cable green

U.S. News and World Report Examines the Growth of Open Education

Elliot Harmon, January 18th, 2013

Open as in Books?

Open as in Books? / Alan Levine / CC BY-SA

This week, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent story about the rise of openly-licensed educational materials. Simon Owens’ article touches on many of the open education landmarks we’ve been celebrating over the past year, including the Department of Labor’s TAA-CCCT grant program and open textbook legislation in British Columbia and California. Owens interviewed CC director of global learning Cable Green as well as David Wiley, the Twenty Million Minds Foundation‘s Dean Florez, and several other experts in the space.

From the article:

Upon its launch a decade ago, Creative Commons was embraced by the artist and literary community, and its iconic logo began appearing on the sidebars of thousands of blogs, web pages, and Flickr photos. By 2005, the nonprofit estimated there were 20 million works that utilized the license, and by 2009 that number had climbed to 350 million. But while the organization has always embraced its grassroots enthusiasm, it continually sought recognition and adoption from larger, more traditional institutions.

The philosophy behind this goal is simple. “The public should have access to what it paid for,” says [Cable Green]. “Free access and legal access to what it bought. The tagline is ‘buy one get one.’ If you buy something, you should get access to it.” And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Creative Commons activists have identified education materials as a prime target for their view. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had surpassed auto loans and credit debt, coming in at an estimated $1 trillion. And a not-insignificant contribution to this burden has been the rising cost of textbooks.

[…]

David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham University in Utah, has been immersed in the OER community predating the creation of the Creative Commons license. He was inspired by a group of technologists who met in 1998 to rebrand the free software movement as “open source,” and he later worked to develop an “open content” license that would allow content creators to share and distribute their content easily. “The only difference was that all of us who were initially involved weren’t lawyers,” he recalls. “We were just making stuff up. It was scary, because there were hundreds of thousands of people who were using these licenses, and if any of them actually went to court, who knows what would have happened?” Imagine his relief then when the Creative Commons license was formed. “I put a big notice on our website saying, ‘please everyone, run away from our licenses as fast as you can. Here are real lawyers that have done something similar but way better.'”

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Building an Innovation-Based Economy with Creative Commons

Cable Green, November 15th, 2012

In a paper released in conjunction with a panel discussion, the Brookings Institution identifies promising policy ideas to encourage entrepreneurship and innovative growth in the technology industry.

“We need to improve knowledge transmission through faster adoption of digital textbooks, more widespread use of creative commons licenses for instructional materials developed with taxpayer dollars, and policy changes that speed education innovation.”

“In an era of limited resources, educators must figure out how to do more with fewer financial resources. One action that would improve school efficiency and financing is to have educational resources developed with taxpayer dollars be licensed under a creative commons license that would improve accessibility to instructional materials. Budget circumstances require schools to get more efficient, boost productivity, and make do with fewer financial resources. While this poses obvious problems for school districts, it also creates the possibility of making changes in business operations that are innovative and transformational.”

“Throughout each of these initiatives, we should have metrics assessing education innovation implementation and impact. We should determine how fast we are transitioning from paper to digital textbooks, leverage the use of creative commons licenses, and enforce changes in education policy and accreditation that encourage more innovative approaches to learning and achievement.”

The report also endorses FRPAA legislation that would “mandate public dissemination of federally funded research within six months of publication (for agencies with extramural funding exceeding $100 million).”

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World OER Map: Will You Help Build It?

Cable Green, November 9th, 2012

Global Map Test

Global Map Test / Mike Rosenberg / CC BY

Here’s an exciting opportunity for the open education community. Susan D’Antoni, a long-time leader in Open Educational Resources (OER), is coordinating an important effort to map the global OER space.

You can join the list by sending an email to: oer-community-request@athabascau.ca and typing “subscribe” in the subject line. I have signed up to contribute. I hope you will too.

Read the complete announcement below for more information.

 

Dear Colleagues,

The following invitation is extended to any of you who might be interested in a discussion of how the OER community at large might design, create and sustain an OER world map of institutional initiatives – to help us connect and communicate.

The objective of this conversation is to consider together whether the global OER community could design and build a world map of OER institutional initiatives.

Over the past decade, there have been more and more initiatives in more and more countries. It has become difficult to have a sense of the global OER landscape. As we seek to communicate with stakeholders, as we seek to connect with potential partners and as we seek to learn from the experience of others, we might find useful a picture of the OER world – a global map of institutional and perhaps national initiatives as a starting point. Over time, an “OER World Map” could be enhanced as the community wished and found feasible.

