WOS 2 / Proceedings / Panels / Öffentliches Wissen / Universität als Profit Center? / Diskussion / script


Volker Grassmuck: I think we should also talk a little bit more about the open courseware project at MIT also a little bit more critical. But first of all I would like to give the microphone to the audience.

Audience: A big question about open source always is the question of re-use. So I take something from somebody and I think, oh it is nice. These parts are nice and I want to reuse it. And how does this work together in the educational context with the fact that education has to be structured very rigidly to have a way of bringing knowledge to people, structuring this knowledge. I mean if I take a software and I just ripe out the part that I like and put it together and structure it new. It might be that this new software, this new course is much worst then the original ones because they just don't built up the content for somebody who doesn't know about the topic.

Seda Gürses: My goodness we all have had really bad professors at some point I think if I can say that. Maybe I'll take this moment to talk about educational software standards. Because I think the concerns that you have I share with you. I think now when I talk about educational software standards you will see that it is not about the standards that I will talk about now. Meaning there is nobody checking for any standards, or any quality check in education. This is also what Oeller was also saying that there is no efficient way of checking to see if education is good. There is simple no good evaluation process. And so I think this question will become even more eminent in the case of educational software because you will have a bunch of people possibly taking content from each other and standards and quality check will become even more important.
Let me talk shortly about educational software standard. Basically what is recently been happening is there have been attempts to create standards for modular educational units. Exactly what you have been saying. I produce some content for lets say a master course and somebody elses produces some exercises for the same topic. Somebody else has had some sort of drilling for this mathematical subject. So I can take - one is in New York, one is in London and the other one is in Bangladesh somewhere - and I take these three pieces and I can put them together because there exist standards that allow me to put these modular parts together.
This is now the highest goal of educational software standards. What is been happening in the creation of these educational software standards is that the dichotomy between technology and content is being reproduced. You go to any educational software standard page and what you will find is standards for content, standards for technology. And they are basically working with meta data. so they are reproducing some of these things. What is also interesting is that a lot of the developments in educational software standards are being actually done by proprietary institutions. So you have Microsoft, IBM and a number of other companies who are producing their own standards for this modular sort of thing. So not only are we going to have the problem with no standards for educational content. We also going to have to deal with proprietary standards versus open standards on the delibrary systems that underlay this educational content. So it gets even more complex by the day.
So what I suggest is actually the development in modular standards right the once that I just mentioned is very interesting because it could actually lead to some developments in open source courseware. But only if you develop open standards. So it is again this point where the open source community can start intervening in the making of technological standards and at the same point starts intervening in the content standards. I think this is what I mean. There is no differentiation. We need to break that dichotomy. It needs to happen at the same time. Does that answer your question?

Volker Grassmuck: The idea behind creating educational content in open source ways is of course that you have this per-review. So the example you described -just taking the best bits of everything - is more similar to lets say sampling in music where there is one musician who just takes the stoke of published music and says I like this, I like this and put it together and I have a nice piece of music that is aesthetically appealing. But it doesn't have to fit any kind of criteria of a curriculum for example and here I would say it should be at least more similar to the process in which free software is developed. So you do get a functional whole in the end and it is not just a patch work of different pieces. And the way you develop that is that you apply the per-review process that you have in research in universities already to the teaching materials. So, people will develop something. Other people will use it. They will send them bug reports. There is a maintainer for this body of knowledge. It changes. The bug reports obviously has to change the material. Otherwise they don't make sense. And in the next round it is again improved, it is used. They see it doesn't work together or something is leaking. You have to put something else in, another module.
So in the end this per-review process, this feedback cycle that is part of this incremental development process I think I would be optimistic is a guarantee that this fracturing and this patchwork of educational software will not happen. But prerequisite for that is that the material is open. That it is maybe copyright protected. But then at least in the second round by the licence it is copy left so people can actually change it. There is not one company that maintains the software and then you have a mass of users and they say there comments and there wish lists, their feature request and their bugs to that company and the company decides O.k. that is O.k. we take it in and we forget about the rest. It only works in an open sharing on a pair level of people co-operating. Any other questions, any other maybe experiences that you have had teaching or being taught at universities or at colleges that you would like to share with us?

Question: As I don't have so much experiences with the issue I would like to ask Seda whether this was an issue of the virtuel woman university and what kind of experiences you had there if you were thinking about this issue?

