CC Talks With: The Shuttleworth Foundation on CC BY as default and commercial enterprises in education
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!3 Comments »
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!)
“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.3 Comments »
In case you haven’t heard, WikiEducator‘s Wayne Mackintosh announced earlier this week that they were joining forces with Connexions “to provide educators with greater freedom of choice to mix and match the best of two OER worlds, namely “producer-consumer” models with more traditional work flow approaches and commons-based peer production.” WikiEducator and Connexions are two collaborative OER projects that use Creative Commons licenses. While WikiEducator, licensed CC BY-SA, focuses “on building capacity in the use of Mediawiki and related free software technologies for mass-collaboration in the authoring of free content,” Connexions, licensed CC BY, focuses on the collaborative development, sharing, and publishing of modular educational content that can be easily integrated into larger collections or courses. According to the announcement, the two projects will partner “to build import export capability between the Connexions and WikiEducator/Mediawiki platforms.”
It’s definitely exciting to see these two OER projects working together, especially since the collaboration is being generously funded by a grant from one of our own biggest supporters, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. There are various ways you can tune into its progress, including visiting the project planning node, subscribing to the Connexions mailing list, or helping them develop use case scenarios.Comments Off
Demonstrating that June’s migration of Wikimedia sites to CC Attribution-ShareAlike as their main content liense was a signal of much greater interoperability among free and open content projects going forward and not merely an end in itself are recent announcements from the Fedora Project, AntWeb, and Wikitravel, all moved or moving to CC BY-SA 3.0. Each has a different story as to how and why they made the move.
The Fedora Project, best known for its community-centric and cutting-edge GNU/Linux distribution, but also committed to “leading the advancement of free, open software and content” (emphasis added, from the Fedora Project home page), has migrated all of its documentation and wiki content to CC BY-SA from the long-deprecated Open Publication License, via their contributor agreement. Among the reasons:
4. Other organizations that have content we can reuse in Fedora and contribute back to, such as Wikipedia and GNOME, have switched or are switching to the CC BY SA. Why does this matter? For one easy example, we can write a definitive history of Fedora, host it on Wikipedia as the upstream, then package it as part of the ‘about-fedora’ package.
5. If you’ve never looked at how much open content there is on e.g. flickr.com and Wikicommons, please look. For content authors, this is going from practically zero useful open media available to tens of millions of photographs, diagrams, and so forth that we can not only freely reuse, but we can contribute back to.
AntWeb, a project of the California Academy of Sciences that holds its own copyrights has changed its license from CC Attribution-NonCommercial to CC Attribution-ShareAlike, a change that has resulted in a major collaboration with Wikimedians and 30,000 ant images gracing Wikipedia articles. Waldir Pimenta guest-blogging with Brianna Laugher, writes:
I found the fantastic images from AntWeb, a project from The California Academy of Sciences, which aims to illustrate the enormous diversity of the ants of the world. I was especially happy to find that they were using a Creative Commons license — but soon after I was disappointed to find that the specific one they used (CC-BY-NC) was not appropriate for Wikipedia (or, more generally, free cultural works, and thus discouraged by Creative Commons itself).
So I sent them an email suggesting them to change the license. When they replied, I found out that they actuallly had been internally discussing license issues for quite a while. I kept in touch, and made sure to let them know the advantages of having their work showcased in such high-traffic websites as Wikipedia, Commons or WikiSpecies.
I like to think that my two cents helped in their decision, some time later, to not only change their license to CC-BY-SA, but also upload all their images to Commons themselves! This was part of their overall mission: “universal access to ant information”. Before, the AntWeb project focused only on digitization of content and development of the web portal; but now they also decided to “export” AntWeb content to improve access. Putting the images and associated metadata in Commons was an example their outreach initiatives.
Finally, Wikitravel, a very successful site that we’ve mentioned here many times (see founder Evan Prodromou’s letter in support of our 2007 fundraising campaign — which also works for 2009!) is building community consensus for upgrading from CC BY-SA 1.0 to CC BY-SA 3.0. Unfortunately 1.0 did not have an upgrade clause, a problem corrected in 2.0.Comments Off
Last October, I mentioned that the UNESCO OER Community was developing an OER Toolkit “aimed at individual academics and decision-makers in higher education institutions interested in becoming active participants in the OER world, as publishers and users of OER.” Today, the draft version (1.1) has been released with an announcement by Philipp Schmidt of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa:
“15 October 2009 — Today the UNESCO OER Toolkit (with support from the UNESCO Communications and Information Sector) was released as a resource for academics and institutions — with a special focus on developing countries — who are interested in participating in open education projects.
