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Open Compass
Anastas Stoyanovsky, KickStarter, Feb 27, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The self-styled University of Reddit website uses the popular discussion board software to support open online learning. A typical class consists of a class page and discussions. Some people say it's not an open initiative, citing the terms of service (which basically prohibit mirroring and using the material for commercial purposes; mind you, OERu, which has been called "distinctively open", charges money for credentials, so I guess what counts as 'open' depends on who flavours your tea). Anyhow, Reddit currently has a project on Kickstarter called Open Compass, which is intended to advance the initiative. The plan is to include live lecture streaming, course management software, speech-to-text transcripts and peer interaction. The intent is that it be open to any teacher. They promise it will be different from Coursera and EdX, etc., but honestly, I don't see how. Anyhow, they're nowhere near their goal, having reached only $3,800 of $14,000.

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Comments

Re: Open Compass

Hi, I'm Anastas, I'm the developer of UReddit and the founder of Open Compass.

The terms of service of UReddit do not affect the classes offered through it. If you look through the class catalog, the materials that teachers put up are hosted on YouTube, Dropbox, Google Groups, or some other service. Therefore, we aren't trying to control what people do with their material.

Second, Reddit does not have a project on Kickstarter. Reddit, Inc. is its own corporation which is in no way associated with Open Compass, Inc., a non-profit corporation which I founded. I have a project on Kickstarter, not Reddit.

Third, the difference between our project and other MOOCs initiatives such as Khan Academy is that they produce their content themselves, while we provide a platform for a community to use for coordination, letting whoever wants to teach to do so. Rather than choosing what classes to offer and paying someone to do it, passionate teachers offer their own material at their discretion. These paradigms are entirely different.

To be frank, I'm not sure how you managed to completely miss the entire point. It seems like you did not take the time to do any research before writing this. I thought I would clear it up for your readers. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Open Compass

> The terms of service of UReddit do not affect the classes offered through it.

Here is a page on UReddit. http://ureddit.com/class/31801/arts-and-humanities--what-does-it-mean-to-live-well- Yes, it links to other stuff. But this page is on UReddit, is _is_ essentially the course, and is covered under UReddit's terms of use. Ergo, I'm not wrong.

> Reddit does not have a project on Kickstarter.

I read this on UReddit: "Help us take UReddit to the next level - check out our Kickstarter!" That took me to the OpenCompass Kickstarter "by the people who brought you UReddit".

What I didn't notice was that UReddit and Reddit are different companies and (per your comment?) not associated with one another. That's the source of the bulk of the errors you point out in my post, where I say Reddit instead of UReddit.

I also found this page when IO was "not doing my research". http://www.reddit.com/domain/ureddit.com *Nothing* on any page makes it clear that UReddit is not part of Reddit. So you can understand why I would think UReddit was a creation of, or somehow associated with, Reddit, right?

> the difference between our project and other MOOCs initiatives such as Khan Academy is that they produce their content themselves, while we provide a platform for a community to use for coordination

The paradigms are not "entirely difference". Only some MOOCs produce their own content. Many MOOCs provide platforms for the community to source or produce content (just like UReddit!) as opposed to producing content themselves. So this is not what distinguishes UReddit from other MOOCs.

I produced a post with nine separate links in it, with information drawn from the relevant sites. The one point I am actually wrong about seems to be the result of a deliberate attempt by UReddit to make it appear as though they are a part of or associated with Reddit. I do hate falling for scams like this, but I'll confess, I fell for this one. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Open Compass

>But this page is on UReddit, is _is_ essentially the course, and is covered under UReddit's terms of use.

The videos are hosted on YouTube, the discussions are on Reddit, and the class itself was taught during Fall 2012 at the University of South Florida Honors College. The only portion of the class that is hosted on UReddit is its description.

>*Nothing* on any page makes it clear that UReddit is not part of Reddit.

Aside from the fact that it is on a different domain, the bottom of literally every single page on UReddit clearly states, "University of Reddit is not in any way affiliated with Reddit or Conde Nast." That text has been there in some form for years and is, in fact, immediately above the link to our terms of service.

>Only some MOOCs produce their own content.

True, other such as edX distribute content from universities. To the best of my knowledge, no major MOOCs let literally anyone sign up and run a class. That degree of openness is what makes our model distinct from the current major players.

>I do hate falling for scams like this, but I'll confess, I fell for this one.

I am not sure what you could possibly be referring to. It's a website whose associations (the lack thereof, more accurately) are clearly stated and that does not charge its users. It has been running at a loss since its birth.

In any case, the terms of service do not forbid the things you said they do. It simply says that you need the permission of the teacher. It makes sense for someone that dedicated their free time for no pay to own their own material. Furthermore, since that material is generally not hosted on ureddit.com, it generally does not fall under our terms of service. (In the interest of pedantry, we do offer filehosting to teachers by request, but they retain complete control over whatever they upload. I don't even check the contents of those directories on my server.)

Nearly everything you have written is fallacious in some fundamental way or another. It could have been easily avoided by actually reading the nine pages you linked to. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Open Compass

> The only portion of the class that is hosted on UReddit is its description.

And that's the part that falls under the terms of service. Case closed.

> the bottom of literally every single page on UReddit clearly states, "University of Reddit is not in any way affiliated with Reddit

Tiny tiny TINY print at the bottom of the page. You're right. I didn't read that. I couldn't even see that!

Try putting it in much bigger text at the top of the page and see what people think of your name.

> To the best of my knowledge, no major MOOCs let literally anyone sign up and run a class.

Now you are changing your point. You are shifting from "creates their own material" to "lets anyone run a class."

No matter. You're still wrong. Udemy, for example, supports this. https://www.udemy.com/teach So does WikiEducator, and various others.

> the terms of service do not forbid the things you said they do. It simply says that you need the permission of the teacher.

The actions are forbidden without permission. You are playing word games here.

Anyhow, best of luck to you.

[Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Open Compass

>And that's the part that falls under the terms of service. Case closed.

You originally claimed, "this page is on UReddit, is _is_ [sic] essentially the course." That was incorrect.

>Tiny tiny TINY print at the bottom of the page.... Try putting it in much bigger text at the top of the page and see what people think of your name.

I've spoken with someone at Reddit and received the okay to use the name UReddit. UReddit did start on Reddit at http://reddit.com/r/UniversityofReddit and we still use that for general discussion. The name is appropriate and is not misleading, especially since our users mostly come from Reddit. In any case, the lack of association is clearly written, so I thought that I would mention it so that you wouldn't be misleading your readers about my project.

>Udemy

You are correct here. Udemy allows teachers to charge for classes, however, which we will not do. We will also be providing more sophisticated functionality. The differences are significant.

>The actions are forbidden without permission.

That is different from being entirely forbidden, which you originally implied; it was worth correcting.

>Anyhow, best of luck to you.

My goal here was to prevent blatantly incorrect and poorly researched information about my projects from spreading. I think that I have succeeded; best of luck to you as well. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Open Compass

I don't know much about UReddit, but, it looks great.

I also don't know much about Stephen Downes, but he sounds like a complete cock. [Comment] [Permalink]



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