Seda Gürses: Well, this was definitely an issue for us at the virtual university. It was clear that even though there was what we called the viwu-team, the virtual international woman university team and we did not only consist of computer scientist. So there were about three computer scientists and the rest were from various backgrounds, from linguistic, social scientist and art. And this already was interesting. If you looked at some of the team meetings right, you had computer scientist sitting together with artists and talking about the development of a virtual university. So we never left out you know the computer scientist when we were talking about the art context and we never left out the linguist when we were talking about which kind of web server we were going to use. So in this sense in the development process we already started looking at how we can look at the content and technologies together.
And the other thing we did is we definitely went through this process oriented software production in the sense that a lot of the services we did not launch or we did not start until the students were there. Once they were there we asked them what they wanted and we also gave them tools to talk about what they wanted and they just kind of said oh you know it would be really nice to have a data base where I can reach some of the students right. And what would this data base consist. Of course they didn't say data base. They actually said a directory or you know same way of accessing information and then these woman went ahead and developed categories which actually can almost build an expert data base and then we implemented this. We gave them feed back. They gave us feed back. So this is the kind of development of process which simply does not take place with proprietary firms. I mean if they wanted any services we were ready to do it for them and with them. I think that is a change and through that they developed something that we would never have come across. I mean we would never had developed this data base. So in a sense that is innovation in the sense that students are talking part in technological developments and content is being defined to get together with the technology.

Question: I would like to know if learning theories, I mean theories of how to educate people influenced the development of learning software? Because as you told us now in the team there were artists and linguists. But were there also pedagogues and how this has an impact on the software development and maybe you could also name some open source projects which develop educational software.

Seda Gürses: Pedagogical theories were definitely part of the development of the virtual international woman university. Heidi Schelover who is the head of the project is a pedagogue herself. She later became a computer scientist as well. A multi talented woman and basically she wrote one of our main white papers in which she proposed constructive as pedagogical theories in that she said there should be knowledge coproduction, meaning we want to disseminate these power positions of the instructors and say all of the woman who are coming are experts and through the internet they can share these expertise with all the other members of the community.
So you know something very simple like home pages became very important then because that is where you can give you localised expertise out to the rest of the world and becomes a part of the pedagogical methodic. I mean you can just see it as a homepage but you can also see it as something that is you know smartly thought out before hand. I think in most cases in the development of educational software they do at here to some sort of pedagogical theory. I mean this is an constructivist driven practise these tutorials which is more I think the behaviouristic model and I mean I do not support these. I'm just telling you what the practices are. The sad thing about them is that they simply take this theory, some theory, define it and put it like this into the software. So there is no possibility to develop the method. I mean the method is kind of clearly defined: drill and practise, you ask a question, you give the multiple choice, they click and they write, they have learned. Like this kind of linear thinking which is just simply not possible to intervene in. If it is a problem with the pedagogical method or if it is a problem with the technology I think those kind of mixe together. Because as soon as the technology defines the pedagogical methods so strongly and so rigidly you can not develop any more. So this is actually a very big problem.
About projects from open source: The most recent one is from CDE. CDE is right now in the process of developing education software for children and young people from 3 to eighteen is what they claim to wanting to make. The actually just launched on September the 21. That is like the biggest. There are some more. I can email you about them if you want. Unfortunately the initiative so fare are very little and this is why I made this open invitation. If I can maybe talk about a little bit about the economic vehemence of education for some of the people. The WTO announced at a conference last may in Vancouver on educational trade that the biggest markets of the future there were three of them. One was water, the other one was health, so bio-technologies and the other one was education. And they promised that by the year 2002 that the gate trade agreement would be updated to liberalise education. So this is the kind of context we are working in and so it is really important to intervene in there and to look for alternatives and to look for strategies to deal with that. And open source projects I think are definitely strategies.

Question: You mentioned that one of the main things educational software should be able to do is combine content from all kinds of different sources. And I'm wondering whether that is actually an interesting problem. Don't you think that education should be very much be able to combine methods from different environments. So what you are saying is like O.k. teaching styles that you see so fare that you don't like that basically fixes one teaching style and that's it. I'm wondering whether you know of any projects that try to combine or to be open to different methods and still have some kind of structure. You very quickly go into the direction of something that looks like the net or something like that.

