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If I were to ask you: “What is the Internet for?”, what would you say?
I would say something like this – “Well, the internet is a platform for people to share ideas and experiences about the topics that interests them.”. That is essentially what the internet is for isn’t it? To share. However, because of copyright laws, sharing is often in conflict with the unrestricted access and reuse of information online (a.k.a Open Access).
The”4Rs”, (W.David, G.Cable, S.Louis, 2012) shows us what we are allowed to engage in under Open Access. They also summarize the advantages of Open Access.
Essentially, because of Open access, people will be able to freely use Open Education Resources (OER) materials for their own purposes, be it educational or perhaps to aid them in their research which they can then improve on and share it with others. It goes in a circle. There are many who fully support open access and it’s cause, an example being the OpenCon event 2014 which was held in November.
Despite the fact that there are many advantages to open access as mentioned, there are also a fair deal of disadvantages. It seems to me that the biggest problem is that “Some journal publishers and scholarly societies argue that open access will undermine their financial health and have other negative consequences.”, (University Of Washington, 2014).
However, by restricting information available, will we be potentially stripping ourselves from better and cheaper education? Will we be limiting people from using information that could potentially lead to brand new innovations and discoveries? We never know who will be benefiting from open access as this video shows:
Just to emphasise on the benefits of Open Access, a panel at OpenCon talked about a “z degree program” which is a degree program conducted entirely on open data and OERs. Not only did they report higher retention rates of students and on average better scores of students on the degree program as compared to normal degree programs, they also saved students $100 per course (C.Abby, 2014)
A fairly new concept created in 2001 is Creative Commons. It works under a “some rights reserved” versus “all rights reserved” policy which allows authors to let others share and use their ideas and materials under their own conditions. This seems to me the future way to share ideas instead of the full restrictions of copyright laws.
Ultimately, we need to start rethinking the reason why we are sharing in the first place, is it in order to gain views, likes, money possibly? Or is it to share our knowledge and experiences in order to benefit others? It seems to me that the advantages of Open Access far exceeds the disadvantages and that information should if not completely free, at least be available to all.
Let the internet do what it does best – share.
W.David, G.Cable, S.Louis. 2012. Dramatically Bringing Down the Cost of Education with OER -How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning [ONLINE] Available at: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535639.pdf. [Accessed 09 December 2014].
University of Washington Libraries. 2014. Open Access FAQ — UW Libraries. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.lib.washington.edu/scholpub/facts/faq. [Accessed 09 December 2014].
OpenCon 2014 | November 15-17, 2014. 2014. OpenCon 2014 | November 15-17, 2014. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.opencon2014.org/. [Accessed 09 December 2014].
Tidewater Community College. 2014. Textbook-free degree garners national attention. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tcc.edu/news/press/2014/zdegreecbn.htm. [Accessed 09 December 2014].
C.Abby. 2014. OpenCon: Students and Early-Career Researchers for Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. [ONLINE] Available at: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/OpenCon-Students-and-EarlyCareer-Researchers-for-Open-Access-Open-Education-and-Open-Data-100835.asp. [Accessed 09 December 2014].
Creative Commons. About – Creative Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: http://creativecommons.org/about. [Accessed 09 December 2014].
Columbia University. 2014. Open Access Movement: a philosophy, a dance, a practice – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=486AGRqSvGU. [Accessed 09 December 2014].