CC BY-SA

Choosing An Open License – the P2PU Experience

Jane Park, May 25th, 2010

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing a CC license. The factors are different for everyone, whether you’re an individual creator or an institution. Usually, the decision is made and the process by which it was made fades into memory or only remains via word of mouth or blog posts. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) didn’t want this to happen so they decided to document their process when the community held its first workshop in Berlin. A Guide to CHOOSING AN OPEN LICENCE: The Peer 2 Peer University Experience is the result of their efforts. From the announcement:

P2PU has always been committed to openness in everything we do, from the way we run our activities, to how we licence the materials we produce. However, as many people who have worked in the Open Educational space will attest, choosing the right kind of licence, one that provides both the protections and the freedoms that a project like P2PU may require, can be a tricky process…

As we went through the process, we also realised that our experiences may be useful for other people who are undergoing a similar exercises. So we decided to document what we did, and why, and how it turned out. And today, we are proud to announce the publication of our Guide to Choosing an Open Licence (with a CC licence, of course!) In this document, you’ll find details of every step we took to choose our licence, and a range of opinions from several open educators, lawyers and practitioners which we found invaluable.

The P2PU experience is only one of many, and it is not necessarily the process or the license that everyone should choose. It is simply one example of a process that worked for a diverse community of people with various viewpoints. In the end, they chose CC BY-SA (with the allowance of CC BY for when content is entirely funded by a third party). The document is thorough, objective, helpful, and not very long–so make sure to check it out, especially if you’re wondering how to go about choosing a CC license for your own project. (The document itself is available via CC BY-SA).

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Massively Multiplayer Game Ryzom Released as Free Culture and Free Software

Chris Webber, May 6th, 2010

Ryzom's Windfall
Ryzom's Windfall by Winch Gate / CC BY-SA

Today brings an exciting announcement… Winch Gate Properties Ltd. is releasing Ryzom, an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), with its code under the GNU AGPLv3 and its artistic assets under CC BY-SA.

Games are almost unique in how tightly the medium requires the interweaving of software and culture.  Amongst the many genres of video games that exist today, the MMORPG is probably the most complex and requires the most depth both on the side of the code and content.  Since Ryzom is a mature, well developed project, the scale of this release and its significance for both free culture and free software are both truly incredible.  In the words of Winch Gate’s own press release:

By freeing Ryzom code, Winch Gate is transforming the MMORPG marketplace and is setting a precedent for how gaming software should evolve–in freedom. The source code released totals over two (2) million lines of source code and over 20,000 high quality textures and thousands of 3D objects.

Some components aren’t released yet to the public (notably the music and sounds, although this is apparently in progress) and the world data for the main server isn’t being released to keep the player community from fracturing.  Notably also, the current tools for creating game data require proprietary software, but the Free Software Foundation notes that there are efforts under way to make these actions editable incorporating free software tools such as Blender.  However the components that are already available: the server code, the client code, and the many models, animations, textures and etc, already bring many great community opportunities.  The freeing of these resources opens them for study, modification, and incorporation into other works and games of compatible licenses.  And of course the existence of all these components also means that one can run a fully free-as-in-freedom virtual universe of one’s own.  If you ever dreamed of the carving of virtual worlds, here’s your great chance.

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Wikipedia on new Facebook community pages

Jane Park, April 21st, 2010

Earlier this week, Facebook announced its launch of community pages, pages based on topics of interest to the community that are not maintained by a single author. Single author pages include band or company pages that intend to promote that band or company. Instead, community pages are based on the concept of “shared knowledge” that underlies Wikipedia. Community pages integrate Wikipedia content which retains the Creative Commons license.

For example, check out the community page for Cooking. The page has directly imported CC BY-SA licensed content from the Wikipedia entry on Cooking. All links to Wikipedia are retained, including direct links to edit the information. At the bottom of the page, the source of content is explicitly stated with links to the CC BY-SA license and history of the article:

For more information on how Wikipedia is integrated into community pages, check out Facebook’s FAQ on Community pages and an email from Wikimedia Foundation’s Head of Business Development, Kul Takanao Wadhwa:

Wikipedia articles on Facebook will further increase the reach of free knowledge on the internet. Facebook has hundreds of millions of users, and now more than 70% of their traffic is coming from outside of the US. Our hope is that many Facebook users (if they are not already) will also be inclined to join the large community of Wikipedia contributors. Facebook will follow the free licenses (CC-BY-SA) and help us find more ways people can share knowledge. Furthermore, we will be looking at other ways that both parties can cooperate in the future.

It’s worth noting privacy concerns about they way Facebook has connected community pages to user profiles — these concerns have nothing to do with the reuse of Wikipedia content.

