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Earlier this week I read the Wikipedia entry on open content. Suffice it to say I was somewhat disappointed by the way the editors of the page interpreted my writings defining the “open” in open content. I think their interpretation was plausible and legitimate, but it is certainly not the message I intended people to take away after reading the definition. So, the fault for my unhappiness is mine for not having been clearer in my writing.
Consequently, I have refined and clarified the definition, which lives at http://opencontent.org/definition/, including a new heading for the section on license requirements and restrictions, and a new section on technical decisions and ALMS analysis. I present the revised definition and commentary below for quick reference. I’d be very interested in your reactions and feedback.
Hopefully the Wikipedians will update the entry soon…
Defining the “Open” in Open Content
The term “open content” describes any copyrightable work (traditionally excluding software, which is described by other terms like “open source”) that is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:
- Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
- Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
- Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
- Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
- Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)
Legal Requirements and Restrictions
Make Open Content Less Open
While a free and perpetual grant of the 5R permissions by means of an “open license” qualifies a creative work to be described as open content, many open licenses place requirements (e.g., mandating that derivative works adopt a certain license) and restrictions (e.g., prohibiting “commercial” use) on users as a condition of the grant of the 5R permissions. The inclusion of requirements and restrictions in open licenses make open content less open than it would be without these requirements and restrictions.
There is disagreement in the community about which requirements and restrictions should never, sometimes, or always be included in open licenses. Creative Commons, the most important provider of open licenses for content, offers licenses that prohibit commercial use. While some in the community believe there are important use cases where the noncommercial restriction is desirable, many in the community eschew the restriction. Wikipedia, one of the most important collections of open content, requires all derivative works to adopt a specific license. While they clearly believe this additional requirement promotes their particular use case, it makes Wikipedia content incompatible with content from other important open content collections, such as MIT OpenCourseWare.
Generally speaking, while the choice by open content publishers to use licenses that include requirements and restrictions can optimize their ability to accomplish their own local goals, the choice typically harms the global goals of the broader open content community.
Poor Technical Choices
Make Open Content Less Open
While open licenses provide users with legal permission to engage in the 5R activities, many open content publishers make technical choices that interfere with a user’s ability to engage in those same activities. The ALMS Framework provides a way of thinking about those technical choices and understanding the degree to which they enable or impede a user’s ability to engage in the 5R activities permitted by open licenses. Specifically, the ALMS Framework encourages us to ask questions in four categories:
- Access to Editing Tools: Is the open content published in a format that can only be revised or remixed using tools that are extremely expensive (e.g., 3DS MAX)? Is the open content published in an exotic format that can only be revised or remixed using tools that run on an obscure or discontinued platform (e.g., OS/2)? Is the open content published in a format that can be revised or remixed using tools that are freely available and run on all major platforms (e.g., OpenOffice)?
- Level of Expertise Required: Is the open content published in a format that requires a significant amount technical expertise to revise or remix (e.g., Blender)? Is the open content published in a format that requires a minimum level of technical expertise to revise or remix (e.g., Word)?
- Meaningfully Editable: Is the open content published in a manner that makes its content essentially impossible to revise or remix (e.g., a scanned image of a handwritten document)? Is the open content published in a manner making its content easy to revise or remix (e.g., a text file)?
- Self-Sourced: It the format preferred for consuming the open content the same format preferred for revising or remixing the open content (e.g., HTML)? Is the format preferred for consuming the open content different from the format preferred for revising or remixing the open content (e.g. Flash FLA vs SWF)?
Using the ALMS Framework as a guide, open content publishers can make technical choices that enable the greatest number of people possible to engage in the 5R activities. This is not an argument for “dumbing down” all open content to plain text. Rather it is an invitation to open content publishers to be thoughtful in the technical choices they make – whether they are publishing text, images, audio, video, simulations, or other media.
Need-to-Know News: Are Lectures Really Dead?, edX CEO on Perils of Unchanging Education, & Will MOOCs Replace College?
Every once in a while, you get a photo of a person enjoying a university social activity (such as binge drinking) with the caption "you can't do this in online learning." The implication of course is that the physical and social presence of an in-person class creates an experience that can't be duplicated off-campus. So while this non-sanctioned Frosh Week video - created by an organization with no institutional affiliation - is rightly drawing criticism from city post-secondary institutions, it nonetheless makes the point that you don't need to be at university in order to attend and enjoy traditional university social events.[Link] [Comment]
Audio and video recording of a presentation given by Jenny Mackness and Frances Bell at the ALTMOOCSIG conference last month.In preparation for the talk, "a series of blog posts prior to the conference. Here is the post with information and links about this. And here is a link to the complete Prezi that we prepared for the presentation." While the content is interesting in itself, other speakers at conferences should take this as an object lesson in how to provide good resources for your session.
