CC Talks With

CC Talks With: Mr. Mayo’s Class Integrates CC, Skypes with Lawrence Lessig

Jane Park, November 19th, 2009

mr mayo
Photo by Mr. Mayo CC BY-NC

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to George Mayo, known as Mr. Mayo to his students, a middle school Language Arts teacher in Maryland. Mr. Mayo was brought to CC Learn’s attention by Lawrence Lessig, CC’s founder and current board member, who Skyped with Mr. Mayo’s class for thirty minutes, answering questions on copyright, YouTube’s take-down policy and downloading music. Mr. Mayo and his class have integrated CC licensed works into their daily activities, documenting it all at mrmayo.org. Instead of elaborating on the various innovative ways Mr. Mayo and his class uses CC, I’m going to let George speak for himself. The following is the interview I had with him via Skype. You can also listen to the audio here.

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CC Talks With: A chat with Stephen Downes on OER

Jane Park, October 12th, 2009

A prominent member of the open education community, Stephen Downes is a researcher, blogger, and big thinker in open education and access related issues. He frequently debates with other open education advocates via the medium of the Internet, once in a while meeting up in person at conferences to hash out more of the same. I thought I might capture his slice of insight into the future of open educational resources and how he views them evolving in an ideal world.

CC BY-NC by Stephen Downes

CC BY-NC by Stephen Downes

So I caught up with him via Skype; and though different operating systems and timezones may have jumbled some of our conversation, I was still able to catch most of his words, if not the heart of his views. Below is our chat transcribed, in more or less the same fashion as it progressed.

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CC Talks With: Back to School: What’s new at Vital Signs?

Jane Park, September 4th, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

Last year, Sarah Kirn, the Manager of the Vital Signs project at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, popped into the CC San Francisco office and gave me a wonderful introduction into everything they were doing. This year, we’re closer in proximity, as Sarah is still in Maine while I am stationed in New York. As a preview of things to come, we connected over email about the progress VS has made since we last met.

To rewind and clarify, Vital Signs is a “field-based science education program” that “links 7th and 8th grade students and scientists in the rigorous collection and analysis of essential environmental data across freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Innovative technology, relevant content, and critical partnerships create an authentic science learning experience for students, a distributed data gathering network for scientists, and a statewide community of teachers, students, and scientists collaborating to learn about and steward the Gulf of Maine watershed.”

What’s new at Vital Signs?

We now have 47 teachers trained in how to use Vital Signs in their science teaching. These teachers hail from all across the state, from Aroostook County to York County. Teachers have already begun making and sharing observations themselves as a way to prepare for using Vital Signs in their classrooms.

To support this program growth we have hired Alexa Dayton to serve as our new Vital Signs Community Specialist. This new position will focus on bringing the citizen science and scientific communities into Vital Signs – as users of the data, as participants in the online community (discussing findings, commenting on data records, confirming or questioning identifications, contributing their own observations to the database), and as on-the-ground supporters of teacher and student field work. Alexa has experience in field biology, science outreach to rural Maine schools, web development and management, marketing, and computer science. We are excited to have her diverse skills brought to bear on supporting and growing our Vital Signs community!

We also have a new scientist partner, Dr. Les Mehrhoff, Director of the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England who is committed to serving as a Species Expert in our online community. He’s recruiting graduate students and others to join him in serving the Vital Signs community in this capacity.

In October a Maine Conservation Corps Environmental Educator will join us for a 10-month position to work with teachers in classrooms and after school clubs to support their use of Vital Signs.

We are collaborating with the MLTI professional development staff to plan Vital Signs-related science and social studies modules that MLTI will deliver this year to complement the summer teacher institutes and provide training for teachers not yet exposed to Vital Signs.

How does CC play a role in these new projects?

We’re spreading CC licenses around – to other education programs. GMRI’s VitalVenture project, a collaborative curriculum development project, has just provisionally agreed to use CC BY licenses, pending agreement by collaborating teacher. Les Mehrhoff, one of our Vital Signs scientist partners is going to use CC BY with his species photos.

