepotential to provide a means of increasing the right Research Potentialto education and rights in education when adapta- The OER environment provides a range of researchtion is allowed. Open education seeks to remove opportunities, including opportunity for researchbarriers to accessing education. One key barrier is and reflection on the future role and nature of HEthe cost of education. The long-term reduction of in an increasingly digital and networked environ-content costs through the use of OERs can provide ment. Thus, for example, the Open University notesa means of making study opportunities more that:accessible. While OER has the potential to reducecosts in the longer term, in the shorter term costs OpenLearn gives us an exciting opportunityare likely to increase as more time is invested in to see what happens when we release many ofsourcing and adapting open content. If institutions the restrictions that we are used to; copyright,attempt to use OER as a short-term cost-saving fees, and geography. We see Open Educationalmechanism, it is unlikely that the materials will be Resources as having revolutionary potential thatof quality – so limiting the cost effectiveness of the we must study but also as a basis for furtherintervention in the longer term. Cost savings in the innovation. Freely accessible and changeable,shorter term can be realistic at the level of the stu- high quality content can underpin experi-dent. Where institutions invest in creating and/or ments in widening participation, use of mobileadapting open content, students will be protected devices, development of tools for accessibility,from the increasing costs of textbooks and other geographically distributed experiment andproprietary educational content still often used. community building. As a catalyst for further research Open Educational Resources have aIn addition, institutions that may not have funding significant part to play, as a possible indicationor expertise to develop high quality materials are of how people will learn in the future they are astill able to offer educational opportunities making vital move away from rigid structures that areuse of materials developed elsewhere. causing their own pressures. We want to under- stand this future. (McAndrew, 2006, p. 6)To the extent that these are educational resourcesthat are open for re-use, rework and redis-tributrion, the collective commons of knowledge Market Orientationcan support all dimensions of the human rights At an institutional level, it has been found thatto and in education. OER as a way of partici- making education content freely available can bepating in the creation of new knowledge fully en- a useful means of marketing the institution. Forables availability, accessibility, acceptability and example, MIT found that 35% of entering stu-adaptability. (Geith & Vignare, 2008, p. 16) dents were aware of MIT OCW and that this had 9 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  16. 16. influenced their decision to apply (Carsons, 2006; towards this goal is to provide high-quality Caswell et al., 2008; Moore, 2002). Similarly, Smith digitised, free educational materials to every- and Casserly note that knowledge sharing can one in the world. We are not talking about become part of an institution’s branding (Smith & secret information contained in patents. We Casserly, 2006). are simply suggesting that the physics student in Kenya should have access to the same high quality knowledge as students in the US. We Moral Obligation do not wish to reduce the value of a university Finally, a commonly cited reason, growing out of education. We simply believe that that value is OER’s roots within an open education and FLOSS not a function of its scarcity. paradigm, is that there is a moral obligation to release content freely if the Universal Human Right …The real question is, can we continue to of Access to Education is to be achieved (Caswell, support widening and increasingly consequen- Henson, Jenson, & Wiley, 2008; Huijser, Bedford, & tial inequalities in knowledge, our domain, Bull, 2008). For example, Smith and Casserly state across the nation and world? Can we afford the that: financial, political, and moral burdens created by such inequalities? Can we afford not to It takes a hardy and callous soul to reject the share freely what we are so rich in? (Smith & UN’s Millennium Development Goal of educa- Casserly, 2006, p. 14) tion for all. We argue that one important step10© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  17. 17. 2. Challenges for OER InitiativesWhile there are many arguments for adopting an It is argued that the educational value of OERs con-OER approach, certain challenges have also been tribute to their sustainability as do the establish-identified and need to be considered. ment of decentralised CoPs involved in the produc- tion and distribution of OERs (Koohang & Harman,Many higher education institutions (HEIs) have 2007). Atkins et al. (2007) note the importance ofbeen nervous about releasing their materials institutional buy-in and commitment of resources,openly in case this might limit their competitive the value of OER collections as part of standardadvantage should other education providers make course preparation and management as opposeduse of their materials. However, to the contrary, to resources distinct from courseware for enrolledOER projects have shown that this approach sup- students, and the role that consortia can play inports student recruitment – as highlighted in the distributing and sharing costs. In addition, theseexamples of OER initiatives presented above. When authors note that the potential roles of studentsengaging in this debate, it is important not to con- to support OER should be explored, together withfuse courseware (or materials) with courses. Cours- further consideration of