Content by ‘devious’ means

I wanted to post something today on the content of EDC MOOC, partly in response to Jeremy’s earlier post on how it’s easy to let questions of process (and ‘correctness’) dominate our discussions about course design and partly in response to Dave Cormier’s mention of EDC in his interesting post on MOOC content curation.

Dave’s post draws attention to what was perhaps the biggest issue for us in making EDC MOOC – the need to only use open access materials, and ones that were all free of copyright restrictions. This was a hard call in a few ways. We really wanted to use clips from some of the movie ‘classics’ like The Matrix, 2001 and so on, but we were advised that this wasn’t on, even if they were freely available on YouTube, simply because their copyright status was likely to be compromised. As it happened, a lot of the freely available shorts were actually better for our purposes (and in many cases, just…better), so this wasn’t such a big issue.

Of more significance was the fact that we couldn’t draw on any of the literature published in ‘closed’ sources like journal articles and book chapters. This was a big deal for us because, while we are used to building online courses, we’ve only ever done so with the very rich resources of the University of Edinburgh’s digital library available to us. Sourcing quality academic work, at the right level, without access to closed journals was a real challenge. We’re happy with what we have, but the curation certainly wasn’t easy. For the publishers who are on EDC MOOC (and we know there are some) the message is that we need free stuff for our MOOCs : ) As Dave’s post makes clear there are licensing issues here, but the potential reputational gain for authors whose work is used on MOOCs is significant, and that carries benefits – sales among others.

Overall, the work of making the MOOC felt to us like curation but perhaps a little more opportunistic than that term implies. Something like bricolage –  working with what is at hand, and by ‘devious means compared to those of a craftsman’ (this from Claude Lévi-Strauss (1966) The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 16–17). I think we’re generally happy with that!

Sian Bayne
@sbayne

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11 thoughts on “Content by ‘devious’ means

  1. That’s why I always liked the Gaidhlig word for research: ‘rannsachadh”, the word itself stolen from ‘ransack’ .

    Synonyms:
    rummage – search – rifle – sack – rob – plunder – pillage

  2. All things considered I commend your having managed to pull together such rich public domain content, whether by ‘devious plundering’ or more conventional means. This is a huge undertaking and a fascinating social experiment. I am most eager to see how this course continues to develop – it is quite compelling to be part of a pioneering group 40K + strong! We who are about to MOOC salute you!

  3. I think, MOOC and copyhjt law in the form it exists today are from different ages. I thinks many of copyright-related restrictions will inevitably change in nearest future, especially in scientific field, becasue the role of information exchange will became more and more important.

  4. Thanks for the kind comments, all. @donnastitches – it’s true we haven’t made videos or audio lectures or that kind of content, but we have produced quite a lot of written material around the resources we’re using. This is made specifically for this course, in an attempt to help participants make sense of the various readings, films and so on – to try to help people pull it all together according to an understandable structure. I think the course design *is* its content, in this respect….

  5. Thanks for responding, Sian. I know you’re all really trying to see the course through the eyes of students. From out here, it’s like looking at a wall plastered with flyers. When you’re short and there’s a big crowd between you and the wall, it’s tough to find what the thought leaders have posted.

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  7. I understand, and it’s really useful feedback for us. We’re going to try to make sense of some of the key ideas coming through in our next hangout (this friday), so this may be useful to you. And we’ll be giving thought to the idea of how signposting, synthesising and highlighting issues and ideas could be emphasised next time we do this – thanks Donna.

  8. Pingback: the accidental technologist » Blog Archive » Learning through a lens on the #edcmooc

  9. Pingback: A well placed sardine can #edcmooc | Teaching 'E-learning and Digital Cultures'

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