And, of course, prior to our launch in November we will be finalizing the CC licensing for student-contributed creative works, teacher-contributed creative work, and citizen scientist-contributed creative work.

How are you leveraging OER in the classroom/with teachers?

All of our curriculum resources are open, so teachers will learn how to use OER through the course of using Vital Signs. As they become familiar with how OER works and become interested in other resources for teaching, we will point them in the direction of other OER.

The most exciting “open” aspect of Vital Signs, I think, is that the learning and work that happens within the system is open to the scientific community. Folks like Les, a well-known and well-respected expert on invasive plants in our region, will be regularly interacting with students on the subject of their contributions to the Vital Signs database. By design, every observation contributed to the Vital Signs site will confirmed or questioned by another member of the community. In this way, Vital Signs opens up students’ experience of learning science.

Tell us what you are most excited about!

Most excited about? It’s a tie between the enthusiastic response we are getting from teachers and students and the near completion of our program infrastructure. I can’t wait for the day (in November 2009!) when we make the www.vitalsignsme.org site live!

This project has been a long time in the development stages. It’s absolutely thrilling to have students contributing field notes like the following from a student in Old Orchard Beach:

“I am happy because I’m helping collect data for science, and was helping find if there are any invasive plants in Milliken Mills.”

“I saw brownish water, lots of leaves in the water, trees, plants, birds, bugs, grass, dead trees and plants, frogs.”

“I smell fresh water.”

“I hear birds, the wind, and water splashing.”

“I am suprized by what I found or didn’t find because even though it was an invasive species I thought I would find it.”

Likewise, it’s thrilling to read the words of a participating teacher from Kennebunk who says “In a nutshell, the Vital Signs program has made the science I teach richer, more real and more meaningful for both my students and myself.”

For more on Vital Signs, see our detailed Inside OER feature on Sarah from last year.

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CC Talks With: Back to School: Peer 2 Peer University and the Future of Education (an interview)

Jane Park, September 1st, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

A recent emigrant to New York, I experienced the first turn in weather on the east coast marking the transition from summer to a fast approaching fall. Though a lovely relief from the hot, muggy season that has persisted here for the last few months, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. Many students all over the world are feeling this same twinge, mingled with excitement, as their summer vacations skid to a halt. No more lazy, hazy days in the sun—instead, it’s time to hit the books and lockers, classrooms and lecture halls.

This is the vision of school we have had with us for ages. A first grader, when asked to draw school, usually draws a little red school house with a bell, or a teacher standing at her desk, with an apple for added effect. However, this traditional picture is hardly where the future of education is headed, as new technologies and mediums of communication, like the Internet, have already revolutionized the way we interact, learn, and live.

CC BY by Philipp Schmidt

CC BY by Philipp Schmidt

Peer 2 Peer University is one initiative that acknowledges this fact—that the world has already changed, and not everyone is going to settle for the traditional modes of teaching. First of all, not everyone can afford to dole out the thousands of dollars required for a higher education, and secondly, not everyone has the time to—those of us with full-time or several part-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities, especially.

P2PU, in their own words, is sort of like an “online book club for open educational resources.” It’s “an online community of open study groups for short university-level courses… The P2PU helps you navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, creates small groups of motivated learners, and supports the design and facilitation of courses.” Unlike formal universities or distance education, P2PU’s courses are all defaulted under CC BY, which means anyone can access, share, adapt, and redistribute them. In fact, the founders are more than happy for others to adapt the model they have begun to new and successful ways of thinking about education’s future.

What do you think is the future of education? P2PU co-founder Philipp Schmidt answers the big question and more.

P2PU has been getting a ton of attention lately. Courses are set to start on the 9th! What are you hoping to gain from these first six weeks? What are you most excited about?

This is the first time we will run courses. We have been thinking a lot about how to make sure participants get a lot out of the experience, but this is the real test. I am sure we’ll discover many things we did not anticipate at all—and I look forward to learning as much as the participants. This is an amazing learning experience not just for the participants, but also for ourselves.

