Some reflections on the Berlin 11 conference, Berlin November 2013.

The following are some things I particularly noticed at the Berlin 11 open access conference, which I attended earlier this week, with apologies for any misunderstandings, misattributions or mis-categorisations.
Vision
The research and education enterprise is in need of urgent transformation (Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University)
The epistemic web: a universal and traceable web of knowledge. (Ulrich Poschl, Max Planck)
There can’t be insiders and outsiders in scientific knowledge (David Willets, UK Government)
Aim for ZEN: Zero Embargo Now (Glyn Moody)
Students at the heart of the open access movement (Nick Shockey, Right to Research Coalition)
Disruption
Open access: disruption is a feature, not a bug. (Mike Taylor, University of Bristol)
We need disruption to ensure that we don’t carry unhelpful practices into a new scholarly communications arrangements (Cameron Neylon, PLOS)
While cultural change takes time, we need to watch that we don’t set in stone things that we know not to be right (Cameron Neylon, PLOS)
The status of scientific communication
Researchers should control the organisation of scientific knowledge, and bottom-up standardisation ensures acceptance (Robert Stogl, MPG)
Scientific knowledge is a public good, and top-down policies ensure action to ensure it remains so (Cameron Neylon, PLOS)
Clay Shirky says that publishing is not a job or an industry, it’s a button. The publishing services we need are analogous to Red Hat services for Linux software (Glyn Moody)
We need to recognise that public research and education is paid in advance, and the IPR created is in a distinct class of its own (John Willinsky, PKP and Stanford)
Scientific diversity
All disciplines can move to OA, in different ways (Gunter Stock, ALLEA)
Scientific knowledge is diverse; we need biblio-diversity, beyond the Web of Science monoculture. (Marin Dacos, OpenEdition)
The social sciences and humanities need their own subject repositories (Nicholas Canny, ERC)
Some of the concerns about OA from the social sciences and humanities are legitimate, and some are not (Nicholas Canny, ERC)
Policies
We are balancing cost-effectiveness, openness, fast access and effective quality review (Roger Genet, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, France)
Will the US OSTP Directive be codified into law and, if so, will it be stronger, weaker or about the same? (Heather Joseph, SPARC)
Incentives
Researchers don’t write to communicate, but to be seen and counted; if communication is important, then it needs to be incentivised. (Cameron Neylon, PLOS)
Most scientists don’t directly benefit from OA (Robert Schlogl, Max Planck)
Unless their publication is in the repository, then it doesn’t exist (Bernard Rentier, University of Liege)
Making the transition to OA
Subscription funds must be moved to pay for Gold OA (Peter Gruss, MPG)
Take international coordinated action to cut subscription budgets by 30% and reallocate the money for APCs (Ulrich Poschl, Max Plank)
Authors might refuse to submit papers to hybrid journals that are seen to be “double dipping”. (David Willets, UK Government)
We expect publishers to take action on transparent and competitive pricing to show that the UK was right to support the hybrid model (David Willets, UK Government)
A UK Minister of State cannot advise independent universities on their promotion practices, for example to encourage OA, but the Royal Society might (David Willets, UK Government)
As students, we use music, art, poetry and even free medical examinations to interest people in OA (Daniel Mutonga, Medical Student Association of Kenya)
The core competences in a digital age are navigation, authentication, integration and innovation (Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University)
Trust us (David Carroll and Joseph McArthur, students and inventors of the OA button, see below)
Coordination
A new kind of library, the DPLA, has been launched by bringing together coalitions of libraries and of funders (Robert Darnton, Harvard University)
There needs to be greater coordination between research funders, and the French Academy has agreed to support a biannual funders meeting between Berlin conferences. (Peter Gruss, MPG)
The Berlin conferences will from now on be biannual (Peter Gruss, MPG)
We need every research organisation to have a committee reporting directly to the head of the organisation, to monitor progress, experiments, requirements and infrastructure (Robert Schlogl, Max Planck)
Standards and interoperability are key: we need a new standards body for open access and open data (Robert Schlogl, Max Planck)
Progress
Linux, arXiv and the Web all started in a single week in August 1991 (Glyn Moody)
With Scielo, tailored versions of OJS and DSpace, Brazil and Latin America are leading OA (Sely Costa, University of Brasilia)
China and India have heard concerns from the west that they are not opening their research as quickly as the west. Now, some 34% of Chinese papers are OA (Xiaolin Zhang, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
The lack of OA journals is limiting Gold OA growth (Ulrich Poschl, Max Planck)
Monitoring
We need to instrument the research process (Cameron Neylon, PLOS)
We need to agree which data are useful to us in monitoring progress toward OA (Robert Schlogl, Max Planck)
We need evidence on both the costs and wider benefits of shorter embargo periods (Heather Joseph, SPARC)
The open access button will make visible the occasions where people hit a paywall (David Carroll and Joseph McArthur, students)
Research, scholarship and the wider economy and society
Germany invests 2.9% GDP on R+D, and is revising copyright law to help innovation (Georg Schutte, Feneral Ministry of Education and Research, Germany)
Chinese spending on R+D is rising at 15% – 20% p.a. Citations and collaborations in Chinese papers are increasing (Xiaoling Zhang, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Of the 1m unique users of PubMedCentral a day, two-thirds come from outside the academic domain (Heather Joseph, SPARC)
Who needs access outside research institutions? whoneedsaccess.org (Mike Taylor, University of Bristol)
The fragments (documents, photographs, etc) that are of little importance to someone, might be of immense value to someone else as a piece of their history, and together they create stories for the future (Haim Gertner, Yad Vashem)
The DPLA is a distributed and democratic model; we have “scanabego” vehicles going to local communities to digitise content that is important to them (Robert Danton, Harvard University)
Software
Why is software not included in the Berlin Declaration (Glyn Moody)
Researchers might see software as their core intellectual property, and might not want to share it openly. The Royal Society will consider this. (David Willetts, UK Government)
Data
Only two of the top 20 big data companies are European, public-private partnerships might improve this for Europe (Carl-Christian Buhl, EC)
The scholarly record is challenged by a separation between idea (publication) and evidence (data), and more concretely by link rot. (David Willetts, UK Government)
Research communities need to take the lead on data: the Royal Society Open Data Forum will consider the issues of standards and skills (David Willetts, UK Government)

