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Help us Edit the Learners Bill of Rights

This is an invitation to help redraft/improve this Bill of Rights:

Anyone can comment on the document. If you want to edit, just request access through google docs and I’ll add you to the editors.


In December I participated in a meeting with other MOOCsters (including friends like Audrey Watters, John Seely Brown, and Cathy Davidson and many new ones) and helped draft a “Bill of Rights”. The document was embargoed until today, which is why I wasn’t able to share it earlier.The general gist of it is in line with P2PU values – open, community, peer-learning –  but there is a lot of room for improvement. For example bits and pieces seem too institutional (where the learner is still considered a participant, rather than the owner).  Here is more on the document from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Anyone interested in making a P2PU version or discussing the points raised in the doc, please jump right in. Or leave comments below. 

There is also a github repository, which will hopefully spawn a lot of other versions. Here is our fork ->

7 Responses to “Help us Edit the Learners Bill of Rights”

  1. Anya Kamenetz

    Hi Philipp!
    What is the plan to get actual learners (let’s say for the sake of convenience, people without formal bachelors degrees) involved in the conversation about rights? It seems a bit silly to talk about “rights” for learners as determined by an outside group with power over them (educators).
    Happy to help with this in any way that makes sense.

    • Philipp Schmidt

      Good point! I feel the same way, and raised that issue (with little success) during the meeting.

      I would love to have a remix/hack/rewrite that represents the self-learner/peer-learner/informal-learner perspective. The google doc and github repository make it easy.

      Should we start by commenting on the things we want to rephrase and list ideas that are missing in the google doc and then take a stab at drafting an open learners’ bill of rights written by the learners?

      Between you, P2PU and our friends we might be able to drum up a sizeable group of co-editors. I’m pretty sure Audrey (who was also at the meeting) would be game as well.

  2. Cable Green

    We ought be careful with our terms.

    “Massive Online Open Courseware, or MOOCs, have become the darling of the moment…”

    Aside from the fact that MOOC has thus far stood for: Massive Open Online Course; MOOCs that are not openly licensed (with a non-ND license) are not (a) open courseware or (b) open educational resources (OER).

    See the Hewlett OER definition: “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”

    The MOOCs are currently free (i.e., open admission) and that is a good thing. But until you and I can download a MOOC course in its entirety or in parts and reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the content legally… the MOOC is neither open courseware nor OER.

    David Wiley wrote a nice post on this topic: The MOOC Misnomer:

    Creative Commons post: Keeping MOOCs Open:

    • Philipp Schmidt

      I am not so worried about the terminology. I think “MOOC” is not a great term in any case and MOOCs will soon just be part of a broader conversation about digital or online learning that takes many shapes.

      But your point about open is important. Thank you for making it! Regardless of what a course is called, it is in the learners’ interest to have open content, technology and participation. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s a point I made during the drafting. Having you and others chime in helps amplify the importance of open.

    • Thomas Salmon

      Cable I agree and David Wiley’s comment in his post seems to me very clear. There is a huge difference between MOOCS and OER and there is a danger in confusing the boundary between them – as he pointed out.

      It is maybe interesting in terms of a discussion on human rights how the original OER movement defined itself over ten years ago and where it is now. Recently stakeholders at an international level have coined the Paris Declaration to strengthen and advance the rationale for OER, details are here:

      This is again often linking into the notion of the public good, and human rights. The specifics of the 2012 Declaration are here:

      MOOCS are certainly on the radar for OER too at the moment. Some OER initiatives are dealing with the in some ways disruptive introduction of MOOCS which may even appear as semi-open (eg for example in the case of MOOC’s being offered via partner institutions in another country, often even after translated into other languages, of course with permission of the distributors)

      This all is always a tricky question because really education is nearly always defined both as a public good, but also nearly always treated and handled as if it wasn’t. The dividing line simply always depends on the context and the needs of a wider constituency of people, government and the needs of industry, those that make decisions for the ‘good of all’ and often educators.

      But I guess often everyone is talking about the same thing – it just depends how you like to spin it out! But possibly the language used to do this process matters. Is it more useful to think about this as buckets of open stuff and buckets of stuff that is not open, or semi open? Or is it more useful to think of it in terms of rights that are held by individuals, or at least claimed by constituencies of individuals in groups? What difference does it make?

      I think attempts to formulate a discussion or Bill of Rights around this might need to address this question and try to persuade us that the latter is necessary, either in the place of or in addition to the notion of OER.

      But it brings attention back to how to conceive of ‘open’ and this whole discussion in a really relevant way.

  3. Pieter Kleymeer

    I’m having a little trouble getting behind this. The lack of broad “learner” involvement in the drafting, the misuse of terms (learner should not be interchanged with student; education is not the same thing as learning; “open” is a bit of a joke in most online learning environments), and the focus on pedagogy (as opposed to self-directed, individually-owned learning) leave me wondering if the document could ever be aligned with my personal values or even the values of the P2PU community. But I’m just one voice.

    • Peer to Peer University

      Hey Piet – Those are all good points. I felt quite strongly that it should all be framed around learners and made that point up to the very last version of the document. I partly let it go, because the Wikipedia article made me feel that “student” can be broad and inclusive and that it doesn’t have the same institutionalized connotation in other countries.

      And I am still hoping that we (learners, lifelong learners, fringe innovators, you name it) can redraft a version or many versions we can stand behind.

      I find myself in an awkward situation where I tried to change the document as much as I could through the drafting process, but had to compromise on a few (including a few big) points. And now I find myself on the other side, defending it and hoping that more people will get involved to make it better. I don’t quite know how to resolve that.

      Through this process, I also realized that it is *hard* to write a document like this in a fairly diverse group of people. And that “one” document may never be the right solution. That’s why I hope there will be lots of versions and forks. Or at least a highly annotated version of the document that highlights some of the frustrations and criticisms. It looks like the google doc I created is on its way to become that, but I am still hoping for more co-editing rather than just comments.

      I’ve made you an editor anyway 😉


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