open learning?

So from transparency and participation in peer review to openness – openness in teaching and learning.

Most of you have probably seen some mention of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. There’s a good description with some background on the initiative and its participants at Inside Higher Ed.

So what does openness mean in this context? Looking at the declaration, they mean a lot of things.

On the one hand, it means that the materials of teaching – the lectures, the courseware, the activities, the questions and more – should be freely accessible to as many people as possible. On the other hand, they also mean using technology to create open learning environments that “facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues.”

Like the Budapest Open Access Initiative the preceded it, the Cape Town declaration points to new technology as a catalyst, but relies on older shared values to direct that catalyst in meaningful ways.

This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet.

Specifically, the Cape Town declaration calls for openness in three places – in educators and learners who “actively participate in the emerging open education movement,” in resources, and in policy.

Karen Munro points out where to sign.

Then just today, I saw a reference to a related openness project – focused on open access to required course materials. We all know that textbook costs are out of control. And increasingly, faculty are looking for things they can do about the problem. In a meeting today I heard that the number of books we got for course reserves has already exceeded the number of call numbers we’d set aside for the purpose. Most of us can’t just go out and buy all of the texts our students need each year, but I think most of us in libraries are sympathetic to students being asked to pay more than top dollar for less than top-dollar information when they buy their textbooks.

So here’s another petition you can sign – this one’s from the Campaign to Reduce College Textbook Costs.

As an academic librarian, I think there’s a lot more here than the chance to sign some online petitions. This couldn’t be more of an information literacy issue if it tried. We spend a lot of time working to make sure our students can find and use the information they need to succeed for classroom assignments like research papers; here we’re talking about our students’ ability to find and use the information they need to succeed in their day-to-day learning. I haven’t been treating this as an information literacy issue, but I think maybe I should have – maybe this is a good opportunity for partnering with faculty to help our students succeed.

One thought on “open learning?

  1. I’m so glad you brought textbooks into the discussion…I keep thinking I’d like to create a web page (or add a tab to our subject pages, or get something into our CMS) that collates information about open texts online. Like so: http://www.opentextbook.org/

    I haven’t done it yet, but it would be a great thing for the library to do, I think. It’s our purview, and the social capital of the gesture would be terrific.

    Maybe a joint project sometime? :)

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