Seda Gürses: Are you worried about chaos?

Question: No, I'm not worried about chaos. But I'm worried about are we making something that is already there namely just an open network.

Seda Gürses: I mean you repeat a lot of things that are already there and I think especially if you go the proprietary way I think you definitely guaranteed it because you are hiding your things and nobody knows if you have done it or not.

Question: That question is maybe not so interesting in this context because we all agree. But I'm wondering do you know of any frameworks that help finding your way in this mess. Because it is a big, interesting, beautiful mess but it is a mess. Do you know of open source projects that helped for instance students to find their way in an environment that offers not only enormous amounts of different contents about the same subjects but also different methods and all kind of funny combinations of content and methods? Because that is the most confusing thing at the moment I think. I mean building software is actually quite easy when you know what the process is you wane support with it. But the problem is that educators are not so sure about their processes at the moment. They are all discussing their processes. So what are you doing when you built up your software?

Seda Gürses: I couldn't point you right away of the top of my head to a project. I know that Jörg Kalmans from ISST in Berlin, Frauenhofer Institute is currently looking exactly at this topic and what he is looking at is giving meta data about say the internet. So about sharing say something very basically like bookmarks and finding experts who have their own bookmarks and having this P2P development of experts who then eventually become information pool for people. Because I think it will be very difficult to have a central place that tells you how educational software should be. I also would be against it. I would be more interested in different central points where you can find the kind of things that you are looking for. I think there is a development among a linux community. They had a conference I believe last march and I can send you that information or to anybody else who is interested and they basically started a weeky weeky board where they kind of share information about different educational initiatives with different pedagogical methods using open source software. So, these kind of initiatives they exist. I don't have a central place where you can go and you will find all your pedagogical methods listed, all your software listed and then you can click. But what we have done which is not....I mean I wouldn't call it a professional project. It was a student project with Bernd Lutherbeck at the Technical University. It is called If you go there we put up the text that I just basically try to introduce here and text about the economic developments in educational software and licensing and a text about different pedagogical methods. So we are trying to kind of get the community to work on things like this and this is the invitation like lets do this.

Volker Grassmuck: So, all these links will be online in the documentation of this conference afterwards. So that is easier then mailing.

Question: Well another question that arises is how can learning in itself change or the building of knowledge change? I mean you already mentioned one very interesting technology about learning this weeky weeky technology which is very funny because it automatically produced good quality documents by allowing everybody to change it which actually is the open source ideology in itself. I also know about another project that is called Ncore which is about building an educational software environment on top of a lamdamou which is a multi user dungeon, original a game. So what do you think about these highly dynamical environments where everybody can change things and interact with each other and what do you think about the potential of this style of information towards education?

Seda Gürses: It is exiting. I mean it is great but I think at the same time one of the things that we discussed a lot at virtual iwu was accountance. I mean how do you become accountable for some content right? So you can produce very interesting content if you are working within a community but it is interesting because the question you gave me beforehand was about content and kind of the accountability of the content and now the other example is of course the more people involved the better document it is. I thing is kind of a challenge and I think at universities the challenge will be to provide some sort of accountability to the content. Because at the virtual university at some point we came to the point what is the difference between an instructor, a participant of the university and anybody who is surving in the internet at that point in terms of knowledge. Is there a difference and where do I put the lines? And the answer to that is not what I heard from a French group of researches in a conference where they said the EU should set standards and we should centralise what is accountable content. Then I juts thought oh my god. This is not at all what I wanted. But at the same time I think we need to thing about what is it that makes the difference between the content that is provided by an instructor and then that one that is provided by a student and anybody else. Is it the seal of the university? Is it their name I mean what is that gives content accountability. I think that is a big issue.

