OpenFiction [Blog]

A little more on the afterthought

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 16, 2006

I’ve mentioned before yesterday that I thought prior use context was among the most important types of information metadata could capture about a particular piece of learning material, and also that capturing prior use context is among the most difficult tricks to accomplish in metadata. That’s because you are trying to capture networked relationships, which works fine when those relationships are between people, each of whom is willing to enter his or her metadata. Unfortunately, instructional materials aren’t so socially motivated.

As I said in the post from last August, I had hacked together a metadata capture database before coming to MIT that used FileMaker’s lookup function to partially automate the creation of metadata records and capture relationships between materials in the process. The level of effort was still not trivial, but you could at least fairly painlessly develop metadata records at several levels of granularity for a group of instructional materials. Borrowing from a David Wiley paper, I used four levels of granularity, which I called Course, Unit, Resource and Object. By creating the top-level granularity record, and then creating child records down the chain using the lookup feature, you could have the smaller granularities “inherit” much of the necessary metadata, and only have to make a few changes.

The best part, though, was that by concatenating the ID’s for parent-child strings, you could develop a “DNA” for the material in question that expressed its relationship to other materials. For instance, the system could spit out a string like 25253-67465-47577-47773, which essentially told you that object 47773 (say, a .jpeg) was a part of resource 47577 (an .html page), which in turn was part of a series of related pages 67465 (a unit on narrative arc) that was one unit with a course 25253 (say, Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction). There was no requirement within the system that the chain start at the course level–if the unit was the top of the chain, the DNA would look like: 00000-67465-47577-47773. A stand-alone object would look like 00000-00000-00000-47773. You could express a whole unit as 25253-67465-00000-00000.

Once the records for the materials’ initial use were created, it was possible to adopt previously created materials into new higher-granularity materials. For instance, Advanced Fiction Writing (88326) might adopt the whole unit on narrative arc, expressed as 88326-67465-00000-00000; or just a page in that unit for a new unit on narrative structure (93326), expressed as 88326-93326-47577-00000; or simply adopt the image on a new page on narrative structure (67688), expressed as 88326-93326-67688-47773.

Through all of this it was possible to query a series of DNA strings related to a given piece of material, such as:


This query can be done on records of any granularity, providing access to a record of all the uses to which the material has been put over time.

I drag you through all of this because, as I’ve also said before, the workflow tracking engine we use at MIT OCW is based on this system, uses a very similar parent-child granularity tracking and generates similar chains. In developing the MIT version, we didn’t at the outset implement the “adopt” feature, but have just recently done so, largely to track intellectual property metadata for objects we’ve previously obtained permission to publish and are using for a new course.

There are now several hundred such cases, many of which are associated with updates of the same course (i.e. the Spring 2005 version uses many of the same images we cleared for the Fall 2002 version), but other instances are old materials being reused in totally different courses. The primary interest here, of course, is keeping the IP straight and eliminating the effort of clearing the same object twice, but eventually there will be quite a bit of valuable data on the reuse of educational materials that can be drawn pretty easily out of the system. I’m looking forward to being able to look at this down the road.


An afterthought

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 15, 2006
Recontextualization of a given resource done locally will nearly always mean decontextualization of that same resource regarding its prior use. Reference, on the other hand, supports preservation and dissemnation of prior use context information–think trackbacks. Prior and alternate use context information seems to me to be one of the most valuable aspects of openly shared educational resources. As valuable perhaps as any efficiencies to be gained by reuse.

Powered by Bleezer

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.

tOFP [ Print ]

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 12, 2006

I’m happy to unveil a draft of a project in the works for some time, tOFP [ Print ] (PDF – 1.7 MB), which is the print version of the OpenFiction Project. It contains basically the same text as the web site, but in book form. I’m going to make the PDF available through the site soon, along with the option for print-on-damand through CafePress. The print-on-demand will cost around $14.00, a portion of which will go to supporting the site; the PDF will be available for free. It may be a couple of weeks until I get the print-on-demand set up, as I have to make a few adjustments to the PDF and hack together some cover art. But I thought it would be fun to put this out there now.

