Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Open Movement on Seven Fronts

Below I have briefly listed seven different fronts of the open movement that are very active today.

Openness is a core component of digital civilization. And when I say "core component" I mean it is as central as voting is to democracies, as foundational as silicon is to computing, and as game-changing as books have been to education. But openness is not a given. In fact, it has a long, uphill battle against entrenched interests in business, politics, publishing, and education. A lot of people resist the open movement -- often without actually understanding anything but its apparent threat to their status quo. Others blithely advocate for openness as though it were the 21st century equivalent of 1960s counter culture. "Open" sounds attractively liberal or liberating. And it is. But of course, it is not so simple as a slogan.

We need to know what "open" is and what it means. If not, we can become subject either to cultural fads or to devastating business or political practices. At the very least, anyone who cares about how education can succeed in the 21st century must come to terms with how openness can scale educational opportunity for individuals and whole nations.

And so, building here upon work done by David Wiley, a national leader in the open content movement, who is currently teaching "Introduction to Openness in Eduction" at BYU, I have curated a list of seven fronts upon which the battle for openness is being waged. Following the list, I have embedded two video playlists (one from YouTube; one from Vimeo). These videos will give you a quick introduction to the issues (and to some of the important people) in the open movement:

  1. Open Source Software
    Even if you could care less about software, you need to care about the revolution in software development because it proves the power of noncommercial, large-scale collaborative work. 
  2. Open Access Publishing
    You'd think that making scholarly and scientific knowledge available as quickly and as broadly as possible is the status quo. It's not. The open access movement exists precisely because scholars, scientists, and publishers are undermining the growth of knowledge by sustaining restricted-access models of publication to preserve traditional profits and an artificial guild model of expertise.
  3. Open Data
    A companion concept to open access publishing is open data: data that anyone is free to use, reuse and redistribute without restriction (except, perhaps the requirements to attribute and sharealike). It would seem logical that the data from publicly funded science should be available publicly, but such public access policies are under vigorous attack.
  4. Open Licensing and Open Content
    Copyright, patents, and intellectual property in general are working from antiquated models of artificial monopolies. Creative Commons licensing opens content by explicitly granting permission for others to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute one's intellectual property.
  5. Open Educational Resources (OER)
    OER refers to open content for educational purposes: teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain or licensed for free use or re-purposing by others, including course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Three companion concepts for education include OpenCourseWareOpen Teaching; and Open Assessment -- all of which decouple these educational activities from closed institutions and traditional accrediting bodies.
  6. Open Science
    Open science means open access to scientific literature and tools from funded research, placement of data and protocols in the public domain for other researchers to build upon without legal barriers, and investing in a "cyberinfrastructure" to support the searchability and use of data by scientists and the public -- all while preserving appropriate attribution and citation to scientists for their work. An important corollary or application of open science is Open Notebook Science, which promotes publishing of scientific processes and protocols. Citizen Science, in parallel with citizen journalism, opens vital scientific projects to participation from non-professionals.
  7. Open Government
    Open Government is a movement toward accountability and transparency of governments, and increased citizen collaboration and participation by using emerging communications tools and open data. Using web services, real-time and open data to improve government operations and increase citizen participation and awareness.
I have curated a set of videos into playlists for both YouTube and Vimeo. These address most of the open movement topics listed above. 

And a couple posted on Vimeo: