Monday, June 25, 2007

Once again Dave Wiley gets it right!

I tell you, I like knowing smart people. I was reading up on back posts from David Wiley's blog, and I ran across this gem:
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I’m feeling grumpy today. Must be the jet lag.

Why do people think that open source licenses are a kind of magic pixie dust? Here’s a little thought…. Let’s call it Wiley’s Anti-openness Thought Experiment (WATE):
A major publisher publishes a beginning algebra textbook which is not very effectively designed. Most faculty avoid using it; those who do find that their students perform more poorly than the last few semesters’ students. The word gets out on the street about the poor quality of the book, and sales suffer.

One day, the publisher has a brilliant idea. The publisher releases the second edition of the book, which changes in only one way: the standard copyright statement in the front of the book is replaced with a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Now I ask you: is the second edition of the textbook more educationally effective than the first?

The answer is, obviously, No. So why is it that PhD students looking for dissertation topics keep proposing to gather evidence to establish their hypothesis that “open educational resources are more effective than proprietary resources?” Why is it that very smart people I know from prestigious universities in the OER world keep falling into this same trap in their thinking? AN OPEN LICENSE DOES NOT MAKE A RESOURCE MORE EFFECTIVE!!!

Now, obviously, I am not anti-openness. In fact, I am the most pro-openness person I know. But what you have to understand is that what increases the quality of a resource is when someone **improves** the resource, not when someone **openly licenses** a resource. The improvement is partially made possible by an open source license, but is not accomplished by the license.

Someone once said that a person who doesn’t read is no different from a person who can’t read. In the same sense, and open educational resource that has never been adapted or localized is no different from a fully copyrighted resource.

Please, please, please, let’s learn this lesson.

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I couldn't agree more. I am slowly beginning to understand this Open Source thing and its impact. It could be that our new faculty member coming to OSU, Pasha Antonenko (who is a MASSIVE TALENT), is big on it, or it could be that I'm just wising up, but either way David clearly articulates the issues at hand once again.

I know that I have struggled with some online content lately. I was sure I had things just the way they needed to be for one of my courses, but I couldn't figure out why it just wasn't working. I was doing what Dave describes here.

Thanks, Dave.

The full URL for his post is: http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/327

I recommend reading him. Whether you agree with what he says or not, he'll make you think.

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