For the past two decades we have seen our colleagues laboring toward the goal of improving public awareness of biodiversity conservation, responsible travel and many other noble aspirations. There are heaps of academic programs for students. Why are we not enjoying the boom years of authentic ecotourism and sustainable development?
My answer is that our leaders have yet to celebrate openness. Meetings are held behind closed doors (or open doors with hefty admission fees). Journal articles are published behind a paywall. And then they complain of the lack of public support for protected areas or endangered species. Mainstream? Not yet!
We are failing to meet the goals of the Aichi biodiversity targets because the Aichi biodiversity targets are not in the common lexicon. The UN and UNEP celebrate World Wildlife Day, but could they provide resources with a Creative Commons license?
Government and NGO training programs work with locals around the world to protect biodiversity, but rarely are the sessions conducted in tandem with the social web. We continue to re-invent the wheel time and time again and wonder why we are standing still.
Open access and open education can change all that. Going beyond the MOOC, open education can motivate greater interactions among participants who are willing to look above the horizon and experiment with information sharing and the read write culture.
Not all is doom and gloom. Some institutions such as UNESCO are leading the way. We need more though.
Responsible travel and ecotourism ought to be at the center of a worldwide revolution to hack our communication and conversations for good. But for us to be effective, we need to learn how to make the most of the movement toward open access and open education. Open Education Week takes place this week, March 10-15, and this is the ideal time to conduct a simple inventory:
1. Are there examples of open education resources in conservation, parks and protected areas?
2. Are there examples of open education resources in travel and tourism?
You can contribute to the week by sharing information about specific Open Education projects, hosting a local event, promoting the week to your friends or by joining programs underway. There are plenty of events taking place this week.
For those who want a short-term goal beyond this week, let’s brainstorm about this: how do we make the November 2014 World Parks Congress a showcase of open education resources focusing on parks and protected areas?
“Open Education is, at its core, about free and open sharing. Free, meaning no cost, and open, which refers to the use of legal tools (open licenses) that give everyone permission to reuse and modify educational resources. Free and open sharing increases access to education and knowledge for anyone, anywhere, anytime. It allows people to make changes to materials or to combine resources in new ways to build something new. Open Education incorporates free and open learning communities, educational networks, teaching and learning materials, open textbooks, open data, open scholarship, open source educational tools and on and on. Open Education gives people access to knowledge, provides platforms for sharing, enables innovation, and connects communities of learners and educators around the world.” – Open Education Week