SI521 "Open Educational Resources at the University of Michigan" Open Textbook/Class Materials/February12Assignment

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THE SECOND ENCLOSURE MOVEMENT AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN[edit]

by JAMES BOYLE

Review 1[edit]

Part X: CONCLUSION: REIFYING THE NEGATIVE?

When confronted with the accusation that the theory of public domain is little but vague rhetoric, Boyle responds with an analogy that I found to be very amusing and applicable. He points out that “the environment” is also just rhetoric, but that gives people with different saving goals (wetlands, birds, fish) a larger cause to rally around and support. Individually these people wouldn't have the power or resources to stand up to an individual project that will immediately benefit some but cause longer term, more spread out harm to many. A uniting cause of “the environment” allows organizations to be made that can stand up for each cause in court.

Boyle argues that public domain is a similar concept, where individual users would be fighting many small battles against large corporations with immediate money concerns and the resources to fight them. He states that there should develop organizations that will fight for all types of public domain rights that people interested in different aspects can unite behind. I actually think this has started to happen, only it is not under the name public domain, it is under the name Creative Commons. Take a look at their usage chart and you can see what I mean.--Jjohlend 16:27, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

Review 2[edit]

James Boyle provides a nice historical background on the development of copyright law in the U.S. and in England, including Thomas Jefferson's perspective. Few people are familiar with the background and the original rationale for copyright often seems so disparate from U.S. copyright law today.

He layouts out several claims of what intellectual property is not:

  1. It is not a "permanent and exclusive property right"
  2. It is not a natural right.

Some notable historical criticims of copyright:

  1. It is a "transferable and inheritable" monopoly
  2. "tax on literacy"
  3. produces "artificial scarcity, high prices, and low quality"
  4. intangible, abstract, imprecise

The section about "what is the public domain" was the most interesting to me. I liked James Boyle's summary of Jessica's article: the "public domain’s primary function as allowing copyright law to continue to work not-withstanding the unrealistic, individualistic idea of creativity it depends on." (60)

Boyle's article was very dense. Although it was thought-provoking, it was easy to get lost in the language and the long paragraphs. It would have been good to have a table with key points or arguments for or against copyright. (-- kludewig)


The Tower and The Cloud: An Educase E-Book (Richard N. Katz, editor)[edit]

Review 1[edit]

Teaching and Learning Unleashed with Web 2.0 and Open Educational Resources
by: Christine Geith

This chapter is a very easy-to-understand description about the ultimate goals of how open educational resources can be developed and how they will be used. The author tells a story about a woman named Gwyn and her love of horses. It is Gwyn’s ultimate goal to keep her own horses on her own property, and maybe even compete one day in shows. However, Gwyn has many challenges to overcome, such as: building a horse barn, setting up a pasture, getting her own horses, having the right lessons, etc. To gain the knowledge she needs, Gwyn attends local horse shows, joins online social networks, takes riding lessons, meets and talks with others who have taken similar journeys, attends formal classes as well as online classes, and sets up her own blog to share her experiences as well as asking other to share their experiences. Gwyn ultimately learns everything she needs to know in a very short period of time, and, in the process, has possibly set herself up as an “expert” through the assimilation of her data and the distribution of her own content.

Gwyn, of course, is a fictional character that embodies the perfect OER user. However, the author believes that through the development of more OER, everyone will participate in these functions. The author also points out the typical benefits of OER in its ability to offer expertise to any location at any time while encouraging the expansion of even more educational resources through Creative Commons licensing. Also, she is aware that a proper credentialing mechanism still needs to be developed to ensure that OER contributions are, in fact, from trustworthy sources.

