CC BY

New Education Highway uses OER to make education accessible in Myanmar

Jane Park, July 3rd, 2013

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 info@neweducationhighway.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.

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Lumen Learning launches open course frameworks for teaching

Jane Park, June 11th, 2013

course framework
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.

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Open Course Library releases 39 more high-enrollment courses

Jane Park, April 30th, 2013

OCLHowto1
OCL How-to Guide / SBCTC / CC BY

A year and a half ago, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of Washington state’s 81 high-enrollment courses under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). Now they have released the remaining 39 under the same terms, which means that anyone, anywhere, including the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges and four-year colleges and universities, can use, customize, and distribute the course materials.

The Open Course Library project is funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It adheres to SBCTC’s open policy, which requires that all materials created through system grants be openly licensed for the public to freely use, adapt, and distribute under CC BY.

For further background on the project, read our 2010 feature about the project when it was just beginning. All 81 courses are available at the recently redesigned Open Course Library website where each individual course is marked with the CC BY license to enable discovery through Google and other search services on the web.

Update

The SBCTC held a press call today bringing to light a new Cost Analysis report on savings for students where Open Course Library courses have been used in lieu of traditional course materials. For more info, please see:

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Third Round of TAACCCT Grants Announced by US Department of Labor

Paul Stacey, April 25th, 2013

TAACCCTRd3

On April 19, 2013 US Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris announced the third annual round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program (TAACCCT) grant program. The press release states that the current round of grants available is $474.5 million bringing the total 2011-13 program investment to nearly $1.5 billion. A fourth round is planned for 2014. Information on all the rounds is available here.

Funding is targeted at expanding innovative partnerships between community colleges and employers. All education and career training program strategies developed through grant funds have employer engagement and use labor market information to focus training on local economic needs. This years Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) says the TAACCCT programs aim is to help “adults acquire the skills, degrees, and credentials needed for high-wage, high-skill employment while ensuring needs of employers for skilled workers are met”.

In addition to partnerships TAACCCT stimulates innovation by requiring applicants to build five core elements into their initiatives:
1. Evidence-Based Design
2. Stacked and Latticed Credentials
3. Transferability and Articulation of Credit
4. Advanced Online and Technology Enabled Learning
5. Strategic Alignment

This years SGA even encourages the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Another innovation, which DOL has maintained in all three rounds of the TAACCCT program, is the requirement for TAACCCT grantees to make all grant funded curricula and training materials Open Educational Resources (OER) by licensing them with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (CC BY).

This year’s SGA states:

  • “The purpose of the CC BY licensing requirement is to ensure that materials developed with funds provided by these grants result in Work that can be freely reused and improved by others.”
  • “To ensure that the Federal investment of these funds has as broad an impact as possible and to encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, as a condition of the receipt of a TAACCCT grant, the grantee will be required to license to the public all work (except for computer software source code, discussed below) created with the support of the grant under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CCBY) license. Work that must be licensed under the CCBY includes both new content created with the grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds.”
  • “This license allows subsequent users to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the copyrighted Work and requires such users to attribute the Work in the manner specified by the grantee. Notice of the license shall be affixed to the Work. For general information on CCBY, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

TAACCCT academic resources developed by the first round of grantees for industry sectors such as health, manufacturing, energy, transportation, and information technology, will become available for reuse in 2014 followed by additional resources from subsequent rounds. What a boon to education and the economy.

Congratulations to the Department of Labor and the Department of Education for their leadership and foresight in requiring publicly funded educational resources be openly licensed in a way that allows them to be reused and continuously improved. This innovation will benefit students, educators, and industry.

Creative Commons remains committed to supporting TAACCCT grantees in deploying and leveraging the CC BY requirement. See OPEN4us.org for a current list of TAACCCT grantee services Creative Commons offers in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative, Center for Applied Special Technology, and the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges.

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Math instructor releases 2,600 videos under Creative Commons Attribution

Jane Park, April 2nd, 2013

Arizona Phoenix College math instructor James Sousa has been teaching math for 15 years at both the community college and K-12 levels. Over the years, he has developed more than 2,600 video tutorials on topics from arithmetic to calculus, and made these videos available on YouTube, originally under a CC BY-NC-SA license. His website and videos, entitled, Mathispower4u, feature both math lessons and examples, and many of the videos have been incorporated into online homework questions available at MyOpenMath.com.