A couple interesting items (and one dud) on networked learning are highlighted in this post:
- the first focuses on new media literacy for faculty and described it as a "threshold concept", which means, essentially, take it slowly and be sympathetic to their plight. Jones suggests that the networked and global leaning course might also be viewed that way. I liked the five aspects of threshold concepts, as they reminded me of the idea of incommensurability in Kuhn's paradigm shifts.
- the second looked at cases "where values of social media conflicted with those of higher ed (especially QA)." I like this (absolutely accurate) bit: "Participative processes can be experienced as tyrannical when participation is demanded by course designs, tutors and ultimately by participants in an unreflective and normative way."
Overview of the development of e-learning through three 'generations' summarizing Terry Anderson and Jon Dron’ s 2012 EURODL article, ‘ Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy’ . My own take on the same idea is in my e-Learning Generations article, presented originally in Clare, New Brunswick. The two approaches are very different, though: they focus on the classical pedagogical models (behaviourists, constructivist, connectovist) while I map th chaneg in emphasis revealed through technology: the first three generations of e-learning (and the web generally) represent a focus on documents, while the second three represent a focus on data. Via David T. Jones.[Link] [Comment]
Tim Klapdor explores the concept of self, paticu;arly with respect to identity and learning. It's a complex issue. At first blush we think we have one self, but then everyone can think of an instance when we were (if you will) "not ourselves". Klapdor explores "Jung... the anima/animus (male/female). This underlying unconscious mind helped balance and maintain the persona..." Except that's too simple as well. There's the mental self, the bodily self, the public self, the historical self - I could go on; the list is almost endless. Philosophy is full of thought experiments designed to test the concept (if I take my brain and put it in your body, is the resulting person me or you?).[Link] [Comment]
I am afraid I am now writing some pretty obvious observations. Something we all know. Nothing unique. Unfortunately, I feel that I must write these obvious things as it looks that so many people are ignoring them. Maybe I am writing more to myself than to anyone else — to remind myself.
Education pays off. Democracy needs education and education is the key to a healthy economy. The question is why it is still so difficult to provide even basic education for all? Without any conspiracy theories it is reasonable to ask who benefits from the lack of education?
Far too often when talking about democracy we emphasis elections, the right to choose and replace government through fair election. Same time we easily pay less attention to the most important aspects of democracy: respect of human rights and people’s active participation to civic life. Without these in place there will never be fair elections, either. Again we may ask, are there people, mobs or individuals who benefit from the lack of democracy?
Characteristic for the latest armed conflicts in Ukraine and in Israel-Palestine have been their expansion from the battlefields where people die to the information warfare where the killings are justified. Military intelligence, spying and propaganda have always been part of warfare. Today it is different. For public the number of sources of information is almost infinite. Information is provided by news agencies representing different regimes and working for their interests. There are messages, pictures, selfies and video clips in social media from the solders and civilians (or made to look like and claimed to be made by solders or civilians).
Furthermore, the information warfare is not only about propaganda and attempts to influence the public opinion. Today the information warfare is also real and fake surveillance disclosures and attacks to information infrastructure. All these made by government agencies, paid or unpaid hacktivist — who knows. No surprise that educated public with critical thinking skills is confused what source one should trust. And in places where ignorance is bliss, it is anyway folly to be wise. (Thomas Gray). Ignore the truth or die. Again I am asking, who benefits from the confusion and ignorance?
Education, democracy and information warfare are all interlinked. Without educated public it is impossible to have democracy. Without democracy there are wars.
Therefore, these days we probably need more Wikipedia that ever before. Why? Wikipedia has a simple and clear content policies (neutral point of view, verifiability etc.) and motivated crowds around the world that are committed to the vision and the mission. This means that Wikipedia is transparent and aims to be multilingual and accessible for all (see: free mobile access in various countries). All this makes Wikipedia a great source of information. It is hard to manipulate and difficult to infiltrate to. People are watching.
With its hypertext format and latest move to the direction of semantic web with the Wikidata, Wikipedia is providing not only news about the current issues but the context, too. This makes it easy to get an overview, to compare different events, to read about the history of the events and to compare how different language groups are writing about the topics. Lets have a look of the situation in Ukraine via Wikipedia. To study the topic, to get an overview and context, you may have a look of these articles:
- 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine
- Timeline of the war in Donbass
- 2014 Ukrainian revolution
- Timeline of the Euromaidan
- Modern history of Ukraine
- List of ongoing armed conflicts
Wikipedia is important. On our way to democratic and peaceful world — to the world were we all respect human rights and take part in civic life — we still need more. Because:
“Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.”
