Last month, I had the honour of providing a keynote address and two workshops at a teacher conference at Northcote College1, on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand.
Like many schools, Northcote is in the process of developing an overarching digital citizenship policy for staff, students, and the wider community. This policy is likely to include – alongside other issues like safety, privacy, research and integrity – a commitment to Creative Commons licensing.
If Northcote College does adopt a Creative Commons policy, they will join between fifty and one hundred New Zealand schools that have decided to formally give permission for teachers to share resources using a Creative Commons licence, with a preference for CC BY and CC BY-SA.
The policy is designed to address the fact that, under Section 21 of the 1994 Copyright Act, the first owner of copyright works made by New Zealand teachers in the course of their employment is their employer – namely, the schools governance board, known as the ‘Board of Trustees’ (BoT).
This means that teachers who share resources they make are legally infringing the school’s copyright – even when they are sharing with other teachers in the New Zealand state education system.
We’re advocating two solutions to this problem. First, we think every school in New Zealand’s pre-tertiary education system – all 2,500 of them – should pass a Creative Commons policy. This policy allows – and encourages – teachers to share their resources with other teachers under a Creative Commons licence.
Second, we think that teachers should adopt practices of finding, adapting, and sharing open content into their workflow. This will give teachers more confidence and flexibility when re-using third-party resources, and provide more resources for other teachers to build on and reuse.
We’ve been working at this for a couple of years now, spreading the word to the many groups working in the sector, including teachers, principals, Boards of Trustees, unions, disciplinary associations, public agencies, and other NGOs.
It’s been a long campaign, but we’re starting to make real progress. We’re giving an average of forty talks and workshops per year to the education sector, and we’re currently looking for ways to scale this work to meet the needs of every school in the country. This will become increasingly important as new resource sharing platforms – such as the crown-owned Network for Learning’s Pond – begin to take off.
The other challenge is to follow the lead of other CC affiliates, such as Poland, and help open up works produced or contracted by the Ministry of Education. There are signs that more of these resources will be openly licensed.
The adoption of open policy in schools coincides with similar moves in the local heritage and research sectors, and follows the continuing integration of CC licensing in central government. While there is still plenty to be done, it appears as if open licensing is on the verge of becoming mainstream across New Zealand’s public institutions – which is definitely good news for the global commons.No Comments »
Read about this course in Spanish on the CC Uruguay blog.
ABC of Copyright for Librarians in Latin America, or ABC del derecho de autor para bibliotecarios de América Latina, is a free, online course that launches today as part of the School of Open. This Spanish language course seeks to help librarians and library users strengthen their knowledge of copyright laws in Latin America and the challenges that exist to access to information in the 21st century.
From the launch announcement:
Public library seeks to provide equal opportunities in access to information, knowledge, recreation, culture, education, reading and writing for all their users. However, there are currently no minimum guarantees that allow libraries and archives carrying out activities related to their mission such as lending books or changing the format of a film (e.g. VHS to digital) for preservation purposes. For decades, protections for authors and/or rightsholders have been increased, while the guarantees of access and inclusion of copyright balances are at the mercy of political will.
This imbalance occurs especially in developing countries, as many developed countries have already generated standards seeking to better balance copyright.
To address these challenges, CC affiliates from Colombia, El Salvador and Uruguay, in collaboration with the Karisma Foundation, have developed a course for librarians, archivists, educators, university researchers, and anyone else in the Latin American region interested in these issues. ABC of copyright for librarians in Latin America is designed to strengthen the understanding of basic copyright concepts through examples, analysis and open models based on Latin American cases and legislation.
The course officially launches online on Internet Activa at 5pm Colombia time today (UTC-5). You can join the launch by filling out this form expressing your intent; however, registration to participate in the course is not required.
