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The second Permaculture Design Course will be starting up on 16 October. The first one ran reasonably well. We attracted 9 face to face students and 8 online. Both groups dropped off towards the end, and feedback from the face to face group tells us that Sunday all day for several weeks was not a great thing.
We have a small issue of VERY little money to develop this new course. As a result we can’t really get as much done as we’d like in terms of fully documenting the course and all the handouts online. We also don’t have any money to offer incentive to the teachers to use the technology that supports the course.
Kim Thomas AKA Horty Kim has been doing an excellent job keeping the course together, keeping it developing, promoting it and taking inquiries. I help out on a volunteer basis.
This time we are going to need 15 face to face paid up students to be able to sustain the course on a not for profit basis. It is a shame to face the line this early in the process, and when starting off with so little in terms of seed funding, but if we can bring in 15 students, we should be able to argue for the course to run a 3rd time.
We need time to build the reputation of the course. We need time to build a network of teachers with confidence in the technology that supports the course. It will never be a big money earner in Dunedin – nor should it be. This course is primarily about giving Dunedin people (and people online) access to a field of learning that may turn out to be extremely useful in the years to come. We are keeping the price at rock bottom so as many people can access this course as possible, and Otago Polytechnic can build a reputation in the community.
Online participation is of course welcome, and through the participation of people from many places in the world last time, we made a pretty good start on a Wikibook to support the course, a discussion forum, and quite a few videos – not to mention our first permaculture garden for the Living Campus project.
MIT have published a text called Opening Up Education, but under a copyright license that is one step short of All Rights Reserved. MIT is just not getting the message are they? They are not really about open education at all!
On the other hand, Utah State University in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning and individual designers have published the OER Handbook. Available under a free and practically nonrestrictive license, in both a wiki and a printed and bound text on Lulu.
I like to think that Utah followed Otago Polytechnic’s lead when we published Ruth Lawson’s Anatomy and Physiology of Animals text on Wikibooks, with lesson plans and activities on Wikieducator, and a printed version on Lulu.com
We are working on a number of other texts as we speak (not to mention videos and stuff all over the place!), all of it under CC By.
MIT should stop their work in “open courseware” and “open education” or risk influencing a second wave of OER developers to basically construct educational resources that may as well be All Rights Reserved and leave us in a position not much better than where we started.
Risks like the trend that MIT are setting necessitate a project like the Free Cultural Works Definition were it sets out to clearly delineate what is free and what is restrictive. It prevents by way of stating a principle, oganisations cashing in on the hard work of OER campaigners.
In my books, CC By is the only free license.
PS. It was way back in November 2004 we started to get suspicious of MIT
Alex Hayes points to a very interesting recording of a presentation by Tim Anderson, Director of the Department of Education’s IT set up in NSW Australia (Link joke – couldn’t find anything much about Tim online hey!).
In this recording Tim basically comes on board to an approach to ICTs in education that many of us have been crying out for for about 4-5 years now – save the idea of throw away computers! where Tim and DET are looking for ICT devices to provide everyone for under AU$500.. weird Ozzies sounding distinctly prescriptive again… can I use my Asus eee if I want Tim? What about the XOs, will they work? Great to hear GNU/Linux being acknowledge for education at last!
It is interesting to listen to the language being used by Tim, and in it hear the new face of central command. Even more interesting is to listen to the emboldened audience members challenge Tim at the end of his talk. 4 – 5 years is a long time to work under the iron curtain of DET ITD, and to hear them come around to a better way of thinking is great, but bitter sweet in his responses.
Many thanks the Stephan for the recording.