Why go open?

A View Out of the Front Door of my Kharkov Apartment shared CC by Stuck in Customs

It’s been an ungodly amount of time since I updated my blogs. I thought I might reproduce an email I just sent off to a faculty member at UBC that I am trying to convince of the value of opening up a course reader. I do this because…

* as Jon Udell might say, I am conserving keystrokes

* it’s possible somebody else might find this useful

* it’s more likely that somebody can suggest how I improve such communications in the future

The questions posed by the faculty member are in bold text.

Hello [name redacted],

Please forgive how long it has taken me to respond to your questions. [It’s amazing how many of my emails start out this way.]

Can you please let me know what the UBC Wiki is or its purpose?

The UBC Wiki is meant to be a platform for the simplest possible content creation and sharing, for the UBC community and beyond.

It is used for course administration, communication and content sharing: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course

It’s used for documenting all sorts of tutorials and resources created by the university’s service units: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation – scroll down for examples.

And it’s used for all sorts of other uses that benefit from easy collaboration and the free flow of information: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Main_Space

It also allows you to re-purpose information that is published there in multiple places. For example, this wiki page…


…can be republished on any number sites, such as here: http://frg.sites.olt.ubc.ca/

Any content can be quickly converted into custom PDFs via a nifty “Wiki book feature”.

And any wiki content can be republished anywhere, even WebCT. So this…


… is syndicated here: http://wiki.ubc.ca/images/9/97/Social_web_tools.jpg

The republished content adopts the look of the new site automatically. And any time you update the wiki, those updates are reflected on all the sites where it is syndicated.

What will be the advantages of having [course name redacted] “out there” as a source of information?

I would suggest:

1) Students who take the course will be able to access the materials anywhere. They will also be able to access these materials after they have completed the course.

2) This open framework will make it easier, and cheaper, to maintain course materials. Future migrations (such as the one planned for next year) will be much easier.

3) This content will likely be useful to others at UBC, other universities, and the wider world.

4) There is little evidence that open content (such as that practised for “virtually all MIT course content”) harms the sharer. After all, if a student wants feedback, discussion, and accreditation, they still need to take a course. There are some new studies that suggest that open content courses see a slight increase in enrollments.

4 thoughts on “Why go open?

  1. Well put. Thanks Brian. Another tactical device in the armoury of those of us who have these conversations pretty much every day!

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    And more blogging please!

  2. Pingback: Why Openness? |
  3. Brian, You and I know that the person you wrote to has been convinced. Thanks for putting this together.

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