Teaching is a vocation — my take. Day 1 of the Open content licensing for educators 2012-01 MOOC

Wow, it’s shaping up to be a very busy semester! I have enrolled in the Open content licensing for educators MOOC. If like me, you’re still wondering what a MOOC is, check out Wikipedia’s definition here. Also, I just read an excellent and most insightful post by Stephen Downes. In the introductions portion of the Moodle course, I was asked to answer a few questions… what brought me to this open online course; also, whether teaching is a vocation or a profession.

Teaching is a vocation because you have to be passionate and focused to want to help others develop themselves. While the rigor and discipline required to teach well are imbued with professionalism, people are generally drawn to this line of work because they care about people and the future. They usually are not not seeking fame or fortune either. I think most teachers would agree with this. I certainly do.

As an education and technology person, I often seek out opportunities to further my knowledge about education and technology. I came across a tweet that promoted this course last month and immediately signed up. I’m looking forward to getting a firmer grasp on what open content is, how licensing works, how OER works, etc. Extending my thinking here in a very open way…ok, bear with me here….I really believe that institutions of higher education in privileged, wealthy countries have a moral imperative to assist developing countries around the world. It’s my hope that a better understanding of open content will allow me to connect with colleagues all over the world who share similar values around sharing… a distributed social network of individuals who believe that collaboration and knowledge-sharing starts with making basic knowledge available to others who wish to join the 21st century ONLINE. Those who stand to profit the most from open educational resources are also those who have few resources to teach with right now. I spent a week in Haiti last January helping technology support people bring Skype into their classrooms. That was a life-changing trip.

I am deeply troubled by what is happening with respect to SOPA /  PIPA. The more I understand about the tenets of open content licensing, the better I can help to promote change and openness in my circles. Teaching educators how to make resources more readily available via the creation and sharing of open and fair licensing allows everyone around the world to use and contribute without fear of copyright infringement. And most educators will probably want to contribute back in whatever way they can by sharing their own work or building on the work of others. Passionate educators are curious and social creatures by nature and they really want to share openly and correctly.