Services to support UK repositories

In the UK, the repository network is well established, and supports access to research papers and other digital assets created within universities. Increasingly, repositories are part of a research information management solution helping to track and report on research.

Over the past few years, Jisc has worked with a number of partners, including the University of Nottingham (Sherpa Services), EDINA, Mimas and the Open University (Knowledge Media Institute) to develop a range of services that benefit UK research by making institutional repositories more efficient and effective. Estimates put the annual net benefit, simply in terms of time saved by universities, at around £1.4m. Following a comprehensive review of the business case for these services, Jisc now intends to build on the RepositoryNet+ project led by EDINA, to put key services onto a more sustainable footing, including financial, organisational and technical aspects of their operation.

Sherpa Services run Sherpa-RoMEO and Sherpa-Juliet, the former providing trusted information about the rights of authors to deposit their papers into repositories, the latter providing a list of research funders’ open access policies, to which grant holders should comply. Together, these underpin the new Sherpa-FACT service, whose initial development has been supported by the Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust. Jisc proposes to work with these services over the next few months to identify a medium term strategy for each, and to support them thereafter, working in partnership where appropriate with others such as the Councils and Wellcome.

EDINA have developed the Repository Junction Broker, which promises to support mass deposit of papers from publishers and subject repositories into institutional repositories. Should the proposed HEFCE policy with respect to OA and the REF be confirmed, this will be a key service enabling institutional repositories to play their role in submissions to the next REF. Again, the proposed plan is to work with EDINA to develop a medium term strategy for RJB, and support it thereafter, while exploring a range of sustainability options with other stakeholders.

