Originally posted as a comment on Clint Lalonde’s blog.
An informative and timely post, Clint. I’ve been thinking about the preoccupation with licenses since I listened to Rolin Moe talk about it at Open Ed ’15. I think that meaningful learning can happen on the open web regardless of what the license is. However, I think that open licenses just make a lot of that work easier — whether it’s archiving, derivative works, annotation, or any of ways that digital projects, at least in the humanities, often take shape. And if students think about how inconvenient it is to work with proprietary materials in their projects, then they should also realize how inconvenient it will be for someone else further down the line to build something based on their work. In other words, the problem gets skirted down the road, which somewhat defeats the purpose of open.
However, if a student wants to build a comprehensive digital project — basically a website — from lecture materials and PDFs from free and open scholarly databases, but the product can’t be “open” in its license, that work certainly isn’t disposable and is a valuable learning opportunity.
I would venture a guess that over 90% of the faculty and champions working in open education now were classically trained, without much technology or knowledge of “open” as it exists now. And yet those people have the skills and education to undertake these projects now, so we should also be careful about the divide between “disposable” and valuable work. Not a single paper I wrote during my BA or MA is on the internet, but I still have the skills that I learned from doing that work, and I’m grateful for the old-school lectures and assignments I had because they taught me how to think.
Basically, there are many ways to learn, and we shouldn’t let an agenda affect how we think about learning that’s happening already, even with the frustration of noticing that students’ work could contribute to knowledge systems used by the whole world.