Kizu Naoko, aka Aphaia in the Wikimania 2006 To be honest I am late with my reading. I am late about reading your blogs from the last week. When checking the blogs now shortly I noticed that at least some people have already done the assignment of the week 5.

This is great, though for keeping the discussions going on it is good if we will all keep about the same rhythm in the course. Still, I like the idea of people planning their own schedule in the course. We all are, however, the best experts of our own time.

So, please do not speed-up too much and those who are late week or two, please, catch us up as soon as possible. I think a week ahead or late is accessible and manageable for all.

With Hans we will again clean up the participants list after the week 6. So write down this date in your calendars as the checkpoint day. That day your blog should have all the posts from the first 6 weeks in the place. If not, Hans will ruthlessly remove your name from the list of participants.

The topic of the week 5 week 3 is the Wikipedia and Wikimedia – the crown prince of open educational resources and his family. Actually, I am not sure if the metaphor makes sense at all (some native speaker of English from a country of kings and queens could comment on this :-), but I’ll try to explain.

Wikipedia is the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world: more than 10 million articles in more than 250 languages. Without Wikipedia we probably would not talk about Open Educational Resources at all. The success of Wikipedia has demonstrate the power of “open source” way of working with content. The two articles of this weeks reading are trying to enlighten how Wikipedia works: it isn’t anarchy, it isn’t a miracle, it’s not perfect but it works somehow.

So, what is the Wikimedia then? It is the family of the Wikipedia – a general term used when referred to other projects originated by the Wikipedia community. When the family of projects has grown, and at some point a Foundation called Wikimedia was found to support the community, the overall community working with the projects is nowadays often called as Wikimedia community. To make everything even more complicate – at least to remember there is also Mediawiki, which is the open source software running the project. The Wikimedia projects do not only share the same platform but also the commitment to create free content. All the content are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (except Wikinews, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5). This way all the Wikimedia content can be freely used, freely edited, freely copied and freely redistributed subject to the restrictions of that license. If you did your readings for the last week you know what all this means.

Finally, one more piece of information that may make the whole picture more confusing. Also many other projects online are using the Mediawiki software, and because of this they may look similar to the Wikimedia project. Some of them also have the a name with “wiki” in them but are not necessary Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia projects are listed in the Wikimedia.org and in the website of the Wikimedia Foundation.

I hope the articles will explain how Wikimedia projects work. To understand that it is not only Wikipedia, please, have a look of the other Wikimedia projects, too. These are Wikitionary – a dictionary in all the languages of the world; Wkinews – alternative news service; Wikiboooks – a collection of free study and text books; Wikimedia Commons – a site with free media flies; Wikispecies – directory of the world species; Wikiquote – a site with quotations taken from famous people, books, speeches, etc; and Wkiversity – this you all already know. At least take a look of the full list of Wikimedia projects with short descriptions. In addition to these the Wikimedia community is also developing the Mediawiki software – the platform used in the projects and organizes an annual conference called Wikimania, this year in the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Hope to see you there.

What do you think about the Wikimedia projects? What do you think will be the future of the Wikimedia projects? How do you see the future of OERs when you think about the Wikimedia projects?

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Lawrence Lessig is thinking We have been extremely delighted that so many of you are still with us. Hans promised to do the cleaning up of the participants list later this week. He has a good reason for the little delay with this task.

I was today preparing a lecture with the title “Wikimedia – Media for All”. I am going to give the talk next month in Helsinki. When working on it, I realized that I must somehow prepare to have a good answer to the most common question: Why people are giving away their copyright for nothing? What is their motivation?

My wild guess is: they do it because they can and because they care. At least, this is why I do it.

What it means that you can? It means that you have access to the technology. Naturally, you need the tools to do your media. You also need tools to replicate your work with minimal cost and tools to distribute it. You need a computer and Internet connection. Finally you need a legal instrument – something like a license that will give other people rights to use your creations. Now you can.

What it means that you care? It means that you enjoy different kind of media. The greater the diversity, the better. The more, the merrier. You want to see what other people have made, improve and build on them. Again you need the technical tools and the legal instrument. Now you can care.

There are many commercial interest related to the question of copyright. Because of this I want to add here two commercials talking about the topic in their own way.

The first one is a TV advertisement from the year 1984. The advertisement makes references to George Orwel ‘s famous novel, 1984, published in 1949. In Orwel’s future the authorities will control everybody with a surveillance technology. The Big Brother is watching you! In the TV add, a computer manufacturer promises to give the power (back) for the people.

The second one is more recent, twenty years later, from the year 2004. This advertisement points out the fact that today ordinary children are sued for downloading music. Children are labeled to be criminals, though they don’t see themselves doing anything wrong.

Already waiting to see your blog posts about copyright, free culture and alternatives.

Jürgen Habermas. Photo by Wolfram Huke I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Please, keep on posting, linking and commenting to each other posts. Again: be bold! Don’t be shy to write to each other’s blogs.