I am most excited by the fact that we seem to be providing something that many people from all over the world find useful and want to participate in. One person is taking the Copyright for Educators course and intends to get credit from his university for it. The fact that he is thinking about the course in his own context and trying to “hack” the system in a way that makes sense for him is awesome. This is exactly what we were hoping to see. Another person said that she had always wanted to take a course about cyberpunk literature, but couldn’t find a place to take one. To realize that we can provide a type of learning experience that people are looking for and which simply doesn’t exist elsewhere, is incredible.

There’s so much speculation around the future of formal education. What are your thoughts on it? What will be P2PU’s role in this changing educational landscape?

It is clear to me that the education landscape will change dramatically. I should mention that I am a huge fan of the university as an institution where young people spend a few years learning and immersing themselves into knowledge. It’s wonderful and I wouldn’t want to miss it. However, learning is not just what happens in universities and there will be new and different organizations providing many of the components that today’s universities offer as a package. There are two areas where P2PU could fill a gap. One is to create the social learning experience that will make open educational resources more useful to more people. The other is to provide forms of recognition for informal learning—this could be by enabling pathways to formal credits or by creating a community based reputation.

What do you have to say to those who confuse P2PU with distance learning? How is P2PU more than that?

The core of P2PU is social learning—working with others who are interested in the same topic as you. The fact that it happens by distance is almost secondary and we are hoping to have local off-line groups joining the P2PU community in the future. Distance learning is a broad term, but too often it is used in the context of what I would call industrialized education. Content is delivered to students—either by an online teacher or in the form of course materials designed for self-study. Knowledge is considered as something that can easily be measured, like weight or height. It is a totally different model from what P2PU is doing.

All P2PU courses are licensed CC BY. Why CC BY?

The pilot phase materials are licensed CC BY because that places the least amount of restrictions on others who might want to use and re-mix our content. However, the licensing choice is still a big debate. Some members of the community feel that CC BY-SA better reflects their desire to create a global knowledge commons. It’s one of the topics we will discuss at our upcoming workshop and we will make a final decision there.

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CC Talks With: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Cameron Parkins, July 29th, 2009

Opened to the public in 1903, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a world-class museum that houses more than 5,000 art objects, including works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Degas, and Sargent. It is also known for its phenomenal music program, lectures, and symposia, as well as the museum’s nationally recognized Artist-in-Residence and educational programs.

Online, it is well-known as the producer and distributor of The Concert, a classical music podcast that features unreleased live performances by master musicians and talented young artists, recorded at the museum’s Sunday Concert Series. The podcast is free, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license (Music Sharing), and widely popular. The Concert was one of the first classical music collections to be shared under a CC license, and the ISGM was one of the first art museums to actively distribute digital content under a CC license.

We’ve talked about The Concert before, but wanted to learn more about the series and the decision to use CC licenses for the project. We recently caught up with Director Anne Hawley and Curator of Music Scott Nickrenz, who were able to provide a lot of great information about the series and how CC licenses have played a role in its success.


TheConcert_logo_highres-2

Those in the CC community best know of the ISGM as a result of your highly successful The Concert podcast. What was the inspiration for the podcast series? Why did you choose to release it under a CC license?

Anne Hawley: We launched The Concert – the museum’s first podcast – in September 2006, as a way to continue the museum’s long history of supporting artists and creative artistic thinking. During Isabella Gardner’s lifetime, the museum flowed with artistic activity: John Singer Sargent painted, Nellie Melba sang, and Ruth St. Denis performed the cobra dance within these walls. Isabella Gardner was a committed patron of artists and musicians and the museum has always followed her lead. The podcast is the latest example of this; it’s a modern way to bring the museum’s wealth of programming to a wider audience, promote the exceptional work of the musicians who perform here, and ultimately expand the reach of classical music.