volunteer contributiones include much more than courseware/materials and the use of social software to support collabora-only, such as accreditation, assessment, facilitation, tion (Atkins et al., 2007). Downes (2007) presents astudent support, peer groups, lecturer’s expertise, wide range of different approaches to sustainabil-the specific learning environment created on ity, including funding models, technical models,campus and so on. OER is not intended to replace content models and staffing models. Following andegree-granting higher education or provide cred- analysis of these different models, he concludesits. Rather, the focus is on making the content that that:supports good quality education available to allwho might like to use it. The production of course Though there is great temptation to depict thematerials and the delivery system offered by an sustainability of OERs in terms of fundinginstitution are not the same thing and institutions models, technical models or even content modelsadd value to the courseware in many ways (Huijser – and no shortage of recommendations regard-et al., 2008, p. 4; Moore, 2002). ing how each of these should proceed – it seems evident that any number of such models can beSustainability of OER projects is a complex issue, successful. But at the same time, it also seemsand a challenge that is attracting increasing atten- clear that the sustainability of OERs – in ation. To date most large-scale successful OER initia- fashion that renders them at once both afford-tives have been dependent on large donor grants. able and useable – requires that we think ofWhen considering sustainability it is necessary to OERs as only part of a larger picture, one thatconsider both the sustainability of producing the includes volunteers and incentives, communityopen content and the sustainability of sharing the and partnerships, co-production and sharing,resources (Wiley, 2007). Various options towards distributed management and control. (Downes,sustainability have been proposed (Atkins et al., 2007, p. 41)2007; Dholakia et al., 2006; Downes; Koohang &Harman, 2007; Wiley, 2007). The details of these de- Barriers to OER access in developing countriesbates are beyond the scope of this paper; however, have also received a fair amount of attention. Ac-it is worth highlighting that in the context of OERs cess to OER involves the ability to locate relevantit is essential to consider sustainability in a broader resources, as well as find some assurance of theirsense than financial terms only. In addition, to quality (Geith & Vignare, 2008; Larson & Murray,become sustainable OER must be integrated into 2008; Rossini, 2007; Smith & Casserly, 2006). Ininstitutional systems and operational level policy a developing country context, where access towith dedicated budget and human resources, ICTs and broadband Internet remains restrictedtogether with recognition and reward for OER to a limited portion of the population who canproduction and/or adaptation. afford such services (and in some instances limited 11 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  18. 18. because technologies are not yet available), access to OER networks can pose challenges. In addi- tion to technological barriers, issues of language, culture and contextual and pedagogic relevance should also be considered (Larson & Murray, 2008; Tomasevski, 2006).12© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  19. 19. 3. Licensing Options for OER‘Openness’ is complex and not a black and and consumers (educators and learners) if educa-white issue – a spectrum of degrees of resource tional opportunities are to be expanded, educa-openness is developing. The future holds op- tion is to become increasingly cost effective, andportunities and challenges for enriching and human rights goals and Millennium Developmentexploiting this spectrum. (Atkins et al., 2007, Goals are to be achieved (Hofman et al., 2005).p. 28) Costs of education content, for example journalThe establishment of open licensing approaches subscription costs and costs of proprietary coursehas been essential to ensure accessibility (open- materials, often prohibit students and scholarsness) as well as to protect the rights of authors and from engaging fully in global knowledge produc-the integrity of their work. In advancing an argu- tion and so work against the principles of openment for why HE should embrace open licensing, it learning (SHERPA, 2006). This is particularly so foris necessary to delve into the rather complex legal developing countries where journal subscriptionworld of copyright and intellectual property. prices continue to rise and are often unaffordable for educational institutions faced with a range of competing priorities with little available funding.OER Copyright Debates and For example, Hagemann writes:ChallengesAs we move into an increasingly digital world in Who controls access to educational materials inwhich collaboration and sharing become com- the age of the Internet? Today many studentsmonplace, the possibility of inadvertently violating are priced out of an education, not because ofcopyrights increases (Marshall, 2008). In addition, the cost of tuition, but because of the price ofthrough various Free Trade Agreements countries textbooks. (Hagemann, 2008)are coming under pressure to enforce stricter copy- This challenge is a key focus of the OER movement.right legislation (Hofman et al., 2005). This context The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) presents theimpacts on academics who make use of a range of following position on learning content:materials, with varying types of copyright restric-tions, at the micro level of individual courses. COL sees access to learning materials as beingAlthough copyright originally served the purpose important to the development and improve-of regulating