OpenFiction [Blog]

Reference, not ripping?

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 15, 2006

In thinking more about the implications of the scenario I sketched out previously, it occurs to me that one effect a reliance on reference rather than rip-mix-burn might ultimately be to sort out many of the license compatibility questions floating around out there. As a quick review, the idea is that learning materials may be less reusable than disposable, with materials created and shared in such volume that it makes little sense to actually pull them down locally or into some closed system and lay hands on them directly, and more sense to point to them where they lay resting in OCW-like semi permanent collections, providing a little context as you do so.

As a for instance, then, I might develop my “lecture notes” for a class in a blog, pointing out to resources on opencourseware sites, wikipedia, a site with my own teaching materials (such as tOFP), the New York Times site, other blogs, etc, etc. With each blog post pointing out, I provide whatever context my students will need, including definitions/translations of key phrases, additional explanations to adjust for the level of the student, links to software needed to run the resource, and so on. This provides “contextualization on the go” without having to actually move the resource out of or into any particular system.

It also allows me to mix together resources under a range of licenses as well as materials fully protected by copyright, with clear and consistent attribution and contextualization, in a format easy to follow for my students. I realize this might get a little awkward with multipage PDFs, but saying “the second graph on page 15” isn’t that difficult, and it might be to the students’ advantage to see previous contexts of use for the material in question.


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  1. […] This is why I can more easily imagine the creation of course materials with OER as a reference, not rip-mix-burn, process. Anyway, I’m sure there are examples out there, and it would be great to see a few. In the mean time, I’m going to assume it’s a matter of my own misanthropy. […]

  2. […] I’m beginning to see the question of the extent to which opencourseware is used as a reference as opposed to a resource for remix as a vital one for understanding the value of open educational resources, one that touches on a number of the more difficult issues we’re wresting with at the moment. We’ve been trying to update the scenarios of use we use in our surveys to determine how MIT OCW is being used (see the latest Evaluation Report for these), to align them better with the qualitative understanding of how the resource is found to be valuable by our users. What’s of interest to me is that many of the types of impact we’ve been able to generalize even for educators, which is the audience segment that almost exclusively remixes materials, have more to do with uses of the site as a reference. […]

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