― Frank Zappa
We need primary education focusing on basics: reading and writing, math, science, geography, history, languages and arts (including music). The point of primary education is not to have skills with exchange value in a job market. They are important for the sake of democracy and peace: for people to become humans. Continuing deepening understanding on the “basics” is important in higher levels of education, too. When combined with domain specific studies people become questioning, creative and empathic. And guess what? It pays off.
I want to pick back up on some of the ideas I started to flesh out yesterday, based on Tressie McMillan Cottom’s recent talk on ideologies and identities in digital domains. Again, not sure where I’m going with this…
Tressie highlighted the ways in which new educational technologies – MOOCs for example – assume a student free of place, free of context. "Free." That’s a deeply ideological assumption, no doubt, one that erases race, class, and gender for starters. I tried to link her arguments to a tweet by Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira, who defending his company from parent-privacy activists, tweeted that Knewton “can help students understand their learning history without knowing their identity.” There, I argued, we see this nod to “identity-less-ness” – a notion that with the right engineering, the right algorithms ed-tech can be personalized to your academic needs without knowing your person.
Here, I want to turn back to those parent-privacy activists for a moment rambling exposition…The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
A new privacy group launched earlier this month: the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. The group launched with letters to the House and Senate Education Committees, demanding changes to FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) that would strengthen student privacy rights and give parents more say over what happens to student data.
The group describes itself as a “broad coalition.” Politico’s description: “odd bedfellows.” Among those signing the letter (and in the coalition?), education historian Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson (who helped lead much of the parental backlash against the data infrastructure project inBloom), Josh Golin from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Lisa Rudley from the Autism Action Network, Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins from the American Principles Project, Helen Gym from Parents United for Public Education, and Joy Pullmann, the editor of School Reform News.
As someone who spends a lot of time talking about student data and privacy and is committed to progressive education and is committed to social justice, I was pretty appalled by the coalition (and spent the good part of the day of the press release on Twitter asking for clarification from certain people as to why they thought such a coalition was a good idea). I was particularly concerned with these signers: the Autism Action Network, which is notoriously anti-vaccine and anti-science, and the American Principles Project, which is virulently anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, anti-public pensions, anti-"promiscuity," and pro-Gold Standard (and wasn’t just a signer. APP’s McGroarty is cited in the press release).
This underscores, in my opinion, the dangers with “single issue politics,” and frankly I don’t understand how people could be willing to partner with organizations which actively work against the civil rights of other individuals and against the health and well-being of the public at-large.
And that means that, despite the hand-waving that the coalition has come to agree upon this “one important topic,” it’s worth considering how the members of this coalition might define “privacy” and “data” in very different ways.
These terms, like the technologies they’re bound up with, have histories and have ideologies.(Ideology and) Defining “Data”
What do we mean when we talk about “privacy”? What do we mean by “student data”?
The latter is different, for example – conceptually, technologically, and of course legally – than the “educational record” as defined by FERPA. (Here’s the government’s lengthy and yet totally unhelpful definition of "educational record.") This is part of the concern of some privacy advocates who note that the protections that FERPA purportedly mandates extend to only a small portion of the “student data” that is created and collected – thanks to the variety of technologies that schools utilize. Metadata, including location data, and the time and date of data creation, are not covered by FERPA.
The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, in its letter to Congress, expresses its concerns over the collection and sharing of “highly sensitive personal data” and "personally identifiable student data." It neither defines nor specifies what these phrases entail. Here, for what it’s worth, is the Department of Education’s definition of personally identifiable information, or PII.
PII is a legal concept, and as such, what constitutes PII differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. (Here’s the EU Directive on PII, for example). “Highly sensitive personal data” does, in some situations, carry legal weight (say, with regards to classified information); but the notion of “sensitivity” is incredibly subjective. That means it is personal, and it is political.
And that matters, particularly when your privacy coalition includes members of an organization, the American Principles Project, whose founder described being gay as “beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures” and has worked to prevent schools from teaching about LGBTQ historical figures or supporting LGBTQ students. How does the APP wish to see this "sensitive data" wielded, or perhaps submerged?(Ideology and) Defining Privacy
“Privacy” is similarly undefined by the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy in its letter to Congress. There’s a sense, based on the repeated demands for parental consent regarding the disclosure of student data, that that’s the main issue: the right of parents to control information about their children.
The letter also articulates concerns over data falling into the hands of for-profit companies (although it’s worth noting that, for the right-wing American Principles Project, the fear is that the data will fall into the hands of the government).