the publishing industry and ensuring ment of living standards. In the interest of athat appropriate royalties were paid to authors/ better educated and informed society, COLcreators, over time copyright laws have come to encourages educational and knowledge basedregulate the authors/creators and their audiences. organisations to make available as much con-In most instances copyright is now owned by large tent as possible with as few restrictions in thecorporations and publishing companies rather copyright licenses as possible.than the authors/creators themselves (Liang, 2004), This recommendation is made especially in theand interest of making publicly-funded materi-…consequently, a body of law that was initi- als available free-of-charge. Public sector andated to spur creativity by protecting the rights non-profit institutions are funded from publicof creators has morphed into rules and regula- and tax funds, which in turn, should allow freetions that limit access to important information access to such materials. (Commonwealth ofworldwide. (Smith & Casserly, 2006, p. 11) Learning, 2007, p. 1)In an educational context, a careful balance is Bisell and Boyle (2007) describe three levels of free-needed between creators of materials, publishers, dom in the ‘open’ copyright arena. These are: 13 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  20. 20. • Level -1: The ability to read online without pay- While phrases such as ‘free software’ and ment (but no copying or distribution); ‘copyleft’ conjure up an image of alternatives to • Level 0: The freedom to make verbatim copies copyright, it is relevant to note that it is not a without charge; model that abandons copyright. In fact quite • Level 1: The freedom to modify, combine and the opposite, it relies on copyright law, but uses customise, i.e. to make derivative works. it creatively to articulate a positive, rather than a negative rights discourse. (Liang, 2004, p. Different open licences allow different levels 24) of freedom. To realise their potential, it is often argued that OERs should allow Level 1 freedoms as Open licences for content developed out of the far as possible (Bissell & Boyle, 2007). The ability to success of the licensing approach adopted for create derivative works, together with a condition open source software. One of the earliest open li- that these works should also be shared openly, has cences for non-software material was published in also been referred to as ‘copyleft’ (see for example 1998 by David Wiley. This licence is no longer used, Hofman & West, 2008; Liang, 2004). Although since newer alternatives are now more appropriate when considering educational materials that sup- and adaptable to different conditions. In 2000, the port teaching and learning the ability to create Free Software Foundation released their first ver- derivatives is important, there are conditions under sion of an open licence for non-software materials. which it could be inappropriate to allow derivative Essentially this licence was to allow open-source versions. For example, it would not make sense software developers to produce open manuals to allow changes to a research report based on a and support materials, free of standard copyright specific sample of data (although the data could restrictions. This licence is known as the GNU FDL be openly accessible for re-analysis). Similarly, an (Free Documentation Licence). Although it used by accounting lecturer making use of a company’s the popular site Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), financial statement as an example in class would this licence is not widely used within the OER not need, and indeed it would be improper, to alter movement, partly because it is technically con- or make derivatives of such a document. However, fusing and cumbersome in terms of procedural the ability to distribute and use the financial state- requirements (Liang, 2004). In some cases au- ment as an example still has educational benefit. thors also create their own copyright conditions, although this is noted to be legally challenging A range of licensing challenges exist. For example, in many instances and so tends not to be recom- when openly licensed resources contain copy- mended for OER materials (Hofman & West, 2008). righted material, copyright clearance needs to be Instead the focus has turned to the Creative Com- obtained or the materials need to be adapted to mons (CC) set of licence options. Since CC licences remove this copyrighted material (Caswell et al., are most commonly used, they are described in 2008; D’Antoni, 2007, p. 12). In addition, Caswell et greater detail in this paper. al. (2008) note that open materials licensed under different licenses are not always compatible and A range of other open licences exist such as license conditions may conflict (see also Bissell licences specifically for music and art. Given the & Boyle, 2007). For this reason, it is of particular focus of this paper on OER this review has not importance that careful consideration of different presented details of the full range of open licences. licensing options is undertaken before deciding on For a comparative analysis of a wide range of open the licence best suited to a particular OER initiative. licences please see Liang (2004) Creative Commons Licences Overview of Open Licenses (www.creativecommons.org) When considering open licenses it is useful to re- The most developed alternative licensing approach member that these are legal tools that make use of is that developed by Larry Lessig of Stanford existing copyright laws. In particular the exclusive University in 2001, called Creative Commons (CC). right copyright law that allows a copyright holder Since CC licences are most often used for OER to license material with the licence of their choice work, this paper focuses on the different CC op-14 (Hofman & West, 2008). Liang (2004) notes that: tions in greater detail.© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  21. 21. The CC approach provides user-friendly open • Obtain permission should they wish to use thelicences for digital materials and so avoids the resource in a manner that has been restricted;automatically applied copyright restrictions. The • Keep the copyright notice intact on all copiespopularity of CC licences has grown incremen- of the work;tally since its launch in 2002, and by 2006, it was • Publish the licence with the work or include aestimated that 45 million web pages had been link to the licence from any copies of the work;licensed with a CC licence (Smith & Casserly, 2006). • Not change the licence terms in anyway;Liang describes the philosophy of Creative Com-mons as follows: • Not use technology or other means to restrict other licences’ lawful use of the work. (Liang,Inspired by the free software movement, the 2004, p. 82)Creative Commons believes that a large vibrantpublic domain of information and content is a The six CC licences (see Table 1) that are availablepre-requisite to sustained creativity, and there is are based on four specific conditions (described ina need to proactively enrich this public domain Table 1): attribution, share alike, non-commercialby creating a positive rights discourse. It does and no derivative works (‘Creative Commonsthis by creating a set of licenses to enable open Licences – Creative Commons’). The aspect of CCcontent and collaboration, as well as acting as licensing that is most controversial is the non-com-a database of open content. Creative Commons mercial (NC) clause (Commonwealth of Learning,also serves to educate the public about issues of 2007; Hofman & West, 2008; Rutledge, 2008). Therecopyright, freedom of speech and expression and are several reasons for this, including at the mostthe public domain. Liang (2004, pg. 78) basic level, what ‘non-commercial’ means in fact. Since CC licences are a new phenomenon withinThe CC licences take account of different copyright copyright law, little previous case history exists tolaws in different countries or jurisdictions and also assist in interpreting this clause. The most extremeallow for different language versions. To make the interpretation of non-commercial is that no moneylicensing process as simple as possible for users the should change hands as part of the process ofcreative commons site makes use of a licence gen- using the materials. However, Hofman and Westerator that suggests the most appropriate licence (2008) note that this is not how non-commercialbased on a user’s response to specific questions is usually interpreted. For example a transactionregarding how their work can be used. In order to is not commonly seen as commercial when itfacilitate the searching for resources licences in a includes refunding for expenses such as travel. Theparticular way, the CC licence is expressed in three transaction becomes commercial when making aversions: profit is the purpose of the transaction. Similarly,• Commons deed: this is a plain language version writing from the CC perspective, Rutledge notes of the licence, with supporting icons (see table that: below); CC considers intent to be the primary test of• Legal code: the legal fine print that ensure the whether a use is non-commercial. If the intent licence is recognised in a court of law; and of a particular use is to generate profit, that• Digital code: a machine-readable translation use is commercial. Under this reasoning, cost that allows search engines to identify work by recovery per se is not a commercial use. (Rut- its terms of use (‘About - Creative Commons’; ledge, 2008) Liang, 2004). While this approach may seem intuitive, many le-All CC licences include ‘baseline rights’: the rights gal examples could be found that demonstrate theto copy, distribute, display, perform publicly or by complexity of defining ‘intent’. The Commonwealthdigital performance, and to change the format of of Learning (COL) Copyright Guidelines specificallythe material as a verbatim copy (Hofman & West, address the issue of the NC clause and note that2008, p. 11). In addition, all CC licences assert the profit and cost recovery, which includes operatingauthor’s right over copyright and the granting of costs, should not be confused. This means thatcopyright freedoms and require licensees to: an organisation may still charge registration fees, 15 © SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  22. 22. recover materials duplication costs and overhead licensed without this restriction (see for example costs incurred during customisation, duplication Bissell & Boyle, 2007; Moller, 2005). and distribution of materials. The COL guidelines continue to note that: While it is understandable that an author who openly releases their materials would not want If an institution declares and/or pays a net others to make a profit from them, this can be profit to shareholders, and a part of the net achieved in other ways. For example, it could be profit emanates from the sale of learning mate- argued that, when materials can be freely acces- rials marked with the NC clause, a calculation sible via the Internet, charging for the materials should be done to determine the amount of net themselves becomes irrelevant, and to make a profit that has been earned by that section of profit the individual or company would need to the materials that has been marked with the add sufficient additional value beyond what is NC clause. This is the critical point when the freely available to make it worthwhile for users to NC and non-NC materials differ. Organisa- pay. Work released on an attribution-share alike tions that provide materials without the NC licence (see details below) requires that any work