Welcome to the bazaar (or how video may kill the radio star)

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 11, 2006

In gaming out scenarios of the future of opencourseware publication, part of the never-ending search for sustainable models, I keep having discussions about improved integration between Learning Management Systems (pervasive enough to demand capitalization) and opencourseware publication systems, such as MIT’s CMS or COSL’s eduCommons. Makes sense on the face of it. If we can get most faculty to adopt an LMS, and we can couple the LMS with the publishing environment, then we can capture the effort faculty expend anyway in creating their courses and reduce the effort required to openly publish the course materials. These scenarios always start out with assumptions like, “If 80% of faculty are assumed to be using an LMS…”

But I’ve never been comfortable with those assumptions, and I realized a while back that it was because I never taught with an LMS. I used one for three years while I was teaching a distance learning course, but the whole time the actual content was housed in a separate web site (where it was much easier to manage) and most of the interaction was via e-mail (1998-2000, a web 1.0 world). It’s a heretical thing to say in some circles (and I’m not the first to say it–I first heard the idea from a presentation by Stephen Downes), but we may well be seeing the high-water mark for the LMS and adoption may actually decrease in the years to come. I recently came across a site, which—–while I haven’t explored in great depth yet–—seems to point in the same direction.

The whole idea that learning can be “managed” from a central system may even seem to be a strange notion in ten years. Instead of centrally creating a secure digital learning space for teachers and students, as we do now, the default may be that students and teachers come together in self-organizing digital spaces of their own design, where the various elements of the participants’ digital personas (blogs, vlogs, wikis, websites, facebooks, fileshares and linklists) come together via aggregation tools of their choosing. In as much as the physical classroom depends on the unique contributions of both the teacher and the students to produce the character of the learning experience, so too the digital learning experience may utlimately depend greatly on the ways in which the students project themselve into cyberspace, and the walls of an LMS may be a barrier to this.

The elements of current LMS that I found to be of most use were basically the administrative tools, and those might eventually atrophy to be the only elements that remain, if at all, as small parts of school’s student information systems. Even these are not that hard to replecate externally, with the exception of direct links to enrollment lists in administrative systems and the reporting back of grades–—though who knows, a secure RSS feed might allow even that to happen in multiple environments.

So how does this affect opencourseware publication? I’d suggest in two ways. Because it ultimately points to a situation in which learning becomes a less digitally stable undertaking—–something more fluid, with learning experiences created and dismantled rapidly and outside of any central control—–opencourseware publication can serve as an organizing principle around which learning experiences can be documented. The process of gathering materials and publishing a “snapshot” of the materials can provide a stable point of reference for future learning experiences.

Second (and this again is an idea that draws on Stephen Downes’ thinking), opencourseware may become less about providing reusable and repurposable materials that are then somehow “localized” by others, and more about providing a fertile soil for future learning experiences as old materials decompose. In trying to imagine how I might use opencourseware content in my future teaching, it seems to me if I know of a resource reasonably close to my own needs that exists at a stable URL, I would likely point to it in a blog post and provide any necessary annotation for my class in the post, rather than try to download it and edit it directly.

The idea of reusable digital objects, as I’ve said before, may be a consumer culture idea developed in a time when such objects were expensive and difficult to create (and in fact I think the potential for reuse of an object is related to the expense and difficulty required to create it–which is why simulations are among the most sought-after types of digital resources). In a producer culture environment, most “learning materials” may turn out to be more disposable than reusable, with educators finding in a web 2.0 world that it’s just as easy to roll your own as borrow and adapt.

We may find that so many people are creating so much material and making it so widely available that there’s always plenty of useful stuff near enough to our needs that a reference to the resource wherever it resides on the web, with a little context in the pointer, is much easier than making the effort to pull it into a canonical system and make changes to the resource directly. This vision would point to keeping opencourseware systems relatively format and learning environment agnostic (something I see as a strength of eduCommons right now) and keeping publishing formats relatively simple. I’m not saying this vision is a certainty by any means, but I’m not buying stock in WebCT/BlackBoard either.

