Tag Archives: “Stephen Downes”

MOOC as Learning Experience – #OpenEdMOOC Week 3

For Week 1 I shared ‘Open Matters‘ with a bit from the reading, and an Open Education Manifesto that I put together in 2011.

For Week 2 I shared ‘“More Free” #OpenEdMooc Week 2‘ with a reflection on Stephen Downe’s 2012 post on the topic of why BY-NC-SA is more free than suggested in the Creative Commons.

I really haven’t done much more that summarize the readings, add a bit of reflection, and some of my thinking (previously) influenced by others… nothing really new, just summaries and review of things I’ve already thought about.

For that reason, it was refreshing to see Lisa M. Lane discuss OERs again.

“I’ve posted a number of times on Open Educational Resources, and mentioning these might help explain why I subject the entire issue to serious criticism, a small sigh, and a raised eyebrow…”

Go ahead and read the post, and the comments (please).

I found this refreshing because this was the first of the learner contributions to the course that went beyond summarizing the reading or past thinking, and it was also critical of the conversation.

Even my post on “More Free”, while somewhat argumentative on the Creative Commons ideas of what is more or less free, was still just reiteration of Stephen Downe’s idea, which he again mentioned in the last 38 seconds of his video, in this week’s course content (shared below).

In the course so far, Lisa’s post was the first student contribution that I’ve found, which promoted conversation and discourse. Discourse is actually the thing I most appreciated about a previous project involving George Siemens and Stephen Downes, “Online Connectivism Conference: Healthy Discord

This discourse is something that I have seldom seen in the world of educational blogs. There seems to be an unspoken etiquette about being non-confrontational when discussing ideas on other’s blogs. Essentially teachers don’t criticize others’ opinions. Even when there is disagreement it is often polite, reserved and… well, annoying. On the other hand, there seems to be thoughtful discord and discourse happening in the Connectivism conference forums.

Yesterday, Donna Fry connected with me on Twitter (she is the reason I jumped on board to take this course ‘with’ her and others. She linked to a Tweet about another open course Learning Creative Learning, and also said, “…I am so far behind in already (right ?)

My response:

This morning we connected and had a great Facetime conversation. This conversation was the second time my thinking has been challenged in the course. Donna helped me re-evaluate the value of the ‘No Derivatives’ aspect of CC, which I didn’t see a purpose for, because I thought of it as equally as restricted as copyright. Her example was sharing something controversial, where ‘altered’ works could then cause mis-attribution and confusion about your original message.

Another key topic discussed was that we both learn from healthy discourse (and even discord)… something lacking (so far) in this course.

Donna shared with me (and on Twitter with #OpenEdMOOC) an article by Margaret Wheatley, “Willing to be Disturbed“:

“There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me. What did I just hear that startled me? This isn’t easy – I’m accustomed to sitting there nodding my head to those saying things I agree with. But when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my own views more dearly, including my beliefs and assumptions”

and Doug Belshaw “On CC0

• CC0/Public Domain: “No Rights Reserved” — I have created this thing, and you can do whatever you like with it.

…For me, the CC0 decision is a no-brainer. I’m working to make the world a better place through whatever talents and skills that I’ve got. While I want my family to live comfortably, I’m not trying to accumulate wealth. That’s not what drives me. So I definitely feel what Alan says that he’s “given up trying to be an attribution cop”.

Both of these articles have pushed my thinking a bit, both are initiated not by the course content, but rather learner relationships.

And so with the following 2 tweets in mind, I planned to call this post “Open Discourse”:

@_Ms_J contributed:

However, I started thinking about why this idea of disagreement and discourse was missing, and that got me thinking about course design. So far, I can see this course being more informational that conversational and that makes me question the value of it being a MOOC, and not just an online course where the student, teacher and content are the primary focus.

To me, the value of a MOOC is that the participants get to openly engage with each other and the curriculum in a way that fosters greater value than if students immerse themselves in the course without the networked connections of other participants.

So here is a little image that I’ve put together to look at the MOOC as Learning Experience.

Venn diagrams are about the relationships between things and I think these relationships are key in a MOOC. Donna says above, ‘MOOCs are more about conversations & connections than content’, and I think learner experience in a MOOC is really about the relationships we have with each other, as much or more than the relationships with the content… if not, where is the value in being ‘open’?