Music has always been an important part of the Gardner. When the museum opened on New Years Night 1903, attendees enjoyed a performance of Bach, Mozart, Chausson, and Schumann by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra—“a concert of rare enjoyment” according to one guest. During Gardner’s lifetime, the museum hosted visits and performances by well-known musicians and rising stars including composers Gustav Mahler and Vincent d’Indy, pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and cellist Pablo Casals, and memorable concerts including the 1903 premiere of Loeffler’s Pagan Poem, composed and performed in honor of Isabella Gardner’s birthday. Four years later, the work had its “official” premiere at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Today, the Gardner’s music series is the oldest of its kind in the country, with weekly concerts and special programs that enrich and draw musical connections to the museum’s special exhibitions and permanent collection, while continuing Isabella Gardner’s legacy as a music lover and patron of the arts.
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CC Talks With: Kenzo Digital

Cameron Parkins, July 21st, 2009

Kenzo Digital is New York-based multi-talented creator that works in video, audio, and mixed media to create both artistic works and commercial products. Aesthetically informed by early 90s hip-hop, his latest and most well-publicized work, City of God’s Son, is a CC-licensed “opera for the blind.” The project finds Kenzo sampling and remixing numerous sources to create a vivid sound-scape that invokes imagery and a cinematic narrative through audio.

Today, in conjunction with our interview, Kenzo is releasing the most recent addition to COGS titled City of God’s Son: Cinema for the Blind. The piece features interviews with blind musicians on “sight through sound, synesthesia” and the film itself, crafting a fascinating perspective on how our senses work in conjunction with (or without) one another. You can watch the piece, which is released under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license, in HD at YouTube – check out a still of the video below:

CINEMA-FOR-THE-BLIND-Remaster_H.264

We caught up with Kenzo recently to pick his brain in regards to the project generally, his approach to creation through sampling and reuse, why he chose to CC-licence this project, and much more. Read on to find out what he had to say.

KenzoDigi1

photo by Tommy Agriodimas | CC BY

Can you give our readers some background on yourself and the project? What inspired you to create City of God’s Son? You call it a hip-hop opera and a film for the blind – what do you mean by these descriptions?

I am a digital artist, video artist, director and music producer based in NY. Early 90ʼs hip hop was always a big inspiration to me growing up, it served as the soundtrack to a lot of my childhood and adventures growing up. I was really into graffiti as a kid, and used to sneak out of the house all the time and run around with my friends or sometimes by myself and go bombing. I considered the city at night to be kind of an altered reality. No one was around except for the junkies, prostitutes, and gangsters who occupied the same streets that by day would be bustling with business men, school kids like myself, and delivery men. I loved the fact that in my mind only a few people were privy to seeing these same streets during the day while I was entrenched in my civilian life (school and family), and at these late hours were things were pretty wild, and as a kid of course I was very excited by that. What really inspired me as a kid was also the fact that the only traces of my existence in this alternate reality were the tags and graffiti art left behind. Music played a huge role in this. My walkman was probably one of the most essential things going out at night, as the music was a key component to setting the mood and getting myself in the proper frame of mind to create. By experiencing the city this way, and listening to the music, everything through the night played out cinematically. So much so that it would leave these super visual impressions in my imagination that I could recall and trigger through the music.

Musicʼs relationship to time, both as a medium and a device to manipulate time, in addition to a listenerʼs historical relationship to a song is what “City of Godʼs Son” seeks to expand and explore. “City of Godʼs Son” is a hip hop opera in that it is an epic, a greek tragedy, and like opera, understanding the actual lyrics and slang is not necessary to understanding the story and experiencing the drama of the story. Understanding the slang and verses definitely adds another level of meaning and depth to the story, as well as a knowledge of hip hop music history. “City of Godʼs Son” while seemingly a strictly music focused project, is equally about gangster cinema culture as well, as references to everything from pre-code Edward G. Robinson gangster flicks, to 70ʻs Japanese gangster flicks like “Branded to Kill”, to “Le Cercle Rouge”, “Clockers”, “Goodfellas” and of course “City of God” litter the story and soundscape, as some of hip-hopʼs most influential artists of this generation collide with the gangster film icons that helped define their genre. It is about weaving the various mythologies from each medium and creating a new language called “Beat Cinematic”. It is a film for the blind in that it exists in the listenerʼs imagination and recalling of their own psychological associations to music, film, and sound. I specifically wanted to play this for blind people because I wanted to see how blind people reacted to a film made to be experienced sonically. I am interested in how a blind personʼs mind works like a visual sampler depending on whether the person was born blind or lost their vision along the way, and what those visual impressions mean to them now. It is also a film for the blind in that my own artistic journey into music production was inspired to make this project. As a completely self-taught disgustingly bad keyboard player, creating the music for this project was in and of itself a very blind process in that I had to really feel out my entire way through this new world of sound.
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CC Talks With: John Wood (Learning Music)