Recently, James decided to change the license on his videos from CC BY-NC-SA to CC BY, or Creative Commons Attribution. He writes,

“Originally, the videos were licensed CC BY-NC-SA. However, the reason for creating these videos was to help students be more successful in mathematics. To increase student access and more easily share this resource with others, I decided to make the videos more open and change the license to CC BY. I hope the videos will provide a quality math tutorial resource to many.”

Mathispower4u videos may be accessed in several ways, including through James’ website, blog, YouTube account, and Phoenix College’s video database. Thanks to James for his great contribution to open education and the field of mathematics!

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OERu: Distinctively Open

Paul Stacey, February 26th, 2013

While mainstream attention has been focused on MOOCs, the Open Educational Resource university (OERu) has been developing a parallel education offering which is distinctively open.

The OERu aims to provide free learning to all students worldwide using OER learning materials with pathways to gain credible qualifications from recognized education institutions.

Like MOOCs, the OERu will have free open enrollment. But OERu’s open practices go well beyond open enrollment.

The OERu uses an open peer review model inviting open public input and feedback on courses and programs as they are being designed. At the beginning of 2013, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority approved a new Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education to be developed as OER and offered as part of OERu offerings. OERu recently published the design blueprint and requested public input and feedback for the Open Education Practice elective, one of a number of blueprints for OERu courses.

OERu course materials are licensed using Creative Commons licenses (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA) and based solely on OER (including open textbooks). In addition, OERu course materials are designed and developed using open file formats (easy to revise, remix, and redistribute) and delivered using open-source software.

The OERu network offers assessment and credentialing services through its partner educational institutions on a cost-recovery basis. Through the community service mission of OERu participating institutions, OER learners have open pathways to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit.

OERuBlogPostImage

Open peer review, open public input, open educational resources, open textbooks, open file formats, open source software, open enrollments – the OERu is distinctively open.

Congratulations to the OERu on its second anniversary and its upcoming international launch in November.

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IAmSyria.org releases Teachers Guide to Syria

Jane Park, February 1st, 2013

In December, we blogged about a new initiative by journalists called Syria Deeply, a news platform aiming to redesign the user experience of the Syrian conflict through news aggregation, interactive tools, original reporting, and feature stories. To encourage sharing and viral distribution, Syria Deeply licensed everything on its site under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY).

iamsyria

Now “I Am Syria,” a project to increase education about Syria in the classroom, is working with Syria Deeply and President-elect Steve Armstrong of the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) to build a lesson plan about the Syrian crisis. This lesson plan, along with other open educational resources for the classroom, is available at iamsyria.org under CC BY. It will be the first in a series of teaching materials on global events and humanitarian issues.

From the announcement,

Even the most off-the-shelf tech solutions can make a monumental impact in bringing more foreign policy education to our schools. Which is why we built our Creative Commons licensed open courseware on IamSyria.org as a portal to our teacher friendly lesson plan. You simply go to IamSyria.org to download a Teacher’s Guide, and you will have a full 40 minute lesson plan’s worth of Common Core friendly material to expand your student’s horizons about global affairs. Included on the website is an introductory background video for your students as well as supplemental materials for executing the lesson plan, including a PowerPoint with accompanying worksheet, a video on what other kids are doing, and a Presidential Cabinet exercise which has been focus-grouped and loved by students.

By CC licensing its resources, “I Am Syria” will encourage teachers everywhere to educate their students about events in Syria and why it impacts them. Teachers will also be able to adapt “I Am Syria” resources to their particular classroom needs, and even contribute to the resources’ improvement over time.

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$3.5 million grant funds creation of CC BY resources for adult English learners

Jane Park, December 12th, 2012

Just in time for Creative Commons’ 10th birthday celebration of its license suite, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced a 3.5 million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a new program — Integrated Digital English Acceleration (I-DEA) — that will help adult English language learners improve their language skills while simultaneously providing career and college readiness training through technology-based tools and resources.

cc10
by blogefl / CC BY

The I-DEA program targets community college learners in the state’s lowest three levels of English as a Second Language courses, and aims to help learners achieve their language goals in tandem with career goals — with fewer hours of instruction than traditional programs that teach basic language skills separately from job-specific skills.

