Open access and Web 2.0 tools

I recently read an interesting review (at EducationPR) of the book, The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship by John Willinsky. The book discusses the idea of “open access” and the effect it will have on academia. In his review, Paul Baker points out:

“Willinsky’s case for open access is multifaceted. It draws on the spirit of copyright law, the mandate of scholarly associations, the promise of global knowledge exchanges, the public’s right to know, the prospect of enhanced reading and indexing, the improved economic efficiencies of publishing, and the history of the academic journal.

Willinsky is careful to explain that ‘open access’ does not mean ‘free access.’ Open access articles cannot be read without a substantial investment in hardware, software, and networking. The open access movement does not operate in denial of economic realities, he says; it is simply acting on a scholarly tradition that has long been concerned with extending the circulation of knowledge.”

How do Web 2.0 tools fit into this discussion?

With an ever increasing number of students entering college as accomplished bloggers or participants in wiki projects what will these students do when it comes to scholarly research?

Maybe a broader idea of open access suggests that as research is ongoing it is published in a very public and digital fashion – even more “free” than Willinsky suggests. Will these future researchers and scholars want to wait to announce their findings, or will they blog about them as they happen?

I can see it now, a group of researchers stumbles across the cure for cancer and across the Twitter universe the announcement is made that cancer is now curable. Not the details of “how and why,” but instead the announcement and a link to the researchers wiki where the final papers are currently in production. The public can read, other researchers can test the ideas before they are even published so that independent replication can be determined before the researchers go to press. This will certainly raise issues of copyright and patent concerns that researchers will have to be aware of as they proceed.

Will the Web 2.0 generation be willing to end their habits of blogging and building collective knowledge and understanding in order to protect the current ideas of academic research and publishing? Will they suddenly become protective of their “property” and hide it until they publish? It would be difficult to see such a drastic shift in behavior. It is more likely that they will carry with them their “open source” mentality and find ways to protect their intellectual property at the same time as they publicly share their learning and discovery.

The social web will become ever more influential in scholarly pursuits as those who are discovering its power now move up the educational ladder. These generations are more adept at figuring out where technology fits into the learning process and even the current educational technology leaders lag behind them. The small pockets of voices in education crying out to take the example of those using Web 2.0 tools are being ignored in favor of the standardized education voices. Innovation is the best place for education to occur – however, that isn’t happening very often, much less at a rate to achieve a new conceptualization of the education process.

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