Mark Blaisdell's Open Learning Timeline

Essential Question: To what extent is learning a public good to be shared or a commodity to be bought and sold?

This timeline chronicles key events in a brief history of open learning. All resource material is embedded in links available in the "Find out more" buttons within each event description.

1878-09-01 00:00:00

The Oxford Extension Movement – September 1, 1878

Launched by Oxford University in 1878 the Movement promotes educational responsibility to the general public by sending lecturers into towns and cities across Victorian England with the intention of bringing “university culture to a diverse adult audience.” As the US borrowed many democratic principles from mother England, it is important to trace the roots of “higher education for the general public” as an idea with 100+ year roots. The first lectures were delivered by the Reverend Arthur Johnson.

1969-05-01 00:00:00

Open University starts in England– May, 1969

Founded by the Labour party under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, this public distance learning and research university has since become one of the biggest universities in Britain enrolling over 250,000 students (mostly throughout the United Kingdom). Wilson envisioned an educational institution that “would help build a more competitive economy while also promoting greater equality of opportunity and social mobility.” It continues to serve as a model for the many open and/or distance learning higher educational opportunities in the world today.

1983-09-01 00:00:00

GNU Project born – September 1, 1983

The “open source software” movement launched by pioneer guru Richard Stallman at MIT after he becomes increasingly frustrated with his inability to fix faulty code in his printer due to far-reaching U.S. copyright laws. The Project challenges the status quo that treats software like a “black box” that consumers are forbidden to open and alter. The GNU Project seeks to develop a constraint-free operating system in which all source code would be open and shared among its users.

1985-03-01 00:00:00

GNU Manifesto published –March, 1985

The Manifesto lays the fundamental principles behind the open source movement and stands in opposition to current proprietary laws including the copyrighting of software. The Manifesto provides a complete moral and economic rationale for why the software industry should embrace open source principles citing, among other reasons, that new technologies will benefit from the expertise of many.

1985-10-04 17:53:49

Free Software Foundation (FSF) established – October 4, 1985

Richard Stallman establishes the first non-profit organization to support the aims of the free software movement to promote “the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify computer software.” The Foundation also coins the phrase term copyleft to describe an alternative to current copyright laws.

1989-07-01 00:00:00

First version of GNU General Public License – 1989

The first version of GNU’s General Public License (GPL) is made available for those looking to provide copyleft software. The licensing becomes the standard for defining open source software with version 2 released in 1991 and version 3 in 2007.

1991-09-17 00:00:00

LINUX released to public – September 17, 1991

Largely the brainchild of software developer Linus Torvadz, the open source computer operating system becomes the most prominent example of free, open-source software collaboration which both threatens the pro-proprietary thinking of the time as well as emboldens those who believe that an alternate model can and will ultimately lead to better products and wider, more democratic distribution.

1996-07-01 00:00:00

The Internet Archive born - 1996

This San Francisco-based nonprofit digital library (a.k.a., the Internet Wayback Machine archive) is created with the dual purpose to preserve a wealth of digital material from disappearing and to promote universal access to all knowledge. Most of the material belongs to the public domain while more recent additions carry Creative Commons licenses. The archive has grown to include millions of free books, movies, software, music, and websites fully open to for the public to enjoy.

1997-05-17 00:00:00

“The Cathedral and the Bazaar” presented - May 17, 1997

After years of open source experimentation, author Eric Raymond presents an essay at the Linux Kongress in Wurzburg that was published as part of a book in 1999. The essay remains the first reflective analysis of the growing hacker community and openly discusses the advantages of a bottom-up (the Bazaar) approach to software design as opposed to a top-down approach (the Cathedral). The now-famous Linus Law ("given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow") demonstrates that the “more widely available the source cod is for public testing, scrutiny, and experimentation, the more rapidly all forms of bugs will be discovered.”

1998-02-01 00:00:00

Open Source Initiative (OSI) formed – February, 1998

Formed by Bruce Perens and Eric Raymond (see The Cathedral and the Bazaar), the OSI splinters from Stallman’s free software movement with a more pragmatic justification of open source software (leads to better products) rather than the FSF’s more philosophical rationale.

1999-07-01 00:00:00

First Open Publication License (OPL) released – 1999

Inspired by the open-source movements philosophy and success, David Wiley, Erik Raymond and others gather to establish the first Open Publication License which promotes the sharing of educational materials by offering an alternative to the more restrictive copyright laws of the time. Building upon Wiley’s OpenContent License of the previous year, the OPL allows users to copy, redistribute, and revise original work as long as original authors were acknowledged.

2001-01-15 00:00:00

Wikipedia launched – January 15th, 2001

With lessons learned from Nupedia’s slow growth, Wales and Sanger set up a user-friendly Wiki named Wikipedia that will become the internet’s go-to collection of information currently in over 250 different languages that boasts nearly 5.5 million entries in English alone today. Its growth spells the end of Nupedia, but its success demonstrates the power of user-produced content.

2001-04-04 00:00:00

MIT OpenCourseWare announced – April 4, 2001

In April 2001, MIT introduces a plan to launch 50 pilot courses in 2002 open to any interested parties. The number of courses grow to 500 by 2003, 1800 by 2007, and 2300 courses by 2015. The importance of a well-established, highly regarded higher education institution like MIT embracing open source education is a huge win for open education. The initiative, jointly founded and funded by MIT, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, inspires more than 250 other educational institutions to open their course materials to the general public through the Open Education Consortium.

2002-07-01 00:00:00

Creative Commons licensure established, 2002

The Creative Commons board (established in 2001) builds upon the OPL by creating and clarifying three main sharing options among its Creative Commons licensure: an option that requires attribution of the original author, an option that prohibits commercial use, and an option that prohibits derivative works or allows derivatives only if they are re-licensed under the same license restrictions. The Creative Commons license soon becomes the open content standard resulting in over a billion licenses issued worldwide as of 2016.

2006-05-01 00:00:00

. WikiEducator opens – May, 2006

Founder Wayne Mackintosh of the University of Auckland launches a Wiki as a place for educators to openly share materials including lessons with embedded instructional videos. His Wiki quickly gains the endorsement of the Open Educational Resource Foundation (OER) and begins to focus on its training program, called Learning4Content, which exchanges participants’ additions to the archive for developmental trainings in cutting edge technologies.

2011-11-02 00:00:00

Open Course Library launches its first courses – November 2, 2011

Washington State’s Board Community and Technical Colleges launches the first 42 of the state’s high-enrollment 81 Open Course Library courses. Washington becomes one of the first states (with many soon to follow) to offer students in the public higher education arena access to free textbooks, interactive assignments, and videos. The effort becomes a model to counteract rapidly rising costs and availability of higher education. The initiative is funded by the state legislature and $750,000 matching grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2013-03-21 00:00:00

Open Universities Australia Launches Mooc Platform Open2Study – March 21, 2013

This teaching, learning and assessment platform allows universities to offer free courses online. It competes with global, for-profit online learning platform providers such like Coursera and EdX. Each Open2Study course is self-contained (includes all content and materials) and, at the end of each learning module, students complete a multiple choice online assessment. In order to receive a certificate of completion.

Mark Blaisdell's Open Learning Timeline

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