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Teaching Open Source Software

Jane Park, April 7th, 2010

If you’re like me, then you don’t know much about software; if you’re not like me, then you know about software but not much about open source software (OSS). Regardless of which camp you fall into, there’s good news—you can learn about open source software (and help others learn about it) through open educational resources on OSS online. Practical Open Source Software Exploration: How to be Productively Lost, the Open Source Way is teachingopensource.org‘s new textbook to help professors, or anyone for that matter, teach or learn about open source software. “It’s a book that works like an open source software project. In other words: patches welcome.

For those needing something quick and simple to hand out to their classes, educators can contribute to or adapt this textbook (it’s licensed under CC BY-SA so you can share, translate, remix as long as you share alike) or search for other OER online. One K-12 educator developed this resource under CC BY, A K-12 Educator’s Guide to Open Source Software.

Via CC licenses, both resources enable a community of educators and learners to contribute to, edit, and improve them, especially Practical Open Source Software Exploration which invites people to edit the wiki directly. But fostering a community around open resources to keep them up-to-date and relevant isn’t something that just magically happens, which is why Red Hat, a successful business built around OSS, developed this meta-resource: The Open Source Way: Creating and nurturing communities of contributors. The book is available in wiki-form also under CC BY-SA, and “it contains knowledge distilled from years of Red Hat experience, which itself comes from the many years of experience of individual upstream contributors who have worked for Red Hat.” Basically, it’s a guide “for helping people to understand how to and how not to engage with community over projects such as software, content, marketing, art, infrastructure, standards, and so forth.” Of course none of this is set in stone (literally), since what works for some might not for others, but it’s worth taking a look and adapting to your own needs.

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Pratham Books uses CC to make children’s books accessible

Jane Park, April 5th, 2010

Nearly two years ago, I blogged about Pratham Books, a nonprofit children’s book publisher in India. “It was set up to fill a gap in the market for good quality, reasonably priced children’s books in a variety of Indian languages. [Its] mission is to make books affordable for every child in India.” At the time, Pratham Books had released six children’s books under a CC BY-NC-SA license, available on their Scribd page. Since then, they have changed the licenses on those books to Attribution Only (CC BY) and have expanded their offerings to books in the public domain. They have also been blogging extensively and encouraging remix of their CC licensed illustrations on Flickr.

Last month, the CC licenses enabled audio versions of Pratham children’s books for India’s National Association of the Blind. Three audio versions were recorded by Radio Mirchi, two in English and one in Urdu, with more in the works.

I asked Guatam John of Pratham Books why they moved towards more open licensing (from the books’ original CC BY-NC-SA license), and what else he saw for the future of Pratham’s CC licensed books.

“Pratham Books has taken the position that all our content will either be under a CC-BY or CC-BY-SA license because, to us, these are the only two truly open licenses that fit our needs. Radio Mirchi gave us the content with no terms attached but since it was done pro bono, we felt that putting it out under the CC-BY-SA license was the best available choice for both the community, Radio Mirchi and us. Also, the SA component serves to limit commercial use unless it is re-shared, as the license, and our philosophy, mandates.

We continue to release content under open licenses, for example: http://blog.prathambooks.org/2010/03/retell-remix-rejoice-with-chuskit-world.html. And we will continue to do so over time. We have been working with the Connexions project to build a platform for the re-use, remix and distribution of our content too. Our basic goal is a net increase in the available content for children to read from and we think we can catalyse this two ways: Seeding the domain with our content and building a platform to make it easy to re-use and re-purpose content.”

For more on CC licensed OER being adapted to accessible versions, see “U.S. Dept of Ed funds Bookshare to make open textbooks accessible.”

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WikiPremed makes money by giving away MCAT course

Jane Park, March 30th, 2010

Artists have been using Creative Commons licenses in interesting ways for a while, whether it’s to encourage interesting adaptations of their work or to help boost album sales. But it’s not only the visual artists and musicians diversifying the use of CC licenses—open education initiatives like Flat World Knowledge are experimenting with innovative business models by giving away digital content while charging for services added around it. WikiPremed is another one.

WikiPremed is the result of fifteen years of hard work, founded by John Wetzel, a graduate of Stanford University who has been helping “premedical students prepare for the MCAT in small group teaching through over fifty course cycles.” The site is comprehensive in scope, basically a course “in the undergraduate level general sciences,” consisting of textbooks, flash cards, test questions, images, and more that a premed student would need to prepare for the MCAT. All materials are available for free under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, which means you can translate, improve, and republish it as long as you share alike.