Cameron Parkins, July 15th, 2009

Beginning this past March, John Wood has written, recorded, mixed, and mastered an album a month. Distributed under the moniker Learning Music Monthly, the music arrives on the first of the month as CDs in subscribers’ mailboxes and MP3s in their digital lockers, all released under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license.

Offering a tiered subscription service (amenities include stickers, bonus albums, a song written for you on your birthday, and much more depending on price), Learning Music Monthly is a great case study in figuring out how independent artists and labels (LMM is released through CC-friendly label vosotros) are approaching distribution in today’s current music climate.

We were able to catch up with John and pick his brain about the project, including his thoughts on writing and producing an album a month, a subscription/donation-based distribution model, and his decision to release all the music, cover art, promotional text, mix-stems, sheet-music, and lyrics under a CC license.


john_wood
Learning Music Monthly @ Machine Project – 01, cameronparkins | CC BY

Can you give our readers some background on yourself and the Learning Music Monthly project? What has your career as a musician been like? LMM monthly has existed previously – what is different this time around?

LMM really began in November 2006. I had spent the previous two years doing a fair amount of touring with other bands, and assisting on a film score, all of which was really fabulous and fortunate to experience. That month, I turned down a bunch of work and created the first Learning Music album. For me, it was something very much apart from my professional musical experiences. I get paid mostly to create what other people hear or see, which I’m very lucky to do. When I set out to complete that first album, there was a deep spiritual need inside me, which I had been aware of for a long time, to create something more personal. The payoff, instead of a check, was the pleasure of handing to friends this little secret disc, weirdly wrapped up in reclaimed cardboard. LMM is a little different from that now, in that we actually sell subscriptions. I think I’m still in the process of learning what that means creatively. It’s also much different now because of all the support from John G and Vosotros. The first year, my audience was mostly my friends. Now I’m making music for people I’ve never met. And they’re paying for it! Part of me of course wants to only create what I think these people want to hear. Hopefully I will eventually be able to give them something that they never expected, but that’s really good for them. Sometimes I feel like I lack the confidence to do that, but then ultimately there’s no time for doubt.
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CC Talks With: IssueLab’s Lisa Brooks on Opening Up Research

Jane Park, June 16th, 2009

Logo <a </code>href=
Logo by Gabi Fitz | CC BY-NC-SA

ccLearn recently spoke with Lisa Brooks from IssueLab. Instead of crossing telephone lines (who does that anymore anyway?), I caught up with her via that archaic method of correspondence known as electronic mail…*inside-oer-icon

*Similarly archaic, but not outdated in coolness factor, are comics. The first comic issue of Inside OER is this same interview in comic form. Instead of the same-old and streamlined text with interspersed pictures, we decided to experiment. Let us know what you think! For those of you on hand-held devices (or a preference for just text), read on here. Read More…

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CC Talks With: Nina Paley

Cameron Parkins, June 3rd, 2009

Nina Paley’s Sita Sings The Blues, released online a little over two months ago, has been generating great press and even greater viewership, closing in on 70,000 downloads at archive.org alone. For the non-inundated, there is great background information on the film at Paley’s website.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Paley about the film – we touched on the film’s aesthetics and plot points, but perhaps most interesting to those in the CC community is Paley’s decision to utilize our copyleft license, Attribution-ShareAlike, and her thoughts on free licensing and the open source movement in general. Read on to learn more about the licensing trials and tribulations associated with the film’s release, how CC has played a role, and Paley’s opinions on the Free Culture movement as a whole.