Volker Grassmuck: Well one very important point of course is brand name credibility here like in every other market and that I think is also an aspect of MIT's open source courseware initiative. They are spending eleven million dollars for the next four years, so until 2005. Also all the stuff, the teaching stuff will be required to present their courses in a way that the material can be used for this open courseware project. And the effect this has is that of course everybody in the world says MIT whow, great university. They must have the best knowledge. And they give it away for free, great. So instructors in colleges, in universities across the world can use these materials within their own context. So the idea is not to have an online university where you can use MIT open courseware materials to remotely participate in courses, mailing in your homework what ever and then getting credits in the end. That is explicitly not the idea but instructors can use the material within their own framework, within their own systems of grades and of credits that they give to their students. Well obviously this is very attractive to institutions that are rather poor. That can not buy the alternatives and they are grateful for having this material.
But it also means it will be a very strong drive towards standardisation. You will have physic courses and math courses and sociology courses and what ever all over the world all based ob certain assumptions that the people at MIT made that might not be suitable in other parts of the world. I mean if you assume that science is about truth and there is only one truth. There can not be Japanese physics and Indonesian physics and an American physics. No, there is only one physics and that is this big collective strive for the truth, driving the realm of what we know about physics further and that is a collective process and there is only one frontier where you can exactly say this is the most advanced level of knowledge and it is only one thing. If you assume this then maybe this kind of standardisation in education is not a problem. But maybe there are different forms of knowledge and different forms of teaching people, different philosophies. Maybe variety is good. Maybe it is good to have a choice. Maybe competition is good but with this free offering obviously MIT is in a very strong position without having to do any marketing for it. They sort of save their marketing budget.

Seda Gürses: It actually became a marketing strategy. I mean a lot of people say that this was the biggest marketing event that happened at MIT in the last 15 years or what ever. Everybody is talking about MIT now, so here it go.

Volker Grassmuck: So you have this mixture of brand name credibility that MIT already has to begin with and then it is increased by this free (be) teaching material that will be picked up readably by many people across the world that again increases the credibility.

Question: I think that is very important what you said because this initiative is not about collaboration. It is kind of digital imperialism because they explicitly said that they don't want other universities to do the same thing if you read all this papers. There is no word about this. But I would like to come back to the beginning what Volker Grassmuck read from Oeller. What Oeller said and what Bruckmann said refers to a situation about two years ago I think. In the mean time you have another development at the universities which fits to this what they said but they didn't mentioned it. You have a change in the political organisation in the universities. In my university at the university of Marburg they are only two important persons: president and the chief of the faculty. At the faculty level the decan he decides everything. If you look at a new university regulations on this level the professors they don't have to say anything. It is really a change of the political structure of the university and if you talk about open course and open standards and open software in the universities you have to talk about this change of the political situation of the universities too.

Seda Gürses: Somewhat related to the topic is also this dream that with the introduction of educational software that efficiency and rationalisation of the educational institution is possible. I think what they completely disregard is that somebody needs to do the work of bringing technology and content together and that brings a new layer of workers, a new structure to the whole university and nobody wants to regard this. So, you basically having professors, instructors and students being pressured to produce and to do extra work to provide this virtual presents which simple nobody is actually taking care. I completely understand instructors who say I'm not interested in putting my content online. Because they simple are not given the time, the resources and the tools to put this online. They expected to extent their hours and do this. And they are not even online experts and actually I'm against this. Please don't put your content online because we need somebody who knows what it means to put stuff online. So I think the universities will have to be re-thought as more and more technologies is introduced. There will have to be lets say bigger computer centres not in terms of using computers but people thinking about how to introduce technology into these institutions and nobody wants to talk about this. Everybody wants to talk about rationalisation. Lets get ride of the administration because now we gave the virtual university to take care of the administration.

