ONL 191 Topic 2

The metaphor of the house – do we keep our doors and windows open or do we lock them? Who do we invite in? Who do we keep out? What are we willing to share? How do we share? These are all questions that each of us faces as we engage in online communities. Are you a lurker or a participant? Does it depend on the online community? Who are you in an online community? The challenge for educators and employers is how to engage people so that they can effectively collaborate together online – while respecting the individual.


Establishing a balance between ones private life and ones professional life – what do we want to project and how do we separate the two? What do we want to share… about ourselves? about what we create? In this blog, I am going to explore three concepts:
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the concept of resilience
  • Creative Commons and the sharing economy
  • Privacy

The MOOCMassive Open Online Course

Education is a system of functions that are designed to teach – adding technology should not take away from this. An important aspect to consider when using technology is how resilient a system is regarding the use of that technology. For example, a variant of online education is the MOOC, which can reach and educate thousands of people, often for free. The Internet provides a venue where MOOCs can reach people all over the world, yet the MOOC is still a type of online education and will only be effective if it designed with the proper functions to teach and engage the participants – it must still perform its function to educate. Weller and Anderson define this educational context as resilience “In terms of higher education practice then, resilience is about utilising technology to change practices where this is desirable, but to retain the underlying function and identity that the existing practices represent, if they are still deemed to be necessary. The practices themselves are not core to scholarship rather that they are the methods through which core functions are realised and these methods can and should change.” [1] MOOCs are an example of technology that opens up higher education opportunities to people that otherwise would not be able to access it – it democratizes education; yet the technology that enables a MOOC does not detract from the function of education, rather it changes the scale in terms of the number of students that can be educated in an online course.
The first MOOC was designed to share a course with anyone interested in participating at no monetary cost and has led to many other examples of MOOCs and other types of free online education. Some examples include:

The Sharing Economy

On an individual level, a sharing economy has emerged based around the Creative Commons – a set of licenses that allow creators to share their works with others. Building a website? Have a Blog? Need to find some images that you can use for a presentation? Are you a photographer that wants to share your images with others? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the Creative Commons is for you!

The first thing we need to understand about copyright and ownership is that as soon as something is created, copyright applies and the copyright is owned by the creator. This means that before we use anything that we find on the Internet, or from any other source, we need to make sure that we are allowed to use the it. This means getting permission beforehand. An alternative to this arrangement is the Creative Commons, which is an initiative that allows creators to let others use their creations without having to first obtain permission. How a creation can be used and if it can be altered, modified, or used commercially is determined by which Creative Commons License the creator has granted use under. [2] Common to all Creative Commons licenses is that, at the very minimum, the original creator must be given attribution.
Creative Commons licenses from least restrictive to most restrictive [3]:
The Creative Commons defines six levels of licensing terms and provides images that can be attached to a creation to communicate to others how the creation can be used. Each of the Creative Commons license terms and the respective symbol to use are briefly described below.
Free to use and modify even for commercial use as long as the attribution is provided to the original creator.
Attribution, Share Alike
Free to use and modify even for commercial use as long as the attribution is provided to the original creator and all derivatives carry the same CC license terms.
Attribution, No Derivatives
Free to use even for commercial use as long as attribution is provided to the original creator and with the condition that no changes can be made.
Attribution, Non-Commercial
Free to use and modify as long as the attribution is provided to the original creator but cannot use commercially.
Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike
Free to use and modify as long as the attribution is provided to the original creator and all derivatives carry the same CC license terms but cannot be used commercially.
Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives
Free to use as attribution is provided to the original creator and with the condition that no changes can be made but cannot be used commercially.
Alternatives to the Creative Commons
In addition to the Creative Commons, there are other ways to grant users permission to use creations. The following three Internet Websites provide content that is free to use and modify even for commercial use with attribution being optional, but appreciated (Each of the websites has its own license terms):
  • Unsplash @ unsplash.com
  • Pixabay @ pixabay.com
  • Pexels @ pexels.com
Privacy in the Age of the Internet

One thing that we all need to keep in mind is that any time we leave a trace of ourselves on the Internet, we lose control. Always assume that anything that you do on the Internet will remain and can be found. Posting pictures and information about ourselves and others on the Internet can have consequences – if not in the present, then maybe in the future. Think before you post anything – ask yourself “Is this something that I will regret posting to the Internet one day?
Our Image – How Others See Us
What we share defines our image. The Creative Commons provides an avenue for creativity in a public space governed by copyright by providing six types of licenses that people can use to share their creative works. We can choose to create our own works to share and use – or we can use works created by other people. What creative works we choose to use and what we say online impacts how other people see us – we are projecting an image, our persona.
  • Do you post pictures online of your family?
  • Do you post pictures online where you are drinking alcohol?
  • Do you author a blog?
  • Do you post or make comments on Internet forums?
  • Do you use your real name or an alias online? Does it “depend” on the type of website?
Depending on the site, we tend to take on roles: Student, Teacher, Hobbyist, Professional, Job Hunter, Gamer… In each of these contexts, it is usually beneficial to project a favorable view from the perspective of other participants in the community.

Openness promotes collaboration – but at what cost to privacy? We need to keep in mind that their are both ethical and legal considerations when we share pictures and information online (especially where other individuals are involved) – or even within the setting of a Learning Management System (LMS) restricted to members of the current course. We need to think about how others will feel about either being asked to post personal information or to post their thoughts and comments on a website. We also need to think about the legal aspects of using creative work that belongs to someone else.
Privacy is not just an individual or organizations concern anymore – it has legal weight and consequences. We need to keep in mind the legal aspects of what we say and what we share. Over the past few years, laws have been enacted to protect the privacy of individual persons – this means that you must obtain explicit permission before placing information that can be used to either directly or indirectly identify an individual.
  1. Weller, M., Anderson, T. Digital Resilience in Higher Education. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning. URL: http://www.eurodl.org/index.php?p=archives&year=2013&halfyear=1&article=559 (Last accessed 2019 May 05)
  2. Watch Now Video Magazine. Creative Commons and Copyright Info.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YkbeycRa2A (Last accessed 2019 May 05)
  3. Creative Commons. License Terms. URL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ (Last accessed 2019 May 05)
Image Credits
T2 Reflecting on Open Learning – Sharing and Openness