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Making Space College A Truly Open Entity

All too often, efforts to promulgate the idea of a degree in fields related to space exploration remain within the NASA/aerospace company/collegiate circle. Efforts to truly reach out to unconventional communities including those with challenging socioeconomic needs, while they do happen, happen far too infrequently. As such, a potentially vast community is not reached either because they are outside of traditional comfort zones or because programs have associated costs that place them out of reach. In many ways online resources are a great equalizer - so long as one has access to the Internet. Online resources allow end users to find - and access - space education outside of traditional modes, regardless of their location.

Open Data

Under the Obama Administration there has been a big push for making government-developed and sponsored data and datasets more widely available than was previously the case. The online focus of this effort can be found at Whenever possible Space College will encourage the open dissemination of data along the lines that the U.S. federal government is pursuing.

Open Source Philosophy

"Open source" is a term most often associated with software. According to a Wikipedia description: "Open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations." The concept of open source has expanded to include engineering design, education materials, and other collections of data and design.

Open Source Publishing and Journals

There has been an increasing amount of interest among scientists and engineers - as well as Congress and policy makers - that research conducted using public funding should be made openly available to the public and no cost. Given the costs of many journals (and the business that has been built up around them) there are a number of prominent publications that have pushed back against the open publishing movement. Legislation of late is clearly pushing the U.S. government in the direction of open publishing. Space College supports these efforts insofar as they enhance citizen access to government funded research and the accomplishments of students associated with Space College.

Open Source Textbooks

The cost of textbooks has become an issue in the past few years. Providing textbooks on tablet computers has cut costs somewhat, but in the traditional publishing business model, a significant mark-up is needed in order for the business to be profitable. In poorer communities textbooks are often out of date. One trend that has emerged in the past few years is the development of open source textbooks. California has recently enacted legislation to promote this concept. One effort, the California Open SOurce Textbook Project, has been in operation since 2001 - see

Crowd Sourced Projects

In addition to using crowd sourcing to develop and expand course development, textbooks, software, and other materials, Space College will seek to work with citizen science organizations such as Moon Zoo and Galaxy Zoo to encourage participation in crowd sourced data collection and analysis. An online forum will be maintained specifically for the purpose of identifying opportunities and to encourage participants to propose activities of their own.

Citizen Science

The term "citizen science" means different things to different people. To some it is simply a new word to describe amateur scientists engaging in data collection - possibly for use in traditional research project. This is certainly not a new concept. To others it is a recently recognized process whereby an interest in participating in organized group activities via crowd sourcing - activities that are often distributed over wide locations - can be coordinated to result in useful data and observations that might not be possible if traditional approach is used.

Crowd Funding

Crowd funding is an approach to raising funds for a project that solicits contributions from a wide range of donors - in varying levels - using online donation tools. Various platforms have become popular lately such as Kickstarter, Indieogogo, RocketHub. Differing models are available for how the funds are raised, what is offered in exchange for donations, etc. Commercial efforts usually offer the product being developed at a significant discount. Non-profit efforts offer gifts, some of them tax deductible, and the satisfaction that comes from supporting a worthy cause.

Intellectual Property

Adopting an open source approach necessitates the use of certain standards. Whenever possible, materials produced via Space College participants will be open source and licensed for use via Creative Commons license format with a focus on the most permissive use possible. Space College is mostly interested that people know that things created via Space College are attributed as such as they use them. See for a description of how this process works. In addition, materials that Space College works with may reside in the public domain (such as NASA information) and will so identified.

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