Here is a brief description of the relationships that I see between a MOOC, the teacher(s), and the participants:

MOOC content <-> Teacher

  • If the material is Open and Online, the design around how things are shared needs thoughtful consideration.
  • Participant contributions are distributed and so a component like the ‘Learner Activity‘ page is essential.
  • Social sharing/hashtag/conversation beyond learner activity content is essential.

Participants <-> MOOC Content

  • Content is open and easy to access and share.
  • Learning activity is open and easy to access and share.
  • Content is designed to go beyond information delivery and designed to promote dialogue and discourse.

Teacher <-> Participants

  • Focus on open, publish sharing
  • Teacher as provocateur, agitator. The course delivers the content, the teacher inspires the conversation.
  • Teacher as questioner, not answerer (more socratic rather than a focus on content delivery).
  • Social interaction – connections and conversations with other learners – are fostered.
  • I think there also needs to be intentional teacher presence if the conversation isn’t happening, and perhaps intentional teacher ‘tongue-biting‘ when participants are asking the right questions and contributing to each others’ learning.

Ultimately, learner experience in a MOOC is about fostering relationships between the teacher, the content, and the other participants to add value to what the course would be if it were not open.

It is about connectivity and networked learning, not just a student <-> teacher <-> content relationship.

I invite conversation, by all means, go ahead and disagree with me… ask questions, provide alternative perspectives. Help me learn.

“More Free” #OpenEdMooc Week 2

Part 1 – The commons

Understanding Free Cultural Works

Creative Commons provides a range of licenses, each of which grants different rights to use the materials licensed under them. All of these licenses offer more permissions than “all rights reserved.”

To help show more clearly what the different CC licenses let people do, CC marks the most permissive of its licenses as “Approved for Free Cultural Works.” When you apply these licenses to material you create, it meets the Freedom Defined definition of a “Free Cultural Work.” Free cultural works are the ones that can be most readily used, shared, and remixed by others, and go furthest toward creating a commons of freely reusable materials.

What does “Approved for Free Cultural Works” mean?

CC uses the definition of free cultural works at Freedom Defined to categorize the CC licenses. (Freedom Defined is an open organization of free culture advocates and researchers; the definition was developed by its community as a parallel to efforts such as the Free Software Definition, to have a standard for defining Free Culture.) Using that definition, material licensed under CC BY or BY-SA is a free cultural work. (So is anything in the worldwide public domain marked with CC0or the Public Domain Mark.) CC’s other licenses– BY-NCBY-NDBY-NC-SA, and BY-NC-ND–only allow more limited uses, and material under these licenses is not considered a free cultural work.


Part 2 – Stephen Downes


According to Stephen Downes: (On the topic of CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-NC-SA licenses)


  • licenses that allow commercial use are less freet han those that do not, because they allow commercial entities to charge fees for access, to lock them behind digital locks, and to append conditions that prohibit their reuse
  • works licensed with a Non-commercial clause are fully and equally open educational resources, and are in many cases the only OERs actually accessible to people (because the content allowing commercial use tends to have costs associated with it)
  • the supposition that works that cost money can be ‘free’ is a trick of language, a fallacy that fools contributors into sharing for commercial use content they intended to make available to the world without charge the lobby very loudly making the case for commercial-friendly licenses and recommending that NC content be shunned consists almost entirely of commercial publishers and related interests seeking to make money off (no-longer) ‘free’ content.

“…people may attach licenses allowing commercial use to their work if they wish. I have no objection to this. But such people should cease and desist their ongoing campaign to have works that are non-commercial in intent, and free in distribution, classified as ‘not free’. Content that cannot be enclosed within a paywall, and cannot be distributed with commercial encumbrances attached, is just as free – indeed, more free– than so-called ‘free’ commercial content.”


Part 3 – My Reflection

Is BY-NC-SA ‘more free’ than the commons page above suggests?

Before going into this, I want to first state that I believe “No Derivatives” is very closed. If you can’t build on previous work, the work is being locked down.

With respect to By-NC-SA, I predominately use this for things that I share. That said, my default for family photos tends to be full Copyright when I can (on sites such as Flickr). But for educational work that I create, I use By-NC-SA specifically because I think this makes my work ‘More Free”.

