Okay, I was right–I WAS missing something. After re-reading the post and a couple of the linked resources, I think I’m getting it better.

I see that focusing on creating content, whether it be teaching/learning materials like OER, or research publications, and deciding how to license them, is, in a sense, focusing on the “creator” side of things. And even though licenses often are about what users can do with the stuff, choosing licenses is about what the creator is comfortable with in terms of letting others use their stuff.

So, to look at open learning from the “user” side would be to focus more on the user experience, somehow. Using the OU examples above, one might be concerned about things like: user access to educational materials/courses w/o social/economic/educational barriers, having more dialogue and interactivity in learning, and more transparency about processes. Though the accessiblity piece is part of what is “open” in open access and OER, of course…but again, I think I see the subtle distinction here.

Now I’d like to think further about what such a change in focus might look like in open learning. And I think it would help if I had a better sense of what values might drive the “user” end of the spectrum. If the “creator” end is driven by things like providing good quality content and hoping it gets spread (among others, likely), what values might drive a focus in open learning on the “user” side–as “freedom” does for free software? I guess that’s the next step in this sort of discussion, rather than something I can ask you to provide right now. But then I’d be able to better see how our decision making might change.

But there’s one more thing. The free software example is a bit different because the “creators” and “users” there tend to often be the same people (though not always, of course). Many of the people who create things also use others’ creations to do so, building on their work. Then the users of that work themselves can be creators of something new. So the freedom of the users is also the freedom of the creators, in many cases. (this is a view from the outside of that community, so maybe I’m wrong)

Now, I wonder if we might start to think of open learning more like that–in the sense that those who are the “users” can also be “creators” of learning materials, and vice versa. This is something I got from an article by Stephen Downes (“Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources”). Instead of thinking of OERs, for example (what Downes was talking about) on the model of creators providing work for others to use, and thus as rather static entities that just spread with lots of people using them, we might think of the educational materials as things that are created even in their use. This means revising, remixing, redistributing. But importantly, it isn’t just that other teachers revise and remix, but so do students, so that the creator/user collapse involves a teacher/student collapse as well. At least that’s how I understood it and talked about it at the end of this blog post.

Problematizing the creator/user distinction itself might lead to even different approaches, I wonder?