Now, I realize this may not be “earth-shattering” to a majority of the people in class. However, for those who still cannot grasp how the OER structure is suppose to work, this chapter provides a great description of how OER will be a benefit to its users and gain from its contributors. --Mflesz 01:27, 11 February 2009 (UTC)Mark Fleszar


Review 2[edit]

One of the most interesting aspects of Geith’s chapter on Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0 and OER is the idea of individualization toward student interests as a driving factor in successful collaboration, teaching, and learning. This is opposing the idea that normally within the classroom context, learners are not given much choice in the foundational courses or subjects they take, or the projects they complete. Even if they are given some measure of choice, many times deadlines and assignments are directed by the professor or teacher, and the focus of the project may not be of interest to the learner, even if the content area itself is. This is the opposite of Web 2.0, which is based upon a social structure where the learner and the teacher set their own goals and implement their own learning driven by an interest and desire to learn and use the content. Interest, here, is everything. The learning is largely fast-paced and ever-evolving by the driving force of interest, and the multiple resources available to create, share, and remix content in the area of interest.

It seems obvious that informal learning could take place through the social venues of Web 2.0 and the use of OER. However, the idea that formal and informal learning can be done through the use of Web 2.0 and OER driven by the interests of the learner seems to have much potential for the future as far as engaging students and teachers in content. Though somewhat of an effort is made at the K-12 level to individualize learning for students and allow them opportunities for creative expression, it still does not come close to the ideas of Web 2.0 where social forces and interest drive the instruction. Not only does the idea that “if you teach it, therefore you will learn it” come into play, but also the idea that much more learning seems to take place as a result of individuals having a vested interest in the content they are studying. It seems much more likely that teachers and students will engage in discourse about a content area if engagement happens on the whim of the learner, and continually evolves in a somewhat natural way. Social norms seem to play a part in allowing the teacher and learner to interact in ways that produce huge incentives to go ever deeper into the content. Though the particular way this would play out in the traditional education setting is unclear, surely some of these factors need to be considered if we are to continue to be engaged as teachers and learners of the 21st century. --Jess thudium 21:13, 12 February 2009 (UTC)


Review[edit]

“Teaching and Learning Unleashed with Web 2.0 and Open Educational Resources” by Christine Geith.

I found this an enjoyable read since this piece since it constructs an optimistic hypothetical situation that illustrates how a dedicated amateur can use open content in a terrific way. To a large degree, I think that amateur interest must account for the success of open content, that technological resources must appeal (really appeal, in an exciting way) to the individual passions of the user in order to transcend the role of a textbook that a student never opens. This is not to denigrate the position of the amateur at all. Geith raises some solid points (under the heading “Teaching and Learning Unleashed”) about the difficulties that faculty face in institutions with scarce resources (that may be allocated with preference toward money-making programs, or other political issues), or sitting office hours when they might be striving for publication. It is a fact that standardized outcomes do not produce standardized students. Thank God! But just the same, not all of the best students realize a great return on their time and financial investment, and perhaps the students who struggle would profit from a more thoroughly interactive presentation of the subject in keeping with Gwyn’s hypothetical experience, characterized it seems by a terrific flurry of activity. I would have appreciated a greater explanation of why Gwyn’s story is the best avenue, though. I wanted even more statistics; this article whetted my appetite. Although I tend to believe in the value of Web 2.0 as a teacher, and based on previous experience as an undergrad and a grad student, my beliefs tend to relate to a couple of narrow fields of discourse. This is to say that they are highly politicized around notions of equality of opportunity across society, and centered on discussion of philosophy, literary theory, canonical works of literature, and discussions of what should enter the canon of lit in English despite having been refused entry on the basis of exclusionary policies. I would have liked, if not a thorough discussion, a finger pointing toward evidence that Web 2.0 can have the same transformative value for physics students and art history majors as for someone like Gwyn. It’s not a matter of illustrating that there are “An abundance of resources and emergent structures.” As one of the converted, I found myself wanting more pith and marrow.--erhanse


Review 1[edit]

Teaching and Learning Unleashed with Web 2.0 and Open Educational Resources
by: Christine Geith

