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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.17 – Mobilizing Classroom Knowledge: Applying the Philosophy of Open Access to Syllabi and Class Notes

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Open access (OA) is a movement to make knowledge freely and publicly available, typically through unrestricted online access to research literature in the form of journal articles and books (Suber, 2012). The OA philosophy is most often associated with the dissemination of research findings, with the underlying idea that free and unrestricted access to information and greater sharing of knowledge leads to public benefits, through facilitating the transformation of knowledge into action. This session will discuss the implications of adopting an “open” approach to the creation and sharing of some of the most common classroom artifacts — syllabi and class notes. The cultural and academic transformation underway with the adoption of open approaches offers promise to change the way educators create and share these objects. Integrating the value of “freedom to build upon” from the OA movement and aligned with the tenets of learner-centredness (Weimer, 2002), we propose that the adoption of more open approaches will improve student learning.

A course syllabus is a tool that communicates course expectations and can improve student learning (Johnson, 2006). As an institutional document, it also functions to detail how a student will be assessed and the roles that students and instructors play in this process (Habanek, 2005). Yet while important, a syllabus may be seen as little more than a necessary formality. In this session we will discuss how an approach to the creation of a syllabus influenced by an open philosophy offers promise to transform students’ and instructors’ relationships with the document.

As a concrete example, we will provide an overview of how the Creative Commons license can provide a means of “opening up” course notes, with implications for both student and instructor learning. Creative Commons (CC BY-SA) “free culture” licenses explicitly allow students to share and adapt class notes as long as they provide attribution and license any resulting works with a similar “share alike” license (e.g., https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/). Applying CC BY-SA licenses to class notes makes it clear to students when and how they should share and attribute knowledge gained in class. The CC BY-SA license also provides a framework for collaboration among instructors, such that notes can be shared and developed more collaboratively. We will reflect on ways that OA notes can support a more collaborative teaching culture among instructors. In particular, the “share alike” concept of Creative Commons licensing may alleviate some concerns about course materials being reused for commercial purposes without attribution, and also creates a self-perpetuating cycle of open educational works. As we review these key issues, we will also seek feedback from participants about potential barriers to and facilitators of OA practices and philosophies in the classroom.

Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
A334 McArthur Hall

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