The Creative Commons Certificate Course and Open

Stephen Downes posted some of his discussion about the Creative Commons Certificate Course from various corners of the web. I wanted to share the response I posted to his blog because, as he mentioned, someone wasn’t sure where his comment button was (hint: when you get to a post on his site, click on the title of the post or the “Direct Link” text below the posting and it will take you to the original post for comments).

Hi Stephen,

I agree with this. There should not be money attached to the certificate, at least not in this way. I think that there should be alternative pathways to the certificate that are truly open, but I feel that way about all education. The Creative Commons site does not call it a MOOC or even an “open course” – I am afraid that they probably had the same internal conversations about “sustainability” that organizations like Quality Matters fell into. This led QM to adopt what I call the “Amway Model” of sustainability where the cost of reviewing courses included covering a $400 stipend to course reviewers. This led, in my opinion, to faculty choosing QM because it includes a stipend which trumps pedagogical concerns. With Creative Commons, it seems that facilitators are paid for their time and to become a facilitator, you have to earn the certificate and get their facilitator training. Facilitators are paid $3000. I am not questioning the motives of those who want the certificate – gaining this kind of knowledge or “expertise” is important. People should be compensated by their time, I am just not sure if this is the right model. It turns teaching and learning back into a transaction. (That has done wonders for US healthcare!) I am just surprised at the methods CC is choosing when there are so many examples out there of very successful open practices including cMOOCs and courses like DS106. The CC website has a big button on it that says “Donate to keep the web free and open.” I would get behind that – I put my time and money where my mouth is. For instance, I am a UNESCO volunteer for “Open Education for a Better World.” There are no stipends – it is people who really believe in the work of open that they are willing to do it. I have a lot of respect for the organization, and I use CC materials all the time for my classes. But they are a non-profit that has fundraising campaigns – I would like to see them put more effort into that.

Thanks again for your tireless advocacy for open.

Geoff Cain

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