Khan and AI: Open Online Courses

George Siemens, elearnspace, Dec 16, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

George Siemens writes, "I’ve been a bit frustrated in the past (actually, I still am) that the history of open courses has not been fully reflected in conversation about the Stanford AI class. People like David Wiley, Alec Couros, Stephen Downes and others have been running open courses since 2007 (this insidehighered article does touch on the history). Audrey Watters captures my thinking when she states: 'What does it mean — culturally, pedagogically, politically, financially — that Stanford garners so much buzz for its free online courses while other MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) go unheralded?'."

This is not - contra George - just a question about ego. There are deeper issues. I tried to capture some of them when I talked about the nature of free software and free content during a debate earlier this year: "I find it a point well worth making that there is an entire history of open source and open licensing that originated outside the Berkeley-Stanford-Harvard nexus that is now regarded as authoritative." The result of attributing the concept of free software to people working in this nexus is that it acquired the nature of commodity and the essence of commercialization. Agree or disagree, it's hard to argue that the appropriation of the concept didn't change it into something more palatable to a certain crowd. And that's what's happening here.
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