Really EBSCO??

A while back I posted a rant about doing a lit search and coming across an EBSCO page that failed to explicitly point to a journal’s wide open CC license.  I was a bit uncomfortable doing so since I felt like maybe I was missing a piece of the copyright/open access puzzle, but it generated a favourable action-oriented response from EBSCO and a few librarians chimed in as well encouraging me that I wasn’t completely crazy with my expectations.  

To recap – in case you don’t want to click on the link above – EBSCO’s initial response to my rant was this:

Per your request, I have submitted an Enhancement Request with our Content Team to have the CC License display within the Copyright information.

About a week ago, I received this response from EBSCO:

I hope you are having a lovely day.

In regards to your inquiry to have the Copyright Information display the Creative Commons License.

EBSCO holds a license for the content with the publisher, Governors of Athabasca University. We followed the publisher’s lead as to how they wanted to handle the copyright statement. Any change would have to be requested by the publisher. 

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

My first reaction to this was “Huh??…”.  But I let it go, because how am I to know the politics that may have lead the Governors of Athabasca to basically lock down their open journal by EBSCO proxy if that is indeed the case.  

But here I am again, searching around on Google Scholar and clicking on this link that that takes me to an EBSCO page that denies me entry to yet another IRRODL article.  There is no way to get to the article that I should have access to as a CC BY licensed journal. In fact clicking on the Login link does nothing to indicate that I should even have access unless I have the privilege of belonging to an institution that subscribes to this esteemed service.

I get that EBSCO probably lawyered up and is doing what was agreed to by the parties involved.  I get that Athabasca no doubt agreed to whatever terms and legalese within a CC BY license.  But I’m disappointed as a user and academic that the spirit of CC BY and open access journals isn’t being respected and I think that matters. 


Being visible with open access

Late in the evening on Saturday I was searching around in the EBSCO databases and came across this page and subsequently chirped about it on Twitter. Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 1.23.34 PM In that cursory way that I sometimes throw things out on Twitter at 10pm I didn’t really expect an audience for it or to have to do any explaining. It was favourited by somebody at Proquest, and this morning I received a very cordial email from a Senior Technical Support Representative at EBSCO, asking if I could point him to the example in question.  At this point I felt like I owed him an explanation as to why the presentation of the page rubbed me the wrong way.

For starters, let me explain that I’m pretty passionate about the importance of open access scholarly publishing.  I committed to publishing  in only open journals in 2008 which I recall resulted in a good discussion with the co-authors of this article.  I sort of lost that debate obviously, but I continue to host a draft on this site.  In 2008 I also I submitted my dissertation to the UBC Grad Studies with a CC license before it was even an option.  And when we began the Digital Learners in Higher Education research project in 2008 we committed as team to make the research artefacts open and to only publish in open journals.

There are still relatively few open journals in distance education and educational technology, and as many of us know, the open access movement feels increasingly co-opted for the wrong reasons.  I felt the EBSCO page was disingenuous to how I’ve perceived IRRODL as an open access, CC  licensed journal with a large global audience.   Specifically, I suspect that the copyright statement is confusing to the many users who are familiar with what open access or CC licensing actually means. I’m aware that in 2010 there were changes to the CC licensing at IRRODL. Yet, if a journal has a declared CC license, I think that that should appear on this particular EBSCO page so it can be referenced and recognized for what it is, rather than adopt the legalese of the indexer. As somebody who has published in IRRODL because of its unambiguous open access commitment, I shouldn’t have to be a librarian to understand the nuances of EBSCO’s copyright and user information blurb.

Happily, EBSCO was proactive, opened a ticket, and let me know that:

“Per your request, I have submitted an Enhancement Request with our Content Team to have the CC License display within the Copyright information.”

I think this is progress.

Open models and open teaching in the bricks and mortar institution

With mostly excitement and some anxiety, I’ve been thinking ahead to the OpenEd 2009 conference this August at UBC and have been working with Stephen to think about the focus we want to take with our presentation.  Most conference time slots are frustrating in that they really only let you breeze through the surface of your presentation, and hopefully elicit some good questions from the audience who hopefully got something out of your drive-by.  But we’re at a stage with our topic on Open Models where we want to be challenged and pressed to think differently about the topic and what potential might lie with the model.  I think this requires greater articulation of the rationale for this model, and some concrete examples where it has the most potential.  If time allows, we’re going to go in this direction:

1.  In our presentation and paper at the ICDE 2009 conference I mentioned (Bourdieu’s)  notion of English (and higher ed in English) as social/cultural capital, but I think this needs more explanation in relation to the importance of allowing access for global participation (with credits) in our bricks and mortar institutions.  This is also related to a need for models where barriers such as institutional bureaucracies and TOEFL scores can be by-passed to make this happen.

2.  We made the point that the OER movement to date has largely focussed on content and distribution of this content, but needs to move into the development of new models for education that allow for greater participation (with credits) to a more global population.   We feel it is timely to be reminded that in some constructivist views of formal education, content is actually not the most important piece of the education puzzle, but the interactions and engagement that take place in the learning space (broadly defined) and the multiple perspectives that are encountered in those interactions are where learning occurs.  Therefore, a model that embraces open access needs to account for this, which is why our model creates access for global participation with credits, and doesn’t spend much time on how OER content is being used.

3.  Our model evolved out of a desire create more opportunity to bring in local (globally dispersed) perspectives into a global forum in order to provide multiple perspectives on a topic in an authentic manner.  We’ve described this in terms of making the “local knowledge global” and the “global knowledge local”).  Stephen has since come up with the term “ecology of knowledge” but we have now discovered there is a well established discipline of “knowledge ecology“.  We’re going to tie in with this idea if appropriate.

3.  Stephen has a mild horror/fascination with global pandemics (he wouldn’t agree:)) and in his last few presentations has expressed the value of the model for disciplines such as the health sciences.  Specifically, a PBL medicine course would have students from geographically dispersed locations working together on cases, again making the local global and vice versa.  The urgency and the interest that has been expressed in ensuring that the developing world has access to current medical publications and up to date information has obviously influenced this example, coupled with Stephen’s observation that with any global health crisis there is no one solution or strategy that can be applied to any local context, while at the same time there is a need for global cooperation and collaboration.  It’s an interesting tension, and obviously one that applies to other disciplines such as  international development. 

The crux of our argument is that we feel that open course models integrated into traditional bricks and mortar institutions are critical in not only expanding the internationalisation agendas of these institutions, but in expanding the boundaries that these institutions have come to place on access, pedagogy, and knowledge.  One model is admittedly a micro step, but if it succeeds in altering the current course-based paradigm that we are in, then perhaps there will be more innovation of the educational experience these institutions currently provide.

Quotes of relevance

I’ve been revisiting some old articles/books that I collected when I was researching autonomy, self-access and language learning. This one from Gill Sturtridge seemed to have relevance to current discussions of informal learning, and open access in general.

The information explosion, information technology and increasing student numbers may not only mean the integration and acceptance of self-access centres within the traditional classroom-based teaching institution, but also the complete re-assessment of the mode of delivery of education generally. Institutions could become total providers of self-access learning and the traditional classroom could disappear entirely in some institutions” (1997, p. 68).

Sturtridge, G. (1997). Teaching and learning in self-access centres: changing roles? in P. Benson and P.Voller (eds): Autonomy and Independence in Language Learning. London: Longman.