A Distributed Content Addressable Network for Open Educational Resources
Stephen Downes, 2019/11/04
We introduce Content Addressable Resources for Education (CARE) as a method for addressing issues of scale, access, management and distribution that currently exist for open educational resources (OER) as they are currently developed in higher education. CARE is based on the concept of the distributed web (dweb) and, using (for example) the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) provides a means to distributed OER in such a way that they cannot be blocked or paywalled, can be associated with each other (for example, as links in a single site, or as newer versions of existing resources) creating what is essentially an open resource graph (ORG), and when accessed through applications such as Beaker Browser, can be cloned and edited by any user to create and share new resources.
The elephant in the room in this short slide presentation is sustainability. I think a lot of people have talked about sustainability over the years. My own contribution to this discussion stems from my 2005 paper Models of Sustainability for Open Educational Resources. OER, I argue, will never be sustainable until we get past the producer-consumer model, and begin to see it as the way a community shares with itself. What we have seen over the last decade instead is that sharing has become commodified, commodities must be produced, and productivity must be licensed. The sustainability problem, in other words, is a problem that has been created by the people who would monetize OER.
Michael Feldstein writes that the recent break-down at the OpenEd conference was years in the making. "The OpenEd conference as we know it is dead because it represents a coalition that has, at least for the moment, crumbled under the weight of its own growth and diversification." In particular, "the balance of attendees at OpenEd has changed from a high percentage individual contributors who sometimes felt alienated from the decision-making processes in their home institutions toward a higher percentage of participants who came precisely to advance institutional initiatives." These 'institutional initiatives' were, in my view, mostly commercial interests, and that's what created the tension. Image via Rajiv Jhangiani.
To get full value out of this presentation, check the notes section on each slide, because they're you'll find the complete transcript for the talk. Josie Gray describes the shift from accessibility checklists for educational resources to a focus on univresal design. Why? "The reality is, there is no such thing as a normal or average student. Students vary greatly in their interests, family situation, culture, background, experience, strengths, and weaknesses. And all students benefit when educational materials are designed to be accessible and inclusive." For example, a student's day-to-day life can influence access. So can their level of digital literacy. So can access to technology. We can't predict all of these in advance, nor does definining accessibility in terms of disability take all these into account.
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Copyright 2019 Stephen Downes Contact: email@example.comThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.