Sunday, September 20, 2009

Open Letter to Peter Klappa

TRIS Dear Peter,

I hope you don't mind me writing to you like this, but I feel that this conversation could benefit from being open rather than being cloaked in email. Your infectious enthusiasm had a great impact on me at the Centre for Bioscience Reps meeting, and I was very interested to hear about your plans for the TRIS (Teaching Resource Information Service) newsletter, so your email about publication on the website of the University of Kent Faculty of Sciences website got my immediate attention, as did your call for contributions. This feels like something I should be contributing to.

And yet, there are a few things I feel I have to say. The first is a relatively minor point, but I think I should bring it to your attention. According to the web page, the copyright for TRIS is held by the University of Kent, which kind of dents my enthusiasm. Why would I want to write for TRIS and sign over my rights to the University of Kent when I can publish the same material on this site, quicker and easier (with multimedia) under a Creative Commons licence so that everyone can benefit from it for free?

The other thing comes back to Terry's (rant :-) on Friday about Open Educational Resources (OER) and tagging. I can see how the paper-analogy of the PDF format of TRIS could open the resource up to some staff who simply aren't "resident" online, but isn't the old centralized editorship model a problem? What happens when the University of Kent tells you to stop playing around with TRIS and get on with some real work which counts towards REF? Will TRIS just go away? Would the community overall be better with a decentralized model which aggregates useful resources under a delicious tag? Couldn't a volunteer curator reformat this into paper format for the luddites?

I hope you are not offended by me asking these questions, and I really hope I don't put you off producing a valuable resource. Most of all, I hope I can still be on your quiz team at the next reps meeting.