I-DEA derives its dual approach from the state’s I-BEST model (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training), which U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter recognized as furthering adult education faster than any other program: “51 percent of I-BEST students completed a certificate in two years, vs. 14 percent of the comparison group…” (Change Magazine of Higher Learning).

A significant part of this grant is that all online learning modules developed will be made available openly under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing anyone to access, reuse, translate, and remix the modules as long as attribution is given. I-DEA learning modules will be added to the Open Course Library, Washington State’s collection of high quality CC BY-licensed educational resources for its 82 highest enrolled community college courses.

The grant also includes the creation of new technology tools, laptop computers on loan, Internet access, and online advising and tutoring. From the press release:

Among other goals, college and partner community-based organizations (CBOs) will create open source curriculum and identify best practices of technology-enhanced instruction that allow more students to be served with less in-class instruction. Courses and techniques developed with the grant will be open sourced, allowing colleges and CBOs in Washington and around the world to replicate I-DEA.

This is fantastic news that couldn’t come at a better time. Thank you for this birthday gift to CC! Thanks to the SBCTC for spearheading this initiative and to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making it possible.

For more details, including a list of the initial 10 colleges to receive and implement the grant, see the press release (pdf).

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#cc10 Featured Content: Jason Sigal on Chris Zabriskie

Elliot Harmon, December 11th, 2012

In celebration of Creative Commons’ tenth anniversary, we asked various friends of CC to write about their favorite CC-licensed works. Today, Jason Sigal tells the story of how Chris Zabriskie started licensing his music under CC BY and, in the process, opened new professional doors in his music career.

Happy 10th, CC! From the Free Music Archive

By Jason Sigal

Jason Sigal

Jason Sigal / John Dalton / CC BY-NC-SA

The Free Music Archive is a curated library of music that wants to be shared, and Creative Commons makes it all possible. Our project was born out of a simple idea from the freeform noncommercial radio station WFMU: radio has always offered free access to quality music, and we all stand to benefit when others are encouraged to spread the word. We joined forces with a coalition of likeminded curators who specialize in everything from contemporary Indonesian netaudio to early cylinder recordings to Western classical, and we provide a platform for artists who utilize the full range of Creative Commons licenses.

Each element of the CC licensing suite is a powerful tool for musicians to leverage copyright in ways they find beneficial. For some, like Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Creative Commons ensures that his re-recordings of public domain folk songs can be shared in a manner befitting the folk tradition. For the mythical 80s cassette underground duo Smersh, CC BY-NC-ND serves an archival purpose, as every digital copy ensures the preservation of sounds once confined to small batches of decaying analog tape. For the Russian duo Monokle & Galun and the Japanese netlabel Bunkai-Kei, CC BY-NC-SA encourages remixes like Creative Commons Compilation Data, where artists were challenged to make new songs by remixing other netlabel releases.

Creative Commons helps creators find each other, and we’re always inspired to hear about collaborations sparked by CC. Creative Commons also makes it possible to bypass what Lessig has termed the “permission culture,” and this is where things get really interesting. For example, we’re seeing a lot of innovative models from artists under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Attribution is not part of traditional copyright, but since hyperlinks function as a form of online currency, it is a wonderful added protection afforded by the Creative Commons licensing suite.

Chris Zabriskie

Chris Zabriskie / Chris Zabriskie / CC BY

Last year, Chris Zabriskie — an FMA artist who specializes in cinematic soundscapes, ambient piano compositions and minimal synth music — found the Attribution requirement so powerful that he decided to drop the NonCommercial clause from his work. In a post entitled Why I Went CC BY, he explained his reasoning: “There are 48 hours of new video being uploaded just to YouTube every minute. Somebody, somewhere, always needs music for their project. Let people do what they want with your music, and they’ll promote you.” His inbox was flooded with requests from fellow creators: “People with Etsy stores making videos to advertise their new, handmade products. Filmmakers who, while the goal of making their short film isn’t monetary, one day might press up some DVDs. And if that dude’s free Flash game gets really popular, he’ll want to sell it in the App Store.” He included some examples of work by “people I’m not going to sue,” and he keeps a list that now includes big names like the Cartoon Network, New York Public Library, Gizmodo, and Mashable alongside independent feature films and shorts. “Malleable Objects,” a short documentary on the artist Margaret Craig, is embedded below.

