Opening-up our blog: celebrating #OEWeek

In celebration of Open Education Week we have made the UCEM Online Education Blog  available under a Creative Commons Licence.

CC BY SA license image

For those not familiar with Creative Commons, Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that provides easy-to-use copyright licenses you can attach to your work. You can customise how people are allowed to share your work, use your work and adapt your work.

The licence we have used is Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Lets break down what that means:

The CC-BY-SA 4.0 License

Commercial Use

Our blog has no restrictions on commercial use and others are free to monetise our content with attribution.

Attribution

The licenses require that anyone who uses our work on this blog to attribute it in an appropriate manner. Please attribute to: blog author’s name, University College of Estate Management, blog URL

Adaptations

The ShareAlike part of this license welcomes others to adapt our work for their own context, but requires that the adaptation is shared under the same license so others can benefit again.

Why have we licensed our blog in this way?

Our blog is licensed under Creative Commons because our primary objective is to make online learning, and online learning in the context of the built environment, better. We learn and benefit from the work others share in the sector, and hope that others may benefit from our work as we build this blog.   Sharing  knowledge and experience freely is one of the best ways to support education as a democratic process, accessible to all.

We allow commercial use of our work primarily because it allows us to get more exposure. The attribution requirement in the license means that we as individuals and as a University will be named whenever our work is used. ‘Commercial use’ is also tricky to define and can put others off using work in a context that we may be perfectly happy with.

Towards Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources, or OER, is educational content that once developed is released with an intellectual property license like Create Commons. The license allows for its free use and sometimes repurposing. Since the inception of OER nearly 20 years ago,  millions of resources have been developed and released freely,  including textbooks, courseware, study materials, lesson plans, videos, and assessments. Many of the top Universities in the world provide significant OER collections including MIT (Open CourseWare Initiative), University of Oxford (Open Spires), University of Edinburgh (Open.Ed), and the Open University (Open Learn). In China, materials from 750 courses have been made available by 222 university members of the China Open Resources for Education (CORE) consortium, whilst OER Africa focuses on supporting and developing OER in the areas of agriculture, health education, foundation courses, and teacher education.

Business models around OER need to be considered, but for educational institutions, revenue for learning materials has been dwindling for years, increasingly now that almost any content required by students can be found in large volumes online. The value of a University or other education establishment  does not lie  in its content,  but in its ability to guide students effectively through educational resources via well-designed teaching and learning pathways, offer effective support to students, and provide meaningful assessment and feedback,  ultimately resulting in some form of accreditation. Being free to share educational materials online serves to build institutional reputation and therefore attract new students. It’s something I think we could consider doing more of as we refine and develop content for our new modules launching in 2020 to provide a taster of the rich experience our students can expect at UCEM.

I work in learning design in the Online Education Department at the University College of Estate Management. I have particular interests in critical digital pedagogy, inclusive practice, and open ways of teaching and learning.

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