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January 20, 2011

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Beth Noveck

Open educ resources hero Hal Plotkin at Dept of Ed posts on the significance of today's open grantmaking announcement http://go.usa.gov/YOm

Gary Wiltshire

This is good on one level but has a big draw back. The grantees create value not just for the users of their materials but themselves too. If they are ever to break from grant dependency they need something to sell to others, which giving away stuff for free doesn't provide. Sure the grant/contract should specify some "free use" but the grantee must be able to retain some ability to recharge for the intellectual and practical outputs and outcomes.

Kevin Granade

@Gary: When embarking on a large project, an organization has the opportunity to build tools and expertise and perform research in support of creating the end product. All of these are resources that the organization can subsequently use to more efficiently perform further work in the area covered by the grant.
Additionally, just because the materials are "free use" doesn't mean that they can't be leveraged to enhance for-pay services such as teaching.
In more concrete terms, if the faculty for a particular school writes a new textbook under this grant, they have the opportunity to become subject matter experts on the contents of the textbook, and increase their competitiveness with other faculties, even if the other faculties have access to the textbook they've published.

LearningImpact

While the requirement for Creative Commons is a great step forward, it is completely negated by another requirement hidden in the fine print to put the content in the SCORM format. SCORM is a 10 year old, antiquated standard that does not fit education and has been tried in education many times - with zero success. Quite frankly, SCORM is antithetical to open or reuse. It's a government dictated and controlled body of work that costs a lot to implement, does not support the type of interoperability modern educational content requires, and has never been successful in terms of reuse. I've posted a detailed explanation of why SCORM doesn't fit on the IMS web site here:

http://www.imsglobal.org/community/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=58&threadid=592&enterthread=y

Martin Stewart-Weeks

Nice piece Beth and a great example of the way good practice can infect better policy. This is one of the promises of the whole Govt2.0 phenomenon I guess, so this is a nice illustration of that suitably subversive principle in powerful action!

I'm not sure giving away content and material in this way does necessarily diminish the opportunity for the originators to exploit their work. The ability, as Kevin points out above, for the original work to bring reputational capital to its creators should not be dismissed. In that case, creating easy and free access initially may well be the path to much greater recognition, and financial rewards, down the path. This is presumably part of the Web2 paradox that, sometimes, in order to capture the real, lasting benefits of your contributions you have to start by giving them away.

I'm not a SCORM expert although have come across it some years back. It's a great insight though...a reminder that the deep policy shifts we're seeking through a more robust and energetic engagement with Web 2 in public policy isn't just about great mash up sites and open data. It also requires close attention to the 'boring' old stuff like standards and traditional regulatory frameworks which might need consequential changes in order not to become inadvertent road blocks to the larger reforms.

Andrea Schneider

Comment:

I am a strong advocate of the Open Government Directive (OGD) and the implementation of it's principles of practice.

While I understand that GOV 2.0/technology has received the bulk of attention, there are many ways to implement this new paradigm, within already existing systems.

Gov 2.0 is a game changer for sure, however it is not the entire directive. I am also frustrated by the external criticism of data available, how it has been organized, "low hanging fruit", and other's who say not enough has been available fast enough. It's so easy to criticize something so new and so hard.

Federal agencies probably don't have all the data required, let alone organized in a useful way, to fulfill the directive. I am not convinced the federal agency employees have been fully briefed or prepared to shift their efforts to include the OGD in their work naturally.

Integrating the OGD is a big job in organizational re-design and culture. Finding ways to integrate the directive, with design thinking, so organizations are capable of implementing remarkable ideas, takes time, strong will and leadership.

I'd like to see us applaud and support initiatives to change. If we can improve, let's offer good thinking in a supportive way. If we have blocks, we have to think of ways to tackle them. If we disagree, how can we find common ground.

If the goal is success, then working together is the answer. Can we act, talk and walk with congruence, with what it is we want to create?

It takes time to develop standards of excellence, it takes time to evaluate what works and what doesn't, it takes time to develop implementation models which are sustainable, it takes time to develop champions and internal leadership.

Building on this and my desire to move talk into action, I am thrilled to see this post! The federal grant making system is ripe for change and a natural place to integrate the OGD.

Andrea Schneider

Beth, your comments reinforce my sense of some of the changes needed in federal grant-making. It's clear we have to attend to the broader organizational and practical challenges implementing the OGD. To add to my above comments:

I was the Justice Department Fellow who evaluated all the innovative Advancing Community Policing Grants under President Clinton and wrote a book about it.

The book, Community Policing in Action, has been distributed to over 7,000 police departments in the United States.

We uncovered best practices, conducted failure analysis and developed an evaluation plan integrating principles of good community policing practice into our evaluation strategy . Grantees became our partners, and collaborated with us, to get the big job done.

I was also the principal investigator for one of the HHS Community Partnership Grants under Bush 1. These were applied practice/research based demonstration grants, 226 were given in our country.