OVERVIEW — Most of the Toolkit is designed for academics who are interested in finding and using OER in the courses they teach, or who wish to publish OER that they have developed. Some sections are aimed at institutional decision-makers and academics that [are] interested in setting up a more formal OER project. These projects may start with just a few interested academics but, as they grow, institutional policies, funding and legal constraints become more relevant. Individuals who are not aiming to set up a institutional project may nonetheless be interested to read the whole document. Likewise, institutional planners, IT staff or librarians who are interested in setting up an OER project would benefit from understanding the academic’s perspective.”
Richard Giles, a social media specialist in Australia who frequently posts and CC licenses photos on Flickr, received a threatening letter from the International Olympic Committee last week, mentioning a set of photos he had taken at the 2008 games in Beijing.
Giles posted a rundown of the story so far on his blog. It is not clear the situation is resolved yet, and initially there was confusion about which photos or licenses are at issue, but there are many worthwhile posts about it to check out, including these:
- Olympics threaten photographer by Mathias Klang (of CC Sweden), who points out in passing that there are now over 120 million CC licensed photos on Flickr — a 20% increase in 6 months.
- Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter on Techdirt by Mike Masnick.
- International Olympic Committee Goes Copyright (& Trademark) Crazy on The Moderate Voice by Joe Windish.
- Wikipedia and Olympics Committee heading for collision? by Sage Ross, who points out that Giles’ photo(s) likely came to the attention of the IOC indirectly via English Wikipedia, where one of Giles’ photos is currently used in the Usain Bolt article.
Regarding Ross’ post, of course the UK merchant that used the photo in an advertisement that eventually attracted the IOC’s notice may have discovered the photo directly on Flickr as well. In either case, the value of moving to a more liberal license if you want your works to spread is highlighted — Giles’ Usain Bolt photo is under CC Attribution-ShareAlike, while his other Beijing photos are under CC Attribution-NonCommercial.
Whatever the resolution of this particular dispute, there’s no question that the IOC’s attempt to control how photographers use their own photos is symptomatic of the permission culture and tragedy of the anticommons we are facing. Creative Commons can’t directly influence the IOC’s policies, but we’re creating an alternative to ensure a non-gridlocked future of creativity and innovation, an alternative that offers benefits to those who participate in the commons now, and whose successes will change minds. Please support us — we’re in the midst of our 2009 campaign to raise $500,000 to fund this work.
The photo at the top of this post by Richard Giles is not of the Olympics, but does look fun. Note that even such an innocuous photo could be under threat as we move in the direction of a permission economy — building owners attempt to control public photography, why not balloon owners or designers? Give now. ☺5 Comments »
The Software Freedom Law Show, Episode 0×16 contains numerous bits of interest to CC geeks and is well worth a listen. The show’s hosts, Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Law Center, discuss among other things:
- How the GFDL turned out suboptimally — a key point is that developing good public licenses is very hard, the the GFDL was one of the very first for software documentation or other non-software works.
- The migration of Wikipedia and sister projects from GFDL to CC BY-SA, successfully completed this June.
- The importance of public license stewardship by mission-driven nonprofits — Bradley Kuhn’s writing on stewardship has been noted previously on this blog.
- The license used for the show itself, which is CC BY-ND.
- A promise to talk about the public domain and specifically CC0 in a future episode. Looking forward to it.
One quick addendum to the show, in which the hosts wonder if CC has a public versioning process. The answer is yes — see a a list of CC blog posts over the course of development of our 3.0 licenses. The next, eventual versioning will be even more public and rigorous, just as the GPLv3 had a development process far more in depth than that of any public software license that preceded it.Comments Off
A Brief Overview of U.S. Public Policy on OER from California’s Community Colleges to the Obama Administration
The Publius Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society offers a new essay on OER and public policy in the United States: A Brief Overview of U.S. Public Policy on OER from California’s Community Colleges to the Obama Administration . Written by Carolina Rossini and Erhardt Graeff, it does a great job of pointing out the major recent movements toward OER in state and federal governments, and thoughtfully evaluates the issues that each initiative brings to the table.