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CC Talks With: DJ Vadim

Cameron Parkins, May 20th, 2009

Having played over 1600 gigs in over 60 countries, DJ Vadim is no stranger to the concept of ‘fan interaction’. Beyond his live shows, Vadim pushes experiments with interaction further, having held a remix contest at ccMixter a little under two years ago to promote his album The Sound Catcher. The contest was a great success, and as a result Vadim, active as both a DJ and producer, is back at ccMixter doing the same thing with his latest album U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun.

The contest is in full swing, with winners receiving inclusion in Imaginashun – Power to the people, an album filled “with remixes from pro’s and bedroom producers from around the world” slated for release this autumn. We caught up with DJ Vadim to learn a bit more about his creative process and how he views the changing nature of interaction and communication in music. Read on to see what he had to say.

mosdefvadim
DJ Vadim supporting Mos Def at The Islington Academy, James Bradley

Can you give our readers some background on yourself as an artist? You’ve worked with a wide variety of musicians, from The Pharcyde to Kraftwerk, and released countless albums, singles, and remixes. Your career is long in scope and prolific in production but perhaps you are able to distill it all into a manageable chunk.

I started my music journey in the late 80′s, first with DJing, and in 1992 I started getting involved with production. It was very simple back then, just an Atari and a sampler. There weren’t the possibilities people have now. In ’94 , I set up my own label and the rest is history.

In that journey i met and have worked and performed with lots of people, although rocking Glastonbury in 1999 and performing at Sonar in 2006 with DJ Krush and DJ Shadow stand out as highlights.

Have technological shifts changed how you approach music production? What kind of production tools do you do use?

Yes. I have so many more possibilities now that didn’t exist 15 years ago. I have so much more equipment, software, and toys for creating music now that didn’t exist or was not affordable. It is a bit like riding a push bike and going on a top of the range Yamaha super bike – they both get you to where your going but you have so much more options with the super bike, right?

I use Cubase, an MPC, my Apple computer and Ableton Live.

The environment leading up to your new album U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun was one of personal turmoil and growth. What was the process you went through on the way to releasing this album? How did the aesthetic of the album come into fruition as a result?

Well, when you go through turmoil and tragedy you can come out of it either being overwhelmed, pensive, and quite depressed or come out fighting and positive. I did the later. I felt that if cancer couldn’t hold me back, nothing would. It was hard – personal turmoil with my family, personal relationships and my own health. It was like being stripped back to nothing. But now I feel good about life and that is the most important.

What is your motivation behind the U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun remix contest? You’ve already done one successful contest on ccMixter – what was your experience like previously?

Well I think one of the most important things with releasing music is communication. Nowadays, that means participation and that is what ccMixter offers. It is a combination of the two, letting fans and music people participate and communicate together, with you, with me and create new music and ideas. This sort of interaction wasn’t possible 10 years ago.

Music is about communication. Without it you either have a huge MTV campaign or you get lucky – the music that people like is one that communicates with them, music that they (the fans) feel part of.

Both remix contests are using CC-licenses as their mechanism to enable this kind of reuse. As an artist who uses sampling as one of their core techniques, how do you view this sort of licensing? What are the major differences to you between working with live musicians and sampling material?

I think its a great marketing and promotional tool plus it is fun for the fans and producers. In regards to sampling and live musicians, you have more opportunities with live musicians because you can break any piece of music down to its basic elements – bass keys, drums etc. and hence be able to manipulate and control what you do much more

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? Any plans for the future?

Well touring, releasing more music and making new music. I am up to so much its hard to remember it all. Best thing is to keep up with it via my homepage and MySpace profile!

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U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun Artwork, SMALL Studio

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