About the School of Open
The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.1 Comment »
WindTech TV, a collection of wind turbine technician training materials and simulation modules, is now available under a CC BY license. Developed as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education project, WindTech TV’s modules are aligned with industry standards and designed to be integrated into two-year college wind technology programs to sustain workforce development in the field of wind power.
Modules are currently being used by community colleges across the United States, and Principal Investigator Phil Pilcher wants to expand that impact through reuse by other grantees, including those part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.
“WindTechTV has always been free, but we think that the CC BY license will increase usage. One of our project goals is to disseminate the materials nationwide. The CC license lets instructors and administrators know that they can use our videos as they wish when they are developing and delivering courses. Also, TAACCCT grantees who are working on alternative energy courses will now be able to reuse our video content, which should speed up development.”
Creative Commons actively works to support foundations, governments, IGOs and other funders who create, adopt and implement open policies. We believe publicly funded resources should be openly licensed resources.
To support these and other emerging open policy efforts, CC is about to launch, with multiple global open organizations, an Open Policy Network and Institute for Open Leadership.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has led the way in using open policy requirements in solicitations for grant requirements first with its Career Pathways Innovation Fund Grants Program (http://www.doleta.gov/grants/pdf/SGA-DFA-PY-10-06.pdf), then with its Trade Adjustment Assistance and Community College Career Training grant program (doleta.gov/taaccct). Now they are once again requiring the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license on all content created with the grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds in their Ready to Work Partnership grant program. Bravo!
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the availability of approximately $150 million in funds for the H-1B Ready to Work Partnership grant program. DOL expects to fund approximately 20-30 grants with individual grant amounts ranging from $3 million to $10 million. This grant program is designed to provide long-term unemployed workers with individualized counseling, training and supportive and specialized services leading to rapid employment in occupations and industries for which employers use H-1B visas to hire foreign workers. http://www.doleta.gov/grants/pdf/SGA_DFA_PY_13_07.pdf
Here is the open policy text in the grant solicitation:
Well done U.S. Department of Labor for once again demonstrating how to properly implement an open policy.
The U.S. Department of Labor seal is in the public domain.1 Comment »
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a report this week called, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives.” The report features responses to a survey administered to over 2,000 students across 163 college campuses in the U.S. in regards to the rising cost of textbooks and how it affects student usage and academic performance. The report has been making the rounds in major news outlets and is highlighted in a letter to Congress by Senators Durbin and Franken as a push for the Affordable College Textbook Act. It is available for anyone to read online under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license, but here are the tl;dr highlights:
What the survey results say
- 65% of students choose not to buy a college textbook because it’s too expensive
- 94% report that they suffer academically because of this choice
- 48% say they altered which classes they took based on textbook costs, either taking fewer classes or different classes
- Senator Durbin wholeheartedly agrees: “According to the students surveyed in this report, the rising cost of textbooks not only adds to the overall financial burden of attending college, it can also have a measurably negative impact on their academic performance and student outcomes.”
- 82% of students say they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook were free online and a hard copy was optional!
- Case studies at both Houston Community College and Virginia State University suggest that classes using open textbooks have higher grades and better course completion rates
Textbook industry facts
(as reported by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs)
- College textbook prices have increased by 82% in the past ten years, aka 3x the rate of inflation
- Though alternatives to the new print edition textbooks exist, the costs of these alternatives (such as rental programs, used book markets and e-textbooks) are still dictated by publishers who re-issue editions every few years
- Ethan Sendack at U.S. PIRG says: “[Students] can’t shop around and find the most affordable option, meaning there’s no consumer control on the market.”
- On average students spend $1,200 a year on textbooks which = 14% of tuition at a four-year, public college; 39% of tuition at community college
Open textbook facts
- Open textbooks are written by faculty and peer-reviewed like traditional textbooks
- Open textbooks are free to access, use, download to electronic devices, and affordable to print — all thanks to the open content licenses on them that legally allows these uses
- U.S. PIRG estimates that open textbooks could save each student ~$100 per course they take
Find out for yourself
Links to the press release, full report, and news coverage below.
