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3 October 2006 / erikduval

Open Content

The theme of openness has been very much on my mind lately, especially over the last few days…

Last week, I did a keynote at the Open Education Conference (thanks once more for the invitation, David!) on the “technology of open learning”.

I was very much struck by what seemed to be a prevailing notion at the conference that all content with a creative commons license is “good” and all other content is “bad”, that CC is “open” and everything else is “closed”. Frankly, this is a rather myopic view in my opinion…

Openness for me is about removing barriers. All too protective copyright restrictions can be a barrier and CC is certainly one of the better ways to avoid such restrictions. Yet, the lack of findability can be another barrier, so we need to make sure that things can be found. And money can be an issue too, so making things available for free (as in free beer) is also important.

But almost completely overlooked, and at least as important, is openness for repurposing! Even if you make all your material available for free, under a CC license, and in a way that makes it easy to find, it may be of little value to me if you make it difficult to change. That is where the value of content models and SCORM plays out, as they make scaleable repurposing possible.

Again, this seems to be overlooked by most open content initiatives, and I worry a bit that they will just create a Really Big Pile of irrelevant content if they don’t address open, scaleable repurposing as well. Being the eternal optimist, I’m sure that we’ll find some way of doing this a posteriori if that happens, but it will be so much more clumsy and can be avoided if we pay a little attention…

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