Open Education Resources (SK0083)
Action Plan: Slovak Republic National Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport
Support Institution(s): NA
Policy AreasAccess to Information, E-Government, Education, Open Data, Public Service Delivery
Commitment No. 26: After the establishment of the repository of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic, continuously make available open educational resources un-der the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public license.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
THEME - Promote and ensure the use of Creative Commons Attribution license
Comm 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 36
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan[Note : The Office of the Plenipotentiary, “Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of the Slovak Republic 2017 – 2019”, http://bit.ly/2QYIlHV ]:
Commitment 26: “After the establishment of the repository of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic, continuously make available open educational resources under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public license.”
Commitment 27: “Reach out to partners who have provided educational resources after 2008 to the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic or to its directly managed organizations, with a suggestion to make educational resources available under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public license.”
Commitment 28: “Ensure that all contractual relationships for the creation of educational resources funded by public funds under the authority of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic and its subordinate institutions include the condition of the use of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public license.”
Commitment 30: “Propose and carry out pilot program for ensuring availability of university textbooks and similar publications, as well as and scientific journals published by universities under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public license through the repository operated by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic.”
Commitment 32: “Analyze the possibility of applying Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public license as standard for selected works mandatorily published in the Central Registry of Theses and Dissertations.”
Commitment 36: “Ensure the implementation of public license Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) in the relevant documents, methodologies, manuals and procedures in order to increase their usage by authors and other rights holders in the preparation of scientific papers.”
Start Date: Not specified
End Date: 31 December 2018 and ongoing
Context and Objectives
The commitments to publish educational resources, as well as research outputs under the Creative Commons attribution public license (CC-BY), are carried over from the previous action plan[Note : The Office of the Plenipotentiary, “Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of the Slovak Republic 2015”, http://bit.ly/2RevqCc]. As mentioned above, Slovakia was one of the first OGP member countries to include commitments on open education and open access in its action plan. In general, these commitments were perceived positively as a start of a conversation about these topics that will be followed up by actions. However, the results of the previous action plan suggest that despite the commitments, progress on delivery has been slow.
The Ministry of Education concluded that, due to the restrictive nature of the contracts with publishers, available educational resources could not be published under Creative Commons licenses[Note : The Office of the Plenipotentiary, “Open Education”, http://bit.ly/2aQWNIN (in Slovak). See spreadsheet “Elektronicky dostupné vzdelávacie zdroje”. ]. Commitment 27 to initiate negotiations with publishers to request a change to contractual conditions which will enable the Ministry to publish educational resources under open licenses could lead to a shift in current restrictive conditions. In addition, the commitment could potentially help in establishing a database of open educational resources to start with. However, as it is written, it rather represents an internal process.
Commitment 28 to ensure that all contracts with publishers will include the condition to use CC-BY license is useful, as it could at least ensure future educational resources will be open. Similarly, the commitment 26 to continue making educational resources available under the CC-BY license is important and could also contribute to creating a critical mass of open educational resources, so that teachers can use them. At the moment, most of the educational resources are available under proprietary licenses which lie with the supplier/publisher. On the Official Editorial Portal[Note : Editorial Portal, https://edicnyportal.iedu.sk/], which includes all textbooks approved by the Ministry, there are up to 300 grammar schools’ textbooks for children with special needs, up to 400 grammar schools’ textbooks, and over 500 high schools’ textbooks. To give an idea of the scope of the proposed measures, in the current situation when these are published predominantly under proprietary licenses, any reprint, if required, often has to be negotiated with the supplier. Therefore, these commitments might potentially address the problem of a lack of educational resources.
Commitments 30, 32 and 36 also advance the use of CC-BY public licenses but in the higher education and research sector. Commitment 30 to run a pilot and ensure that all outputs made available in the open access repository will be published under CC-BY public license is useful and could encourage open access practices in academia.
Commitment 32 to analyze the possibility of applying CC-BY public license as a standard for selected works mandatorily published in the Central Register of Theses and Dissertations is very timely and relevant amidst the case of Andrej Danko, the Speaker of the Parliament who recently banned the public from viewing his dissertation acting contrary to the spirit of open access and OGP values more broadly[Note : Nina Francelová “Why is an 18-year-old doctoral dissertation causing an uproar among the public?”, http://bit.ly/2rBnFLz ]. Once he made his work available, the journalists revealed that his work is plagiarism, copy-pasted from five different books[Note : Mária Benedikovičová and Daniel Vražda, “Danko vykradol päť učebníc, jeho rigorózna práca je plagiát” (Danko copied extensive passages from five textbooks, his thesis is a plagiarism), Dennikn.sk, http://bit.ly/2Ey5LBA (in Slovak) and The Slovak Spectator, “UPDATED: Denník N: Danko is a plagiarist”, http://bit.ly/2EA0uJY ]. While it is a common practice in democratic countries that high-level politicians resign after alleged plagiarism scandals, Danko refused to step down and survived a no-confidence vote. For weeks, the Ministry of Education ignored the situation without providing any official statement. In November, the ministry summarized that only courts could act and decide, and in a legally-binding form confirm the cases of plagiarism.
All in all, the ministry avoided giving any clear position on plagiarism[Note : The Ministry of Education, “Vyhlásenie MŠVVaŠ SR k medializovaným informáciám o porušovaní autorských práv v záverečných prácach na VŠ” (The Ministry’s statement on the infrigment of copyright in theses and dissertations at universities), http://bit.ly/2QBftd9 (in Slovak). ]. Many researchers reacted with disappointment that such approach devaluates their work[Note : Tomáš Nejedlý, “Pedagogička: Moji študenti pri podvádzaní hovoria, že „to dali na Danka”” (Pedagogue: When my students cheat they tell me they just did what Danko did), Trend.sk, http://bit.ly/2BopP5u (in Slovak). ]. They criticized Danko’s lack of willingness to draw the consequences, questioned the quality and origin of his work and stated that he should resign from his position[Note : Daniel Vražda, “Profesor Krško z UMB: Nerozumiem aktivite pána Danka, niečo nie je v poriadku” (Professor Krško from UMB: I don’t understand Danko, something is not right there), Dennikn.sk. http://bit.ly/2zYOuOk (in Slovak). ]. They also expressed disappointment about the ministry’s silence about the case. Given these events, commitment 32 to analyze the possibility of applying CC-BY public license as a standard for selected works mandatorily published in the Central Register of Theses and Dissertations could improve the practice and discourage or at least expose earlier cases like that one of Danko who concealed his dissertation. However, if the ministry would like to be a respected leader in these topics, it needs to lead by example and strongly condemn any unethical behavior in educational or scientific practice.
All interviewed academics and open education and science activists agreed that all commitments in this cluster to promote and ensure the use of Creative Commons licenses are important. If well implemented, they could have a major impact on introducing new innovative practices and approaches to creating, sharing and using educational and scientific content which many could benefit. These commitments could contribute to greater openness and set new standards for teachers and researchers. Therefore, the IRM researcher recommends continuing with the implementation of the commitments. However, since interviewees expressed serious concerns about professional capacities and a will to lead the topic and work with a variety of stakeholders, the ministry should demonstrate that its interest in the topic of open education and science is genuine by leading by example, taking unambiguous attitudes in any questions of academic ethics and rigor and engage broader community of teachers, CSO representatives and academics in its activities.