31314

I’ve not blogged much about work recently, but this story is a good one if somewhat tangled.

We are working, in the Glow blogs team, on the next release. This is mainly to address any problems with the upgrade to WordPress 4.0.1 that came out in January.

My work includes: watching reports come through the help desk; passing on problems that come directly to me (twitter, email and phone) through to the RM. I do a wee bit of tyre kicking and talking to the test team on the way.

On Tuesday I got a mail from a teacher, to the effect that the link to My Sites from the Local Authority home pages didn’t work. Talking to Grant, one of the test team, I found out he was chasing the same problem. We kicked it around a bit and found that if a new users creates a blog on their LA before accessing My Sites, the link did not work, it leads to a list of blogs that the user has a role on.

This is not a show stopper as the user can click on any of the blogs and then the My Site link in the Admin Bar as a work around.

While testing this out we noticed that although the Admin Bar is visible on any Glow blog in your Local Authority, the My Sites link on it leads to the same error (with a list of your sites page).

Thinking these were linked I raised a call to the RM help desk. This got passed through to the team at Automattic. They have quickly fixed the first issue and recorded the fix in our system (JIRA) for following development. The code will be in the next release, hopefully in tow or three weeks.

At this point we asked about the second bug, we were told that is was in WordPress core and the team had not only reported it but proposed an initial fix. It is worth pointing out that this was put into the WordPress tracking system at quarter to eleven on Thursday night:

#31314 (My Sites admin bar link broken when on blogs you have no role on) – WordPress Trac

You can see from the linked page, that the ticked was closed at 6:29 on Friday morning. The fix and some improvements are currently attracting the attention and input from three other developers who are completely unconnected from Glow.

So What?

The people that helped with this one included:

  • The teacher who reported the problem
  • The Testers contracted to the Scottish Government
  • The RM Help Desk who are the first point of contact for Glow fault
  • The Developers from Automattic working for Glow
  • WordPress developers who have nothing to do with and likely no knowledge of Glow

Which quite a complex system, but it seems to be working. Most of these people are on the hook and doing their job, but I wonder if a bug in a commercial system would be fixed so quickly? We don’t have the bug fixed in our system but it looks good for being sorted out in a subsequent upgrade.

For me this was pretty exciting. It feels pretty good for those of us who think that Open Source and Openness in general is a good idea in Education.

Leicester City Council is the first local government authority in the United Kingdom (UK) to provide 84 community schools with blanket permission to openly license their educational resources. The council is recommending that school staff use the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to share materials created in the course of their work. The Council has also released guidance and practical information for school staff on using and creating open educational resources (OER).

from: Leicester City Council gives permission to 84 schools to create and share OER – Creative Commons
Leicester’s material is available at Open Education for Schools – Guidance and Resources and is itself released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0) so that they can be shared and adapted openly, as long as attribution is given.
What a wonderful example to others.

As part of the week 1 of P2PU Why Open? course participants were invited to join David Wiley on a google hangout (Why Open session with David Wiley). I could not make the live stream so have just finished watching the archive.

I’ve also posted the audio ripped from the session, with permission, over at EDUtalk.cc (As usual I find audio easier to access than video).

These are a few of the things that I found interesting in the hangout, not in any order and very much my own interpretation.

David is the founder of OpenContent.org, among many other things and a expert on open content and open educational resources.

Throughout the talk David focused on the pragmatic rather than the idealistic, on what would make an impact over what was right or righteous.

He started talking about the difference between the Free Software movement and the Open source movement, and how Richard Stallmam’s Four Freedoms inspired all the openness that followed. David’s view is that Open is less do do with correctness & morality and more practical.

David say Free involves a bit of moral grandstanding, giving no place for proprietary software. Open says open is practical and we can choose not to be open which is not morally bad.

The other side of the argument is laid out here: Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation and The Four Freedoms from Matt Mullenweg are worth considering from the pov of the practicality of Free Software.

David talked of the Berne Convention that in 1886 changed the face of copyright:

Under the Convention, copyrights for are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not “register” or “apply for” a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is “fixed”, that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires.

from: Berne Convention – Wikipedia.

This switch the default from you are ok to copy to you are not. If you publish something you need to legally state wish to share. This leads to existing material with unknown copyright is not being published.

David works with the Open Content Definition which uses the 5 Rs the rights to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute. The Retain right has been added to address, and highlight, the problem of business models that control access, eg, stream media.

David gave a few examples of the practicality of open, obviously OERs are cheaper than textbooks, but a major gain in moving towards open might be in higher where the movement to competency based course is slowly gaining ground. The argument is that these competencies are slow to develop and the process could be speeded up by opening the competencies. Open assessments would be another area to explore.

Someone in the hangout expressed the worry that publishing in the open would be less useful from an employability angle than publishing to well established (and paywalled) publication. David discussed the idea of the impact of publishing on the open demonstrating with Google Scholar the number of times open publications are cited as compared to paywalled ones. Publishing in open will maximise the number of people reading so giving a better chance of making an impact. Again the outcome was more important than the philosophy.

Exploring another tension, that of Open vs Connected, David proposed that connected is a vice when taken to extremes. For example there are now so many resources in google it is hard to identify the best resources. More nodes and connections becomes noise at some point. Curation and structure needed on top of connected. Curation is biggest value that faculty brings to learning. Neither open or connected should not be their own end.

My own practise of working/blogging/learning in the open is based on a fairly fluffy feel good factor. I’ve found over the years that this has had a positive effect on myself and learners I work with. I covered this in a previous post. I now feel that it will be important to start to try and bring openness more formally into my day to day work and made small steps in that direction today. Instead of looking for good vibes I’ll be trying to introduce open where it can make an impact.