Mimas provide IRUS-UK, which enables institutional and other repositories to share usage data in a way that complies with international standards, so that usage reports can be reliably compared. Over 30 UK repositories are already part of the IRUS-UK network, with more joining all the time. Jisc intends to continue its support for IRUS-UK.

Other services have grown up alongside these, to varying levels of maturity. For example, EDINA have developed an organisational and repository identifier service, and explored a disaster recovery service for repositories. The Open University Knowledge Media Institute has developed CORE, a sophisticated aggregation and discovery service for repositories worldwide. Jisc looks forward to working with these services too, to ensure that UK repositories, their host organisations, and the people who use them benefit from greater efficiencies and a more responsive infrastructure.

As we move forward with this work, we will post updates here and elsewhere. If you have any questions or comments on this work, please contact Neil Jacobs (n.jacobs@jisc.ac.uk) or Balviar Notay (b.notay@jisc.ac.uk).

When ideals meet reality

At ALT-C in early September I ran a session with David Kernohan on Openness: learning from our history. The theme of the conference was ” a confrontation with reality” so it seemed fitting to explore the trajectories taken by various forms of openness. What follows is just a short thought piece that I contributed to the session about some of the patterns I have observed over the past decade or so.

Altc openness idealsmeetreality from JISC


 

Curves and Cycles

The first thing to say is that we are all different in our encounters with new approaches Whether they are new technologies like badges or new delivery models like MOOCs. We are each on our own learning curves and changed curves, and we meet new ideas and solutions at different points in the hype cycle. That is a lot of variation. So when we meet new ideas, we can respond very differently. My first message is that every response is a real response.

Polarisation

It’s to easy to characterise people as pro- or anti- something It’s too easy to present things as a debate for or against But polarisation often masks the real questions, because we don’t hear them properly.

“The use of technology seems to divide people into strong pro- and anti-camps or perhaps utopian and dystopian perspectives” Martin Weller, The Digital Scholar [1]

Dialectics of Open and Free

There is usually a dialectic around open and free: free as in freedom, free as in beer [2].  “Open as in door or open as in heart”: Some courses are open as in door. You can walk in, you can listen for free. Others are open as in heart. You become part of a community, you are accepted and nurtured [3]. I always add: open as in markets?

Branching

To follow on from free as in beer …A great example of branching is the trajectory of the open source movement. there were big debates over “gratis vs libre” and that gave birth to the umbrella term Free AND Libre Open Source Software term – FLOSS. By enabling the practices of open source to branch off, to allow the community to branch off, we saw a diffusion of innovation. Towards profit-making business models in some areas, free culture models in others. Its interesting how github supports the whole spectrum

This has also been the approach of the UK OER Programme. We have been quite pluralistic about OER, to let people find their own ways. We have certainly had tensions between the marketing/recruitment aspect and the open practice perspective. What’s important to note is that often it’s not just one model that comes to dominate.

Tipping points into the mainstream

We don’t always understand what brings about mainstreaming. We very rarely control it.

Consider a story from open standards: the rise and fall of RSS aggregation. Is it netvibes or pageflakes that made the difference? Or google-reader? At what point did twitter and facebook start to dominate the aggregation game and overtake RSS? The OER programme gave freedom for each project to choose their platform. They didn’t chose a standard they chose a platform. It’s often when open standards are baked in to platforms that we see take-up without conscious decision making.

I’m not sure we always notice: sometimes when mainstreaming happens we don’t recognise it. When did e-learning become part of the fabric of education?

Pace

Finally, change can take a lot longer than we hope. The 10 years since the Budapest Open Access Initiative [4] can feel like geological time. And yet the OA movement has achieved so much. Perhaps we need some time-lapse photography approach to recognising the impact of changes we started back then. So many more people understand OA now. So many more people care.

Change takes longer than you think

Key Messages

We are all unique in our encounters with new things. Polarisation often masks the real questions. There is often a dialectic around open and free. Often it’s not just one model that comes to dominate. Sometimes when mainstreaming happens we don’t recognise it. Change can take a lot longer than we hope.

