The Open Knowledge MOOC

Registration has recently opened for the Open Knowledge MOOC, a course that introduces the concept of openness and covers open access, open science, and open education, among other open movements. Hosted on the OpenEdX platform by Stanford University, this is a semester-long course that runs from September 3 to December 12, 2014. The course material for Week 12, “Student Publishing: Lessons in Publishing, Peer Review, and Knowledge Sharing” was selected or developed by librarians at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with our partner library at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa.

Open Knowledge MOOC

I’m a member of the team at the University Libraries that worked on the “Student Publishing” module, along with Anita Walz, Paul Hover, Jennifer Nardine, and Scott Pennington. A brief presentation describing our work, “Student Publishing: An Open, Global Learning Module” was made at the Dean’s Forum on Global Engagement in March 2014. The module includes readings, videos, assignments, and classroom activities (for the blended version offered by several universities around the world). If you take the course, we would love to hear feedback about ways to improve the module.

During his visit to Virginia Tech last October, John Willinsky told us about planning for the course, and suggested that we contribute to it. We chose Student Publishing for our module, planning to reach out to student journals on campus to strengthen ties to the library. Due to time constraints, that outreach is still in progress, but one potential outcome would be hosting through our e-journal publishing services. Student journals are challenged by frequent transitions in their editorial staff, with a resulting loss of information and expertise. Library hosting would ensure that proper transfer of administrative information happens, and librarians can also advise on indexing, copyright/licensing, and preservation.

The vagueness of the term “open” combined with a lack of critical examination leaves plenty of room for openwashing, and MOOCs are no exception. Given its subject, it is particularly important that the Open Knowledge course embody open practices rather than merely suggest them. This course is different from traditional MOOCs in its connectivist approach (see xMOOC vs. cMOOC), its Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA) licensing, its crowdsourced content, and its emphasis on the re-use of existing openly licensed educational resources. In addition, course modules will remain accessible afterward, unlike proprietary MOOCs. It’s as open as we could make it, so I hope you’ll give it a try.

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About Philip Young

Philip Young is the repository manager of VTechWorks, which provides global access to Virginia Tech scholarship. He also provides outreach to the university on open access, ORCiD, and Perma.cc.
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