Making Your OOPS! Work Open

What does the “open” in “Open Online Participatory Seminar” mean? When people think of open and courses, they often think of the very popular “MOOC,” meaning Massive Open Online Course. But we wondered quite a bit about what being open really meant. The Wikipedia definition of MOOC states that open means,

“unlimited participation and open access via the web

Most of the time, this means that course resources are freely available to anyone and that participants can join and leave the course at any time, for any reason. Open remains pretty simple. However, in its apparent simplicity, we felt it left out some important ways we should think about openness.

Our use of “open” is borrowed from the initial connectivist OOC (Open Online Course) offerings of educators like Alec Couros, Stephen Downes, and George Siemens. In these types of OOCS, the emphasis shifts from size of enrollment to understandings about “open” in a specific online community. This means  making decisions about “open” have to do with a particular course, its learners and learning aims, its teachers and pedagogies.

The biggest issue for us in some of the MOOC definitions of “open” is that they ultimately leave the burden on individual users to determine what their “unlimited participation” might look like. But what if a user doesn’t feel welcome or comfortable in the space? What if they feel that they can participate as much or as little as they want, but how they participate and what they choose to share is limited by classroom dynamics that discriminate against and marginalize them? Or if in the name of tolerance, fairness, and openness, some groups experience further marginalization (as in what teaching scholar Stephen Brookfield writes about as repressive tolerance)?

This is part of the reason why, though OOPS! course resources that Alex and Ilene create or post are open access — meaning anyone can use them (and even re-use many of them). Of course the Discussion Forums and Activities Workshops that you will co-create together will be open only to those who register to participate in the seminar.

This also brings us to the purpose of this post. Participants in the OOPS! course can choose whether or not to share any of their assignments publicly. This means that in order to receive a badge or credit for the course, it is not necessary to share any of your work beyond the group of peers who’ve registered for this seminar. The choice for “opening” resources beyond the seminar Moodle space is yours and your reasons can remain your own.

We do, however, completely support you in deciding to further share badge-related artifacts and other materials you produce! We think this kind of sharing has lots of benefits. It can:

  • Provide you with valuable feedback on the assignment, policy, syllabus, or other artifacts you produce.
  • Help you build an online presence and portfolio to share and promote your work.
  • Offer others the opportunity to learn from your work and to build from it.
  • Contribute to a huge and growing community of teachers and learners producing “Open Educational Resources” – documents, course modules, and other resources available for a global community of educators to access and work from.

You can, of course, share your work in any way you wish. Participants in the course will have access to public Google Drive folders that they can upload to any documents they wish to share beyond the group of seminar participants. We’ll post links to these folders in the Course Resources section of this site.

For participants interested in sharing their work, we strongly recommend applying a license to your work. Some might choose a standard copyright for their work. This might look something like “This work is copyright (C) Alex Fink. All rights reserved.” at the end of the work. Such a copyright requires any other potential users to request permission from me as the creator of the artifact under copyright.

Others will choose “copyleft” or open licenses. These licenses vary in the permissions they give to others to use and re-use your work. The most common license for such work is Creative Commons. You can choose a number of different license variants which allow others to re-use your work with some restrictions applied. You can choose from these licenses using this license chooser. This license chooser will give you instructions about how to apply a license to your work.

As always, let us know if you’ve got questions or want some help figuring this out!

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