 

 

References:

[1] http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/DigitalScholar_9781849666275/chapter-ba-9781849666275-chapter-013.xml

[2] http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.09/posts.html?pg=6

[3] http://followersoftheapocalyp.se/open-as-in-door-or-open-as-in-heart-mooc/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest_Open_Access_Initiative

My Story of O(pen)

Here at JISC we think a lot about openness: what it means, how to support it, where it takes us.

This is my contribution to that thinking. It is very much my individual views, but informed by the work we do at JISC, and by the Open Knowledge Foundation, amongst others.

My open narrative

Open makes things visible.

The everyday sense of “open” is open rather than closed – letting people see what is there, what is happening.

The web enables you to;

Open makes access easy.

This is where open–as-in-open-access comes in: open without needing to log in, and open without payment.

SO

Open is social.

The “many eyes” principle of sharing open data and the open innovation model encourage others not only to view but to comment, to feed back, to engage. This speeds up the process in hand and improves the quality of the resulting work.

AND

Open makes things usable by others.

Open standards exist to encourage as many developers as possible to adopt them.

This is where open licensing comes in: granting others explicit and generous permissions to use your content.

FURTHERMORE

Open can be a way of working.

Doing open working and openly releasing outputs can make a person feel differently about what they do. Researchers might call this collection of activities open scholarship, technologists might call their activities open development, project teams might call it open innovation. Each of these types of open practice has elements in common and elements specific to the sorts of activities the practice involves.

HOWEVER

Open is not exclusive

Open source can mean both the open development process and the open source software. They are not always found together: open development processes can produce non-open software, and closed development processes can produce open source software.

BUT

Opens are mutually beneficial

There is a virtuous cycle when open process and open products combine. In open scholarship, both creating and using open content and using open ways of working, the content feeds the practice feeds the content.

I’m watching the Openness in Education course with interest and I expect this whole meta open concept to deepen in 2012.

A Diagram of Opens

Its important to note that is is an abstracted diagram: in my view, open is not a replacement for the  way things currently work. There is not ever going to be a total transformation to open. The reality is a mixed economy. Business models matter. Practice models matter.

Open can be good for business, open can be good for practice but it exists in a bigger ecosystem of technologies and behaviours. Good is not enough, it needs to be useful. That’s what JISC and other advocates of openness are working hard to surface.

Ultimately I think open is good because it is a good way of working.

Amber Thomas

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Berlin 9 conference

I am just back from the Berlin 9 conference. The “Berlin” series of conference are named after the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, and this was the first time the annual conference has been held in North America. It’s very hard to summarise my reactions from the conference, there were so many stories showing how opening up scholarship can lead to real benefits, in health, development, innovation and our quality of life. For example, Cyril Muller from the World Bank described how that organisation has adopted an open approach to the work it funds, and to its own operations, and is encouraging the governments with whom it works to do the same. Laura Czerniewicz from the University of Cape Town showed how open education resource, configured for SIM-enabled mobile devices, can make a real difference to some quite seriously disadvantaged students. And Elliot Maxwell highlighted some wonderfully elegant research studies, showing clearly how, when scientific findings and resources are made open, it leads to a greater diversity, quality and application of knowledge. Of course, there are implications. Michael Crow of Arizona State University argued that all this requires us to re-think the university as a social technology, and Philip Bourne highlighted some of the challenges we have in moving to a research practice that is native to the digital environment, genuinely reproducible, and that rewards researchers who move in that direction. The overwhelming impression, though, was of a scholarly community now adopting more open approaches, and beginning to see tangible benefits from that. Berlin 10 is on the African continent for the first time. I hope it will bring new voices to be heard in this community.

The OER Turn

At ALT- C I participated in several discussions around open content, and then this week we ran the closing programme meeting for Phase Two of the HEA/JISC OER programme.  I feel that a new perspective on academic-created open content is emerging.

I think it’s sometimes useful to think in terms of foreground and background: most of the elements are there and have been there all along, but some take centre stage. It’s a question of weight and attention given to the different activities, a question of where the discussions happen.

