Openness- Is it an ideology or reality?

Is commercialization in conflict with the 4Rs(reuse, revise, redistribute, and remix)?  Most commercialized courses (MOOCs inclusive) require certain restrictions to access (may be for a free taster course that would be followed by the “main course” offered with a fee for service).

So, what may be defined as open and free is limited under those programs, and that could contradict with the 4Rs, especially with the free to re-use, redistribute or to remix, as these are forbidden.

Openness is at the heart of MOOCs, only that it may be semi-open, as a participant could enter the open door (register for free) with a MOOC, and use it personally, without any alteration of the course content.  In those MOOCs, there is no remix, re-sending out of part or all of the resources allowed.

David Wiley in his post says:

MOOCs are not openly licensed, and consequently will struggle with issues of quality and will never become part of the educational infrastructure that enables truly breakthrough advances. MOOCs get us one step closer to the goal, but we need to continue advocating for true openness in order to create the space in which those advances can happen.

I was puzzled when someone who re-posted the whole course of MITx as mentioned here by Audrey.  Was it “legal” for the learner(s) to “copy” and create the MOOCs based on the MOOCs created by the Higher Education Institutions?  Wasn’t it covered in the terms and conditions of re-use of that course offered by MITx?

Copying MOOCs content in whole or in part could be a grave concern for the MOOCs providers and the Higher Education Institutions offering the MOOCs, especially when other education providers or competitors exploit the opportunity to have them commercialized or privatized for their own purposes.

From an entrepreneur and venture capitalists point of view, that is against their original intention or purpose, as “profit” could be lost if such content or OERs are being distributed in other sites for free.  This could be analogous to the piracy allegations when commercial copyrighted DVD and videos are being copied by others, for re-selling or re-distribution for free.  Currently, there are lots of videos which may be copyrighted but they are “freely” posted on the Youtube or other sites.

Openness is also a state of mind (Mackness, 2012), for both professors who are practising open scholarship, and those participants in openly sharing their thoughts and learning in open spaces.  Would that be challenging if professors and learners are confining their discourse within closed learning platforms?  Learners are not supposed to openly post any of those learning resources or artifacts outside the platforms of MOOCs, due to the “copy-right” restrictions in uploading and downloading those artifacts, and that remix or redistribution of artifacts are also restricted, due to the terms and conditions of the openness criteria.

Would openness in Higher Education (through MOOCs) be at odds with the ideology of truly open especially when commercialization, monetization and commoditization of Higher Education is increasingly omnipresent?

I would explore more on this challenge on openness as the MOOCs evolve.

10 thoughts on “Openness- Is it an ideology or reality?

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