In the end of this week, with Hans we will give more feedback on the assignments of the first three weeks. One third of the course is then done.

At that point we are also doing some “cleaning up” of the list of participants. We would like to have in the list only those people who are still with us after the first three weeks. So, make sure that in the end of the week your blog is up to date with all the assignments.

The idea is not to be “exclusive” anyhow. The reason for cleaning the list is simply practical, as we will not spend time on looking and reading empty blogs. If you already know that you can’t do the course, you may also remove yourself from the list. I am very excited to see how may of us there will be in the end of the course. With Hans we also have a surprise for all those who will make it to the end of the course.

The topic of the week 3 is the Philosophical Background of the open educational resources.

Several scholars have related the OER idea to the European enlightenment movement. So are we. Please check the articles about enlightenment and check out also some later philosophers and their thoughts often linked to the enlightenment movement. Some names: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Isaiah Berlin and Jürgen Habermas. When it comes to education for all, you may find the following writers and thinkers interesting: Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig and Paulo Freire.

I am sorry, that I do not know very well philosophical thoughts and educational reform movements outside Europe and North America. Please, help me. For instance, in your blog post you may present a person who has had an everlasting impact in education in your country, neighborhood or school. Good topics to discuss about in your post are also:

  1. Why access to information is important?
  2. Why education is considered as a human right?
  3. Who will benefit if the access to information and education is improved?
  4. Who is afraid of the access for all and why?

Have fun!

LeMill front page.This week we will do some hands on work with open educational resources. I think a higher level of learning requires that we get our hands dirty: go to the field, work in there and same time reflect our experience. It’s like the medical students in a hospital or teacher students in a school.

We have to write only one blog post, but in addition to that we should do some other things.

First of all, register to LeMill or Wikiveristy and write basic information about yourself to the site. I know, that continuous self-introductions may get boring but you may also just link to somewhere where there is information about you. In the case of Wikiversity you should write something in your user page. If you have already done all this, you are doing pretty well.

After this try to locate people or projects you would like to work with in LeMill or Wikiversity. Start working on some of them and start also your own project. Be bold! Be very bold! You really can’t do anything “wrong” in these sites. The idea of having the “edit” button in almost every page in these sites means that you really are free to edit the pages. In these sites there is history (like UnDo) to make things right if something goes wrong. However, be aware that even that in most cases people in these sites are nice and polite to each other you may find some very passionate and hot-tempered people, too. My advice is that just stay cool when someone is hot. For those who will work on Wikiversity, Erkan wrote some hints on that. Please, check them out. Thank you Erkan!

Now you are done – almost. There is only the blog post describing your trip to the fields. What did you like? What did you hate? What kind of feeling did you have? Do you think you will come back or was this enough? You can write your post like a field trip report or travelogue. Please use links in your post to so people can have a look from LEMill or Wikiversity what you are working on.

We are really happy to see how actively the course has started. By now 41 participants have started their work in the course and 22 of them have completed all posts for the first week.

Where are we from? We have a really international group from 20 countries: Finland (9), Sweden (5), Canada (3), Unites States (3), Estonia, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Botswana, Brazil, France, Italy, Macedonia, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania.

Besides our international background we also come from various fields. We have school teachers (Janet, Annika, Jeroen, Anne, …) and university lecturers (Eve, Jussi, …). Several people plan and support educational technology services in the universities (Jan, Barbara, Mark …). Cormac and Enric are working with their PhD dissertation. Erkan is an active member of Wikiversiy and Wikipedia communities and visits often our IRC channel. And Juha from Finland has a band.

Thank you all for your efforts in the first week!

Today we will start the online activities of “Composing free and open online educational resources” course. We are both very happy and a little bit scared that 68 people have signed up for the course. We hope that all together you will make it an interesting learning experience.

This week you have to write three blog posts. First post should be your personal introduction where you may tell who and where you are, and why you want to take this course. You may also use audio or video to present yourself.

Here you will see short video introductions by us:

On the second blog post you shold reflect on Ilkka Tuomi’s report Open Educational Resources: What they are and why do they matter? and on the third blog post you should write a commentary about open education projects (Open Content Initiative, Connexions, MIT OpenCourseWare, LeMill, Wikiversity).

You can find more detailed guidelines for this week from our Wikiversity page.

In case of questions you may find us in #lemill IRC channel (Teemul and hanspoldoja). Teemu will be online when American people don’t sleep and Hans will be available when Europeans are awake. Of course there are some moments when we are not online. In that case you can e-mail us to teemu.leinonen (at) taik.fi and hans.poldoja (at) taik.fi.

Welcome to the “Composing free and open online educational resources” course blog. This is the place where the faciliators of the course will post all the news related to the course.

The participants will post weekly assignments in their own blogs. You can access these blogs from the sidebar and follow the recent posts from #oercourse channel in Jaiku.

The course will start in one week. If you haven’t registered to the course yet you can still do it in Wikiversity.