clause have accepted that the materials they that is derived from the original work is released offer may be used to profit any other organisa- under the same licence. Thus, the value added by tions’ stakeholders [in addition to covering all the for-profit individual/company would itself need reproduction costs]. (Commonwealth of Learn- to be released freely under an attribution-share ing, 2007, p. 2) alike licence (Moller, 2005). In working to better understand how the non- The table below summarises the six CC licence commercial clause is applied in different con- options that are available and presents a fictional texts, Creative Commons is currently conducting example of what each might imply for one of the research into this issue, due to be released in early OER Africa CoPs, the Skills for a Changing World 2009 (Rutledge, 2008). Rutledge ends her com- programme.1 The fictional examples present, in mentary by suggesting that readers should also story form, an argument for why the Skills for a seriously consider whether the non-commercial Changing World programme should adopt an clause is really necessary. Attribution Share-Alike Licence. The examples highlight why this licence would allow an educa- Rutledge (2008) notes that some believe that any tional programme to have the greatest educational for-profit businesses should not be able to charge impact, while also ensuring that any further devel- course fees or make use of open content, hence opments to the programme remain freely available the NC restriction. However, this would imply that for use and adaptation. a private school may not use NC materials (Hofman & West, 2008), or potentially a for-profit organisa- In compiling this table, several sources were con- tion using materials for non-profit work such a sulted, including the Creative Commons website, corporate social investment project. Other argu- Bissel and Boyle (2007); Hofman and West (2008); ments against using the NC restriction include that and Liang (2004). it makes the materials incompatible with materials 1 The Skills for a Changing World Programme is a project of the Free State Higher Education Consortium (FSHEC) and Mindset Liveli- hoods in South Africa. Through this project, a consortium of HEIs are collaborating to develop an innovative foundation programme that will prepare young people who currently fall through the cracks in the South African education system for post-schooling education and/or the world of work. The programme is being developed within an open licensing framework and the OER Africa website is being used to facilitate the work of the Skills for a Changing World CoP. See: www.oerafrica.org for additional details.16© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  23. 23. Table 1. Summary of CC Licences and their possible implications for the Skills for a Changing World Programme Licence Acronym Icon Description Fictional example of possible implications for the Skills For A Changing World Name Programme Attribution BY This licence lets others University X in Country Y implements a foundation programme which they call ‘Skills for the Future’. This programme distribute, remix, tweak, is based entirely on Skills for a Changing World materials with small adaptations for the Country X context. There is and build upon your an acknowledgment of the Skills for a Changing World programme and the materials author’s names are noted on the work, even commercial- first page of the slightly adapted materials used in the Skills for the Future Programme. As part of the adaptation process ly, as long as they credit University X also developed an additional module on HIV/AIDS. The additional module is not uploaded to the Skills you for the original for a Changing World website. The university applies a traditional copyright to their Skills for the Future Programme creation. This is the materials, and sells these materials to students in the programme and via the institution’s website as an additional support most accommodating of resource. Due to the cost of the materials, few students in Country Y are able to take advantage of the opportunity to licences offered, in terms develop their foundational skills. of what others can do with your works licensed under attribution. Attribution BY-SA This licence lets others University X in Country Y implements a foundation programme which they call ‘Skills for the Future’. This programme Share Alike remix, tweak, and build is based entirely on Skills for a Changing World materials with small adaptations for the Country Y context. There is upon your work even an acknowledgment of the Skills for a Changing World programme and the materials author’s names are noted on the for commercial reasons, first page of the slightly adapted materials used in the Skills for the Future Programme. As part of the adaptation process as long as they credit University X also develops an additional module on HIV/AIDS. The additional module and the adapted materials carry you and license their a CC BY-SA licence and in keeping with the licence conditions the new module and adapted materials are uploaded to new creations under the the Skills for a Changing World website. Since the CC BY-SA licence does not preclude commercial use of the materials identical terms. This li- the university decides to sells the Skills for the Future materials to students in their programme and via the institution’s cence is often compared website as an additional support resource. However, the institution finds that they make little profit from selling these to open source software materials as the possibility of accessing the materials free via the Skills for a Changing World website run from South licences. All new works Africa spreads. Students registered for the Skills for a Changing World Programme in the Free State find that the HIV/ based on yours will carry AIDS module developed by university X contains some very useful perspectives on how HIV/AIDS could be prevented the same licence, so any in South Africa. Students request the Skills for a Changing World Programme Coordinator to include, for credit, an derivatives will also al- optional module on HIV/AIDS that is based on that developed by University X. University Z finds the Skills for the low commercial use. Future materials when searching the Skills for a Changing World website and decides that this version is better suited to their context so they download the materials to support their student support programme. 17© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za