Maps can be effective in communicating a message visually. There are already several global maps that have been created for specific OER groups, such as, the Open CourseWare Consortium and the Open University OLnet project in the United Kingdom.

As many of you will remember, the former IIEP OER community showed enormous energy in its interaction. And importantly, the community showed a capacity to self-organize. A number of groups came together to translate the report of the group’s consensus on priorities to advance the OER movement. If mapping the OER world were seen to be useful, perhaps the worldwide OER community could self-organize to build and maintain an OER world map together.

Our conversation is scheduled to take place online over a three-week period from 12 – 30 November. At the conclusion of the discussion a draft report will be sent to everyone for review and comment.

In addition to this international discussion in English, some groups have already decided to hold similar interactions in their own languages for their own communities or networks. Their input will be shared with the international group, and incorporated into the final report of our collective deliberation and conclusions. We hope others may also wish to organize separate discussions.

I will be back in contact with further details before we begin. I am very much looking forward to being back together again.

My best,

Susan

——————

Outline of the international discussion

Week 1: What could an OER world map look like? (12- 16 November)

  • Why map the OER landscape?
  • Essential information and visual presentation

Week 2: Could a world map be built collaboratively? (19-23 November)

  • Organizational approach for collaboration
  • Ensuring the quality of the information

Week 3: Reflection and next steps (26-30 November)

  • Design of an “OER World Map”
  • Organization
  • Resources available/needed
  • Next steps

Please:

  • Send an email to oer-community-request@athabascau.ca and type “subscribe” in the subject line.
  • Share this announcement with your colleagues and networks.
  • Plan a parallel or follow up discussion in your own language and network and give your feedback for the final report of all the discussions.
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British Columbia Government Lends Support to Open Textbooks

Cable Green, October 16th, 2012

The government of British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, has announced its support for the creation of open textbooks for the 40 most popular first- and second-year courses in the province’s public post-secondary system. The texts will be available for free online, or at a low cost for printed versions, to approximately 200,000 students. The first texts under this project could be in use at B.C. institutions as early as 2013 for courses in arts, sciences, humanities, and business.

BCcampus, a publicly funded collaborative information technology organization serving the higher-education system, will engage B.C. faculty, institutions, and publishers to implement the open textbook project through an open request for proposals.

David Porter, executive director for BCcampus, explained why CC licenses are crucial to this project. “Open licenses are integral to making textbooks free for students, and flexible enough for instructors to customize the material to suit their courses.”

B.C.’s minister of advanced education, John Yap, announced the project at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver. He said students could save up to $1,000 a year on textbooks if free, open versions were available for many of their courses, and he challenged other jurisdictions to follow British Columbia’s lead and support open educational resources: “By taking advantage of technology, more people can get the learning they need in the knowledge economy and access to new or better jobs.”

You might remember that a few weeks ago, we celebrated a similar piece of legislation in California. The British Columbia legislation was actually based on California’s version. Taken together, these are exciting steps for the OER (open educational resources) movement. Since the textbooks produced in B.C. and California will be licensed under the CC BY license, their impact has the potential to spread far beyond the US and Canada, being reused and adapted by educators around the world.

B.C. is leveraging 21st-century technologies and licensing to ensure that its citizens have affordable access to high-quality post-secondary textbooks. Open licensing on publicly funded content ensures the greatest impact for the public dollar.

Read the full press release.

There was an OER Forum later that week. Videos and images.

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US Department of Labor Invests in Open Educational Resources

Cable Green, October 2nd, 2012

In September, the Obama administration announced $500 million in grants to community colleges around the country for the development of professional training programs under the new Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative (TAA-CCCT), run by the US Department of Labor in coordination with the Department of Education. This is the second round of grants in a four-year initiative totaling $2 billion.

For the first time in a federal initiative of this size, grantees are required to license the training materials they produce under the Creative Commons Attribution licence. In her speech announcing the grants, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis stressed that the open-licensing requirement will make it easier for education providers to build on each other’s work.

It’s striking that this announcement comes within days of California’s first-of-its-kind open textbook legislation. As more government agencies begin to require publicly funded learning resources to be openly licensed, the more impact those resources will have. As Ms. Solis put it in her speech, “‘We’re stronger when we work together’ [is] not just a statement of American values. It’s also a winning strategy for growth.”

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Using Free and Open Educational Resources to Support Women and Girls in STEM

Cable Green, September 28th, 2012

Download press release (PDF)

Mountain View, CA and Cambridge, MA — Creative Commons and the OpenCourseWare Consortium announce the formation of a task force to determine how open educational resources (OER) can support the success of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in support of the Equal Futures Partnership, announced on September 24 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“The gender gap in participation in STEM areas around the world is significant,” said Cathy Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons. “We need to address the barriers to girls’ success in STEM to ensure that the future is filled with bright, ambitious, well-educated people of both genders who are able to contend with future global challenges.”

