In As Colleges Make Courses Available Free Online, Others Cash In the New York Times writes about how universities are funding OpenCourseWare programs as well as how businesses have sprung up around CC licensed Open Educational Resources (OER) from such programs. Regarding the latter, our CEO is quoted:
On a philosophical level, the idea of making money from something available free might seem questionable. But Joi Ito, chief executive of Creative Commons, which issues the licenses defining user rights to most OpenCourseWare materials, supports the mixing of free and for-profit: “I think there’s a great deal of commercial infrastructure that needs to be created in order for this to be successful,” Mr. Ito said: “It can’t all just be free.”
As readers steeped in knowledge of free culture/open content (and before it free and open source software) will recognize, this means three things.
First, sharing does not preclude making money. To the contrary, artists have long been making CC licensing part of their business strategies, and recently some OER creators and companies are following suit. Examples include WikiPremed, Flat World Knowledge, and Bloomsbury Academic. See Eric Frank explain how Flat World Knowledge gives away CC licensed open textbooks and profits from print materials and services rendered around the content in a video just uploaded from CC Salon NYC.
Second, there needs to be an ecosystem built around open materials, and businesses are an important part of that ecosystem. In the OER space the article mentions Academic Earth. Consider the many businesses providing services around CC licensed materials more broadly (e.g., Flickr, and Fotopedia, which leverages CC licensed works from both Flickr and Wikipedia) and the legion of businesses build around free software (e.g., Red Hat). Consider how huge education is. The opportunity and need for businesses that provide distribution, curation, and a plethora of other services around OER are huge.
Third, free can refer to price and freedom. Businesses, universities, and others can charge a price for access or services around OER. The ecosystem works due to the freedoms that have been granted to use and build upon OER.
The article also mentions the values of OER, one of which is to “[create] an incentive for universities to improve themselves.” It quotes Cathy Casserly, who recently joined the Creative Commons board of directors:
“I think that by putting some of the spectacular professors, and putting their approaches and pedagogical instructional strategies that they use with their students in front of the world, it sets a new benchmark for all of us to learn from,” she said. “And I think that’s actually one of the incredible powers of this open educational resource.”
I’m pleased to announce that today the Creative Commons board of directors has elected Cathy Casserly as a new member. Cathy has been a foremost champion of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement for a decade and of Creative Commons since its inception.
She served as Director of Open Educational Resources Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. A year ago she joined The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as Senior Partner.
Cathy has become a great personal friend and invaluable mentor as I ramp up my involvement in CC’s open education strategy. It is a great honor for me to welcome Cathy to the Creative Commons board of directors.
Addendum: CC board chair Esther Wojcicki on her Huffington Post blog writes Open Education Resources Get a Big Boost: Cathy Casserly Joins Creative Commons Board.Comments Off
Catherine Casserly, Director of Open Educational Resources Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and long-time supporter of CC, has taken a new position at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. As stated in the press release:
As the first full-time Senior Partner appointed by Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk, Casserly will be responsible for new program initiatives and will manage the strategic direction of Carnegie’s work in Open Educational Resources. In leading efforts to build a new field of Design, Educational Engineering and Development, Carnegie provides an ideal combination of timing and place to extend the knowledge and evidence base regarding the effectiveness of innovation and Open Educational Resources for learning.
Catherine Casserly and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have been instrumental in the growth of Creative Commons and in establishing ccLearn. It’s important for the commons community to recognize the work Casserly has done over the years, as she has been and will continue to be a key player in the open movement. Congratulations to Catherine and Carnegie from all of us here at CC!Comments Off
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been a tremendous supporter of Creative Commons and our new educational division, ccLearn. The foundation’s newsletter just published a great interview with Catherine Casserly, their Program Officer for Open Educational Resources. Here are a couple excerpts:
Aren’t copyright laws an obstacle to all of this?
Traditionally, they have been. We’re trying to move to “copy left.” That’s really the term they use. It’s a concept of legal constructions that provide much more flexibility so the creator of content still owns it, and those using it must attribute it to them, but the owner can choose the ways they are willing to share it with others. A key player in this is Creative Commons, a non-profit corporation that Hewlett and other foundations support that helps people who create content define a range of legal control that allows certain shared use of their material.
You know, only a very small number of professors ever make money on textbooks. Everyone thinks they are going to hit, but most don’t. I suppose if you’re one of the few, you might give up some revenue stream by making a text available in this way. We’re looking into making these books available for free to those who can’t afford them. And there are other models emerging. There’s a for-profit company planning to make textbooks available for free and makes its money selling the supplemental materials like flashcards for mobile phones.
But intellectual property issues have been huge and will continue to be a factor.
Look into your crystal ball. What do you think all this will look like in another decade based on advances in technology and current trends?
We can’t even imagine what the technology will look like in ten years. I think we’ll have a vast library of available knowledge and alternative ways for people to get access to higher education. I think we’ll have institutions that grant credentials for this learning. And I hope we’ll have students who engage in learning in rewarding ways that make them creators of knowledge. And it’s through that creation that they learn. That will be a big turning point.
Thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and our other supporters! Please join them.Comments Off