In part 2 of this series on open education course tool NIXTY, Glen Moriarty, the organization's CEO, talks about the open source community and addressing NIXTY's challenges. Read part 1.
How has NIXTY involved the existing open source community and how have they rallied around NIXTY?
People in general love open education, and they seem quite enthusiastic about NIXTY. We have received a ton of press (this invited article included!), and we are very thankful. We are still in the early stages, but people see the vision, and it is something that most people want to get behind.
We have consulted with many open education experts. Many of them see the value in NIXTY and have helped us spread the word to others. We are very fortunate to have several experts on our Open Education Advisory Board (forthcoming announcement soon).
We are excited about playing our small role in the open education movement. I’m not sure there could be a better group of people to work with. John Seely Brown, in his new book, The Power of Pull, talks about working with people on the edge. His main point is that people on the edge transform the center. From our perspective, the open education movement, now at the edge, is the primary driver behind transforming education. We believe the open education movement will be at the center of education in 5 years. We are delighted to be part of this group.
There have been comments around your content management challenges—how will you control content quality?
We have several controls in place to help control content quality. First, you can only post or comment if you are logged in. Second, all contributions (posts, comments and soon content) can be upvoted or downvoted. These votes are tracked in each person’s reputation points. Additionally, all comments and posts are cataloged and can be searched on a person’s eportfolio. When a person visits another’s eportfolio they see their display/professional elements (CV, resume, recommendations, work examples etc.) and their process elements (comments and posts published across the platform). Third, each instructor has full delete capability. They can delete any part of their course. Fourth, and this will be released in the near future, items published in WikiCourses will have the option of being marked for deletion. Once a certain threshold is hit, the content will be automatically deleted.
What are some of the principles from the open source way that will help NIXTY's growth?
There are a number of principles from the open source way that will help NIXTY’s growth. The first is a sense of community. We actively work with students, educators, instructional designers, and open education experts to inform what we do. They are part of our community, and their feedback results in real change on the site. That said, we need to take things further. We have open forums on our site but need to find more ways of making direct contributions executable. We also plan on releasing an API. The second is a commitment to releasing early and often. We are a fairly small group of people and have limited resources; it helps to look at this as a strength. It ties us closer to the community and causes us to engage and listen in deeper ways. Third, NIXTY is tied to the idea of universalism. We are actively working to build a global default educational system that scales. We care deeply about providing tools, and the ability to remix content, so that it can be tailored to different contexts and geographic regions. Finally, the last main principle would be user innovation. NIXTY is a platform that others can build on to help solve the educational problems we face.