Again, amazing best practices emerged in evaluation, planning, role of intermediary agency in community collaboration, citizen participation and accountability.

Working on these big projects, and others at the federal, state and local levels, makes me think about all the grants we have previously funded.

Many of our current grants focus on similar issues, funded by different agencies, with their own grant styles, not necessarily collaborating with other federal agencies on similar issues.

Categorical funding is not helpful in implementing the OGD.

I am thrilled to hear about the initiatives you mention in your blog, these are tremendous steps on the way to change!

The incentives to share money, time, talent, skills and information is not great, which leads to duplication of effort, wear and tear on communities and spending the dollar more than once. As you demonstrate so well, leadership is critical.

It would be great, if we could develop an inventory of previously funded grants, so we could build on past ideas and success. Study failures and learn.

Currently, I am drafting an Open Government Grant Systems briefing paper. I want to work on a team to build some demonstration initiatives. It would have to be a strong team effort.

The brief includes innovation in organizational design, to integrate open government principles seamlessly, into every federal grant, regardless of the grant focus.

Technology would be woven throughout, in very practical ways, for grantees.

After President Obama's SOTU speech, I believe we are ready for innovative solutions and the "we do big things," can do, attitude and call to action.

It's time to be bold, follow up on your hard work and the hard work of others, and start building a grant system for our time.

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I'd like to see us applaud and support initiatives to change. If we can improve, let's offer good thinking in a supportive way. If we have blocks, we have to think of ways to tackle them. If we disagree, how can we find common ground.

If the goal is success, then working together is the answer. Can we act, talk and walk with congruence, with what it is we want to create?

Andrea Schneider

Opportunity is knocking hard on our public sector door. The current fiscal crisis is providing us with a fresh canvas for innovation.

Building on the strong efforts Beth mentions and spinning them into a concrete demonstration grant, we can catalyze major innovation in our federal grant system.

While the public sector starts looking at new ways to do things, technology businesses (as potential partners) have powerful motivation to prove how their products work in action. Knowing the federal grant system needs new organizational design makes it a natural demonstration platform. The current fiscal crisis adds immediacy to innovate, as we face deep, public sector budget cuts.

As a way to illustrate:

Imagine a compelling Open Government Grant demonstration project called "Read for America" (made up). This grant program will incorporate all the OGD principles throughout.

Imagine a strong, highly credible advisory board and talented team to make it happen, while partnering up with any federal agency who has a stake in all American kids reading by 4th grade.

Imagine creating a project that insures wins for partners, the public, and eventual grantees from the start.


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The Department of Labor in partnership with the Department of Education announced two billion dollars in grants to support educational and career training programs for workers. Known as the “Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant” – or TAA CCCT inside the Beltway – the program is precedent setting in its magnitude of support for 21st century job skill training and for making the default-setting in grantmaking much more open.

Neil McEvoy


Awesome as ever Beth. I continue to be inspired by these models, and am setting out to apply them in practice, to maximize Social Enterprise impact investing.

See: http://openrfp.net/high_performance_social_enterprise

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This is good on one level but has a big draw back. The grantees create value not just for the users of their materials but themselves too. If they are ever to break from grant dependency they need something to sell to others, which giving away stuff for free doesn't provide. Sure the grant/contract should specify some "free use" but the grantee must be able to retain some ability to recharge for the intellectual and practical outputs and outcomes.

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I must say the blog is really helpful and it really details the things very very well. The facilities available with this makes the grante do all for its own and will help him accomplish the goal.

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Current fund raising efforts on similar issues, funded by different agencies with their own styles grants, not necessarily to work with other federal agencies on similar issues.

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I am not convinced that the federal agency employees were fully informed or prepared to transfer their efforts to include other departments in their work naturally.

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I think that the white house social innovation fund unjustly abused the presentation to be more transparent and the government is actually far from most of the philanthropic practices of transparency.

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Interesting one. Always wondered why Feds were not stricter about this. Some have argued it will stifle creativity but I do not think so.

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Great post! It saws strong argument to refer to the open innovation movement in government. This explanation would require far fewer friends outside this arena and is generally well accepted.

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give permission to use the educational resources; the grant program also gives instructions to grantees for how to tag and label their materials to make them easily findable online.

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Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant” – or TAA CCCT inside the Beltway – the program is precedent setting in its magnitude of support for 21st century job skill training and for making the default-setting in grantmaking much more open.

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Obviously this is a pretty controversial piece when it comes to grantmaking. I wouldn't take the word of this blog.

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SCORM is antithetical to open or reuse. It's a government dictated and controlled body of work that costs a lot to implement, does not support the type of interoperability modern educational content requires, and has never been successful in terms of reuse...

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I agree with the author that the training materials, curricula, online courses, and other courseware created by grantees should be made freely available for reuse to the public. This should be the system and not the other way around where there is still a need to pay for these products.

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