Open Knowledge and the Public Interest (OKAPI) brings together faculty, students and staff at the University of California, Berkeley, to promote open knowledge and free culture at Berkeley and around the world. We explore the potential of the Internet and new digital technologies to foster learning, creativity, and dialogue across borders and communities. We partner with campus groups and like-minded organizations to share expertise and build capacity. We work closely with Information Services and Technology to develop campus-wide technologies, services and policies that expand public access and participation. OKAPI is sponsored by the Office of the Chief Information Officer and supported in large part through partnerships and grant-funded initiatives.
1. Innovation: Exploring New Media
We explore the potential of new media environments and emerging information and communication technologies for fostering learning, creativity and dialogue. We test our ideas through research-informed tinkering with technology. Our process emphasizes iterative prototyping and co-development with stakeholders and end users. During the Fall ’07 and Spring ’08 semesters, we collaborated with the Berkeley Department of Anthropology to develop a public archaeology program in the 3d virtual environment of Second Life. This experiment inspired a student-led DeCal course and was recently awarded the 2008 Virtual Learning Prize by the New Media Consortium.
2. Developing Open Access Technologies, Services & Policies
We guide and promote the development of technologies, services and policies that expand public access and participation. We carry out this work through participation in the Office of the CIO, IST-Data Services, diverse campus initiatives, outside organizations, and professional societies. During the 2007-08 academic year, OKAPI led the creation of the campus-wide Media Vault Program, which will provide services for digital conservation and dissemination. This effort was informed by the OKAPI-led Scholar’s Box, a US Department of Education project to develop new models for creating, sharing and using open digital collections. One of our demonstration projects, Remixing Catalhoyuk, was awarded the 2007 Open Archaeology Prize by the American Schools of Oriental Research. Okapi is also working with the Townsend Center for the Humanities and Project Bamboo to develop new platforms for open research and interdisciplinary collaboration.
3. Building Local Capacity
We work with campus departments, centers, research units and other organizations to enhance their capacity for public outreach and open dissemination research and teaching materials. The OKAPI Public Understanding of Research Program helps campus scholars translate research data and knowledge into valuable public resources for teaching and learning. We provide partners with tools, training and support, ensuring that local solutions build upon campus cyberinfrastructure and international standards.
4. Fostering Community & Engaging the Broader World
We collaborate with open knowledge and free culture communities at UC Berkeley and around the world. We bring together and support faculty, students and staff through conversations, face-to-face meetings, and online communications, including our Website, monthly newsletter and email listserv. We also represent the OKAPI Program and the University of California, Berkeley, through presentations, publications and participation in international conferences and workshops.
OUR APPROACH TO OPEN KNOWLEDGE
OKAPI seeks to address the legal, economic, social, cultural and technological barriers to participation in the emerging knowledge commons. Our projects consider how knowledge is personally and socially constructed and negotiated in a global networked environment. We emphasize inquiry-based, learner-centered approaches to teaching and learning. We explore the potential of the Internet and new digital technologies to support more participatory, social and experiential forms of learning. Our work supports research, formal and informal learning, acknowledging the often fluid boundary between these activities, especially in cyberspace. We observe that many domains of knowledge–from engineering to ethics–have multiple solutions. We also note that knowledge around any active area of inquiry changes over time, incorporating the cumulative expertise of many contributors. For this reason, our projects value broad participation and ongoing dialogue above offering a final set of answers.