Debating

Every afternoon, I get a chance to see what the mind of Stephen Downes is up to.  I subscribed to his OLDaily and I admit to reading it daily.  There are a couple of reasons – first Stephen periodically drops by this blog and rather than comment here, he comments in the Daily – secondly, it’s just darned interesting material.  If you’re an educator, you owe it to yourself to check it out and see if it fits your needs.

This afternoon, there was an article that really piqued my interest.

Feature Article
Should OER favour commercial use?
Stephen Downes, April 18, 2011.

I have begun engagement in an 11-day long pseudo-Oxford style debate at the WSIS-UNESCO online community. The question at hand is "Should OER favour commercial use?" and I – not surprisingly – have weighed in on the contrary. The protagonist is David Wiley, who has been well known for his support of commercial licensing of OERs over the years. Wayne Mackintosh of WikiEducator is moderating. The debate site is here

There were actually two things here that drew me into the article. First, I am very interested in Open Educational Resources.  I do think that some form of this will be required to sustain courses as we move more and more online and secondly, I sense that commercial producers will be challenged to keep up.  In Ontario, you’ll see example of both.  For example, in Computer Science, you’ll see entire class loads freely available on the web.  But, I also know that there are Computer Science courses written by eLearning Ontario securely sitting behind a login/password.

Secondly, I was interested in the concept of an online debate.  Of all of the activities that we did in English at High School, debating was the one thing that I did reasonably well at.  I’m interested in the debate proper, of course, but also to see if the logistics would work in the classroom.  From what I’ve seen so far, this could be replicated nicely with PBWorks.

So, I clicked over to the WSIS Platform of Communities to see what this was all about.  The debate appears to be scheduled for 11 days.  Once into the debate area, the moderator Wayne Makintosh has given his opening statement as has David Wiley in favour of the resolution and Stephen Downes speaking against.  Since the debate is just getting underway, participants appear to be weighing in with their thoughts entering the debate – FOR-62%; AGAINST-38%.  Stephen has his work cut out for him.

The audience, in addition to voting, have the opportunity to comment on the statements and it’s interesting reading.  So, I figure, I need to be part of this and the instructions are to log in to vote.  Where to login?  Where to login?  I can’t find that at all so decide to back off to the root of the site and there are indeed instructions about registering.  It’s done the old fashioned way by sending an email.  So, I’ve done that and am waiting.

Who knows?  Maybe they have standards and I won’t get an account.  The only thing that I appear to be missing is the ability to vote.  All of the other materials appear to be wide open.  I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

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