The OER-STEM task force will examine how OER can attract and support girls in STEM education, including additional support services necessary to ensure high levels of success. OER are high-quality educational materials that are openly licensed and shared at no cost, allowing learners and educators to use, adapt, change and add information to suit their education goals. The task force will include experts in STEM education for girls and women along with experts in OER to determine specific projects that will advance achievement in these important areas.

“We are seeking innovative support solutions for girls to succeed in STEM subjects using open educational resources,” said Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium. “Since OER can be accessed freely by anyone, anywhere, and modified to fit different cultural contexts and learning needs around the world, we are looking at this issue from a global perspective.”

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute and make specific uses of it.

About the OpenCourseWare Consortium

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is an international group of hundreds of institutions and organizations that support the advancement open sharing in higher education. The OCW Consortium envisions a world in which the desire to learn is fully met by the opportunity to do so anywhere in the world, where everyone, everywhere is able to access affordable, educationally and culturally appropriate opportunities to gain whatever knowledge or training they desire.

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2012 Paris OER Declaration

Cable Green, June 29th, 2012

Ms. Catherine Ngugi and Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma KRUSE VA'AI
Ms. Catherine Ngugi.. and Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma KRUSE VA’AI / Mariana Bittencourt / CC BY

Through the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and in full partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), UNESCO hosted the 2012 World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress last week to:

  • showcase the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts;
  • release the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs; and
  • celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2002 UNESCO Forum that created the term “OER.”

I am pleased to report UNESCO member States unanimously approved the “Paris OER Declaration” (pdf).

This Declaration is the result of a yearlong process, led by UNESCO and the COL with regional and online meetings and final negotiations at the Congress. The Declaration recommends UNESCO member States:

    a. Foster awareness and use of OER.

    b. Facilitate enabling environments for use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

    c. Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER.

    d. Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.

    e. Support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials.

    f. Foster strategic alliances for OER.

    g. Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.

    h. Encourage research on OER.

    i. Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.

    j. Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.

The Declaration will now be delivered to UNESCO’s Director General. She will submit the Declaration to the UNESCO Executive Board on October, 2012. After the UNESCO Board approves the Declaration, it will go to the General Conference for final approval. While it is important to note a “Declaration” is a non-binding UNESCO instrument, a UNESCO declaration does “set forth universal principles to which the community of States wished to attribute the greatest possible authority and to afford the broadest possible support.”

OER Congress resources

Bravo to all who helped move the world to this moment! So many open advocates traveled to the regional meetings and to the Congress. Your contributions and work with your governments led us all to this successful outcome.

Lawrence Lessig’s Keynote (added 27 July, 2012):

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OER Policy Registry: Request for Help

Cable Green, March 26th, 2012

2071785
2071785 / jma.work / CC BY


Update June 2012:
The OER Policy Registry has moved to its permanent home at http://oerpolicies.org, please review and contribute any new policies there.

Update October 2012: We’ve removed the links to the Google Form and spreadsheet below. Please visit the OER Policy Registry’s permanent home at http://oerpolicies.org.

The open community shares a need for more information to help us with our work. We know, for example, that there are many policies supporting open education at institutions and governments throughout the world. Many of us know of some of these policies, but it would be extremely helpful if we had a single database of open education policies that the entire community could access and update.

To meet this goal, Creative Commons has received a small grant to create an “OER Policy Registry.” The Open Educational Resources (OER) Policy Registry will be a place for policymakers and open advocates to easily share and update OER legislation, OER institutional policies and supporting OER policy resources. We have begun to enter OER policies into the registry, but we need your help to make it a truly useful global resource.

The open movement is reaching a stage where we’ve had some real, concrete OER policy victories and there is the potential to achieve many more. Sharing our collective knowledge of existing OER policies, in the same way we believe in sharing educational resources, will help advocates and policymakers worldwide be more successful.

Please join the effort:

(1) Contribute any OER policies you know about via this Google form.

  • We are collecting both legislative AND institutional (non-legislative) OER policies from around the world. Your form submissions will be added to the draft list of OER policies.

(2) Review the draft list of OER policies. (Google doc)

(3) Pass on this call to your colleagues, lists, blogs, and other channels, to ensure that we get as much input as possible. As the OER movement is global, it is critical that we capture OER policies from around the world.