2009 Foreground 2011 Foreground
Focus on provision Focus on use
Focus on educator as provider and user Focus on non-educators as users
Open courseware, the course online Rich media, beyond text
Embedding in courses or free searching online Tutor or peer or social recommendation
CC BY NC ND  for editing by educators CC BY for remixing by anyone
Focus on licensing is key Focus on licensing might be distracting
Institutional workflows Institutional support for open practice
Storage and presentation services Brokerage services
OERs Open content

Just to stress, all of these views are evident in part in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and even before that. My interest is just in what is shifting in the foreground. This is just my first take and I hope it will stimulate discussion. It would be really interesting for others to write their own lists.

I think that enough of the focus has shifted that the space has changed.  I christen this The OER Turn. The OER Turn is characterised by the working through of the following topics:

Visible and Invisible Use

The Value of Reuse Report by Marion Manton and Dave White of Oxford, produced for the OER programme, uses an iceberg analogy of visible and invisible use. It helpfully guided our discussions at the end of phase two programme meeting. Previous to this, David Wiley’s “toothbrush” post was the example cited of this conundrum. The fact that it was so divisive amongst OER people shows that it hit a nerve (excuse the pun). I think the iceberg diagram draws on this and illustrates the problem of visibility.

The general consensus amongst people involved in UK OER Programme is that reuse of web-based resources does happen, all the time, but it is usually private, mostly invisible to the providers and often not strictly legal. So there is above waterline use and below the waterline use.

The visible use of open content tends to be institutional-level use that is itself more visible because it is openly shared again: it is being relicensed out again. Where institutions want to reuse content in aggregate open resources, it may influence the types of content they reuse, and they way in which they do it.

Messages:

On reflection, perhaps the top of the iceberg fits most closely with 2009 foregrounded conception of OER, the majority of the iceberg is what is being given more attention in the 2011 conception.

The importance of licensing?

Naomi Korn’s video introduction to licensing and IPR issues illustrates the concept of rights in > rights out. The more rights you want to give out to users, the more you have to restrict yourself to content you have obtained broad rights in for. As the risk management calculator illustrates, if you use content licensed as CC BY NC ND, you cannot licence it out as CC BY NC, because that doesn’t not include the ND clause. And CC BY SA can only be licensed out as CC BY SA, so cannot be remixed with anything less than CC BY or more CC BY SA. Share-Alike is quite restrictive. This is counter-intuitive but true. Play with the calculator and find out for yourself.

It may be only when reuse is more visible, such as formal institutional adoption of third party resources (above the waterline) that the risk of reusing un-cleared content is high enough to make the open license a key aspect of OER.Institutions as providers of content may wish to choose different licences to what institutions as  users of content want. They may want to publish content as (c) all rights reserved. If it is a choice between that or nothing, what should they choose?  Note that they could publish something as (c) all rights reserved unless otherwise stated, and have clearly marked CC elements. Polarising a simple open or not open isn’t helpful. As Naomi Korn put it, “what is the opposite of open”? Paid-for? Authenticated? Not editable? Open content needs to be viewed as part of the wider ecosystem of content. What it “affords” will be specific to the use case. Interestingly this is a good parallel with accessibility: “accessible to who to do what?”

Reflecting with Naomi Korn we shifted our recommendation from “whichever CC licence suits” (1) in phase one to “ideally CC BY” in phase two. John Robertson has summarised licensing choices made by the projects.  This is an example of how the programme has pushed forward our understanding of this area, including that of the legal experts. If we knew the answers at the start, it wouldn’t be an innovation programme!

Thinking above to the points about visibility: if the open content is not shared out again under an open licence then it might be being used but not so visibly. It might show up as web stats, but even then, once the content has been copied to another place, as any CC licence lets you do, then the content proliferates, as does the usage. Usage becomes even harder to see.

Another implication of described use as above below the waterline is that the risk is significantly less. The feeling was that this is an appropriate risk evaluation.  So, open licensing does matter for formal institutional use, less so for practice that is “under the waterline”.