- Press release: http://uspirg.org/news/usp/survey-shows-students-opting-out-buying-high-cost-textbooks
- Full report: http://uspirg.org/reports/usp/fixing-broken-textbook-market
- SPARC’s blog post: http://www.sparc.arl.org/blog/survey-says-textbook-costs-threat-student-success
- US News & World Report: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/01/28/report-high-textbook-prices-have-college-students-struggling
- NBC Today show: http://www.today.com/money/college-textbook-costs-more-outrageous-ever-2D11999533
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/open-textbooks-could-help-students-financially-and-academically-researchers-say/49839
What you can do
Support the Affordable College Textbook Act which would establish open textbook pilot programs at colleges and universities across the country! Learn more at http://www.sparc.arl.org/advocacy/national/act and read Senators Durbin and Franken’s Dear Colleague letter to Congress at http://www.sparc.arl.org/sites/default/files/S.%201704%20Dear%20Colleague.pdf.3 Comments »
United States Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota have introduced legislation called the Affordable College Textbook Act that seeks to make college textbooks affordable and openly available under the Creative Commons Attribution license. According to Durbin’s press release, Bill S.1704 does 5 things:
- Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
- Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public [via CC BY];
- Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
- Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and
- Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.
(3) OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE.—The term ‘‘open educational resource’’ means an educational resource that is licensed under an open license and made freely available online to the public.
(4) OPEN LICENSE.—The term ‘‘open license’’ means a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable copyright license granting the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use the work and adaptations of the work for any purpose, conditioned only on the requirement that attribution be given to authors as designated.
(5) OPEN TEXTBOOK.—The term ‘‘open textbook’’ means an open educational resource or set of open educational resources that either is a textbook or can be used in place of a textbook for a postsecondary course at an institution of higher education.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) note several existing open textbook programs that have proved successful in lowering costs for students, including the University of Minnesota’s online catalog of open textbooks which has so far saved students $100,000; Tidewater Community College’s degree program where each course uses open textbooks lowering costs to zero for students; and Washington State’s Open Course Library project for its 81 largest enrollment courses that has saved students $5.4 million to date.
In addition to cost savings, SPARC highlights Bill S.1704’s potential impacts of high quality and innovation:
- High quality materials. Open educational resources developed through the grants will also be available for all other colleges, faculty and students across the country to freely use.
- Supporting innovation. At a time where new models to support open educational resources are rapidly emerging, this bill would help foster innovation and development of best practices that can be shared with other institutions.
For more info, see:
- Senator Durbin’s press release
- SPARC’s press release, web page to take action, and page about the bill
- Summary and current status of Bill S.1704; complete text of bill
You can take action to support Bill S.1704 here and use Twitter hashtag #oerusa to share the news!Comments Off
Saylor K-12 Beta by The Saylor Foundation / CC BY
The Saylor Foundation recently launched a new K-12 program on Saylor.org, debuting courses for grades 6-12 in English language arts and mathematics. A team of experienced educators and staff are developing courses fully aligned to the US Common Core State Standards. Like Saylor’s college-level courses, the K-12 program incorporates open educational resources (OER), making the courses, as well as their contents, widely reusable by students, teachers, and parents nationwide. The course frameworks and instructions are available under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Thus, while the courses are ready for use as-is, anyone may also reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute their courses to meet local needs.
Following its higher education model, Saylor’s K-12 team focused on reviewing and vetting an existing pool of OER, selecting the best OER to develop instructions and learning outcomes. With Common Core standards providing a framework for each course, Saylor aims to make K-12 OER easy to find and use. Saylor is currently working on 18 additional courses which will be rolled out as they are completed.
How can you use K-12 courses on Saylor.org?
- Flip your classroom without shooting your own videos. Saylor provides recommendations on their site.
- Incorporate more engaging digital content in your class.
