Open education and research at the University of Canberra

Presentation by Leigh Blackall and James Neill, University of Canberra, at the Annual Conference of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia, November 11, 2010.

Key points edit

  1. Universities have vast amounts of unrealised intellectual capital - most of it has very little commercial viability - but much of it has potentially significant scientific, educational, and social value which, if openly shared, could bring significant local, national and international benefits.
  2. Does a protectionist stance, for commercial purposes alone, return enough to compensate for these lost opportunities? At any rate, how does a university become aware of projects with commercial potential?
  3. We think the proposed IP policy for the University of Canberra gives us a more reliable trigger, while ensuring maximum opportunity gains for the majority of IP at the university.

Notes edit

Leigh and James. Drawing by James Neill.

Open academia edit

Five pillars of open academia

James Neill presented about open academia[1]

  1. Open academia = Principles of openness (philosophy) plus acts of sharingness (practice)
  2. Collaborative process of developing and sharing in a knowledge commons
  3. A university's job is to openly develop and share knowledge to fuel an adaptive sustainable society
  4. Five pillars: Open access, open license, open formats, open software, open governance
  5. Invert current situation where the default is openness, and closed is the exception
  6. In practice: openness is vital to authentic scholarship
  7. Comment: Could we make more reference to using popular online media for network learning engagement and research dissemination?

Examples edit

  1. Open information initiatives: Federal Gov Australia[1] [2], NZ Gov Framework, European Commission, US Federal Research Public Access Act
  2. Open journals [2] and textbooks [3]
  3. Otago Polytechnic Return on Investment[4] - "It is estimated to cost $4000 to train one person how to use social media for open educational practices. At Otago Polytechnic, such a person goes on to return over $8000 worth of savings and gains to their organisation in the first year."

OpenUC proposal edit

Leigh Blackall presented about The OpenUC Proposal, that was under development 2010-2011.

  • An IP Policy that returns to individual ownership, defaults the organisation's copyright to Creative Commons Attribution, preserves options for individuals to opt out, recognises Indigenous autonomy, Coordinated units who offer IP support services - triggered by opt-out function.
  • An education and research policy that encourages open academic practices, makes greater use of the contemporary Internet, engages in socially networked communications and informal learning, and plays a role developing digital network literacy in the community
  • A performance review policy that recognises and rewards open academic practices, especially supporting early career researchers into open academic practices
  • Business Unit Service Level Agreements that support the development of open academic practices

On Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia's Annual Conference edit

  • The content of the conference focused heavily on very large profit making ventures, referring mainly to success stories in US Universities, deriving profitable income from patent royalties.
  • Presenters on these themes acknowledged that profit derived from patent royalties involves a long waiting period (between 4-12 years), before returns on the costs of the initial registration and subsequent protection and monitoring are experienced in less than 6% of cases. The element of luck plays a significant part in experiencing such returns. [5]
  • Given such low odds for a returns on the patent royalties approach to commercialisation, why does KCA and related commercialisation offices focus so much on this approach, and have a seemingly "hard nosed" perspective on protecting intellectual property? Some presenters proposed unrealised values in open methods, and a shared commons perspective. [6]
  • Through conversations with people from other universities and publicly funded research institutions, the dominant paradigm for IP management with KCA associates seems to be for their institutions to claim ownership over the IP generated by their staff and students. This is done on the belief that it simplifies IP management, and positions the institution more favourably to potential industry and commercial interests. Such an approach however, has a significant breakages and weaknesses. An institutional claim to ownership and control is only effective (in terms of simplification and attracting commercial interests) if all involved in a project are, and always have been employed by that institution. Employees and others, who join the project and institution at different points in a projects time, bring with them various encumbrances on their contributions, returning the situation to the complexity that the institutional claim to ownership was designed to fix. Claiming ownership over even that outside work would surely create bad will and delays. Further, the quality of innovation in that institution's work is vulnerable to the quality of the working conditions and workplace morale. Should they be low, then naturally staff and students will want to do their best work outside the institutions, where ownership and control cannot be exerted, and they retain freedom and flexibility to leave and take their work with them. It seems to us therefore, that these breakages and weakness far outweigh the potential benefits, and that another way ought to be considered. One that respects individual ownership, but affords maximum sharing and stimulation of innovation and rapid development.

Problems/Questions/Issues edit

Refine to the best 3:

  • How can we approach a paradigm shift proposal: What Is This Thing Called Science? Chapter 8 - Theories as Structures 1
  • How can we find time for staff to properly appreciate or develop open academic practices
  • Current UC Policy, infrastructure, culture and practice is deeply embedded with closed academic practice
  • Student expectations and prior learning experience is based on closed academic practice
  • It is financially difficult to quantify open acadamemic practices, because all costs, including social and ecological, are not yet accounted for
  • The Open Society and Its Enemies
  • Are we having discussions about the real purpose of universities?
  • Mission/Values/Strategies etc. - to what extent is/isn't and should/shouldn't openness be reflected within our understandings of unversities?
  • If openness was adopted more widely within universities (which is likely), what implications could this have?
  • To what extent should university entrepreneurship be directed towards commercialisation and to what extent should should university entrepreneurship be directed towards openness?
  • IF entering into a restrictive condition, should the party calling for the restriction compensate for the "lost opportunity"?

References edit

Cite this presentation as:
Blackall, L. & Neill, J. T. (2010). Open education and research at the University of Canberra. Presentation at the Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Annual Conference, Canberra, November 11.

  1. Gov2.0 update: IP Principles Released. AGIMO. 7 October 2010
  2. Oliver Marc Hartwich. Let the Internet Replace Journals. The Australian, November 25, 2009
  3. Student-authored open text books
  4. Otago Polytechnic Return on Investment
  5. "Secrets of Success" - Presentation from Columbia University, day 2.
  6. Our presentation, IP Australia's presentation, and GSK's presentation for example

See also edit