Malleable Objects from Mark & Angela Walley on Vimeo.

Zabriskie emailed the FMA earlier this year to describe how his decision paid off in ways he never expected: “I’ve scored several feature films, a number of shorts, and am doing a bunch of other contract work for people and projects all around the world.” Along with the new commissions, “a shocking number of folks from filmmakers to ad agencies to churches have been paying to license some of my existing stuff” either as a means to bypass the Creative Commons Attribution requirement, or simply because they have the means to support the music that helped make their work possible. Though he says he has no plans to leave his dream job, (which happens to include both music composition and video editing), Chris Zabriskie has allowed his music to spread freely to the point where he could afford to focus on music full time.

These are just a few of the many models made possible by Creative Commons licensing. Thanks to Creative Commons, creators have choices beyond traditional copyright. Over the course of the past decade, these choices have facilitated collaborations and spawned the creation of countless new works. Happy birthday, CC. We look forward to what the next ten years will bring!

Jason Sigal is former director of the Free Music Archive and a DJ at WFMU. He writes music for Lame Drivers under the CC BY-NC-SA license.

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Support Grows for Open Access to Science Research

Elliot Harmon, June 29th, 2012

PeerJ Founders Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt
PeerJ Founders Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt / Duncan Hull / CC BY

In their excellent Washington Post opinion piece, Matt Cooper and Elizabeth Wiley suggest that federally funded research should be freely accessible over the Internet. They argue that when students lose their access to academic databases after graduation, society doesn’t get the same benefits it could from that research:

Students’ library cards are a passport to the specialized knowledge found in academic journal articles — covering medicine and math, computer science and chemistry, and many other fields. These articles contain the cutting edge of our understanding and capture the genius of what has come before. In no uncertain terms, access to journals provides critical knowledge and an up-to-date education for tomorrow’s doctors, researchers and entrepreneurs.

But should that access cease at graduation? Or would you rather a graduating medical student, perhaps your future doctor, be able to keep up with the latest advances? Would you rather an ambitious graduate student feel comfortable leaving the academy to found the next Google, knowing she still has access to the latest insight in her field and is able to build upon it?

Cooper and Wiley’s organizations — the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and the American Medical Student Association, respectively — joined Creative Commons and many other allies in support of a petition on Whitehouse.gov for free access to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. The petition quickly reached its goal of 25,000 signatures, sending a clear message that it’s time for the government to rethink open access policies.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Minister for Universities and Science recently commissioned a study on how the UK could adopt open access for publicly-funded research. Dame Janet Finch and her team released their findings last week, championing in particular the “gold” route to open access.

But how do the publishers themselves fit into the discussion? Some are actively exploring open access publishing models. This month, Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt unveiled PeerJ, a new kind of peer-reviewed academic publisher. Contributors pay a $99 lifetime membership fee, and all articles are licensed CC BY. Funded by Tim O’Reilly, PeerJ has been getting a lot of attention in the mainstream press.

Coincidentally, science publishing stalwart Nature has also adopted the CC BY license, through its open access component Scientific Reports. Previously, researchers could choose whether to license their works BY-NC-SA or BY-NC-ND. Starting July 1, they’ll have the CC BY option as well. Nature’s Jason Wilde explains the decision to drop the required noncommercial stipulation:

There has been much debate about commercial reuse on open access articles […] We believe in offering our authors choice. And we now know some authors will want to choose CC BY, not least as a result of new funder mandates. Unlike Nature Communications and our other titles, Scientific Reports does not have established revenues from commercial reprints or licensing, making it an economically viable proposition.

With governments, publishers, and the public all rethinking ways to make research more freely accessible, the climate seems right for a major shift toward open access.

Related: First Thoughts on the Finch Report: Good Steps but Missed Opportunities (Cameron Neylon)

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