Cape Town Declaration. Read it! Sign it!

December 7, 2007 § Leave a comment

Over the past couple of months, I have been working with an amazing group of people committed to the idea of open education. The group ranged from university lecturers from South Africa to a woman managing a free textbook project in Uganda to America open education pioneers to a free culture activist from Poland to the founder of Wikipedia. Coming from a dozen countries, it was one of the most diverse, productive and creative groups I have worked with in a long time.


Working together, this group has produced the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. Intended to inspire and accelerate the growth of open education, the Declaration begins:

"We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go."

While these may sound like high-minded, idealistic words, they reflect something that is actually going on. There is an open education movement afoot around the world. And, the aims of this movement are as ambitious as those of projects like Wikipedia, not only providing access to all knowledge but injecting collaboration in to the core of how we create and share knowledge.

Of course, the Declaration is not just about big visions. It also includes a number of practical strategies and recommendations. All taxpayer-funded educational content should be open educational content. Open educational content should be licensed so that it is not just free as in beer, but also free for remixing, translating and redistribution. Teachers should be supported and rewarded if they want to engage in open education. These ideas can guide our daily open education practice and also act as policy levers, especially if we can get 1000s of people to sign on to the Declaration.

It’s worth noting that we’ve already taken some flack for the Declaration. Concerns have been around things like the need to better include informal learning and the strong focus on open educational resources. There have been some very good (and more eloquent than I could have written) responses as well, especially from David Wiley.

Please take a look at the Cape Town Declaration, let us know what you think … and sign on if you agree.

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