Sunday, October 28, 2007

OpenEd Week 9:Thoughts After reading "The World Is Flat (Updated and Expanded): A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century"

My big day in my life yesterday! We had a wonderful wedding and everyons was happy. My husband and I will start our new life together. Cherish each other all life long!

QUESTIONS: What can the open education movement learn from the book you chose to read? Elaborate on at least three points. Which of the ideas presented in the book did you find hardest to believe or agree with? Why?

In the book, the author indicates that, “While the dynamic force in Globalization 1.0 was countries globalizing and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 was companies globalizing, the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0-the thing that gives it its unique character-is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally.” The technology, society, and economy change enormously over centuries; while education makes very small progress in the past. Open education movement which advocates enhancing the capability of individual learning in an open environment than the traditional education of being corded in the classrooms just started not long ago. Education is something without borders between countries and does not need to be differentiated in companies, but it is different for each individual, so that open education movement should be considered very important and in urgent need for the whole society. The task of open education movement now is to make the education borderless among countries, companies, universities and help creativity and individuation of each learner. Ideally, we think education is borderless, but in practice, we face some big problems like different countries have different language. How can you teach a student who is from Span without any English background? Do we teach all the people in the world to use a common language, or we translate all the educational materials into many different languages? We can’t achieve the first goal, so we have to try the second one which is what we are working on right now― projects in MIT, USU, Rice, and some other universities are trying to expand as many as translations in their OCW. Of course, language is not the only obstacle; there are lots more for now and later.

The combination of PCs, software, and global fiber-optic network form a flat world. We all know that the open educational movement is also built on those technologies. All the people in the world can share their ideas no matter white or non-white-group of individuals. Open educational movement driven primarily by the western people same as Globalization 1.0 and 2.0; I think because it is flattening and shrinking the world, open educational movement is going to be more and more driven not only by individuals but also by a much more diverse - non-Western, non-white-group of individuals just like Globalization 3.0. Open educational movement is getting mature in developed countries, but it just started in some developing countries especially big country like China. It seems harder to make meaningful progress in Asian countries even developed country like Japan because of the cultural and government issues in those countries. It may take a while for the open educational movement innovators to solve those problems.

Another viewpoint, open educational movement will end the educational system of student-centered, teacher-serve. The students will have opportunities to choose what they are willing to learn and they can also become teachers to share their thoughts with the people all over the world. Teachers can turn to students, students can be teachers; but they do not have to be in the same classroom, information can be transferred fast and easily by networks. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, Rss Feeds and some other new things become very popular and start to be put in to practice in regular courses like the class we are in right now. When I heard this in another class, it is amazing that if you do some damages on some well-known topics on Wikipedia, they can be corrected as soon as five minutes or even less. It is hard for us to predict the future of open educational movement because we are the beginners and leaders, but after a few years, people from developing countries can see how it goes and just follow the steps.

Now, I would like to shift my focus on the development of my home country—China. If we say our develop path is to expand outsource, consolidate manufacture, and reinforce training specialists; then the education of developed countries turns to train service people with integration. In the future five to ten years, the economy of China will keep increasing fast, and no one will neglect the opportunities from Chinese market. Well then for our companies, our education, our individuals, what can we do to tackle this change? The problem of the Chinese students now is not only lack of real-world practice, and also low of Emotional Quotient. There is no doubt that if we don’t quite change our traditional examination-oriented education system, our future is not optimize. What here in the U.S. now, we can immediately make it happen in China. Open educational movement becomes popular in the developed countries; we should take it serious into our educational system. If we still reply too much on the government, not from the market, we ensure it is hard to be success.

I also checked the Chinese vision of this book; some parts have been taken out from the original vision because of some political issue. And on some Chinese forums about this book, most people cannot agree with the author because they think this book is misleading people to the wrong direction. I agree most parts of this book: I can feel when I was in China, many things are American brands; and when I am in the U.S., everything is made in China. But this can only means the fast-growing technology makes the world become flat; there are lots of issues rather than technology we have come across such as culture, politics, ethics, and so on. And those are the hardest problems in the real world we have to deal with in order to achieve our goals. Something seems impossible to change by individuals; then we need to find another way for reaching the same goal. I recommend reading Globalization, Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revised, and Beck's Theory of the Risk Society and Its Complications. You may have different view after reading those books.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

OpenEdu Week 8: Economic Models of Open Education

QUESTIONS: How can you build a sustainable business around giving away educational materials? How can you build a sustainable business model around giving away credentialed degrees? Should governments fund open education? (Do they already?)

