Post title pinched from Ben Lee - Catch my disease
I'm in Barcelona for the last FLOSScom meeting and I'm presenting at the Free Knowledge Free Transfer conference. The talk I was going to give was about using open source approaches in education, but I've changed it to one on how openness can be seen as a virus, which higher education is catching.
The argument goes like this: once you start being open about content, it becomes contagious to all aspects of your life. There are different ways the open virus can spread, and some people are more 'resistant' to it than others. One highly infectious carrier is The Blog. Once you start blogging you need to create posts so that provides an incentive to share more ideas, often before they are fully massaged into a conventional publishable format. The blog further increases the rate of infection by acting as a central hub for reusable material. For example you may start embedding video clips, images, etc from other people as you blog about their work.
Then the next step is that you feel you should reciprocate. An urge to share and reuse are classic symptoms of someone with open disease. You start using Slideshare to upload all your Powerpoint files. You become more confident when you receive positive feedback and feel you can risk a slidecast. Then you want to embed video clips and dabble with Seesmic.
At the same time you play around with some social networks. A colleague holds you with a glittering eye and convinces you, nay forces you, to try Twitter. Despite some early reservations you are soon addicted, and tweet all manner of things. The open disease has now begun to infect your personal as well as professional life.
And then you need to write a paper, but instead of huddling away you decide to do it in the open, and create a wiki, which others contribute to. The paper goes in to a journal, but you are asked to sign a copyright form forbidding you from releasing the work yourself, and the journal is not freely available. This doesn't seem in the spirit with which you now live your life, and so you refuse, and go looking for an open journal.
You are now looking at your teaching load next year and thinking 'how can I make this more open?' Inspired by the likes of David Wiley, you create your course out in the open. Students come to your lectures, but you also upload these to the course blog and invite anyone to participate. You next eye the assessment and decide that a standard exam is no longer the best way to assess what students are doing and create a course repository where students are 'examined' by the contribution they make to the content for the next cohort.
Next you gain a research grant and are the Principle Investigator on a four-party research project. You figure that the open principles have served you well so far, so create a project wiki, invite others to rank the project's objectives, ask for feedback on the final report and make all the findings freely available.
Open disease now infects all aspects of your life. Congratulations, now spread to others.