OpenFiction [Blog]

Borderlines

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on October 2, 2008

The three-part model for open education that I first heard articulated at the OCWC discussion about accreditation at the Hewlett grantees meeting last March in Pittsburgh seems to be gaining traction.  D’Arcy Norman shares his version here, and David Wiley’s been on it for some time.

I had been thinking of the three-part model–content, learning experiences, and accreditation–as silos, but I’ve been thinking lately of them more as a pie with three pieces, each of which borders on the other two.  Then, to extend the bakery-based metaphor further, I’m now envisioning the model as a two-layer cake, with traditional closed education–content, learning experiences and accreditation–underlying the open.

As before, my interest is in the margins between the pieces rather than the pieces themselves.  Each margin has a set of negotiations associated with it, and those negotiations underpin the ecology of open education (if a cake can have an ecology).

To mangle the mixed metaphor even further, I’ve been thinking of these negotiations or interfaces as EPI’s–Educational Program Interfaces–the APIs of open education. The kinds of accreditation issues D’Arcy seems to be examining are at the margin between open content/learning experiences and open accreditation opportunities.  When David talks about hacking the system, he’s dropping down a layer and trying an interface with the traditional accreditation piece.

OCW publication is itself one type of EPI, an interface between closed content and open content.  David’s open course represents an interface between traditional learning experiences and open learning experiences (I’m staying away from D’Arcy’s articulation of open access due to the confusion with the open access journal movement).  Notre Dame is using their OCW to help incoming students adjust to college, an interface between open content and traditional educational systems.

License incompatibility, seen in this light is a conflict of EPIs in some respects, with the NC license being a key part of the interface between traditional and open content, but an issue in the interface between open content and the other pieces of the open pie.  The focus has to date been on finding a fix at the closed-to-open content EPI, but I think there are more fruitful avenues to explore at the margins of the open pieces.

If we assume the body of open content will never be under a uniform license, how can we successfully work within that body of content to support open learning experiences and open accreditation?  I see this as being more realistically addressable than trying to achieve uniform licensing across all content.

It’s also worth noting, though my sleep-addled brain has lost the attribution for this, that someone recently proposed a fourth piece that has merit–social and reputational capital, which is an important part of traditional education, both at the institutional level (the reputation of the school) and at the personal level (interpersonal connections made in the educational process).

There are some emerging EPIs here.  OCW relies on institutional reputation to help provide context for users.  Online social networks can build relationships during the educational process, traditional or open.  But this is going to be in some ways the toughest nut to crack.  How do you build the social and reputational value of open learning?

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