My feeling out of this week’s topic: From large amount of weekly reading, my capability of reading and writing skills are improved a lot. Now I find that it is not that hard to understand some of the articles, it is because I joined this class with high expectation to learn interesting materials and adapt myself to a brand new learning environment. After the second week, I found some of the readings were not very interesting and not related very much to our major content, so I lost my confidence and motivation without enough feedback from the instruction and comments from our classmates. My mind was changing over time; I was thinking that I cannot fit into the new leaning environment because of my 14-year traditional educational experience in my country. Till this weekend, I know some students share the same feelings as me, and it is good to notice that we need find a way to improve the quality of this class. Personally, I think we need more time to digest the new knowledge or information after self-reading and more time to receive the feedback from instructor and classmates. Keep large amount of weekly reading without feedbacks is too pushing, plus all of us have other things to be taken care of. I really appreciate David provides this good opportunity for us and I understand how busy he is with work traveling and family fairs. To start an innovation like this class is hard, all of us instructor and students just need to keep on hard-working and encourage each other. I don’t mind to be the white mouse in the new course testing if it can be improved through this semester or next. I can also learn new things and enhance myself because I do feel I am learning in this class more than some of the other classes which are hold in the classrooms. Every thing will be worth!

Now come back to this week’s readings and answer the questions one by one. Firstly, “sustainable” is the key word this week. What does it actually mean? It means a maintained state or process at a certain level. In David’ article, sustainability might be defined as the ability of a project to continue its operations; he also indicated that the definition of sustainability should include the idea of accomplishing goals in addition to ideas related to longevity. So before we can build a sustainable business, we need to find out what the giving away educational materials’ goal is. From Oberholzer & Strumpf’s point in Downes’ article, I extend to the point that OER may actually increase the market of education. In common, people think money is the main issue to sustain a business; but I agree with Downes’ idea that "is only one part of a larger picture". Besides money, other key factors such as participation and ownership, government policies, social, gender and culture, technology, external political and economic factors and so on should also be put into count. OER’s target group is a wide range of people so a sustainable business can be build on something participated with wide range of people. Network such as Wiki, chatting software such as MSN messenger, ICQ, OCW such as eduCommons is also good example. Large group of people in variety of academic fields, different ages, different educational levels, and different cultures all over the world can all involve in and support one business. Most of the time, plain educational materials are thought not very interesting, if the business has something more interesting such as educational games, will that help sustain the business?

“Giving away credentialed degrees” in the second question does not mean too much to me because of my different traditional education background. I hardly find the way to judge the quality of OER. But later I end up with people can accept different levels of OER, so I think the quality of OER depends on different individual and it is hard to give a standard to say which has low quality of content. Nevertheless, what is the value of giving away credentialed degrees and how can we ensure the quality of giving away credentialed degrees? I don’t know here, but if I want to build a business model in China around giving away credentialed degrees, it won’t work out. Students and parents would like to spend more money on getting a quality degree in a better university other than get a credentialed degree for free. Most people put the quality degree in the most important place than any other factors. There are some economic models that creators of open educational resources currently use to fund their initiatives: MIT model, USU model, Sponsorship model, Governmental model, Replacement Model, and so on. But I think the only model that might be worked out for build a sustainable business is the government funding model because generally people have a hard time accept giving away credentialed degrees.

Finally, I think the governments should fund open education so that people have more opportunities to learn. In China and many other countries, students cannot learn the materials which are provided by other universities. With open educational resources, people can obtain variety of materials from in and out of their fields. Governments may also have the question that “Are open educational resources as effective as traditional resources?” “How much should we fund open education?” One answer from David’s article is “National or regional conversations regarding institutional policies that can promote faculty engagement, or at least lower barriers to faculty engagement.” I heard from a Japanese speaker in the conference, he indicated that the Japanese government has conflict with the traditional universities on funding open education because of the Japanese culture. In China, the government now is focusing more on funding new educational system in schools in order to enhance the capability of the students in school. In addition, Chinese government also funds some of the poor students who can’t afford to schools. They haven’t move to funding open education yet which is with larger group of people. And I think it will take a long time for them to think about the potential learners besides the younger students based on the current situation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

OpenEdu Week 7: Licensing Open Educational Resources

QUESTIONS: Can you think of license options that CC is currently missing that would benefit the open education movement? As the CC and GFDL licenses are incompatible, how can OCW content be legally remixed with Wikipedia content? Some people claim that the Creative Commons ShareAlike clause provides most of the protections people want to secure from the Creative Commons NonCommercial clause. What do you think these people mean, are they right, and why? Is copyleft good for the open education movement? Why or why not?

As weekly reading moves on, I feel the content becomes harder and harder to incorporate and assimilate for me as a beginner of this field. Though I spent much more time than any other classes, the outcome every week is not what I am expected. Not an easy class for me! To understand the weekly questions is even a problem, how can I afford to give the right answer or related opinions to those questions? Class needs to move on, I keep encourage myself hang on and learn as much as I could.