Volker Grassmuck: This is a huge area and of course we can only talk about certain small aspects in this brief period of time. We could certainly talk more about the organisation of the university. We haven't talked at all about research, maybe a little bit about research in education but then not in the research infrastructure, in the research structure in itself. I would like to mention one initiative that is still closely related to the educational aspect. There was an initiative at the beginning of this year of eventually twenty-six thousand scientist who signed a petition to directed at the six major players in science publishing. Indeed that market is centralised and oligopoliesed as much as other markets, software market. And the scientists demanded that the publishers allow them to put articles that they sell to these magazines online and asked them to put these things online themselves but there is also a project called the public library of science that is behind this initiative, this petition after six months. That is the model they have. The state of the art knowledge can be published. Universities or libraries or research institutes that need to have this state of the art top level knowledge as soon as it goes out in print they can subscribe to these very, very expensive low circulation scientific magazines and everybody else has to wait for six months and they get the research results for free. So there is a chance for the publishing market to survive. They will be a market. There will be people who still buy these magazines or subscribe to them digitally of course. But at the same time the cycle can go on. The cycle of exchanging knowledge freely, of conveying your research results to your research fellows in order to get feedback from them, in order to improve collectively the body of knowledge that is there. So I think that was a quite remarkable initiative that deserves all attention and support. A number of Nobel price winners among these 26.000 scientists as well and this is something very interesting to watch. And actually I think it is interesting to think about this kind of model very short time frame of protection for intellectual property, not only in the science world but in general that you have this period of six months where the publishing market can make use of works and after that they automatically go into the public domain. So the exact reversal of what is taking place actually strong intellectual property industry, forces like Disney work very hard and pay a lot of money to get the protection period for copyright, copyrighted works extended ever longer and longer. Now it is seven years after the death of the autor, so obviously it is not the autor who profits from it but usually the cooperate entity that at that point holds the copyrights of that autor who profit from this extension. And who suffers from that extension? That is the rest of the world. The public domain is diminished by these measure and the opportunity to continue working with this knowledge, with this living knowledge is decreased. So in that sense it is a very strong, very important movement I think within the academic community that is used to this processes of open sharing and not having to be afraid about giving away their intellectual property because then they don't have anything left to sell. This kind of idea wasn't very strong to begin with in the academy. So that is a very important point I wanted to make. ...But then how do you go about this? You have five companies who say we don't care with you 26.000 scientist. All of our authors. We don't give a dame what you are telling us. We just go on with our policy. What do you do then?... Go ahead and boycott the magazines? That was what these 26.000 scientist threatened to do after the ultimatum on the first of September.

Audience: I think it is a right decision to go ahead and to do something. As fare as I know there are 800 scientist in Germany who signed this petition but we have some hundred thousand scientists here. Because there is such a monopolised market there this implies a kind of venerability of the co-operates. So I think it is possible to go ahead with this initiative. I think it is one of the most important political initiatives in this field because it is about content. It is a new development I think. I can't remember that there is a initiative like this in Germany in the last 20 or 30 years. So I think it is important to popularise this initiative and to go ahead.

Audience: I would like to add that there is also a fight about the problem of countability. Now those journals if you buy a journal you know it is reviewed papers which are published there and you know the content. It should be not that from if you buy a journal like that. So that is why they have a power and also the proam of countability may lead to monopolise the positions of some special university. For instance this MIT project I think that leads to monopolisation that MIT will set the standards of knowledge in a way. Because they say our knowledge that is true and there is nobody else who can judge on this because we are such a leading university and we set the standards by open our knowledge to everybody else. So everybody else can measure their knowledge with our standards. So also that is a problem. It is a question of power.

Audience: What is MIT blocking with this initiative to publish their courseware. Are they forbidding anyone else to do it?

Audience: If you have so many different sources of information and different information floating in the internet then I think this raises a problem of countability of content. And as MIT has a brand of being a good university it may set standards with their knowledge. This what also Volker Grassmuck just said before that was because this knowledge now is open to everybody they also have the influence of teaching at other universities. So it is not a problem. It is just that we should be aware of that.

Volker Grassmuck: Nobody prohibits anybody from buying a different operating system and still Microsoft has 95 % of the market.

Audience: Come on that is just MIT. It is a big brand but in the educational word it is rather diverse. There are a lot of other big brand names in the educational world. When it comes to rockets science then it is only a few. But there is a lot more to science then rockets. O.k., if nobody else is doing anything then you can be worried about this but I'm not sure whether this is an interesting discussion to exchange these worries about MIT. Maybe they are stimulating others to do the same.

Audience: I think you are perfectly right. It looks like that some people are fearing what MIT does. I mean actually I think MIT is very vulnerable to criticism now that they open how they teach. I think it is a big risk they do by opening their curriculum so somehow this MIT can get demystified by just looking how they teach and thinking about what they do. Perhaps they will set standards but they only do this if they do realy teach in a good quality and this is always how we work with open source. We always only take the programs which actually adapt to the problem best. This is how it evolves. If other universities do the same. I mean a lot of universities are now forced to open their curriculum as well. I do not fear about what MIT does. I think it is a great contribution to the open source community while opening their courses.

Volker Grassmuck: Well as was mentioned before, sorry it is not really open source in the way that it is an open collaborative process. MIT is not inviting people to send in bug fixes for their course material and then promising to incorporate them in the next version.