Of course, privacy is a historical construct, one with multiple and ever-changing meanings. Defining privacy is something that NYU professor Helen Nissenbaum calls a “treacherous path.” Those who have tried
“have sought to establish whether privacy is a claim, a right, an interest, a value, a preference, or merely a state of existence. They have defended accounts of privacy as a descriptive concept, a normative concept, a legal concept, or all three. They have taken positions on whether privacy applies only to information, to actions and decisions (the so-called constitutional rights to privacy), to special seclusion, or to all three. They have declared privacy relevant to all information, or only to a rarefied subset of personal, sensitive, or intimate information, and they have disagreed over whether it is a right to control and limit access or merely a measure of the degree of access others have to us and to information about us. They have posited links between privacy and anonymity, privacy and secrecy, privacy and confidentiality, and privacy and solitude.”Privacy in Context
In her book Privacy in Context, Nissenbaum offers a different frame:
“What people care most about is not simply restricting the flow of information but ensuring that it flows appropriately, and an account of appropriate flow is given here through the framework of contextual integrity.”
Privacy, she argues, is the right to the appropriate flow of information, and we should debate the appropriateness of the creation, collection, and consumption of data based on the context of each. We can debate this, ideally, through transparent, democratic processes, recognizing that we have to work through the knotty challenges of protecting public and individual needs. That is, with integrity.
Nissenbaum actually spends a number of pages in her book thinking through the considerations a school administrator should weigh when deciding on features for a “new computerized student record system”: questions of liberty, autonomy, fairness, harm, efficiency, cost effectiveness, and so on.
“Each [data] disclosure would need to be considered on its own merits, on the basis not only of moral and political principles, but on factual knowledge of systematic mutual effects on students and those seeking access. Both general effects and those pertaining to the goals of an educational context should be considered.”
So again, I can’t help but ask: what does “student privacy” look like for a group like Autism Action Network – a member of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy – that opposes laws surrounding vaccinations?
The question here isn’t simply “should students be required to be vaccinated,” but “must students disclose their vaccinations”? Do schools have a right to know which students have and haven’t been vaccinated? What happens in, say, a whooping cough outbreak? Do other parents have a right to know if their child is at risk of exposure to disease? Does the public have a right to know?
Or is this “highly sensitive personal data” that a parent gets to decide whether or not to disclose?Privacy and Context-less-ness
Context matters in learning, as Tressie’s talk this week helped make very clear. Identity matters. But ed-tech strips away the context, and in order to fend off concerns about privacy violations, asserts that identity has been stripped away as well.
To counter this, however, we cannot respond with a politics emptied of context or identity or meaning. That's a dangerous game. And it is a lie. Those things – context, identity, meaning – can be found in “data,” to be sure. But they are always more than mere "data": they are weighted and wielded by power.
Tech critic Evgeny Morozov cautions against a “technological solutionism” whereby more data and better algorithms and niftier apps claim they can solve society’s problems – often bypassing, he argues, the political processes whereby the public has an opportunity to decide what exactly those problems entail, for whom, and how.
And to resist this solutionism, we cannot respond with an acquiescence to an unexamined radical individualism – it's my privacy, my child’s data, my decision. We cannot respond by saying that privacy protections and data usages are context-less, that we should have schools that are identity-less. That simply feeds right back into the ideology of the machine.
Una secuencia didáctica para trabajar la Primera Guerra Mundial y un modelo abierto para la creación de REAs sobre conflictos bélicos. "La guerra que cambió el mundo" es el nuevo REA publicado por Proyecto EDIA de CeDeC.
Cien años después del conflicto, los alumnos se convierten en investigadores, recopilares de fuentes históricas y creadores de contenidos de la PGM. "La guerra que cambió el mundo" es un viaje educativo, abierto y moficable a las trincheras de la Primera Guerra Mundial. ¿Participas?
It makes me wonder how many of the 'success stories' in the literatire are based on cheating, just as this one from a school in Atlanta did, complete with published papers and a 'Dispelling the Myth' award. "There have been accounts of widespread cheating in dozens of cities, including Philadelphia, Toledo, El Paso, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, and St. Louis."[Link] [Comment]
I'm not saying this has anything to do with certain recent cases of hacking, but the flaw seems serious and pervasive. "Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present next week, demonstrating a collection of proof-of-concept malicious software that highlights how the security of USB devices has long been fundamentally broken." The malware is embedded not in the data stored on the USB, but in the firmware itself, making it invisible to screening software. And no, it's not just the bad guys who could use this. "The USB attack may in fact already be common practice for the NSA (in) a spying device known as Cottonmouth, revealed earlier this year in the leaks of Edward Snowden."[Link] [Comment]
Most universities have adopted guidelines for the use of social media, but their reach and impact has not been benign, according to the authors. "The guidelines attempt to blur what is appropriate in what space, revealing a repressive impulse on the part of university administrations. These guidelines are read as obvious attempts to control rather than merely guide, and speak to the nature of institutional over-reach."[Link] [Comment]