Our own views on openness (week 1)

Hello everyone!
I am really unsure about openness at this time , according to what I’ve heard/seen openness might mean the resources

  • available in easily modifiable form
  • that can be redistributed
  • that can be used by anyone ( not restricted as ‘for non-commercial use only’ or something like that )


To me open means that information is made available to those who would usually not have access to it due to financial constraints. It is an enabler for education and knowledge for those who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

I know it is counter intuitive if you download free software and are asked if you want to donate but I think that we should keep in mind that, as somebody else mentioned, it costs money to develop software or course content and therefor in the spirit of “openness” I think that those who can afford to should make a voluntary contribution so that others who cannot afford it have the opportunity to access it. I am not totally naïve and I understand that one will always get the freeloaders who will use/abuse a system without contributing, but to me it seems to be a small price to pay if one looks at the good that can arise from making access to knowledge and software free to those who cannot afford it otherwise.

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It’s interesting. From what I have read those who participate in humble-bundles (i.e. name your own price) tend to be more generous toward developers than the software is actually priced at. This is pretty nifty. The other thing I like about the ubuntu donation suggestion is that you can specify where you’d like your donation to go (ubuntu for server vs for desktop for instance). This gives developers an idea of where demand might be.

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Can you let us know which Google Doc you’re referring to? Just to clarify…

This sounds like a perfectly good idea of what “open” might involve, Joe. It would then be allowing others to make those riffs, to use what you’ve created and make something different with it, rather than close it down with a copyright that doesn’t allow for this. Or, do you mean that open could involve people using others’ work even without such permission? That’s what the last sentence here could indicate.

Sorry, your survey response on openness (I just went to google.doc rather than hackpad, i.e., to connect profession to response).

I agree with AK and Mahi Bali where you say openness is a philosophy and an attitude. I believe it is rooted in one’s educational philosophy in which one believes the sharing of ideas and materials are to benefit society as a whole.

To add onto those thoughts, in addition to what others mentioned about openness being about revising, remixing, reusing, and redistributing, at no/low-cost, I also liked the statement one of the survey participants said about “openness is about inviting participation” and sharing ideas. I like the idea of openness being about connecting people to each other through ideas or artifacts. As others are invited to participate, the ideas and artifacts continue to evolve as does the community.


Hi everyone:

I’ve started to collect our thoughts on openness here and on blogs, on Hackpad: https://whyopen.hackpad.com/Our-views-of-what-open-means-gZH6PBjGLWr

I did up to comment #26 on this thread, including the two blog posts. If anyone else wants to add more to it, just say which comment you got up to, at the bottom.

I didn’t want anyone to have to type their thoughts twice, so I just started summarizing according to some general categories. These probably aren’t ones everyone will agree with, but feel free to add new ones as you see fit. This can be more of a collaborative exercise than just me trying to summarize with the categories I was thinking of!

And if anyone has ideas on how better to collate our thoughts in one place, I’m happy to hear them and we can change this whole thing around if need be.

I recently stumbled across this quote while working through the literature on openness and I think it communicates something really important.

‘Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. . …That tension will not go away.’
Stewart Brand (1985, according to Wikipedia)

I agree that openness is a philosophy of exposing your creations to the public with no expectations of profit other than the intellectual and social profit of others being able to expand on your work, but I have noticed that a great deal of the policy-making behind openness is still driven by economic profit. Governments know that information is valuable, but since Open is the fad of the moment they seem desperate to justify it in terms of the value that information can create (just look at all the discourse about economic benefit from developers’ engagement with open data in creating apps). So I think that right now, openness sits at a fundamental cross roads between those like Nisha and Maha who are anti-money and very much for the free flow of information for information’s sake and those like many of our governments that see openness as a new way to justify expenditure and stimulate the economy.

It’s quite interesting. For me reusing and redistributing fit easily into the concept of Open, but remixing is contextual. For example I wouldn’t necessarily want someone to edit and redistribute some things wholesale. For instance if I wrote an article or a book and made it open access, I wouldn’t necessarily want someone to go in and change things and redistribute under my name (potential liability issues), however, people can be free to pull from the article or book, quote, and use in their own work.

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I think that there is something about open. Being in higher education for almost 20 years, the launch of ‘open learning’ was exciting to me. The availability of open courses puts the learner in charge of what they want to learn, when they want to learn. It adds the element of flexibility to someone’s learning experience. And of course, the element of cost is also an asset. Not only do I want to be a part of this movement, I want to be part of providing the experience in such a way that it’s beneficial to the learner.

like @clhendricksbc I like the word riff. In my favourite open learning space #ds106 I have been able to learn lots by riffing on the work of others and have been most encouraged when others think something I’ve done/made is interesting enough to riff off.
On Christina’s question of whose original to work/play off perhaps it is most satisfying to do this with permission of the originator, leading to possibilities of open conversation, further play etc.

pmva, I completely agree with both your posts:

  • open allows access to (mainly) financially disenfranchised
  • at the same time open does not and ultimately can’t be free. Someone needs to be ‘paid’ for their effort
  • the idea for those that can do, and those that can’t- don’t is extremely appealing and I believe to be ‘fair’

@Susan_Huggins I agree, but I have a degree of trepidation. I was taking an “open course” on Andragogy as a way of getting background materials for an upcoming presentation on the topic. The Open course was really poor in that it boiled things down so much that it was almost useless. Being in education for the last 7 years now I can sniff out some BS because I’ve developed that critical literacy. I am worried that those who don’t have that critical literacy will not be able to sniff out good content from bad content.

Distinguishing good content from bad content is a critical skill that everyone needs to develop in today’s world! How would you suggest others develop that critical literacy?

Open is a philosophy and a practice. It’s not just theory but how it is also implemented in teaching, technology, and any other domain. Open has a cost as you detailed in your blog post. The challenge is for those of us who believe in the philosophy of open and use open resources is to put out time, money, expertise, and energy towards giving back to the open movement. We all have to ask ourselves: how do we practice open?

I think that by participating in anything that is basically free one has to “pay the price” by doing your homework and establishing whether the material is good and relevant and whether it is of a good quality otherwise it would be a waste of your time and time wasted equals forfeiture of your potential income and it can thus be VERY pricy. So what I basically am saying is that you are going to invest your time by enrolling therefor do your homework before enrolling so that you know that after the course you would have gained valuable knowledge and insight.


To be Open requires being at once idealistic and pragmatic. How many of us exclusively use Open Source Software rather than Microsoft, Apple etc? Never mind hardware which is increasingly locked into the software. If you want to create OER strictly you might argue you should only develop in html5 using OSS, then all you need to access is a browser. Perhaps not pragmatic. Omniscient Google utilises and contributes to OSS - and Open more generally - but makes us all the product even (or especially) if you CC licence (they’ll index and cache it even if it’s All Rights Reserved!) The Web is predicated on open standards but 20 years on commercial interest


Oops…damn Google nexus!