Anyone can add OER policies to the Google form through the next month. Beginning May 1, the OER Policy Registry will move to the Creative Commons wiki. At that point, anyone will be able to edit and update the OER Policy Registry on the wiki, and all contributions will be licensed under CC BY.

We’re starting with a Google form because (a) it’s easy and (b) wikis require you to create an account before editing, and that may be a barrier to participation.

CC is in contact with other projects that collect similar information, including UNESCO, CoL, the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, EU OCW and a project in New Zealand. We will add OER policy data they gather as it becomes available. If anyone knows of other efforts to gather OER policies, please send them to Anna Daniel (anna@creativecommons.org) and we will reach out to them too.

If you have any suggestions or feedback on the content and/or framework, please let us know.

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Thanks to Creative Commons, OER university will provide free learning with formal academic credit

Cable Green, March 21st, 2012

Creative Commons licenses are enabling an international partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics to provide free learning opportunities for students worldwide with pathways to formal academic credit. The OER university (OERu) will create a parallel learning universe for learners who cannot afford a tertiary education by offering CC-licensed courses — with the opportunity to acquire formal academic credit at greatly reduced cost when compared to full-tuition studies. The OERu will assemble courses from existing open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses, reducing the overall cost of development. It has adopted the Free Cultural Works approved licenses (CC BY and CC BY-SA) as the default for OERu courses.

The OER Tertiary Education Network, the force behind the OERu, includes an impressive line-up of education providers, including: Athabasca University, BAOU (Gujarat’s open university), SUNY Empire State College, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, NorthTec, Open Polytechnic, Otago Polytechnic, Southern New Hampshire University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Canterbury, University of South Africa, University of Southern Queensland, and the University of Wollongong. BCcampus and the OER Foundation are supporting the network as non-teaching partners. These founding OERu anchor partners are accredited institutions in their respective national, provincial or state jurisdictions, which means that the OERu will be able to provide formal academic credit towards credible degrees in Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America — all using CC-licensed courses. Senior executives of the network have facilitated agile and rapid progress targeting the formal launch of the OERu operations in 2013. (More on that here.)

The OERu anchor partners have shortlisted eight university- and college-level courses to be developed as prototypes for refining the OERu delivery system:

  • College Composition
  • Art Appreciation and Techniques
  • Regional relations in Asia and the Pacific
  • A Mathematical Journey
  • General and Applied Psychology
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Why Sustainable Practice
  • Introduction to Management

Collectively, these courses — all first year courses except for Critical Reasoning, which is a 2nd year-level course in Philosophy — will carry credit towards a Bachelor of General Studies, the inaugural credential selected at the OERu meeting in November 2011. Two of the courses will be based on existing course materials under CC BY from U.S. Washington State’s Open Course Library project and the Saylor Foundation.

The OER Foundation has been trailing technologies and delivery approaches of large OER courses to help inform the design and development of these prototype courses. One such course is Open Content Licensing for Educators, which was designed as a free online workshop for educators and learners to learn more about OER, copyright, and CC licenses. The course materials, also under CC BY, were developed collaboratively by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons, with funding support from UNESCO. In January, Open Content Licensing for Educators was conducted online with 1,067 participants from 90 different countries — demonstrating the success of a large, collaborative, and high quality OER project. The OERu model will build on successes such as these, and demonstrate how CC licenses can maximize the return on investment in education at a massive scale.

Kudos to Wayne Mackintosh and all of his colleagues at OERu. Well done!

To learn more, visit WikiEducator.

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Sharing and remixing class notes on GoodSemester under Creative Commons

Cable Green, March 19th, 2012

GoodSemester, a new learning platform geared toward academic productivity, has just announced Creative Commons note sharing, copying and remixing. GoodSemester allows learners to find, copy and modify CC-licensed notes throughout its learning service, then integrate these notes directly into their classes. The default license for all new notes created on GoodSemester is CC BY-SA.

While GoodSemester has made CC BY-SA the default, users can still opt out of sharing their notes. To encourage open sharing, GoodSemester has made sure there are noticeable benefits to keeping notes under the CC license. Restricted notes cannot be copied, shared or remixed. Learners who do share their notes have the opportunity to join a vibrant community of active learners and creators, and to contribute to a growing commons of open educational resources.

In addition, GoodSemester is releasing its own materials under the same CC BY-SA license, as noted in the footer of their website:

All text and images by GoodSemester are released under an open license. We love open things. To show our support for the open learning movement, all text and images on GoodSemester created by GoodSemester are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

This is just another great example of a company integrating CC licenses into its platform to increase the functionality of its tools and the value to its community.

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