Drafting – A milestone, of sorts

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 10, 2006
I’ve been making good progress on the novel since restarting again, and I’m closing in on a milestone that will close a nearly ten year loop. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I had about 100 pages when I finished grad school in 1997, and at the time, I felt like the stuff I had was good, but not good enough. I felt like going forward from that point would mean building the rest of the novel on a shaky foundation. At the time, I had a debate with my thesis chair, Pam Painter, about whether I should go forward or go back and write through the material I had to improve it. Her advice was to go forward, that if I tried to go back I’d never get through it. I now see her point.I do this with short stories, too. Write a page or two, then go back and write the first four pages, then go back and write through the next six. After about the fourth pass through, I have the set-up of the story to where I feel it has real legs, and I’m able to write through the end of it in one or two tries. I’m cautiously optimistic, and desperately hoping, this turns out to be the case with the novel as well. I actually double-looped through the beginning of the novel in the intervening years, going back a second time to change Annabel’s job. I’m glad that I did the redraft, especially because I ended up writing a prologue that may well be the strongest part of the book so far, and also because I do now feel confident that the book has legs and is ready to go somewhere. I have two more chapters to redraft, but they are two that I am mostly happy with, so I’m sure they’ll go quickly. I expect to fully close the loop by the end of June at the latest.As far as the length of time it is taking to complete the loop, suffice it to say that these years have not been conducive to focused writing. I’ve been busy getting a family and a career started, which for me were well worth taking the time to do. I’m not a person who–despite my advice to the contrary–has put writing above these other things and carved out time consistently in the past few years. Things do seem to be settling down some, though, to the point where I ought to be able to give the writing more time and attention. I’m hoping it won’t take another nine years to write the rest of the book.

Powered by Bleezer

tOFP by the numbers (April 06)

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 9, 2006

So not quite the month tOFP had in March, but still pretty good with the school year winding down. Looks like about 6 downloads of the .zip file. Always good to see people who think the material’s worth cluttering up their hard drive with:

April report

Is OpenCourseWare good for the US?

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 8, 2006

I’m going to raid back e-mail one more time for a blog post before hopefully actually writing for the blog. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked by anyone whether I was sure OCW was good for the world as a whole–there seems to be general agreement that it is–but I am asked occasionally whether it is a good thing for the US. These questions usually come in one of two flavors: Is OCW undermining the competativeness of US univeristies?, or Is OCW a threat to national security? The national security questions can be further subdivided into questions about helping rival nations in general, and the specific issue of the release of sensitive technical information. I found myself answering these questions again via e-mail, and thought the response were worth sharing (if only to hear what counter-arguments might be out there):

US universities aren’t the pre-eminent one in the world in isolation. Their dominance depends upon a great many social and economic underpinnings, including the volume of research money coming in, the liberal, democratic society in which they exist, the opportunity for personal economic advancement they represent. Soviet schools never quite matched their US counterparts because the Soviet economy and culture didn’t support them in the way US universities are supported. Will things become more competitive in the future for US universities? Sure. Is it the biggest threat to US security out there? No.

The large numbers of people around the world living in repressive political circumstances, with little or no education or economic opportunity are a much bigger threat. Sadly, it really only takes a few guys with nothing better to do with their lives to cause a tremendous amount of damage. The only antidote I can see to this is education. The better we can educate people globally, the more empowered they’ll feel, especially in the face of globalizing trends that are very threatening. The more educated world populations become, the more they’ll demand political self-determination, the more economic opportunities they’ll be able to create, and the better they’ll be able to improve their health and well-being. They’ll create for themselves lives they value.

To what extent will OCW help this along? Couldn’t tell you, but I’m sure it’s worth the risk to US universities. And I guarantee that by the time universities around the world are positioned to threaten US universities, the societies in which they exist will no longer be threats to US security. I love the fact that OCW is huge in Iran, because I know it means we’re reaching the people interested in better lives, and the more we can help them, the sooner Iran will be less dangerous to us. By the time the University of Tehran is a threat to MIT, the Ayatollahs will be long gone. Seems like a fair trade.