Compare to last week’s reading, this week’s reading tells more details about the different licenses: GFDL, Creative Commons and Public Domain. I had a hard time to answer last week’s questions about those three licenses. I will still try to move onto this week’s questions. I couldn’t think of many options that CC is currently missing because I am so lack of the knowledge in this new field. After I read a few classmates’ postings, I strongly agree with Greg and Houshuang’s opinions that there should be a creative commons license that does not require attribution. The author put efforts on finding the recourses; attributions do not need to be required. This idea may help creativities of the derivative work. One option I could think is that Creative Commons can allow derivative work to reuse the entire original work as long as they can add new things into the original ones. Maybe this is the idea that derives from copyright.

After reading GNU Free Documentation License, I just notice that my understanding was totally wrong during last reading, what’s why it looked like I didn’t go through the readings at all. I should find out the CC and GFDL licenses are incompatible instead of mixing up those two concepts and thinking that they are even similar licenses. The GFDL differs from the CC licenses in its requirement that the licensed work be distributed in a form which is "transparent". The Free Software Foundation’s GNU Free Documentation License is a copyleft license designed initially for software documentation, but used most prominently by the Wikipedia project. It requires derivatives be licensed under the GFDL only. If OCW content can be legally remixed with Wikipedia content, we need to find some parts that CC and GFDL are in common; unfortunately, we can’t find any results from this point. Solutions have to be explored in other ways. I am thinking of combining those licenses into one license because essentially they have the common goal to give creators the opportunity to offer others important freedoms. Can Wikimedia, Wikieducator, and some other Wikis be some solutions? This may solve this one problem, but cause more problems; so I don’t know if it will be a good solution.

The sentence “Creative Commons ShareAlike clause provides most of the protections people want to secure from the Creative Commons NonCommercial clause” can have the meaning that share-alike has broader content than non-commercial does. Share-alike covers non-commercial and also can be used for commercial purposes. In Dr. Wiley’s posting Noncommercial Isn’t the Problem, ShareAlike Is, he wrote that in both the Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons contexts, copyleft or share-alike means “if you’re creating a derivative work, you have to use our license - and only our license.” I think people are right because share-alike can be used for many purposes including commercials. If people want to use Creative Commons NonCommercial licensed item in their business even not for gaining money from people, but they are not allowed to use the item in their business. Then they have to find another item with a different license.

I think copyleft, or reciprocal license, is definitely good for open education movement. Copyleft is derived from the ideas of open source software. People receive a copy of a work permission to reproduce, adapt or distribute the work. Copyleft allows an author to impose some but not all copyright restrictions on those who want to engage in activities so that it can avoid copyright infringement. Copyleft has some kinds of restrictions to avoid the work falling into public domain so it’s not fully opened yet. Dr. Wiley’s posting ShareAlike, the public domain, and privileging also indicates that how good public domain is for open education movement. Although copyleft has some restrictions, it is still good for open education movement.

I also agree with the idea in the same posting that with copyleft we once again find the “developed world” mandating solutions for the “developing world”. Most of the time, “developed world” provides the content, some people translate them into the languages of “developing world”. It is rare for us to see any improvement or add-ins in the open educational resources in “developing world”. I think the open education movement conception still needs some changes in people’s mind in the “developing world”.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

OpenEdu Week 6: Copyright and the Public Domain

QUESTIONS: Understanding the importance and value of the public domain, how much (what percentage) of this value would you estimate is realized when works are licensed with a Creative Commons or GFDL license? To what degree would the open educational resources movement (and therefore the world) be additionally benefited if OERs were simply placed in the public domain? Please explain.

Public domain and copyright are always opposite from my understanding. If the work is within the public domain, there is no ownership rights associated with the work. It may be said that everyone and no one owns the work. Therefore, anyone may reproduce the work, distribute it, adapt it, etc. without the limitations of copyrights.

Without any copyrights, the value of public domain cannot be realized as high as 100 percent, about 70 percent at most. Instead of the full copyright, if the works are licensed with a Creative Commons, the value of the public domain might be raise up to 80 percent. With a more restriction license such as GFDL, the value of public domain goes even lower to about 75 percent. As the restriction goes more, the value of public domain goes down. Why I think the works, which have Creative Commons and GFDL owns higher value of public domain, because the resources from those works should have quality ensured.

In my opinion, public domain contains variety of knowledge; before open educational resources movement, the value of public domain knowledge was only shared by limit academic communities. But with the rise of open educational resources movement, this knowledge is shared in a more extensive domain and deeper extent. In other words, if all the knowledge in public domain can be shared and applied, open educational resources can be largely increased. Because the original intention of open educational resources movement is to provide more shared resources to more users; therefore, it can accelerate the sharing and application of the knowledge.

I always think the quality of the resource will be a hard part to judge. When web2.0 just started, people also think the high quality resource will be a problem, like you can write on wiki at will. But in fact, when the people who share the same interests are participating in writing on wiki, all of them are willing to contribute their best part to others. They hope to get others’ approval and embody their self-value. We always allow different voice, perhaps value of specific knowledge means significant to specific person. Place the OERs in the public domain, people have more rights to make choice; at the same time, people have more opportunities to choose.