Thoughts on OpenLearn 2007

Last week I attended the OU Openlearn conference in Milton Keynes. Presentations will be available from the conference website (agumented with audio recordings) as well as links to various blogs about the conference.

There were a couple of presentations I’d like to highlight. Firstly Tony Hirst’s on the use of RSS feeds and OPML bundles to distribute openlearn material really gave an insight into how easy it should be to create delivery mechanisms on demand from open content. I also really enjoyed Ray Corrigan’s talk “is there such a thing as sustainable infodiversity?” Ray highlighted a number of issues around sustainability of technology, energy consumption, disposable hardware. It’s all too easy to forget just how much of our natural resources are being consumed by all the technology which is so common place now. (As an aside, this was another conference where delegates were given a vast amount of paper as well as conference proceedings on a memory stick – something we are trying to avoid at the up coming JISC CETIS conference.) He also highlighted some of the recent applications of copyright laws that cut to the core of any ‘open’ movement. This view was nicely complimented by Eric Duval’s presentation where he encouraged the educational community to be more assertive and aggressive about copyright and use of materials for educational purposes – encouraging more of a ‘bring it on’ attitude. All well and good but only if academics have the security of institutional back up to do that. On that note it’s been interesting to see this weekend that the University of Oregon is refusing to give over names of students downloading music to the RIAA (see SlashDot for more information on that one).

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