Open education is all about community building, collaboration, sharing, and distribution. The power of open licensing in education comes from the underlying premise that users can retool contributions to the needs of the learners. The beauty of open licensing is that the creator still receives credit for the initial development. And the impact of open licensing is that rather than constrain, restrict, and limit content, we now open content to new ideas and new implementations. These benefits are at the center of the educational experience and that is what excites me about open licensing and open education. Let me give you a few examples from my own experience as a user and creator of OER.
A couple of years ago we [the Brazilpod team] received a request to retool our online video clips for proficiency testing purposes. We had never thought of applying those video-based materials to testing, and it was impressive to see that somebody else had thought of them in those terms. Similarly, many of the video topics that we came up with for our Conversa Brasileira series originated from video skits that our students had recorded, as part of their assignments with the Portuguese Communication Tasks. That is to say, the students used one set of materials to generate ideas for their skits, and we, in turn, created a whole new series of video-based materials based on their ideas. Each new phase grew out of original applications to existing materials. I remember the first time we found out that our Spanish Proficiency Exercises website was getting hits from people in Togo, Africa and Reykjavik, Iceland. Really, Africa and Iceland! We once received an email from a user of Interviews with Latin American Executives who taught Spanish in Hungary. He asked for permission to make a Hungarian translation of the video clips. We were more than happy to give him permission. More recently, a user of our Conversa Brasileira series decided to create “lesson plans” to go with our online materials. All on her own, and simply for the pleasure of enhancing the materials, she decided to share her lesson plans with the world! (Read more about this user, Nicola Mabbot.)