  24. 24. 18 Licence Acronym Icon Description Fictional example of possible implications for the Skills For A Changing World Name Programme Attribution BY-ND This licence allows for University X in Country Y needs to develop a foundation programme for students entering higher education. Country Y No Derivative redistribution, commer- has high levels of poverty and University X is always pressed for funding, as a result little funding is available to support cial and non-commer- the development of the programme, despite the extent of the need. A lecturer at University X is searching the Internet© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za cial, with credit to the for openly licensed foundation programmes that might help them to provide educational opportunities more widely author. The work may in the country. She finds the Skills for a Changing World Programme website and is excited to read that the Skills for a not be altered, trans- Changing World programme use a CC licence. As she reviewed the Skills for a Changing World programme materials formed or built on. she identified a number of areas in which the materials would need to be adapted to take into account the specifics of the local education and economic context. In addition, since many students had very little exposure to English it would be important to translate the materials into the language of Country Y for them to really be beneficial. Just as the lecturer was about to email her colleagues to share the news of the programme she had found she discovered that the CC licence used was a CC BY-ND licence which means that no changes could be made to the materials. In this case, at best, Uni- versity X would be able to use the Skills for a Changing World materials as a reference source and possibly provide copies of certain sections to students for reference materials. Unfortunately, despite Skills for a Changing World’s claims to be committed to expanding educational opportunity, in this instance this was not possible due to the licence restrictions used. Attribution BY-NC This licence lets oth- University X in Country Y needs to develop a foundation programme for students entering higher education. Country Y Non-commer- ers remix, tweak, and has high levels of poverty and University X is always pressed for funding, as a result little funding is available to support cial build upon your work the development of the programme, despite the extent of the need. A lecturer at University X is searching the Internet non-commercially, for openly licensed foundation programmes that might help them to provide educational opportunities more widely and although their in the country. She finds the Skills for a Changing World Programme website and is excited to read that the Skills for a new works must also Changing World programme use a CC licence. As she reviewed the Skills for a Changing World programme materials acknowledge you and be she identified a number of areas in which the materials would need to be adapted to take the specifics of the local educa- non-commercial, they tion and economic context into account. In addition, since many students had very little exposure to English it would be don’t have to license important to translate the materials into the language of Country Y for them to really be beneficial. Since the materials their derivative works on carried a CC BY-NC licence this adaptation would not be a problem as there is no restriction on creating derivative the same terms. works. University X went ahead and adapted and translated Skills for a Changing World to be offered at their institu- tion. The Rector of the University, despite being advised otherwise by the lecturer who understood open licensing issues, decided that it would be best for the university to restrict others from adapting the new materials to ensure a competitive advantage for the institution. University Z, also in Country Y, faced similar challenges to University X and was excited to discover that University X had been able to adapt and translate materials from Skills for a Changing World. University Z wished to use the trans- lated materials and update them to include activities and examples related to irrigation since this was a focus area of the university. University Z proposed to share this module with all Skills for a Changing World users. However, this adapta- tion was not possible due to the licensing conditions set by University X. University Y was thus not able to make optimal use of the Skills for a Changing World materials for their students.
