Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take my content, please...

The good folks over at the Open University in the UK wrote a post this morning about the hesitancy of people remixing their materials. From the post:

"In the last year we’ve seen around 900,000 people using OpenLearn materials in teaching and learning around the world. What we’ve seen much less of is people reworking our materials - as they are free to do under the Creative Commons license - and replacing the reworked materials back in the public domain for others to benefit from...

"There is a nervousness about reworking other people’s finely tuned academic content and publishing what may be unfinished and untested materials. There are barriers to reworking - some technical. However, even when we’ve reduced the technical barriers, lack of time and uncertainty about the value of the remixed resources can get in the way."

We have found the same thing at USU OCW. Almost a thousand unique visitors a day, and yet there are not many people taking, reworking, and publishing our material. At least not that we know of.

I can't help but agree that part of the problem could be that there seems to be a barrier when the existing content is the work of one person. Maybe it’s because when we change a person's content we are in a sense telling them that their materials are not good enough. That they need to be improved. People seem to be more than willing to edit a community project, such as wikipedia.

I have found my own attempts at collaborative composition to not exactly work. People drop by my wiki, but few edit my work. Compare that to the million penguins project. People were very willing to add and edit that content, because it started out as a group effort.

I hope that as the Open OCW takes off, we'll see more reuse of existing content.


Laura said...

Good to hear from you.

I think the 'one author' issue could be a reason, wrapped up with issues of ownership, plagarism, rights and reputation. Which all point to the fact we are changing an established culture - people can't and don't believe that we really want them to take our materials and amend them. So it's also about how we invite people to change them - what examples we give and suggestions for change - to reinforce the fact we are actively encouraging this.

Also the fact that these materials are not 'work in progress'. I'm interested to know whether you posted drafts of your novel as you might to a publishing house and invited editors to craft your work, or did you put up the final, polished version? Your final work might be just too perfect to change! And this is maybe why the remix examples we have seen so far involve localisation of materials (a very valid use of the CC license) rather than rewriting. Even though we post older materials in the LabSpace where we encourage remixing, we also put up current materials that are (if we can say so ourselves!) pretty good as they are. We've talked about removing these more perfect materials (which also exist in the LearningSpace) to position the LabSpace more clearly as a remixing environment.

Again its about how we communicate this. We currently don't specifically set challenges to other educators to say "Hey, here's a great set of materials but the images are missing due to rights issues - can anyone provide new ones" or "This is out of date but with a few new insights we could use 60% of the material again" or identify where our curriculum strategies align and where they don't to help us rapidly respond to changing requirements in our own educational markets. It would be interesting to use our knowledge mapping software and networks to help us all identify the gaps that need filling and who in the OER world might fill them. The fact may be that the most likely remixers in the world are too busy establishing OER's in their institutions to remix each other's content!

I'd really like to see people in the creative/ visual industries take a stab at remixing educational materials but that's a post for another day.

Matthew Buckley said...

Laura, I posted every single version of my novel. From the very first draft, with all it's spelling errors, poorly crafted sentences, etc., clear to the final product. I thought it would be helpful for others to see that sometimes the first stab at a work isn't that good. It only becomes better after time and effort.

The few times people did edit the work, it was almost always just a spelling or punctuation error. Never a creative change.

I hope you are right about other remixers being too busy establishing their own OER's at their own institution. I am really looking forward to the day when we start to see this wealth of material begin to shift and change...