Messages:

We are genuinely learning together on this: as open licensing spreads and models of use develop, we will need to be alert to the mechanics of remixing content. And also open to the possibility that the end point of the supply chain need not be open: not all content will be licensed out again.

A great example of the OER Turn is how  OER Commons includes resources described as “read the fine print” licenses. Or Therese Bird’s work on iTunesU.

However … I still want to hear more about the rights that Creative Commons licenses grant to translate and shift formats, for above the waterline activities. Examples please! This could be key.

The role of the university

Alongside the previously dominant narrative of OERs as exchanges between educators and each other, and educators and their learners, there is also the potential for academic open content to connect academics with the public. I explored that a little in a previous post, Tony Hirst further in his post on OERs and public service education, University of Nottingham, Oxford University and other institutions also see their open content as part of their public engagement.

In some scenarios opening up universities through open practice is about OER, in the top of the iceberg sense. But much of the benefits of opening up knowledge to the public can be achieved without open content licensing (unless the brokering services need it). Initiatives like Warwick Knowledge also draw on the notion of the university as a pubic knowledge organisation.

So there is a strong argument for focussing more on the public and global use of open content.

Sidenote: Critics of the toothbrush analogy might say that this is what they meant all along. I’m not sure that is true. If it is, it wasn’t very well articulated. Because we still need to understand the drivers behind provision and how the benefits of public engagement can be articulated.  Academic staff are a university’s most precious resource. The needs of institutions, who pay academic’s wages, need to be factored in to how open practice can be supported.

The pursuit of global knowledge is not owned by universities. Wikipedia, Slideshare, YouTube, Twitter, Delicious have all seen a blossoming of thoughtful quality input from a huge range of sources. The role that academics play in this open content space is as one type of contribution. Learners contribute too. But so do millions who are outside of formal education.

OER is dead. Long live academically-created content appropriately licensed and formatted to support intended users

Not quite as catchy, is it? However I am increasingly hearing suggestions that OER is not a useful term any more, aside from a supply-side term relating to the visible tip of the iceberg. I have recommended for some time that we drop the term and focus instead on open content and open practice.

Having asked a year ago what the “O” in OER means, now I find myself asking what the “Open” in Open Content means. Well, it definitely means free (not paid). And it means easily linkable, which means not authenticated (not closed). However what about near-ubiquitous controlled access through gmail or facebook? Sometimes the format matters, sometimes the licensing matters. Maybe this matters a lot for content to cross language boundaries, maybe it matters a lot for accessibility. In which case do we need to articulate the costs and benefits of open content for those use cases? We don’t want to kill open practice dead by focusing too strictly on definitions of openness any more than we want to kill open content by diluting the promise to users seeking editable re-licensable content. What questions should be asking about open content?

What do you think?

Amber Thomas

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Footnote (1) The wording was  “Examples of suitable licences include those with the “Attribution” and “Share-Alike” clauses. We would encourage projects not to use the non-free Creative Commons variants (such as “Non Commercial” and “No Derivatives”), as these negatively affect the reusability of resources. However, we do recognise that in some specific circumstances this may not be possible.” (Thanks to David Kernohan for extracting)

Connecting people through open content

In open educational resources and open access research, there is a strong emphasis about how they can support the exchange of content and understanding between people, with a focus on academic-to-academic, teacher-to-learner, and sometimes learner-to-learner. In this blog post I’d  like to unpack how OER and OA can help connect academics with the public and what implications that might have.

If, as a thought experiment, we were to take as our primary use case members of the public: how can we best support that?

Heath warning: I used an old fashioned method of flipchart and felt-tips, so I hope these are legible enough to get my point across. Also I have used the metaphor of an open content cloud to mean something nebulous with fuzzy edges. I don’t mean cloud as in cloud computing. Also I have a very weak definition of open: at a minimum I just mean freely available without authentication.

Let’s start with the basics …

1)      Academics contribute content (tweets, slides, papers, courses …) to the web. As well as being available to other academics, it is also on the open web so it is available to the public. It is also available to journalists to use in their reporting up to the public.

