What is Open Content?

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content embraces not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is also a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. It presents a cost-effective alternative to textbooks and other materials. As customizable educational content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, students are learning not only the material, but also skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources they are studying in partnership with their teachers. There are two sides to understanding open content — on the one side are institutions that are allowing content to be shared. On the other are those institutions that wish to make use of open content. Understanding the frame of reference and context for an open content project is more and more dependent on knowing which of those groups an institution belongs, as the challenges and issues are quite different.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Open Content is not exactly a technology but a movement that promotes the sharing of information by all, for all, via the internet. Just like Google hosts massive content, and so does wikipedia, how do people know which content is of quality and/or good for them? This is a challenge that will need to be resolved with open content as well, and I believe that the issue of trust will need to be integrated, to provide recommendation valorations to the vast amound of content that is and will become available. As quantity increases, more filters will need to be in place. Trust in this case does not refer to close friends but content-specific specialists, trusted by the particular user or learner. Such a system could make a better use of open content. - EvadeLera EvadeLera Nov 20, 2011
  • Open Content offers information but not knowledge or learning, so without someone to use this "tool" correctly, its use is very limited. - EvadeLera EvadeLera Nov 20, 2011
  • People dedicated to inspire learners (teachers, mentors, others) will be far better equipped if the best content is available to them, withouth the cost, time or space barrier. These "inspirationers" will be better prepared for mentoring the upcoming leaders and visionaries.- EvadeLera EvadeLera Nov 20, 2011
  • Information should be a right and not a luxury, open content is a step toward opening up the editorial barriers of the past. It is definitely relevant to any educational sector or initiative. - EvadeLera EvadeLera Nov 20, 2011
  • Open content is a great equalizer. Everyone has access to the same information and materials regardless of finances and background. Education becomes more inclusive. - Sam Sam Nov 13, 2011
  • Open content seems to have the greatest potential in the form of materials that are selected and organized by an instructor for students. In other words, a very controlled environment that has been vetted by an expert. Unfortunately, this model proves time consuming for the instructor and for that reason, we see informal networks forming around content that facilitate the exploration and discovery of quality content. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Nov 21, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I am totally convinced that there is still a huge potential for open content in higher education; on the other hand and with regard to the 10th anniversary of MIT's OCW it might be necessary to expand the term: in the direction of open educational practices, covered for example by the Open Educational Quality Initiative (OPAL). - jochen.robes jochen.robes Nov 18, 2011
  • - tom.haymes tom.haymes Nov 18, 2011 We might want to fold this in with Electronic Publishing, or, alternatively, fold Electronic Publishing into this. These two topics are intimately related in academia and, while there are other forms of Electronic Publishing, OER reflects the real potential of this area. For more, see my comments under Electronic Publishing.
  • Open Content does seem a bit vague. Most people I know who are thinking of it educationally, as this seems to indicate, focus on OpenCourseWare, which I realize doesn't necessarily get to the pedagogy, angle, etc. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Evangelization of open content requires for giving institutions to also be user institutions. They need to align their values with their actions. When this occurs, open content will be more highly valued and the focus will be on hot to use it, which is where the work is actually needed. - EvadeLera EvadeLera Nov 20, 2011
  • Engaging with OERs - content origin and creation. - Sam Sam Nov 20, 2011
  • Open Content should be considered a proxy/shorthand for Open Education Resources (OER) ( a la Sam's comment above). Both need a generous definition that: a) speaks to the essential characteristics of openness i.e., Revise; Reuse, ReMix, Redistribute ( 4Rs) that makes them educationally valuable, and b) includes appliations and tools ( i.e., more than traditional conent.)
  • Data - Increasing funders of research are pressing for the release of the data that are collected in the course of the research project. These data can allow students to work with primary source materials rather than predigested content, and engage in research.- alanwolf alanwolf Nov 20, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Open Content could possibly change the role of the instructor. Rather than standing in front of a room and lecturing the entire time, students can access content from home, and classtime could be focused on the contextualization of the information by the teacher, or collaborative work by the students. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Open Content potentially impacts tenure. It's hard for teaching to be valued the same way as scholarship in the tenure process as there are less objects to consider in a classroom environment (compared to articles or books). Open Content could provide pieces that could be folded into a promotional dossier. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Nov 19, 2011
  • Open Content, together with the use of new technologies and new thought leaders, should help lead the learning revolution. It offers an opportunity to deconstruct the current system and build a more efficient and inspirational one - EvadeLera EvadeLera Nov 20, 2011
  • I think it motivates world-class institutions to make their content available for free, which sets a new tone for education. Open content as a social responsibility.- Sam Sam Nov 13, 2011
  • It encourages creative remix, adaptation of content to different contexts and allows educators to experience different educational/cultural perspectives - bdieu bdieu
  • Open Content (and OER) --- enable flexible learning opportunities and pathways by facilitating access to alternative resources for the same concepts and learning outcomes (links between concept/learning outcomes.- vkumar vkumar Nov 20, 2011
  • Open Content (OER) make it possible for a range learning opportunities and modalities --- distributed learning, sell/individual learning as well as self-organized communities such as Open Study an P2P U, some leding to alternative credentialing modes (such as Badges -- that hold the potential to profoundly impact on the teaching-learning ecosystem.- vkumar vkumar Nov 20, 2011
  • The potential impact is to improve access to content, custom assembled content, that is digital. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Nov 21, 2011

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.