There are near term dangers, in particular that we’re spreading technical knowledge faster than we’re spreading liberal democratic ideas. 9/11 was space age technology in the hands of middle age thinking, and it obviously can be a really deadly combination. But the kinds of information that can do the most harm aren’t likely to be published on OCW sites anyway.

I believe I quote myself…

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 5, 2006

Here’s another posting from the IIEP forum:

The debate, it seems to me, is whether you favor freedom or openness as being the most important aspect of OER. Both perspectives are valuable, but each perspective leads to different and often conflicting conclusions. The emphasis on freedom seems to be the more widespread perspective, and places high importance on open licenses of many flavors, interoperability, and what I call derivatibility–the technical and legal ease with which derivatives can be made. This perspective sees the most connections between the development of free/open source software and OER. The real potential of OER will be realized, the freedom perspective argues, when a critical mass of teaching materials is available under (insert you favorite license here) in a common format that supports easy manipulation. At this point, we can stack these materials like Legos (TM), or save ourselves duplication of effort by simply recontextualizing existing materials rather than creating new ones. From the freedom perspective, having correctly licensed and highly formatted materials either created collaboratively or from a relatively smaller number of sources will provide the raw materials from which OER will flourish (assuming fewer will both adopt the correct license and have the financial means to adopt the correct formats).

The openness perspective places the emphasis on making the greatest number of educational materials openly available under any license. The real scarcity, in this view, is not the availability of correctly licensed and formatted educational materials, but the the availability of these materials under any circumstance. For institutions dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the perspective argues, universities are remarkably insular institutions, providing knowledge only if you have the ability to come to campus or pay tuition or afford expensive journals and books. Here, the internet provides an unprecedented opportunity to make available these stores of knowledge with many fewer barriers (though important ones still). The key goal in this perspective is to get as many schools sharing as many resources as possible in whatever format and under whatever license they choose. If, for instance, it becomes standard practice for every college and university to openly publish their teaching materials, even under full copyright, then an enormous amount of good will have been realized. Any movement toward shared and open (or free) licensing or shared formats will amplify the good, but the openness itself is most crucial.

These are of course both extremes. I think like most people, I became interested in OER from a freedom perspective, having struggled to navigate treacherous IP waters in developing a distance learning program for a small private college. I have, over time, begun to see the value in the openness perspective. I said before that something like 90% of MIT OCW use does not depend upon the creation of derivatives. The vast majority of people using our materials are self-learners looking for solutions to professional problems, keeping skills up-to-date, or planning for future study; students learning outside the bounds of their formal study, finding additional perspectives on concepts addressed in their classes, or choosing courses or programs of study. Even among educators, many uses–such as developing curriculum, advising students, and improving their own knowledge–do not require the creation of derivatives. Among those educators who do reuse content, two-thirds do make changes mostly to account for academic and technical differences between our materials and the formats and structures of their own institutions. For the other third, the materials are close enough to their needs that they can provide any (re)contextualizing information in class. When I cited this 90% figure earlier, Derek suggested that the goal should be tho change the use behaviors, but I’m not sure how that applies to the many uses above.

Even when you look at the narrow question of educators reusing materials for instruction, I think there are multiple paths. Down the freedom path, make relatively fewer materials more openly licensed and technically flexible, and then recontextualize them widely. Down the openness path, make as many materials as widely available as possible so that educators will be able to find near approximations of their needs (under licenses that are open enough) that require little or no recontextualization to begin with. I don’t think one approach is necessarily better or more correct than the other, but I do think it’s quite premature to be suggesting that either is the wrong direction.

Free or Open?

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 4, 2006

Backtracking a bit to some of the discussion on the UNESCO IIEP-OER forum. The excerpts below are an exchange between me and Derek Keats at the University of the Western Cape. Derek has done some really impressive work in getting a wide-ranging and very thoughtful IP policy put through at UWC, and feels very strongly (as is clear below) that OER should be free and open (in particular should not have non-commercial restrictions associated with it).

