As many of you know, following the Free Culture 2008 Conference, Students for Free Culture began the Open University Campaign – an initiative to increase collaboration, sharing, and openness at the level of higher education. With the academic year about to begin, we want to invite all interested parties to assist the with project; after all, we wouldn’t be very genuine if we didn’t do this in an open manner ourselves!
About the Open University Campaign
In October 2008, Students for Free Culture drafted and adopted the Wheeler Declaration which declared that:
“An open university is one in which:
1. The research produced is open access;
2. The course materials are open educational resources;
3. The university embraces free software and open standards;
4. The university’s patents are readily licensed for free software, essential medicine, and the public good;
5. The university’s network reflects the open nature of the Internet,
where “university” includes all parts of the community: students, faculty and administration.”
Out of this agreement has grown the Open University Campaign, of which a major goal is to produce objective, reliable indicators of individual universities’ levels of openness. A primary method through which this will be accomplished is through “report card” style profiles of leading institution of higher learning, similar to College Sustainability Report Cards. Students for Free Culture has already begun this work by defining principles of measurement, researching available resources, and developing surveys to be distributed to universities.
What Will the Open University Report Cards Entail?
Mirroring the Wheeler Declaration, the Open University Report Cards, as currently envisioned, will evaluate schools on five topics:
1. Open Access: Are faculty required to make their scholarship open access? Is the university press publish open access materials?
2. Open Educational Resources: Does the university create OERs? Does the university use OERs?
3. Free and Open Source Software and Standards: Does university computing use FOSS? Are students and faculty required to use proprietary software?
4. Intellectual Property: Is IP revenue transparent? Is IP used to promote innovation, or restrict knowledge?
5. Network Management: Is the network neutral? Is user privacy respected?
Establishing credible criteria under which schools will be assessed will be essential to creating a respected resource. For example, Which schools’ open access policies are currently lacking important criteria? Or, To what extent should a school actively support FOSS? The volunteers currently involved with the project are working through these questions on the wiki page, and we encourage you to join the conversation.
What the Open University Campaign Needs
In order to make this a successful endeavor, Students for Free Culture needs your involvement!
- Are you a student who can research official university open access policies?
- Are you passionate about FOSS and can develop a questionnaire for IT administrators about FOSS policy?
- Are you statistically-inclined and can handle data on universities?
- Are you a web developer who could create a public website for the Open University Report Cards?
- Are you a graphic designer who could create posters to raise awareness on campuses?
The Open University Campaign recognizes that scholastic advancement occurs most readily in an environment of sharing, openness and collaboration. By providing a cross-index of leading universities, the project will add important comparative measurements to encourage increased academic openness. Our hope is that these resources will provide a platform from which openness activists can endeavor to improve the scholastic environment.