Friday, November 30, 2007

The Cape Town declaration

Martin Weller and Stephen Downes have some thoughtful responses to the Cape Town Open Education Declarion.

Martin's quite positive:

"I would have foregrounded it more, something along the lines of

New technologies, open content and an opening up of opportunities to participate means that radically new models of learning are now possible. These can be based around rich content discovery, social networks, informal learning, commons based peer production, loosely coupled systems, democratic communities and a long tail of interests. Addressing these challenges will require new models of pedagogy, accreditation, guidance, support, licensing and content production.

So will I sign up for it? Yes, there are more people aligned against open education than behind it, so the last thing we need to do is factionalise within our own camp. But, next time, let's eat our own dog food eh? "

Stephen is critical mainly due to the process through which it came about and the demographics of the participants:

"Normally I would expect to enthusiastically add my name to a document supporting free access to open learning resources. This is certainly a cause I have worked toward all my life, one that is expressed in the statement of principle on my home page, one that characterizes the papers I write, the software I code, the speeches I give.

I find myself at odds with the declaration written by a group of mostly American academics and advocates invited by a foundation to a private meeting in South Africa to author a "fixed and final" declaration on open educational resources...

I do not believe that a panel of hand-picked representatives representating overwhelmingly a certain commercial perspective is qualified or able to speak on behalf of the rest of us. The very people they name - "learners, educators, trainers, authors, schools, colleges, universities, publishers, unions, professional societies, policymakers, governments, foundations and others" - are mostly nowhere present in these deliberations."

He also suggests the document should be opened up to us latter folks (I guess I'm a learner, educator, author and other) and I would recommend all in the ed tech community read his critique but like Martin would sign up on the proviso, as he says, that we pay more attention to eating our own dog food.

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