Tuesday, November 02, 2004

ICTlogy: Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?

ICTlogy � Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?:

In an article entitled ¿Es aplicable el modelo de producción del software libre a contenidos educativos? (Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?), Sergio Monge Benito compares how free software is developed and tries to see if the educational community could reproduce its model to produce free educational content.

The text is very interesting. After a first short introduction to F/OSS he says that software and content are quite similar. They both are packeted knowledge and so they can be shared, modified, easily transferred, etc. Another point is their modularity. In both cases, software or content can be cut into little pieces (the shortest bunch of lines of code or the tiniest learning object) so its difficult not to be able to adapt a part of the whole to one’s own purposes.

I left a comment on the site but still want to circle back to this.

First off, there is a tool out their for uploading and trading training information: TrainingPoint.

It isn't a very developed community and it doesn't take full advantage of the Creative Commons license and associated tools. Nonetheless, it is there and can be used.

However, I think the real promise for trading content has to do with loading the content file with metadata so that they creative commons search engine can find it. The advantage is that an organization can upload their content to their own website -- this extends their reach, brings people to their other programs/services/materials -- and, therefore, enhances their brand. In addition, others can find by searching a wide swath of the web and not limiting their search to a specific site.

I think there are two tasks here:

  1. Create a tool which can allow users to easily plug metadata into a file as they upload it to their website. It seems to me that this is all about tool creation, training and education. Andy Carvin has talked about this in Conference Idea: Open Content and the Digital Divide on the Omidyar Network.
  2. Second, set up a search parameter that creates something of a portal of this information. It's like having a permanently running Google search. Something that assembles the information, based on the metadata, in a way that is usable.

I think there are many other possibilities here -- social neworking tools, user groups, a full community, in other words. But those two steps, they seem to be the starting point.

(in: open_content, foss, open_source, and education)