This is the 2013 version of the course. PLEASE SEE NEW VERSION AT:

What this course is all about

Why Open? What does open mean? Does it mean free? Does it mean without restriction? What is the role of the producer? What is the role of the consumer? Why is open important? How does it relate to you and your area of expertise?

In this course, we will discuss and answer these questions. With your help, we will cover the different meanings of open in various industries as well as the benefits and issues with open. Participants will use open practices to complete open activities, culminating in a optional final project where you can either tell your story of openness or interview someone on his/her story of openness.

How it works

The course will be four weeks long, though there is a final project that you can work on after the four weeks has finished.

This site will be the main place to go for information about the course, the information to read and the activities we'll do each week. But we'll also be working on our own blogs, and have synchronous sessions on Google Hangouts and on Twitter.

We also have another set of sites that are linked together:

Finally, we have created an etherpad for the course, on which we will be scheduling Google Hangouts and Twitter chats, and creating some collaborative documents (that last was just decided in our first Google Hangout!):

We have two badges for this course, one for engaging in one or more open activities (section 3 of the course--see menu at left), and one for doing the final course project (see section 6 at left).

Timeline for the course

All of the dates for this course are for time zones in the Americas, so the course starts Aug. 5, for example, which is Aug. 6 in places like Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand.

Our first synchronous session will be August 7 at 10am Pacific time in N. America (see the next section on Google Hangouts for how to attend). You are welcome to start doing the activities in the first section, "What does open mean?" beginning August 5. We'll use the synchronous session on August 7 to introduce the course formally, answer questions, and discuss anything else that participants want to talk about.

We will finish sections 1-5 of the course by August 30, but there's a final project we'd love for you to do (and get the second badge for the course!), ideally by midnight on Sunday, Sept. 8 (Pacific time in N. America), though you can turn it in later than that if you need. We will have our last synchronous session during the week you're working on the final projects, the first week of September.

The specific timeline for the course:

  • Week 1 (Aug. 5-11): Section 1, "What does open mean?"
  • Week 2 (Aug. 12-18): Section 2, "Open vs. free, and open practices part 1"
  • Week 3 (Aug. 19-25): Section 3 , "Open practices part 2" (badge available!)
  • Week 4 (Aug. 26-30): Section 4, "Openness: benefits and issues", and Section 5: "What does open mean? Revisited"
  • Final project (ideally by Sept. 8): Section 6, "Final project--a story of openness" (badge available!)

Synchronous sessions on Google Hangouts

There will be a synchronous session on Google Hangouts during each of the four weeks, and also one more after the final projects have been completed. During these sessions we'll talk about the activity/ies for the week and discuss any issues, questions or comments that you have.

These will be recorded for those who can't make the sessions, or who just want to watch but not join in. Please note that they will be recorded and posted publicly on YouTube, so if you do not want to be recorded and posted publicly in this way, you can either simply not choose to share video during the hangout, and only participate with audio, or choose not to join the hangouts at all and simply watch the recordings later.

The first synchronous session on Google Hangouts will be August 7, 10am Pacific Time in N. America. You can see what day/time that is for your time zone at The second Google Hangout will be Thursday, 15th August at 20:00 EAT (GMT +3)

The other synchronous sessions for the course will be scheduled through a web poll after participants have signed up, so we can schedule them for a time that most people who want to join in can do so. Please see here for when the Hangouts and Twitter chats are scheduled for, after the polls are done:

If you want to join one or more of these sessions live, you'll need to get a Google+ account, if you don't have one already (you don't need an account to watch the recordings, as these will be posted on YouTube). See instructions linked below for how to join the hangouts once you have a Google+ account.

The problem with Google Hangouts is that only up to 10 people can join in at any given time, so it may be that some will have to watch a recording instead. We'll try to make sure that everyone who wants to can join into at least one of these Hangouts live!

Please sign up for the Google Hangout sessions ahead of time so that we know who would like to attend and can easily contact you on G+ to invite you. Please sign up on our course etherpad, here:

Help with Google+: If you're new to Google+ and/or Google Hangouts, see this document for some help with getting started:

Twitter chats

We will hold Twitter chats once a week as well, for anyone who is interested in joining (optional, but a good way to get to know people, and unlike Google Hangouts, there is no limit on the number of people who can join in!). Everyone is welcome to Tweet things relevant to the course throughout the course itself as well, not just during the Twitter chats, with the hashtag #whyopen.

If you're new to Twitter, you may think that you can't do very much deep conversing in 140 characters, but in our experience, it can work quite well! The chats are scheduled for one hour, and during that time a moderator will start us off by asking some questions. People start commenting on each others' tweets, and sometimes break off into other topics if they choose (still related, usually!), or follow the moderator's questions.

You'll need a Twitter account to join in or watch the chat live, but if you just want to look it over after it's finished, you can do so without an account. We have a Twitter archive available here:

Times for Twitter chats will also be determined by a web poll, once participants have registered.

Again, the Twitter hashtag for the course will be #whyopen

Help with Twitter: If you're new to Twitter, see this document for help and advice:

Blog posts and blog hub

Many of the activities we will do in the course involve posting something on a blog. These blog posts will be collected automatically through a syndicator and posted together on a single blog hub site:

Please click here for links and advice on how to start a new blog, and on how to set up your blog to get your posts on our blog hub:

If you already know the URL for your blog, and for the category, tag or label you're using for posts for this course, you can enter it into this form: But please--only do this if you fully understand what we're asking for! If you're not sure, please see the help document at the link above.

Photo credit: "Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You'll Miss It!" by Pete. Used under CC BY.