This chapter is a very easy-to-understand description about the ultimate goals of how open educational resources can be developed and how they will be used. The author tells a story about a woman named Gwyn and her love of horses. It is Gwyn’s ultimate goal to keep her own horses on her own property, and maybe even compete one day in shows. However, Gwyn has many challenges to overcome, such as: building a horse barn, setting up a pasture, getting her own horses, having the right lessons, etc. To gain the knowledge she needs, Gwyn attends local horse shows, joins online social networks, takes riding lessons, meets and talks with others who have taken similar journeys, attends formal classes as well as online classes, and sets up her own blog to share her experiences as well as asking other to share their experiences. Gwyn ultimately learns everything she needs to know in a very short period of time, and, in the process, has possibly set herself up as an “expert” through the assimilation of her data and the distribution of her own content.

Gwyn, of course, is a fictional character that embodies the perfect OER user. However, the author believes that through the development of more OER, everyone will participate in these functions. The author also points out the typical benefits of OER in its ability to offer expertise to any location at any time while encouraging the expansion of even more educational resources through Creative Commons licensing. Also, she is aware that a proper credentialing mechanism still needs to be developed to ensure that OER contributions are, in fact, from trustworthy sources.

Now, I realize this may not be “earth-shattering” to a majority of the people in class. However, for those who still cannot grasp how the OER structure is suppose to work, this chapter provides a great description of how OER will be a benefit to its users and gain from its contributors. --Mflesz 01:27, 11 February 2009 (UTC)Mark Fleszar


Who Puts the Education into Open Educational Content?
By: Andy Lane

In this chapter, Andy Lane argues that teachers fundamentally put the "education" in open education resources and open courseware. To support this, he asserts that content is a mediating object between learners and teachers. In instances where learners and teachers do not directly or synchronosouly interact, the content is the primarily a bridge between teacher and learner, whereas in situations where they can directly interact, learner-teacher, learner-learner, etc. interactions happen around the content as mediator.

He distinguishes educational resources from general open content as content where the author plays the role sense-maker about existing data or information for audiences that are inherently not experts in the content subject. Educational content is also intentionally designed to facilitate learning, whether that's through explicit learning outcomes, suggested activities to engage with the content or other designed experiences. However these designs-for-learning are limited if there is not opportunity for teacher-learner or learner-learner interaction. The author compares the MIT OCW materials, which lack a pedogoical structure, to OpenLearn to demonstrate the distinction between OER content published for other teachers and content intentionally designed for self-learning rather than strictly for other experts to utilize in their teaching.

I found this section compelling and it helped me sort out the distinctions between different types, or goals, of OER materials; those designed for teachers and those designed for learners. The author helped bring me to that next step in understanding by reiterating what I already intuitively knew, which is that interaction with teachers and/or peers is critical to learning. Therefore, the experiences, values and pedagogy of teachers needs to be present in OER/OCW if it's to be successfully used by self-learners or inexperienced teachers. Lane presents three questions to use to help determine if educational content can be used by these groups.

1. Is the material academically sound in that it appropriately covers the body of knowledge and meaning for that topic?

2. Is it pedagogically robust in that the way the material has been structured matches a stated pedagogical model and sets out appropriate learning outcomes and ways of assessing those outcomes?

3. Is the way the material is presented through the chosen media helpful in enabling learners to meet the learning outcomes? --TravisAugust 22:10, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Scholarship: The Wave of the Future in the Digital Age[edit]

by: Paul N. Courant

Review 1[edit]

How do advances in information technology (IT) change or not change what universities do and how things are accomplished at the university? Paul Courant argues that “the defining characteristic of good universities – the production of careful scholarship in service of the creation of knowledge and understanding – is and ought to be unchanged by changes in IT”. This is very important, that the technology does not change the culture and/or purpose of what the university is trying to accomplish, only help the mission of the university, and not hinder or change it.

The mission of the University of Michigan is to “serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.” Scholarly methods are of utmost importance to universities and are the underlying purpose to everything a university does.