In a perfect world, I suppose I agree, but I don’t find it to be a very practical position. Why not? Well, taking tOFP for example, I am not bent out of shape if instructors at universities make use of the material, and the school makes some money in the process, but I do think the material is such that a group like could pretty much take it off the shelf and use it to make money. is a nasty bunch who brought a harassing lawsuit against some old classmates of mine at Emerson, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow for the possibility of my work being associated with them. The NC restriction gives me some control over this. Anyway, I think the discussion is helpful in understanding the relevant issues:


SC: Many educators would choose not to share materials without the NC protections. At present, MIT OCW contains materials from nearly 1400 MIT classes from 75% of MITs tenure track faculty. This level of participation would not have been possible with out the NC clause attached.

DK: Is there evidence to suggest that MIT’s faculty could not have been ‘educated’ by a concerted effort on the part of those who understood the implications of this restriction? Is there evidence to suggest that they would be unwilling to change if provided with a reasoned argument?

In my University, we have a policy that was accepted unanimously by senate and council that stipulates Attribution ShareAlike, and provides guidelines for when other licenses are appropriate. After much discussion within the university, there has been no objection to this license.

Of course, its a brand new venture, so I cannot say yet whether they buy into it by publishing their content, but then I don’t have large grants for them either.

I would further argue that the education world is not necessarily well served by the vast quantity of rather drab content that makes up most of MIT open courseware. It might actually have been a better decision (for the education world) to have supported a smaller volume of high quality content with good pedagogical value. On the other hand, I realise that we are a mere few steps into a journey that has yet a long way to go. There is certainly a need to research these questions properly, because right now it is speculation, and what I express above is merely my opinion.

SC: The license used for MIT OCW was not chosen hastily–we actually developed our license in parallel with the development of the CC BY-SA-NC license (and in fact have just recently completed a convergence of the two licenses and begun using the CC logo on our site). The practical question is, would it be better if MIT OCW had used a more open license but only been able to publish materials from a quarter of the faculty?

DK: If you got the good ones, yes! But the long term benefit remains to be seen, so I am answering only for today.

SC: If, in a wider context, the lack of protection afforded by the NC restriction means that a much smaller number of individuals and institutions participate in open sharing, then the *absence* of the NC may actually “limit the flow and impact of OER.”

DK: It will in the long run, because it will inhibit the formation derivative works. Can you name one successful computer programme that you are not allowed to use commercially? Where do you think Wikipedia would be today if they adopted a NC restriction?

SC: The NC license does not eliminate the possibility of commercial use, it simply means that to make commercial use of the materials, you must ask.

DK: Which is fine when there is someone to ask. But it adds a hurdle to jump over. When there is only one person to ask it is easy, but as the works grow, the number of times you have to ask and the need to keep track of permissions creates a barrier that should not exist for publicly funded education materials.

SC: This means getting a separate permission from the author (in our case, the MIT faculty member who still owns the material). Asking is greatly simplified by the BY requirement, especially in cases of institutional publications like ours, where it is relatively easy to contact authors. Many MIT professors are not disinclined to allow commercial use of their materials, but most want to have some control of the commercials uses with which their work is associated (and generally this concern is more about the appropriateness of the associations, rather than an interest in profit).

DK: But this misses the main point completely. It is NOT that I want to make commercial use, but I do not want to preclude MY derivative works from being used commercially. So what do I ask permission for? To be allowed that some hypothetical person at some unspecified time in the future might want to make commercial use of MIT or other NC materials for some unspecified purpose.

You see, you are on the wrong side of the license compatibility gap.

SC: If you accept the premise that more people share openly with the NC protection than without, an argument could be made that the NC license actually increases commercial use by advertising the existence of more materials. We typically get two or three requests a month for commercial uses of MIT OCW content, many of which are forwarded to the faculty member and some of which are approved under an agreement separate from the regular MIT OCW CC license structure. I have no doubt that some of these commercial uses never would have occurred without the OCW site.

DK: That is largely a consequence of it being MIT, and the hype surrounding it. But my point is I don’t care about commercial use, I simply don’t want to make educational materials funded with public funds sit on two sides of a license incompatibility gap that leads to wastage as people duplicate work already done on the other side of the gap.