Audience: So what we do about that?

Volker Grassmuck: Create alternatives. I mean there are lots, lots of professors all over the world who put their celibate, their course material, their own texts related to their teaching online without making a big deal of it. And there are servers like this open library of science where these things are collected and come together and sort of source force for educational material that would be very good to have an overview and to be able to see what can be combined, what modular elements- we have been talking about modularity before - are there. So that would be good and then it is of course a licensing question in the field of intellectual property. That is always where it comes down to. What are you allowed to do with it? Under what conditions are these things released. And if it is just "O.k. here it is, you can look at it but you can not touch it", then I think we should take up this impulse which is good. I agree. It is certainly a lot better then a completely closed strategy of a university. But to take that and say O.k. we have to drive it one step further and then maybe MIT says: No, no sorry that is not what we had in mind and then we will see.

Audience: Sorry I haven't looked into it but maybe you can tell. If somebody at MIT publishes course is there an author connected to the publication? Can you send the author an email?
Volker Grassmuck: Yes of course.

Audience: So if you have suggestions about improvement of the course. I mean if you look at more successful open source projects usually there is an author or a small group that is the author and a lot of people that are around it, use it and suggest contributions and the authors decide whether this will be excepted. If somebody is doing a course at the university and the person is know and addressable don't you thing that this will actually work this way if you just start using someone course you discover something should be added or can be different and better and you mail a suggestion to that guy at MIT.

Volker Grassmuck: Of course but that is on this individual level as I said before.

Audience: Yeah, but it is an very individual level because people are publishing courses and teaching is a very individual thing to do. It is a personal thing to do. I mean O.k. there can be a big brand institution but it is only a big brand institution because a lot of people are doing there quality work there and not because there is a cooperate product. It is just a cooperate name at MIT. But there is no os that everybody in the world uses. There is an enormous number of courses that are people behind them. Small groups or individuals that are usually in my experience as open as other universities when i talk to them and send them a suggestion where I ask them a question about what they are doing. I mean it is very similar to open source ideology because it is academia.

Seda Gürses: I think the most important thing to point out here is we don't know what MIT is going to do. MIT announce something but I wrote to them a number of times and said what you guys are going to do exactly and they did not respond. So I really don't even know if they know what they are going to do. I mean they don't even know what technology they going to use. They have something in mind. They don't really have this 11 million dollars that they need to keep going with the project. The idea was announced and see if people start paying money. So this is the point that we are at. So we don't really know. The interesting thing is what you do with the MIT open source ware announcement, right? We don't have the material yet. I just recently read a paper in which somebody, actually Bernd Lutherbeck wrote about using MIT open content, open courseware initiative in order to make an argument for open courseware, open source courseware in general and saying if MIT is doing it we should do it to. This is like saying this is a good process, this is something we should follow. You know I think it is really important to be critical of what MIT is doing and to look exactly at how they going to try to define educational software and what it means to open content. Because they are going to give there definition. The good thing is they haven't done it yet. So, we have this possibility of space right now to define certain things using what they are doing and to give it a meaning to this announcement. So just a kind of clear up on that.

Audience: Let me just ask something. I don't see that coming that all the people that are teaching at universities are bending their own course material you know to use something else. I come from humanities, philosophies especially. You know they wouldn't care. Maybe have a look at it, maybe doing a course while they are doing it in a different way. But I don't see it coming that everyone is now using MIT material just because it is MIT. The whole humanity community is fractured. There are not united. There is not a canon. There is not standardised knowledge. So I don't see that coming the big standardisation.

Audience: Probably you would use it under the know-how level.

Audience: That is O.k.

Audience: So you doing it so like the more trivial stuff you are very happy to borrow from someone else as a basic for a courses that you have to offering your context. But the main courses you are offering at the university are based on your own research and your own collaborations. You make them yourself and that is your job and everyone will continue to do that. So it is a trivial stuff.

Audience: And the other way as well. I don't see it come that any of the MIT guys would change their course material because a lot of people send them an email. This is absurd.

Audience: Depends on the content. And the sender. Are these open libraries? I don't know. I haven't seen it. Do they some kind of collaborative filtering or web of trust kind of valuation things with this stuff in the library? Can i say if I tried it what i think of it? Does the system know what the value could be of my opinion?

Volker Grassmuck: Yes to my knowledge there is perreview. First of all it is a library. So original material has to go in but then is of course discussion forums and areas where people are talking about these things. So again I would say if what you said Wilhelm before other universities start to do the same thing and this MIT initiative was just the spark that was setting a sign against the opposite trend which is of course much stronger and which deserves much more criticism that is commercialisation, out sourcing of the creation of teaching materials. The publishing companies these five oligopolies that control scientific publishing try to drive their material further into the public universities and to establish their market there also in the digital format. That is the main trend and if we see MIT's step as making a strong public point against this trend and other universities follows sute then I think it would be perfect. But again this openness, this institutional invitation this I think is a difference. If an individual professor puts up his or her material and gets feed back and incorporates that that the natural academic way of exchanging knowledge. But if an institution like MIT also of course towards their own employees sets up a system where course material is taken, asked of them to put into the box in the end - might be an open box, could be more open - but it is still a box that has the label MIT on it. It is presented as a set, as a model, then I think this box would need an institutional input into what goes into it.

Audience: Just one last comment I mean if we don't know what the MIT will exactly do it is hard to criticise it. But I think we should start and look at people who actually do work with a little bit like open source education. I just want to mention one name. That is Donald E. Gnus who was for a long time saying everybody please look at my books, find mistakes, tell me what you think and I will integrate these mistakes into the next version of the book or into a bug fix report for the book. Actually he does the same with his open source software. So I think it is very nice to see that he is doing the thing with open source software and with his educational stuff in the same time. And I think it is by now perhaps Tech has the least bugs and his books has the least bugs of all books and of programs that I know. So we see that there is really a possibility to achieve a very good quality in publishing educational material by using open source philosophy.

Volker Grassmuck: Thank you of reminding us of Donald Gnus. I think that is a perfect statement for the end of the session.

Seda Gürses: Basically coming back to this MIT thing in the end it is that what is it that challenges them. For me I don't think that MIt is doing this out of altruistic reasons. I mean what ever the end result is I don't think MIT decided lets be the good college, the exemplary college and be very altruistic and show the world. In all there texts it is helping the third world. I wonder if there is a change of text after September 11 but o.k. I can not imagine that it is really altruism that is the driving force behind the opening courseware. I think in general the open source community constantly has to think about why is it that open source community is so successful now. Why is it that all of a sudden all of these companies are interested? Why is it that open source is a strategy at a time where proprietary software has run into a lot of problems? I mean also to see how these two things interact. I mean at the moment when the proprietary people start getting interested in open source that they had their own reasons and they are going to try to redefine what it means. And I think the same thing is happening in the case of MIT. Obviously they run into some problems with the existing infrastructure and decided to try something new. And in trying something new they want to define it new for their own needs.

Audience: I think really you have to watch out. You are sort of condemning them before you actually know what they are going to do. And you are very negative although it is a university that supports open source software developments projects, fights with science publishers as all universities do. I mean o.k. it is dealing with a lot of military corporate sponsors at the same time. But it is not in one end of the scale. And there is a lot of people there that I know personally that are really in the other end or our end of the scale. I don't really see a reason now to condemn them.

Seda Gürses: I don't think I'm condemning the people who are interested in open source.

Audience: Are you talking about what worries you about this? Because they are big and to be trusted but I don' know. I see a lot of open standards for instance if you look. Because big organisations have money to pay people to do something that doesn't generate money. There is not that many individual behind open standards. Most of them are on the pay role of nasty organisations, often commercial ones.

Seda Gürses: I just tell you one reason why I have this scepticism is that the biggest co-operation partner for MIT is Microsoft. This is in their text and I don't think that Microsoft is really fund of open source. But that they would be interested in redefining what open source means. So this is where this is coming from. And I definitely not condemning people who are interested in open source at MIT. I mean I'm looking at who is the decision maker and it is definitely not the people who are interested in open source but it is administrator of this university and the board of trust.

Audience: When we gone know what they are going to do?

Seda Gürses: We don't know. I'm just saying be careful.

Volker Grassmuck: So O.k. we have to watch where MIT is going with this project and I think we all agree that it is gone be very interesting. For now we have come to the end of this session.

[transcript: Katja Pratschke]

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