2)      Of course, the cloud of open content is huge, the range of journalistic media is huge: no individual can read it all. Which is why social media is so important to our filtering and selection of resources …

3)      … because it is social media that enables members of the public, journalists and academics to make connections between content items, for those connections to be visible to everyone else, and for people to be able to make rich networks of connections.

4)  So far so good. But for this to deepen and build over time, within topic areas, and within individuals, for provenance to be trusted,and  for this to become normalised as the way we use the web, we need to properly attribute and cite resources, to make this flow reliable and visible …

5) … and to do that we need to be able to clearly identify people and content

Hopefully this all looks familiar.

I think there might be some interesting implications for how we manage the digital infrastructure to underpin this public<>academic use case. Many of these implications are bubbling away in blog posts about OA and OER, so I think there is some value in articulating what these implications are.

Given that researchers should be thinking about public impact, and teaching academics are starting to think about open education, perhaps infrastructure providers and institutions should be weighting the academic-to-public use case more heavily?

Amber Thomas

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Marketing and other dirty words

I have been thinking a lot recently about how to move beyond the rhetoric of “open equals good” towards identifying where open approaches help us meet key business cases. A notable quote from the Power of Open book launch was that “open isn’t a business model, its a part of a business model”. I’m seeing this trend in open educational resources, open access repositories and open innovation. It’s how open source became more mainstream, and we need to be learning from that journey. If we want to see open approaches sustained, we need to get businesslike about how make the case, however contradictory that might sound.

Earlier this month I spoke at a UKOLN event on metrics and the social web, and the discussion there reinforced the potential of using the web more effectively to underpin our key business goals in further and higher education.

On 26th July I am presenting at the Institutional Web Managers Workshop 2011 and I will be developing this theme further, paying particular attention to the way that web managers can support open access, open educational resources and open social scholarship.

In reflecting on how open access and OER can contribute to the core business cases of universities, I think that activities particularly worthy of more attention include:

  • Profiling academic expertise
  • Supporting REF impact metrics
  • Enhanced research publications
  • Cross-linking open content to open course data
  • Social media listening tools
  • Web analytics and visualisation

My presentation on slideshare: Marketing and other dirty words

What has the inf11 programme achieved?

The information environment programme 2009-11 (mercifully shortened to inf11) is drawing to a close and we are starting to reflect on what it has achieved.

We chose to manage this programme as one very broad programme rather than a number of smaller programmes and it has included work on:

This represents a lot of work that has produced some exciting outputs and interesting results. To try and help people see what outputs and results are relevant to them, we have prepared a list of 27 questions that the programme has addressed or started to address. This was put together by Jo Alcock from Evidence Base who are evaluating the programme.

The programme won’t finish until July so we will continue to add to these questions. If you have any suggestions for things to be included, please let me know.

For our next programme of work we will have 4 separate programmes:

We will be blogging more about these programmes soon.

Innovation Takeaway – lessons from the information environment

There are a few places up for grabs for Innovation Takeaway – our event to discuss some of the lessons from the information environment programme 2009-11.

The event is free to attend and will take place at Aston University’s Lakeside Conference Centre on Thursday April 7th.

This event is a chance for programme participants and others to reflect on major lessons and how these can be applied to challenging institutional issues in Higher Education such as how to reduce or avoid costs in managing digital assets, how local innovators can benefit the institution, and how institutions can realise the value of an ‘open’ approach.

The information environment programme has included work on preservation, repositories, linked data, library systems, research management, developer communities and various flavours of open. The event will focus on case studies from the programme and will offer opportunities for discussion around each topic. Margaret Coutts will be the keynote speaker and will be giving her view on how we should be addressing the challenges the sector faces. We’ll provide a takeaway resource pack on each of the topics the event covers.

Places for the event will be assigned on a first come first served basis, so if this interests you, please register now. An agenda for the day, travel instructions and a contact email are all available from the registration page.

The hashtag for the programme and the event is #inf11

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