- Get current, openly licensed, Common Core–aligned materials for free.
- Provide extra resources to supplement what your kids learn in school.
- Use self-contained curriculum for home-schooling families.
- Accelerate or review subjects with your kids.
- Do more challenging work. Your school might not offer calculus, but Saylor.org does!
- Learn subjects in a different way and acclimate to an online learning environment.
- Review material you learned in school.
- Go further and prepare for your SATs/college (more on that on the site).
OpenStax College, an initiative of Connexions, the open educational resources (OER) authoring project at Rice University, is creating high-quality, peer-reviewed open textbooks. All of OpenStax College’s books, including the art and illustrations, are available under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), allowing anyone to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the books.
The first two OpenStax College books were published in June of 2012, and since then Introduction to Sociology and College Physics have been downloaded over 110,000 times, used by more than 1.5 million unique online learners, and adopted at over 200 schools. These adoptions represent real savings for over 30,000 students in classes around the world. OpenStax College estimates that it has saved these students more than $3 million (USD) so far.
OpenStax isn’t stopping there. Biology and its corresponding book for non-majors, Concepts of Biology, and Anatomy & Physiology have now been released and are ready for use in classes in the fourth quarter of 2013.
OpenStax College recently received grants to complete six more books from several major foundations, including the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Kanzanjian Foundation and Lowenstein Foundation. The next phase will feature Introduction to Statistics, Pre-Calculus, Principles of Economics, U.S. History, Psychology, and Chemistry. These books are entering production now and are scheduled to be released by the end of 2014.1 Comment »
New Education Highway (NEH) is a nonprofit project that could not exist without open educational resources (OER). Launched this year in Myanmar, NEH leverages new and existing OER to provide remote and rural communities — often with no Internet connection — with access to a quality education.
NEH partners with existing organizations in local communities to open free learning centers with tablets or laptops installed with an offline, easily navigable learning interface. Resources are preloaded and span all manner of subjects, including comprehensive K-12 education, standardized test preparation, vocational skills, health/HIV education, sanitation, critical thinking, community development, foreign language training, and environmental and agricultural science. All resources are available under CC licenses, developed by NEH or other organizations. Because permissions have already been granted for reuse, NEH, as well as its communities, can adapt and redistribute the resources as needed.
NEH works with each community it serves to customize the offline interface and OER to that particular community. NEH is always seeking new and existing materials to incorporate, currently in the environmental and agricultural sciences. If you have suggestions for OER, materials that might be adapted and released as OER, or are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, visit http://www.neweducationhighway.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Informational content on NEH’s website is defaulted under the CC BY license. The OER used within the NEH Learning Interface is licensed under the CC BY-SA and CC BY-NC-SA licenses and will be made available on the site in the coming months.2 Comments »
Ryan / CC BY-SA
Lumen Learning, a company founded to help institutions adopt open educational resources (OER) more effectively, just launched its first set of course frameworks for educators to use as-is or to adapt to their own needs. The six course frameworks cover general education topics spanning English composition, reading, writing, algebra, and college success, and are openly licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY).
The course frameworks were developed by the Lumen Learning team in concert with faculty members at nine institutions who worked to align the content with defined learning objectives and quality standards. By providing openly licensed course frameworks developed and vetted by experts, Lumen Learning hopes to make it easier for educators and institutions to use OER. From the press release,
“Our ultimate goal is to provide sustainable open textbook alternatives for an entire general education curriculum and even entire OER-based degree programs,” said Kim Thanos, CEO and co-founder of Lumen Learning. “We are thrilled with the interest and momentum we are seeing around OER today. It is definitely a rising tide, benefitting students, instructors and institutions alike.”
You can browse the CC BY-licensed course frameworks at http://www.lumenlearning.com/courses. Lumen Learning will also offer additional course frameworks in business management, psychology, chemistry, biology, and geography in the coming months.2 Comments »