What is Open Content?

The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way scholars in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Open content uses open licensing schemes, like those of Creative Commons, to encourage not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. As this open, customizable content — and insights about how to teach and learn with it — is increasingly made available for free over the Internet, people are learning not only the material, but also the skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Open content is highly relevant to put museums in touch with the expectations of Internet users today who are used to sharing, repurposing, and making their own sense of the resources they find online. If museum content (images, data, knowledge) is locked away, it will be not be a part of the stuff people use to make sense of the world and their own place in it. It is really a way to make museum content relevant to contemporary users. - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Oct 27, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014
  • Open content continues to be extremely important in increasing access to museum expertise, which impacts the dispersal of information across web platforms and within classrooms. Over the past years, museums seem to have needed to be convinced to make their metadata and collections information openly available under free licenses--but it should be that museums become exemplary models of open access. If Open Content was a mid-horizon in the 2012 report, it's deserving of being a near-horizon in the 2014 report. It's no longer a question of if museums should make their content available, it's a question of when. - LoriByrdPhillips LoriByrdPhillips Oct 27, 2014
  • I agree with Merete's and Lori's outlooks and stress the importance working towards greater automation, normalization and standardization of metadata. Public APIs are critical. Creative Commons Licensing can help work towards international metadata standards that can be embedded into the content itself thereby empowering reuse. - nealstimler nealstimler Nov 1, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • When working with open content, and trying to achieve the goal described above of helping people acquire "the skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources", museums need to invest strategically in creating and maintaining high quality, well-structured metadata for their open content. Otherwise, the content will be void of context when people start sharing, spreading and remixing it in the maze of the Internet, and then our content will not be supporting the creation of those skills. - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Oct 27, 2014
  • While valid, the above description is very heavily focused on the classroom and pedagogy and not specifically addressing the role of museums. As Merete mentions, noting the importance of metadata is crucial. Likewise, not simply releasing content under open licenses, but releasing collections APIs, will allow online communities to do great things with the vast information museums have at their disposal. It shouldn't be about releasing images or content on the museum's terms, but about making it all absolutely as free as possible so that our communities can do even bigger things with the content. Don't just let the community in, give them the keys. - LoriByrdPhillips LoriByrdPhillips Oct 27, 2014
  • There are also significant challenges prior export. As the historical boundaries between archives, libraries and museums further dissolve and re-fuse into an interdisciplinary humanistic praxis of cultural heritage online and onsite, entire methodologies, professions and systems have to be re-worked. Every time a common asset type is cataloged in different institutions, by different staff members, in different ways, in different systems that do not have the capacity to communicate with each other - museums, and the cultural heritage community more broadly, hinder themselves. Moreover, the cataloging focus now for archives, libraries and museums be should scale. Capture the tombstone, essential tags and system functional identifiers and move on to the next. Digitize as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Cataloging, like knowledge, is always in beta. A pragmatic approach to processing and structuring museum content fosters even great possibilities for openness. As Lori pointed out, this when the community can help by building and making connections across collections and areas of inquiry. - nealstimler nealstimler Nov 1, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • With open content, museums are also demonstrating that they are open and willing to be in dialogue with the world about our collections, what they mean and how they may be used. This will continue to change the educational and interpretational strategies in museums, as they invite ever more interaction with the cognitive surplus and knowledge of people outside the institutions. Museum professionals will learn new things about their collections from the public. - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Oct 27, 2014
  • When museums open their content to their communities, it shows confidence and a willingness to collaborate with those communities, rather than maintaining an air of overt authority over the content. Museum audiences will be expecting this more and more as millenials become ever more active players. - LoriByrdPhillips LoriByrdPhillips Oct 27, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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