Open education’s long revolution: Cable Green on Future Trends Forum #11

Where does open education stand in 2016?  On April 14th Cable Green, many participants, and I explored this question on the 11th Future Trends Forum.

Cable and Kristine

The chat box went wild with observations, lightning-fast links, and questions.  Twitter discussion went well, so I Storified it here.  You can find our video and audio recording at YouTube, and embedded right here:

My notes follow.

Cable quickly introduced the Creative Commons project as the global standard for open licensing for copyrighted resources.  It’s been working for 15 years.


We touched on the just-concluded Open Education Global Conference in Krakow, which Cable found to be very higher education focused.  He also identified several key themes:

  • Structuring open education through linked data to resources, which could yield real time feedback and better linkage to OER.  This could work by using government-provided or other sources for course content, out of which we get live data.
  • The rising importance of a Z degree (Zero textbook cost degree).
  • European educators are placing a strong emphasis on open educational praxis, open pedagogy.
  • There was a side meeting on national governments making resources openly resources by default.  The reason for doing this is a sense of the public good, for people to receive the best information, which open can be. Additionally, states have an incentive to get their education investments to play a better role in solving global grand challenges, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  People learning can play a role in contributing to solving those problems.
  • The mood was positive, especially as OER adoption seems to be rising, reaching <>15% of adoption in some cases.
  • What can we do with open that we can’t do with closed?  Cable cited Alan Levine as doing good work in this area.  One example is teaching assignments that involve updating content for a course.

Copyright and licensing issues continue to be an issue. For example, there is an increasing number of people just taking stuff online without paying.  Should we challenge copyright regimes?


Government support for open, either for equity or efficiency.  For example, Oregon announced grants to fund OER creation.  There are many examples of this at provincial and national levels.  There are more requirements for researchers receiving government funding to open their data.

Related trend: open policies from government agencies.  For example, the United States Department of Labor requires grantees to publish results through the CC-BY license.


Related: more government policies to remove barriers to producing OER – through small grants, for example.  Fiji + Nigeria (National Open University) are moving to support OER.  The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is moving to OER as a whole.  New Zealand school boards are allowing K-12 teachers to license content under CC. Cable cites Alek Tarkowski’s blog post, Active OER: Beyond open licensing policies.

Question from Paul Baldridge: “Cable stated the conference was geared around Higher Ed. Does OER currenlty exist in the P-12 sector?”

Answer: the K-12 education resource system is broken.   It is very expensive ($9 billion industry).  Textbooks are 10-11 years old. Teachers can organize to improve things, like this design and procurement collaborative.  They can develop OER through major Common Core areas through competitive RFPs.  Another example: the United States Department of Education’s OER site.

Question from Benjamin Stewart: do creators or institutions receive the license?

Answer: it’s about the creator, based on the way copyright works.

At this point Cable and I hopped off the stage to discuss OER and CC with participants.

A busy mingle session

(As people move off and on the stage, Brett Boessen jokes that he’s reminded of Jane McGonigal’s thoughts on the “puppet master problem“)

more mingling

Out of that mingling came several ideas, including the importance of campus leadership and Alan Levine’s work on a new Creative Commons expert certificate, build for librarians, educators, and government workers.

Kristine from the University of Saskatchewan. described her institution’s work on using and developing OER, including developing an open press.  A key trend: instructional designers no longer create classes, but create textbooks.

Cable noted the BC Open Textbook Authoring Guide, the BC Open Textbooks initiative, and the Open Textbooks Library at Minnesota. In chat Paul Baldridge mentioned the OERConsortium. Cable then asked why faculty start from closed and have a hard time heading to open.  Kristine explained that closed is traditional, and that publishing worries loom large.  Cable’s elegant observation: scholars write to be read, and open’s the best way to do that.  (around here Alan Levine cited a strong call in favor of open access in scholarly publishing)

Cable and Kristine

Observations came in from chat.  Brett Boessen: faculty awareness of open is still so low.  Alan Levine: Catherine Cronin did a fab keynote today at OER16 about the challenges of open and privacy, and the false dichotomy of open/closed .

Question from Mark Wilson:”Are there any US initiatives on OER for adult learners. Scotland has a national policy to support adult learners.”

Answer: yes.  (EDITED TO ADD) Cable shared the following:

The digital revolution in higher education has already happened. No one noticed.” — Medium
Publications catalogue – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion” – European Commission
Adult Education and Open Educational Resources” – Think Tank
“Do adult educators recognise the full potential [of] the Open Education movement to enrich learning?” (slideshow; blog post) -Stirring Learning

I ask, what’s the best way for a campus to engage with the Creative Commons?  Cable asks us to use the licenses.  We should spread awareness, as “75% of faculty still don’t know about open education” (citing Jeff Siemens of Babson)  He recommends the Foundations for OER Strategy Development.

There are many ways for instructors to proceed.  Faculty should do a “gut check” about why they are educators; isn’t education about sharing?  Faculty members can also share their OER and use others’ OER.  They can create, adopt and implement OA / OER policies.  They should advocate for more open support through funding, staff support, and recognition through promotion, tenure, and review processes.  Professors can add research components to OER projects.  Recall that there is OER research being conducted, too.

Institutions can check key performance indicators (KPIs) to see how they support or recognize open education,  They can measure how OER is affecting those data.  And we can also ask Cable to visit.

Ray Batra told us about another event:

Hi all – some of you may be interested… this Thursday Intellus Learning and my org, EdSurge Higher Ed, are hosting a webinar & Twitter conversation (#discoverOER) on “Bridging OER’s Last Mile Divide” w/Jeff Selingo, Michael Horn, Bev Perdue, Dr. Leslie Kennedy and Mark Triest.

Nathan Sukonik mentioned another event, the ASU-GSV conference, which addressed open education.

At that point I called a close, because not only were we past the hour, but I had to race off to catch a flight.

Many thanks to Cable for a generous and inspiring presence; participants for hunting URLs and sharing thoughts; Shindig staff for making it all work.

(CC-BY image from Wikimedia)

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3 Responses to Open education’s long revolution: Cable Green on Future Trends Forum #11

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