  25. 25. Licence Acronym Icon Description Fictional example of possible implications for the Skills For A Changing World Name Programme Attribution BY-NC-SA This licence lets oth- University X, in country Y, is a private university linked to a major for-profit corporation in the country. University X Non-com- ers remix, tweak, and offers a range of high fee, profit-making courses for the business sector in the county. In addition, the university is com- mercial Share build upon your work mitted to creating educational opportunities for those with limited access to university study. This is done by offering a Alike non-commercially, as foundation programme for which students are provided with full bursaries to cover their tuition costs. The investment long as they credit you of the university in these bursaries leaves little funding available for ongoing improvements and development of their and license their new foundation materials. For this reason, the foundation programme course coordinator was happy to locate the Skills for creations under the a Changing World programme offered in South Africa and licensed with a CC licence. He was most interested in the identical terms. Others module on life skills since this was an area currently lacking in his programme. He obtained a copy of the Skills for a can download and Changing World Life Skills module from the Skills for a Changing World website and proceeded to make a few small redistribute your work adaptations, including the addition of extra examples. He then uploaded his version of the module to the Skills for a just like the BY-NC- Changing World website for others to use and also distributed it to a colleague at another university in the country. ND licence, but they Prior to offering the module, all new modules needed to be approved within University X. The lecturer was not granted can also translate, make approval to use the materials since the university lawyers felt that the non-commercial clause of the Skills for a Chang- remixes, and produce ing World licence might exclude a private for-profit institution from using the materials, even for non-profit purposes. new stories based on Although this was an unclear issue, the university decided that it was too risky to make use of the revised module, and so your work. All new the potential application of Skills for a Changing World in this context could not be realised. work based on yours will carry the same licence, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature. Attribution BY-NC-ND This licence is the Like the example presented for the Attribution-No Derivative licence above, University X that wished to make use of Non-com- most restrictive of the the Skills for a Changing World programme as the basis for developing their own foundation programme in another mercial No six main CC licences, language would not be able to do so. All the university would be able to do is make copies of the existing Skills for a Derivatives allowing redistribu- Changing World programme as reference materials for students. tion only. This licence is often called the ‘free advertising’ licence because it allows others In addition, like the example of Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike above, the private for profit university that to download your works also offered a non-profit making foundation programme would possibly be restricted from using the materials to support and share them with their non-profit work. others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them com-© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za mercially.
  26. 26. 4. The Importance of Piloting: Contributing to OER Theory and Practice As a relatively new approach within the HE sector, issues of quality assurance and accreditation in the the importance of piloting and documenting context of open education and OER. Both of these lessons from pilots should be highlighted. Each issues are central to the success of OER initiatives unique way in which OER is approached and in a higher education context. Specific lessons projects are implemented in the HE environment regarding these processes emerging from pilot has the potential to contribute to the emerging projects will be relevant to the OER movement as understanding of OER theory and practice. a whole, and not just the specific intervention in question. Related is the role that OER might play Schmidt and Surman (2007) argue (based on in supporting pedagogic changes within higher discussions held at an iSummit bringing together education. OER advocates and practitioners) that rather than focusing exclusively on content and technologies All these examples point to expanding learn- supporting OER it is critical to approach OER as an ing theories that include situated learning and ecosystem (see also Atkins et al., 2007). The OER learning-to-be (within an epistemic frame) ecosystem consists of processes, communities, rather than just learning-about. The stage institutions and people as well as content and tools is being set to reformulate many of Dewey’s (Schmidt & Surman, 2007). Writing several years theories of learning informed by and leveraging earlier, Keats (2003) also highlighted the need to newer cognitive and social theories of learning focus on processes, tools, and people when consid- and delivered in conceptually rich experiential ering models for collaborative, open content devel- learning environments. (Atkins et al., 2007, p. opment (Keats, 2003). Few OER initiatives to date 46) have focused on understanding this ecosystem. The importance of integrating OER approaches To contribute to OER theory and practice, the value within the policies, procedures, and budgets of of embedding OER initiatives within an action institutions is of critical importance to the sustain- research framework should be highlighted. This ability of OER (Atkins et al., 2007; D’Antoni, 2007). allows the project to research and reflect on all Each OER intervention, no matter how small or the elements of this specific OER ecosystem. The large, will contribute to the documentation of lessons emerging from this project are likely to be good practice in the area of integrating this ap- of benefit far more broadly than just within the proach within the practice of higher education programme itself. institutions. Schmidt and Surman (2007) argue further that little attention has been paid to the challenging20© SAIDE: www.saide.org.za