I agree that undergraduates need a strong foundation in scholarly thinking. Just having a library introduction class is not enough; students need to have scholarly thinking engrained in all their classes. Not only to learn to navigate the complicated databases (they are getting better, but still lots of room for improvement!), but to really understand why it’s important to get diverse sources, do research, don’t just count on the first good thing you find, understand how and why citations work, and how to easily manage them.

It was refreshing to hear from a librarian’s point of view (especially the UM Dean of Libraries/University Librarian’s point of view) – always constantly questioning authority of scholarly (and non-scholarly) works. The importance of not settling for “good enough” is required for true scholarly work. Diverse, in-depth research is necessary. Going to only Google is just not acceptable. It’s one thing to get a weather report, another to get research for your PhD. With networking and copying, information is so much more accessible and cheap to find, so one must be sure to question it and get a wide variety of sources. We still need timely, valid, in-depth information to “stand on the shoulders of giants”. And always be skeptical!! Question authority! --Elaine Engstrom 03:14, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Review 2[edit]

"It is important to remember that (like all technologies) IT is instrumental, rather than a goal in itself." This seemed to be an important point that Paul Courant was making in his article. He argued that the central and defining characteristics of the university should not change, and that in fact, they were well suited to take advantage of the current technologies. One of the most important aspects of the university is the ability to train and encourage sound scholarship. He calls for this to be a primary activity of the next generation of teachers, and for it to be a priority for institutions of higher education.

Paul goes on to state, "...Good scholarly practice is far more demanding than practice that is not so good... indeed, this was true in the days when everything was in print, and was the difference between work that got an A and work that got a B, C or even D. The problem we fact today is that if one is willing to settle for performance that is "good enough" it is often possible to deliver at that level without engaging in scholarly practice at all." This seems to me a very interesting argument for a re-envisioning of the scholarly method. The fact that information has become easier to access, has if anything made the work of student scholars taking seriously issues related to authority and provenance even more important. Paul goes on to say that IT should be the friend of scholars in achieving these goals and solving these problems. He also sees the use of Web 2.0 technologies as potentially important tools in support of these scholarship goals. --berkleys 22:06, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

The University in the Networked Economy and Society: Challenges and Opportunities by Benkler[edit]

In this article, Benkler discusses two different systems. The first system he discusses is the modern information and peer production societies. The inputs are largely non-monetary and the outputs are all sorts of new knowledge, discussion, and art. The second systemic model he presents is the traditional model of academia; University faculty are given a great deal of autonomy to act outside of traditional markets and in exchange, they create knowledge and foster learning and discussion around various subjects. This leads Benkler into an inquiry regarding the impact of these two systems on each other. Will distributed and peer production fundamentally change academia? How will the University adopt this technology in a way that fits within its existing structure?

Benkler posits that the "permeable boundaries" between the two systems will lead to more interdisciplinary and collaborative work in the University. The traditional "silo" model cannot manage the large scale projects, such as the Human Genome Project (or the Proteomics project, for that matter). Therefore, the University needs to manage the network less and encourage cooperation, rather than working to moderate or limit activity.

At this point, every University is making a decision regarding how to implement these new technologies and moreover, what degree of autonomy to give faculty and students in the network. Benkler's argument is directed at them -- don't fear the networks, embrace them and encourage faculty and students to continue the production of knowledge within new, more permeable, boundaries.--Tom Hayden 20:19, 11 February 2009 (UTC)



Review[edit]

“The University in the Networked Economy and Society: Challenges and Opportunities” by Yochai Benkler

