Open Educational Resources and #pdftribute

Open = Allowing access, passage or a view

Planeta readers are motivated by noble ideas that have inspired the movements for responsible travel, conscious travel and ecotourism. But academic articles and books remain behind pay walls. During the 2010 European Ecotourism Conference I asked one of the professors, why we should cite his work if it remained behind a pay wall. Immediately I got the feeling that academics do not like being asked such questions.

The issue came up this past month when on January 11, Aaron Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment where he had hanged himself. This computer programmer and Internet activist had been a longtime proponent of open access and was facing severe prosecution from the U.S. legal system when he committed suicide.

Supporters of Swartz responded to news of his death with an effort called #pdftribute. Scholars posted links to their works, accompanied by the hashtag #pdftribute. Timely in action and generous in spirit, the movement is still in its early stages. The future is unclear but what is certain is that across academic, scientific, government sectors the mainstreaming of ‘open’ has taken hold.  When UNESCO sponsored its 2012 conference on Open Educational Resources, the tipping point was made clear. There’s a new way to share information as we work to protect global heritage.

Making academic journal articles is a good starting point for those working in tourism and conservation. As part of the 2013 Responsible Travel Week, I’d like to extend a call for these articles that are available online to the public to be tweeted with the hashtag  #pdftribute.

#pdftribute = Movement to improve open distribution of documents #openaccess

If we want to go further – and I hope we do – I think it’s incumbent that academics and tourism professionals make their meetings accessible to the public, at the very least via livestreaming video. Far too many events are still held behind closed doors.

And I would suggest that we explore the concept of open textbooks. Could we make the educational materials for students available to everyone online free of charge? The ideas promulgated by Creative Common’s Cable Green are inspiring. Check out how open textbooks allow their free use, sharing, and adaptation to local context. Question: How can this be applied to ‘responsible travel’ education?

As the notion of open educational resourcesopen scienceopen journalism and open government become part of the mainstream, we are seeking partners who would like to explore these efforts in making knowledge about travel and tourism, conservation and heritage, available to anyone who is interested.

This entry was posted in 2013, collaboration, conscious, education, Web 2.0 in Action and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Open Educational Resources and #pdftribute

  1. Open textbooks is a very exciting concept! Never heard of it before. As long as responsible travel is considered part of the “tourism industry” and not a matter of public concern it will be most difficult to arrange open access to educational materials. Just yesterday I stumbled upon a note about Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) having changed to a non-profit private limited company announcing “We don’t want to do business with the standard. We want to push it forward”. In other words GOTS will be committed to an open stakeholder policy and decided not to rely upon donations from the textile industry any more. Thus it seems to me that advocates of responsible travel should follow a similar policy and try to establish a broad public awareness of responsible travel in the sense of a basic human need.

  2. Good thinking ,Ron. Not only that academic papers is stored in bunkers. They are also hard to find. We wish they they where easy reachable trough search engines, and of course for free. What’s the use with academic work if only read by those that already know.

  3. ronmader says:

    Thank you, Lorenz and Anders. I suspect that most people in the ‘open access’ movement are not talking that much about travel and tourism and that most people in the ‘travel and tourism’ sector are not familiar with open access and open textbooks. Connecting these ideas should be one of the chief legacies of Responsible Travel Week. It’s why the motto of this year’s confab is ‘redo, re-imagine and remix.’ More about ‘Open’ online the Planeta Wiki http://planeta.wikispaces.com/open

  4. All your comments prompted me to check the governance of the GTS Council… http://www.gstcouncil.org/images/stories/SupportDocs/Documents/GSTC_Annual_Report_Final.pdf Not too bad then! What’s your view on the work of this organisation? Cheers

  5. ronmader says:

    They have posted some documents after the fact but what’s irksome is how the policies have been developed without adequate transparency. More about this online http://ronmader.wordpress.com/?s=gstc and http://planeta.wikispaces.com/gstc

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