Continuing on a personal note, I have gone after a few people that have shared my work in inappropriate ways. For a while, my ‘Pair-a-Dimes’ blog was ranked very high on Google, I’m not sure what I was doing right, but since then Google has gotten wiser, and my ranking has plummeted. Before that happened, my Statement Educational Philosophy was on the first page for many searches, and often one of the first 3 hits. As a result, it is pretty well read, and unfortunately, fairly well plagiarized too. A search of just the first sentence in quotes will give you a listing of some appropriately and some appropriated copies of that sentence. Other sentences in quotes will find more of the same.

In most cases, I roll my eyes and try to take it as flattery, but in 3 specific instances I have gone after people:

  1. A student teacher that took my work then added fake references to make it seem like it was a research paper she had written, when every word of the work was mine.
  2. A professor that had all his copyrighted work linked to his page where he shared my philosophy as his own.
  3. A “Buy Essays” site that was offering a heavily copied version of my work for sale.

I have also (inadvertently) found my work behind paywalls or in moodle courses that I don’t have access too, but I have not gone after these uses, although they are the very reason that I think BY-NC-SA is more free than other licences. In the case of a Moodle course, it is likely that the students in the course had to pay to get into the course, and rather than linking to my work, it is copied and the Share-Alike aspect is not respected, and since I can’t see the work, I’m not even sure if it is attributed to me?

So that is a look at my personal experience with work being copied. I’m honoured by some of the ways things I’ve written have been quoted, and shared, but I also want that sharing to be as ‘Open’ as I have been, and I think that making work Non-Commercial does that. It keeps the work in the open, and not where others can profit in the process of withholding what should be free.

In fact, I absolutely love it when someone takes one of my ideas and runs with it… expands on it, and yes, even disagrees with it. When conversations like this happen out in the open, we all benefit.

So when Seth Godin shares, “Why I want you to steal my ideas“, I totally understand what he means:

“Ideas can’t be stolen, because ideas don’t get smaller when they’re shared, they get bigger…

There is, of course, a difference between stealing and passing off. When you pretend that those taken words are your words, you’re no longer taking an idea — you’re taking an implementation. When you pretend that you are the originator, the original source, and you’re not, you’ve corrupted your work by claiming authorship, when you are merely contributing synthesis. This hurts your reputation as well as the person you stole from, because our society values authorship and origination.

The amazing thing about giving credit, though, is you never run out. Like ideas, the more credit is shared, the more it can be worth, to the giver and to the recipient.”

If a work can not be used in a way that closes it off for commercial reasons, without consent, then isn’t that ‘more free’ that a work that is only attributed, but then used and re-used on walled websites or in courses or programs or presentations that cost money?

Originally, I had intended to redo this image, rather than write a blog post. However, I’m not sure that I would know how to order this with BY-NC-SA being ‘more free’?

And yes, it was Stephen Downes and not me that came up with the idea of this being ‘more free’.

And yes, I want any good ideas that I might have to be ‘stolen’ in the way Seth Godin wants his to be as well. 

I’ve benefited from open sharing and learning and I want others to be able to do the same.

What should we do with tools to make them great? » Online Sapiens

What should we do with tools to make them great?

David Truss (via @sabridv) suggests what we can do with tools to make them great

1. Give students choice
2. Give students a voice.
3. Give students an audience.
4. Give students a place to collaborate.
5. Give students a place to lead.
6. Give students a digital space to learn.

Compare this list to:

Stephen Downes Connectivism Principles:

1- Autonomy
2- Diversity
3- Openness
4- Interactivity and Connectedness

and to

Chickering and Gamson Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
3. encourages active learning,
4. gives prompt feedback,
5. emphasizes time on task,
6. communicates high expectations, and
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

As George Siemens posted, It’s not about tools. It’s about change.

It’s the change underlying these tools that I’m trying to emphasize. Forget blogs…think open dialogue. Forget wikis…think collaboration. Forget podcasts…think democracy of voice. Forget RSS/aggregation…think personal networks. Forget any of the tools…and think instead of the fundamental restructuring of how knowledge is created, disseminated, shared, and validated.


Eduardo did a great job of putting together several ideas around the same theme such that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts!

On my post David Warlick added, “Give the learners a sandbox.”
I like the idea of ‘Play’ and also that he changed ‘students’ to ‘the learners’.