Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Open Educational Resources and the University: Participating in the Knowledge Commons

FILCOLS attended the event called Open Educational Resources and the University: Participating in the Knowledge Commons held last September 6, 2011 at the UP Open University, 2F, National Computer Center Building, Diliman, Quezon City.

The program started at 1:00 with the welcome remarks of Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, UPOU Chancellor. It was followed by a message from UP President Alfredo E. Pascual, "The Role of the National University in Knowledge Generation and Dissemination in a Digital Age."

Different perspectives were presented through the following speakers:

1. Atty. Michael Vernon Guerrero, the Deputy Executive Director or E-Law Center, Arellano University School of Law, talked about the legal frameworks for the open knowledge movement, the most popular one is the Creative Commons.

2. Ms. Kristine Mandigma, the Program Director of Vibal Foundation, discussed the initiatives and projects of VF and other publishers. These are connected to open knowledge movement.

3. Dr. Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr., writer, professor of English and Creative Writing, Director of Institute of Creative Writing in UP and an active member of FILCOLS, presented the topic from the point of view of artists.

4. Dr. Paul Pertierra, Professorial Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila University, showed the effects of the open knowledge movement and the latest developments in communications to the society.

5. Dr. Gisela Padilla-Concepcion, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, UP System, and Academician, National Academy of Science and Technology, shared her knowledge from the science and technology perspective. She even showed a website where articles about S & T can be used freely by anyone.

After the talks, an open discussion followed. It lasted for more than an hour. The participants who came not only from the academic circle but from the private organizations and companies as well were very enthusiastic in hurling queries, positions and suggestions to the speakers.

Dr. Maria Fe Mendoza, the UPOU's Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs synthesized the content of the event. The launch of UP Press E-books followed shortly.

Below is the copy of Dr. Dalisay's speech. Please ask permission from FILCOLS and Dr. Dalisay if you would like to lift this post or any part of this post. Contact us at

National Computer Center
6 September 2011
Dr. Jose Dalisay Jr.

Thank you all for inviting me to speak at this symposium this afternoon. My remarks will be very brief—and I have to beg everyone’s indulgence in advance if I leave before 4 o’clock for a class I can’t afford to miss.

I hate to be the spoilsport in this symposium, but let me say at the outset that mine will be a query rather than a dissent. I’ve been asked to speak as an artist, a creative writer, and it’s from that perspective that I’ll try to articulate some questions about Open Educational Resources and the Open Knowledge Movement.

I have to admit first of all that I hadn’t heard of these terms as such before I was invited to this forum. I asked some writers I knew as well—including two serving deans—and neither had they. That may seem to be a case of criminal ignorance on our part, but it does indicate something—that if OER and OKM aren’t exactly tripping off the tongues of supposedly media-savvy writers and academics, then some proselytizing needs to be done—even and especially within our University itself—among those who stand to be the most affected by these concepts.

I’ve since done some reading on them, of course. I was glad to learn what everyone here except possibly myself already knew—that OER and OKM promote the democratization of knowledge, and are, at least from what I can see on the surface, laudable initiatives. I’m here to be educated further, and I’m glad that Atty. Guerrero, among others, clarified some of the basis of my concerns.

I’ll tell you what initials have been creating a buzz among Filipino writers and artists of late: IPR, or intellectual property rights, which is another latecomer of an idea in our cultural community. Only recently have writers begun to understand copyrights and contracts; only recently have they begun to understand the business of publishing, the employment of agents, and the need for some kind of professionalization or the establishment of professional standards in what are now being called “creative industries.” Organizations such as the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society or FILCOLS have sprung up to educate writers about IPR and to provide them with the legal means to collect their due. Later this month, at the annual national book fair, a major focus will be IPR, with internationally renowned speakers coming in to address the issue, with the assistance of the National Book Development Board.

I’m aware at the same time that this new preoccupation with IPR is not shared by all writers. Some writers—younger ones in particular—are more open to a freer sharing of knowledge and information, including creative work. Particularly with the resources and opportunities offered by the Internet and the prevalence of blogging, the urge to publish material immediately and without the usual restraints can only be greater.

Indeed I suspect this is the artist’s natural impulse: to share, to disseminate, to publish, to teach. Earning from our work never really was our primary concern—which is, in a way, a sad description of how art has been devalued in our society, and also something that has rendered artists vulnerable to exploitation.

I would like to think that a workable compromise is possible between these equally worthy but seemingly competing motives—to share knowledge freely, but also to recompense the producers of knowledge fairly. OER has to be more than a generator of warm and fuzzy feelings about some brave new world; it has to recognize that intellectual property rights are more than a selfish inconvenience, but are guarantors, in a way, of the production of more knowledge in both the artistic and scientific spheres.

Again, let me emphasize that—speaking for writers—I don’t think that any one of us wants to stand in the way of freer knowledge, and that many of us would rather be read, even for free or for a nominal fee, than ignored. But surely some consideration has to be given to the value of artistic labor, and as soon as these anxieties are addressed, I’m sure that artists will see OER and OKI as a boon rather than a hindrance to the wider dissemination of their work.

I did come across the idea, in my recent readings on OER, that some special licensing arrangements could be entered into between, say, universities and authors, that would allow creative works to be used freely within that academic system. The publishers who may hold the e-book rights to specific works will also have to be factored into the arrangement, and the subsequent modification of artistic work, while it may be a common postmodern practice, may need to be discussed further.

Someone, of course, would have to pick up the tab—likely the university itself, or the students through some collectivized fee. If we could work something out along this line here in UP—say, for the use of creative materials in literature, fine arts, music, and mass communications—it would be a great contribution to both the dissemination of knowledge and the professionalization and advancement of the arts.

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