What’s more interesting is that the site is sustaining itself by giving away digital content for free and charging for print materials, such as its Physics flashcards and print versions of its books. There is also an ask for a one-time $25 donation that then gives students an Organic Mechanisms Pocketbook and Advanced Physiology Crosssword Puzzle Book in return as a thank you. From Glyn Moody’s short interview of John Wetzel (which got picked up by techdirt),

“Students need printed study materials, and they get sick of the computer, so I definitely think there is room for creative commons educational content supported by print publications. I think there is an ethic to not holding content hostage to purchases, but I think there are commercial advantages to the open model as well. I don’t doubt that the average customer at WikiPremed has 1000 page views before purchasing anything.

I am sure that if there were registration walls and missing chapters I would have fewer customers.

I’m not getting rich or anything, at this point, but it is working.”

If you’re interested, you can help contribute to the WikiPremed case study.

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Collaborative² Futures

Mike Linksvayer, March 25th, 2010

FLOSS Manuals, true to its name, produces manuals for free software applications. The manuals themselves are freely licensed and often written in book sprints. This January, as part of the Transmediale festival in Berlin, FLOSS Manuals attempted its first non-manual booksprint — a considerably harder task, as no structure is implied. Only the book title, Collaborative Futures, was given — a collaborative experiment about the future of collaboration.

The initial collaborators each had considerable experience with free software or free culture collaborations — Michael Mandiberg, Marta Peirano, Alan Toner, Mushon Zer-Aviv, me, and FLOSS Manuals’ honcho Adam Hyde and programmer Aleksandar Erkalovic.

Initially we thought we’d write much about licenses and other topics much debated by those in the free software and free culture community. After a day of intense discussion of book content and structure, those debates were left in the background as we tackled explaining what kinds of collaboration we intended to write about and speculating about what the future of collaboration holds. As appropriate, we did use licenses — the book is released under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license and incorporates a fair amount of previously existing material under the same or compatible licenses (surprisingly enough, none from Wikipedia).

A one minute video was made for the book’s New York launch, available at the Internet Archive and Vimeo.

There’s also a licensing (and collaboration?) story behind the video. Producer Bennett Williamson wanted to use “Rolands Vegners” by Ergo Phizmiz & Margita Zalite as the soundtrack. Bennett writes on his Free Music Archive blog:

This was a problem, because Collaborative Futures (and all its related materials) already had a different type of CC license than Ergo’s track; Attribution-ShareAlike and Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike respectively.

I really liked the song and wanted to keep it in the video, so I contacted Ergo and asked him if he’d be willing to change the license type of his track… and he agreed! Score one for copyright alternatives!

So remember kids, when syncing up these jams to your sweet vids, make sure that your derivitive has a license that jives with that of the original work. And sometimes all you have to do is ask.

With that, here’s ten more instrumentals from the Archives ready for you to slap into your timeline. Thanks to those of you who made suggestions of tracks to include; please keep them coming!

All well worth keeping in mind for future collaborations. Check out the book, and more importantly, FLOSS Manuals and the Free Music Archive, excellent free culture projects covering a broad range of tastes.

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Peer 2 Peer University Launches Second Pilot

Jane Park, February 18th, 2010

The Peer 2 Peer University, “a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls” by leveraging social software and existing open educational resources, launched its second pilot and a new website today. The first pilot launched last September with seven courses, ranging from Creative Nonfiction Writing to Behavioral Economics. Due to high demand, P2PU has doubled its course offerings for the second round. From the press release,

“Some of the courses were offered in the first phase of the pilot which launched last September, but seven are brand new, including “Urban Disaster Risk Management,” “Mashing Up the Open Web,” and “Solve Anything! Building Ideas through Design.” P2PU is also excited to announce its first Portuguese language courses organized by Brasil’s Casa de Cultura Digital, one of which is an introduction to the thinking of Paulo Freire (educational theorist who is author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed). The P2PU community has grown and is excited to have these new courses and their organizers on board.”

Since last November’s workshop in Berlin, a few changes have taken place at P2PU. P2PU is still run and governed by volunteers, but the P2PU Council, with the support of the community, has elected Philipp Schmidt as its representing Director. Philipp is one of the co-founders of the project, as well as a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, which enables him to devote himself full time to P2PU. On becoming Director, Philipp says, “We have proven that the model works and are seeing tremendous interest from people all over the world to learn together. I am very excited to help guide the project through the next phase of growth and for the opportunity to work with the inspiring and talented volunteers that make P2PU so special.”

When asked how P2PU will affect the education landscape, Council member Delia Browne says, “P2PU will revolutionize how people learn. It will help create a global open culture of learning for the 21st century.”