“This post draws significantly from an interview on August 10, 2009 with Hal Plotkin, a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Dept. of Education, who has closely followed and been involved with OER policies in California. The interview was part of research on the educational materials sector being conducted under the Industrial Cooperation Project at the Berkman Center at Harvard University. The research is part of a broader project being led by Prof. Yochai Benkler and coordinated by Carolina Rossini. In the research, we are seeking to understand the approaches to innovation in some industrial sectors, such as alternative energy, educational materials, and biotechnology. The intention is to map the degree to which open and commons-based practices are being used compared to proprietary approaches and what forces drive the adoption and development of these models.”
Mobile phones are the most popular means of communication among young adults in South Africa, as South Africans send 250 million text messages a day. This may be true for many parts of the world, where Internet connections are still in dial-up mode or even nonexistent. Through mobile phones, youth carry daily conversations via text messaging, as in some areas it is cheaper to send a text than to call.
Leveraging the popularity of mobile phones, the m4Lit project has launched the first mobile novel of its kind, or m-novel, in South Africa. Kontax, which follows the adventures of a group of teenage graffiti artists, is made specifically for mobile phones, and is available in both English and isiXhosa. It is being released chapter by chapter on a daily basis, with the first chapter already out. From the press release:
“The m4Lit pilot project aims to explore whether teens are interested in reading stories on their cellphones, whether and how they write using their cellphones, and whether cellphones might be used to develop literacy skills and a love of reading. Enter Kontax, an m-novel written on commission from the Shuttleworth Foundation by prize winning ‘mobilist’ Sam Wilson. Kontax is an m-novel made for mobile – and from 30 September readers will be able to access the dynamic teen narrative from their WAP-enabled cellphones, or from their computers. Every day another exciting chapter in the mystery plot will be told, with 21 chapters rolling out over 21 days. Teen readers will be invited to interact with Kontax as it unfolds on their cellphones: they can vote on and discuss the progressing plot, leave comments, download wallpapers and finally submit a written piece as part of a competition, with airtime prizes available for winning submissions.
…As part of the research component of this project, interviews with teens in Cape Town before and after the publishing of Kontax will establish to what extent this project changes South African learners’ attitudes to reading and writing, what learners think about m-novels, and whether the mobile medium as a literacy tool interests or excites them.
In inviting interaction from and discussion amongst its teenage readers, Kontax is aligned with leading global trends, and follows the success of audience participation in story writing found in Japan, where teens have been reading and writing novels on their cellphones in this way for a number of years. The popularity of the m-novel is clearly evident in Japan, where six out of the top 10 fiction best sellers in 2008 were m-novels that had later been printed in book form. The evolution of digital media has had a profound impact on the literacy practices of teenagers from east to west – in the USA, research has shown that through their computers today’s teens are reading and writing more than ever, not formally but on blogs, MySpace pages and via instant messages. Increasingly, SMSes and chats on their cellphones also form part of the “reading” and “writing” of digital literacy.”
Read the press release for more information. And if you happen to be in South Africa, you may want to attend the book launch at “the Book Lounge in Cape Town on Wednesday 30 September at 18h00. All are welcome, but should please RSVP to either email@example.com or 021 462 2425.”
All Kontax content and story images are licensed CC BY-SA. Kontax is written by Sam Wilson and the m4Lit project is spearheaded by Steve Vosloo, 21st Century Learning Fellow for the Shuttleworth Foundation.3 Comments »
Digium, the parent company that hosts and maintains the open source telephony & PBX project called Asterisk, recently replaced the on-hold music featured in their distributions to CC BY-SA licensed works from OpSound. Using freely licensed CC music in open source projects has always made sense to us, but Digium’s John Todd discusses why they finally made the switch on the company’s blog:
In some nations (Australia and France, to pick two that have been brought to our attention) there are some who are claiming that we do not have the rights outlined above, and that our users therefore are in a similar situation where they may be in violation of license terms.
John goes on to explain that since CC licenses are easy to use, well defined, and accepted internationally, the choice was clear to them:
This is very far outside of Digium’s ability or interest to manage, nor do we wish to become involved in the protracted series of legal proceedings required to sort out this licensing issue. So we have chosen another path that is more clear to us: we will eliminate the files of questionable license from Asterisk, and replace them with music that has clearly defined and more acceptable licensing terms which are compatible with both the Asterisk license, and with any reasonable redistribution methods that might be used by others who re-package Asterisk.
Just think, the next time you get placed on hold, there’s a good chance you’ll be listening to some copyleft music!8 Comments »