I found this article more rewarding than Geith‘s. It runs toward pedantic, staid language a little, but Benkler’s not the first academic guilty of that (I remark sheepishly). The important thing is that Benkler uses specifically detailed hypotheticals to discuss the practical application of open content study and the limits of even dedicated amateur interest in an issue. This is more than the realization that hobbyists do not have the capital to compete with General Motors. Well . . . yes, but I’m a bit more moved by the assertion that about one billion people own machines that generate information and culturally significant material in a way that writing on paper could not, if for no better reasons than the ubiquity of video posting, blogging, or the ease of randomly soliciting bank routing numbers across borders. Even though a group of industrially minded hobbyists cannot out-sell GM, a group of internet hobbyists could conceivably denigrate the reputation of GM enough to affect the company’s sales seriously (especially if they produce a catchy viral video). Individuals are “capable of doing much more for themselves and for others, both alone and in vastly more effective loose collaborations.” Benkler forges strong rhetoric in support of this empowerment when he writes about Apache or Wikipedia. --erhanse

Where is The New Learning by Kristina Woolsey[edit]


Review 1

Woolsey makes the point in this article that universities are capable of doing much more to make technology a larger part of a student's education. She argues that, though many forms of media are in use in universities, very few institutions are taking part in substantial, sustained efforts to create genuinely new technological ways of learning and teaching. The main point of Woolsey's article is, after billions in spending annually at universities, institutions of higher learning are not advancing their levels of effectiveness.

My main problem with this article is easily that Woolsey has a point, but is overzealous in many places throughout the article. One of the first claims that Woolsey makes is that a very small percentage of money spent on technology in universities is directed at improving learning. This statement, in my mind, is simply false. The author is, outright, claiming that little of the technology provided at universities (including increased bandwidth and computer access) does not help students learn better. As a longtime student I simply cannot believe this. This claim is repeated in various forms throughout the article, and due to its ludicrous nature, makes it very hard for me to focus on the rest of the article.

This is the main problem that I have with the article: because of outrageous claims in the article, Woolsey's point that, of money spent at universities on technology, more could be spent in an attempt to use technology to revolutionize learning, could go ignored by some readers. However, it is also important to note that at the end of the article, Woolsey still seems optimistic that her "educational technology revolution" is still close at hand.--Bryan Birchmeier 22:40, 11 February 2009 (UTC)


Review 2

In this chapter, the author concludes that the promise of new media technology to enable the teacher to enhance the student’s learning experience has not come to pass. The chapter proceeds as follows: background of her involvement with development of new media and how it enhanced her own learning experience, current effects of new media in university realm, arguments for why new media is useful to enhancing learning, common reasons why university instructors have not actively embraced new media, The End.

And it is here where I will begin my critique. The last paragraph of this chapter is, “Oh well. Many students at great universities are doing just fine. The revolution is still just around the next corner.” This paragraph should not be here; a generous read of the paragraph argues that it is meant to provoke thought. I would argue that most often it will be read as dismissive and will thereby succeed in the dismissal of all writing preceding it. However, as there are no resolutions suggested to the issues raised in this article, perhaps we are to read the last paragraph at face value.

A second critique of this chapter is its limited focus on the results of new media application in the “serious[,] abstract[,] theoretical domain of the university” only. While this domain may be the expected context of this chapter which resides in a book entitled The Tower and the Cloud, I would argue that it is still too narrow. If the competitive environment of the university does not leave room for instructor exploration of how new media could enhance teaching and thereby student learning, has it been attempted to broaden the range of implementation to include environments more encouraged by and engaged with new media? Maybe new media would be made of better use in a different educational setting?

Alternatively, and here begins critique number three, perhaps the domain is not the issue. Rather, perhaps it is the targeted, individual user expected to apply new media. The author “acknowledge[es] that most faculty [do] not have the instincts or talents to engage electronic environments for learning” when she explains why new media centers were created on campus to support faculty. I would argue that lacking talent is not as crucial as lacking instinct in aiding and abetting new media’s failure to launch. Primarily, it is instinct which drives the novice to the new media center to seek guidance and help in implementation of the technology and software. Without instinct, there is no drive, and thereby, no use of new media.--Bziobro 18:19, 12 February 2009 (UTC)