SC: License incompatibility issues will arise, of course, but again, where they do it simply means that you must go back and ask the author for permission to create a derivative under a different license.

DK: Which is based on the naive assumption that you have a small number of authors. But how do you keep track of all that with a small budget in a developing country where the materials are claimed to be targeted?

SC: As I noted before the attribution requirements of our CC license make this relatively simple, and the fact of the initial open publication indicates the author is inclined to open sharing and likely to at least seriously consider the request. I realize this adds some level of friction in the flow, especially for those working toward automated interoperable learning systems.

DK: There you hit the nail on the head. We have MIT open courseware imported into our LOR, but it is incompatible with our own content, so we still don’t know whether we can use it or not. As a result, we will most probably not make it available to our staff even though it is technically very easy to do so.

SC: On the other hand, such communications may act to strengthen ties among educators around the world, generating awareness of others working in related fields and sparking new connections and communications.

DK: There are better ways to strenghen ties then having to face the annoyance of asking permission to cross the compatibility gap every time. You are making the assumption that we would want to ask permission for commercial use, but what I would need to ask for is permission to allow others to make commercial use at some unspecified time in the futuer for some unknown purpose. I rather just do it over.

SC: Their are good ethical arguments for and against the NC restriction, but I do think the question of whether the NC restriction is more or less effective at promoting the goals of OER sharing is at minimum an open one, and might be a good topic for the research agenda.

DK: Certainly, the evidence so far from software suggests that will be an impediment to community building, and the logic of the arguments also suggest this. There are two approaches to content creation, I call them “communal farming” and “mana from heaven”. MIT’s approach follows the ‘mana from heaven’ approach. I am more interested in the role that public funds can play in stimulating the ‘communal farming’ approach.

I discussed this on my blog at so I won’t repeat it here.

But you are right, it could do with some research. Meanwhile, I will not plant any NC content in my communal farm 🙂

SC: There’s no doubt that multiple licenses will complicate the development of derivatives from OER, but there are still very good reasons for their use. There will be a compatibility gap such as Derek describes, and at least with the early figures I’ve seen, something like 70-80% of the educational materials openly published at present use the NC restriction. It’s a matter of philosophy whether you want to go withe the most widely used license, convert the 75% to conform with the 25%, or live with the gap.

DK: ..or the alternative, which is to educate people regarding legitimate reasons for choosing a particular license.

SC: I do think it’s worth making explicit at this point that the whole discussion privileges one type of OER (re)use, which may turn out to be a small piece of the puzzle. Our evaluation work has shown that about half our use is from self learners, 30% from students at other universities, and 16% from educators. Of that educator use, only about half relies on the creation of derivative works. This means
that the incompatibility issues Derek raises are a potential issue in less that 10% of our use.

DK Right now today, but are we not interested in building community? Thats a bit like saying that because >99% of cars currently burn fossil fuel, we should not worry about alternative energy. Not quite, but what I am saying is that we need to change this situation, not accept bad practice as the defacto standard.

SC: In the other 90% of use, different licenses have no impact, and the important point is simply that the materials are openly available. It’s my hope that we do not lose sight of this fundamental point–open sharing and transparency allow up the
opportunity to learn from one another in a myriad of previously unimagined ways, and we ought to get as many materials as we can out there and openly shared. The last thing I’d like to see is materials not being shared because of an insistence on a single license.

DK: MIT can choose MIT’s license. I am talking about things developed with public funds. Of course, if MIT can educate its academic staff too, then great. But MIT OCW is not OER, and MIT has a rather unique perspective that is not that of a typical institution adopting an OER policy.

For a small, poorly funded institution like the one I work for, building community is absolutely the most important aspect of OER, and for us, without the financial muscle to choose our own path, a Free license is a vital first step.

SC: The creation of derivatives from OER probably does deserve to be privileged as it appears to be a path of great promise, but it’s not the only path and we’re too early–and know too little–to be closing down one avenue at the expense of another. Another vote, I guess, for more research…

DK: Except where the work is publicly funded. Then I would argue that it must contribute to community.