The P2PU community consists of a diverse group of people. They are writers, teachers, designers, doctoral and alternative grad students, artists, copyright specialists, scientists, and blues guitar players. Above all, they are learners–peers working together to learn from each other.”

If you want to learn more about the Peer 2 Peer University, see my past post on them. All P2PU produced content is licensed under CC BY-SA, which means you are free to share, distribute and derive for your own mirror initiative as long as you share alike. “P2PU is teaching and learning by peers for peers and it is run and governed by volunteers. It builds on educational content that is free from copyright restrictions or licensed under Creative Commons licenses.” The deadline to sign up for courses is February 28. Courses will run for at least six weeks starting March 12. Each course may require different information and prerequisites to apply.

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CC Talks With: The Shuttleworth Foundation on CC BY as default and commercial enterprises in education

Jane Park, December 22nd, 2009

548234619_27cf7f47c4_o
Photo by Mark Surman CC BY-NC-SA

For those of you who don’t know Karien Bezuidenhout, she is the Chief Operating Officer at the Shuttleworth Foundation, one of the few foundations that fund open education projects and who have an open licensing policy for their grantees. A couple months ago, I had the chance to meet Karien despite a six hour time difference—she was in Capetown, South Africa—I was in Brooklyn, New York. Via Skype, I asked her about Shuttleworth’s evolving default license (CC BY-SA to CC BY), her personal stake in OER, and how she envisions us (CC Learn and Shuttleworth) working together. She also gave me some insights into three innovative open education projects they have a hand in: Siyavula, M4Lit, and Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

The conversation below is more or less transcribed and edited for clarity. It makes for great holiday or airplane reading, and if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to the topics or projects that interest you. This is CC Learn’s last Inside OER feature of 2009—so enjoy, and happy whatever-it-is-that-you-are-doing-in-your-part-of-the-world!

Read More…

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The Future of Peer 2 Peer University

Jane Park, December 8th, 2009

wall of organized ideas
Photo by John Britton CC BY-SA

The pilot phase of P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) ended in October, after having run for six weeks with seven courses and approximately 90 participants. Last month, the pilot phase volunteers, including the course organizers, met in person for the first time at the first ever P2PU Workshop in Berlin. The goal of the workshop was to integrate pilot phase experiences into a working plan for the future of P2PU. Judging from the outcomes, the workshop achieved its goal. Check out CC Learn’s video download of the workshop at Blip.tv, Vimeo, or YouTube. (It’s CC BY, so feel free to share and remix!)

Background

“The mission of P2PU is to leverage the power of the Internet and social software to enable communities of people to support learning for each other. P2PU combines open educational resources, structured courses, and recognition of knowledge/learning in order to offer high-quality low-cost education opportunities. It is run and governed by volunteers.”

Why is CC Learn interested in P2PU?

“P2PU is the social wrapper around open educational resources.”

The open education movement started by focusing on the legal and technical aspects of educational resources, and how they could be opened up for use by anyone, anywhere. Creative Commons licenses provide the legal, technical, and social infrastructure for OER, enabling the easy use and reuse of OER while improving discoverability and adaptability around the world. This movement towards opening education has resulted in an abundant and still growing commons of open educational resources (OER).

However, P2PU recognizes that content isn’t enough. Accessing OER does not automatically result in learning. There are reasons why traditional education institutions exist, one of these being the social interaction between peers that enables, facilitates, and motivates learning. But what about those that want to learn outside of brick and ivy walls? P2PU is an initiative outside of the traditional institution that aims to provide the social learning structures, the “social wrapper”, around existing open educational resources.

Because P2PU is a true OER project, testing the bounds of what can work when you empower a community of volunteers and peers to learn for free from each other, CC Learn is interested in where it’s going.

Where is P2PU going?

In the short term, P2PU is aiming to double its courses for its second pilot, which launches towards the end of January next year. P2PU has also established a strong community of core volunteers in tech, outreach, sustainability, research, and course organizing. These volunteers run P2PU, and they are all very busy getting P2PU ready for its next phase which will feature, among other things:

  • a new website and social platform
  • an orientation process for new course organizers
  • a CC BY-SA licensing policy (and a compendium on how to choose a license for your open education project)
  • a set of core values that the community subscribes to

P2PU is also preparing a research workshop on alternative accreditations in early 2010, and building relationships with other organizations (such as CC Learn) to explore avenues in research, assessment, and sustainability.

What is the role of P2PU in education?

Good question, and good answers—here. Like the education landscape, P2PU is still evolving. For more reflections on the workshop, check out the video, Nadeem Shabir’s post on Talis Education, and my post on OnOpen.net.

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