CC BY

REMINDER to enter the Why Open Education Matters video competition

Timothy Vollmer, April 30th, 2012

In March, Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Institute launched the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition. The goal of the competition is to raise awareness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and solicit short, creative videos that help explain what Open Educational Resources are and how they can be beneficial for teachers, students, and schools everywhere around the world.

There’s been lots of interest in the competition, and we wanted to remind you that the deadline to submit your video is June 5, 2012. The contest is open to all, and submissions can come from non-U.S. citizens. Nonprofits, schools, and companies may also enter a video, and you can work in teams. Please check out the website for all the information you need.

The first prize is $25,000 and the second prize is $5,000. We’ve lined up some great judges to help award these prizes, including Nina Paley, Davis Guggenheim, and James Franco. There will also be a $1,000 Community Choice Award in which the public will be able to cast their vote for their favorite video.

Again, video submissions must be received by June 5 on http://whyopenedmatters.org (look for the “Submit a Video” button). We’re eating our own dog food too–any video that is submitted must be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license so that it can be freely used and shared by anyone to help explain Open Educational Resources. Please jump in and share your creative video-making skills to explain and promote OER. Roll camera!

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Government and Library Open Data using Creative Commons tools

Jane Park, April 24th, 2012

The last few months has seen a growth in open data, particularly from governments and libraries. Among the more recent open data adopters are the Austrian government, Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italian Chamber of Deputies, and Harvard Library.

Open data
Open data / opensourceway / CC BY-SA

The Austrian government has launched an open data portal with much of its data available under CC BY. The portal’s terms of use states that CC BY is recommended for open data, and that such data will be indicated as CC BY in the data description.

The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research launched its Open Data Portal under CC BY, publishing the data of Italian schools (such as address, phone number, web site, administrative code), students (number, gender, performance), and teachers (number, gender, retirement, etc.). The Ministry aims to make all of its data eventually available and open for reuse, in order to improve transparency, aid in the understanding of the Italian scholastic system, and promote the creation of new tools and services for students, teachers and families.

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has also developed a platform for publishing linked open data under CC BY-SA.

Lastly, Harvard Library in the U.S. has released 12 million catalog records into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication tool. The move is in accordance with Harvard Library’s Open Metadata Policy. The policy’s FAQ states,

“With the CC0 public domain designation, Harvard waives any copyright and related rights it holds in the metadata. We believe that this will help foster wide use and yield developments that will benefit the library community and the public.”

Harvard’s press release cites additional motivations for opening its data,

John Palfrey, Chair of the DPLA, said, “With this major contribution, developers will be able to start experimenting with building innovative applications that put to use the vital national resource that consists of our local public and research libraries, museums, archives and cultural collections.” He added that he hoped that this would encourage other institutions to make their own collection metadata publicly available.

We are excited that CC tools are being used for open data. For questions related to CC and data, see our FAQ about data, which also links to many more governments, libraries, and organizations that have opened their data.

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World Bank stakes leadership position by announcing Open Access Policy and launching Open Knowledge Repository under Creative Commons

Diane Peters, April 10th, 2012

The World Bank has announced a new Open Access Policy! Effective July 1, 2012, the Open Access Policy requires that all research outputs and knowledge products published by the Bank be licensed Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as a default. Today, as the first phase of this policy is unfolded, the Bank launched a new Open Knowledge Repository with more than 2,000 books, articles, reports and research papers under CC BY. President of the World Bank Group, Robert B. Zoellick, said in the press release:

“Knowledge is power. Making our knowledge widely and readily available will empower others to come up with solutions to the world’s toughest problems. Our new Open Access policy is the natural evolution for a World Bank that is opening up more and more.”

CC BY is the most permissive Creative Commons license, allowing others to reuse, remix and redistribute works, even commercially, as long as attribution is given to the copyright holder. It is recommended for those seeking maximum dissemination and re-use of their materials while preserving copyright. We applaud the World Bank for its leadership and embracing this objective by incorporating CC as the framework for its Open Access Policy.

Lawrence Lessig, Board member and co-founder of Creative Commons, says,

“The World Bank is not only leading by embracing the principles of open access. But by making its works available under a CC BY license, it is encouraging the widest spread of the knowledge it is producing. This work is incredibly valuable in assuring access to knowledge universally, and not just at elite universities.”

The Open Access Policy reinforces scholarship norms. The terms require that publishing embargoes are respected and research is made available under CC BY. The Bank “expects the amount of time it takes for externally published Bank content to be included in its institutional repository to diminish over time” and that the working paper versions of journal articles will be made available under CC BY without any embargo period. Additionally, the CC BY policy only applies to works published by the Bank. Works published by third party publishers will be made available in the repository under CC BY-NC-ND, with the option of CC BY should the publisher choose.

All of this content will be aggregated via the Open Knowledge Repository, which has been built with an eye toward maximizing interoperability, discoverability, and reusability by complying with Dublin Core metadata standards and the Open Archives Initiatives protocol for metadata harvesting:

“The repository will be fully interoperable with other major international repositories such as RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), SSRN and Economists Online. This means that the World Bank publishes just once in its own Open Knowledge Repository while its research is also “harvested” and made openly available through many other searchable online repositories, increasing the number of people able to find World Bank content.”

Currently, the repository contains books and papers from 2009-2012 in various fields and from all around the world, including the World Development Report and two World Bank journals, the World Bank Economic Review (WBER) and the World Bank Research Observer (WBRO). The Bank will continue to add new and old content, including those works published prior to 2009, and beginning in 2012, the Bank will include links to research-related datasets.

To learn how this exciting new move builds on the Bank’s other open efforts, read the press release.

For more info on the Open Access Policy, read the policy. For more info on the Open Knowledge Repository, see the feature article and FAQ.

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Thanks to Creative Commons, OER university will provide free learning with formal academic credit

Cable Green, March 21st, 2012

Creative Commons licenses are enabling an international partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics to provide free learning opportunities for students worldwide with pathways to formal academic credit. The OER university (OERu) will create a parallel learning universe for learners who cannot afford a tertiary education by offering CC-licensed courses — with the opportunity to acquire formal academic credit at greatly reduced cost when compared to full-tuition studies. The OERu will assemble courses from existing open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses, reducing the overall cost of development. It has adopted the Free Cultural Works approved licenses (CC BY and CC BY-SA) as the default for OERu courses.

The OER Tertiary Education Network, the force behind the OERu, includes an impressive line-up of education providers, including: Athabasca University, BAOU (Gujarat’s open university), SUNY Empire State College, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, NorthTec, Open Polytechnic, Otago Polytechnic, Southern New Hampshire University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Canterbury, University of South Africa, University of Southern Queensland, and the University of Wollongong. BCcampus and the OER Foundation are supporting the network as non-teaching partners. These founding OERu anchor partners are accredited institutions in their respective national, provincial or state jurisdictions, which means that the OERu will be able to provide formal academic credit towards credible degrees in Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America — all using CC-licensed courses. Senior executives of the network have facilitated agile and rapid progress targeting the formal launch of the OERu operations in 2013. (More on that here.)

The OERu anchor partners have shortlisted eight university- and college-level courses to be developed as prototypes for refining the OERu delivery system:

  • College Composition
  • Art Appreciation and Techniques
  • Regional relations in Asia and the Pacific
  • A Mathematical Journey
  • General and Applied Psychology
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Why Sustainable Practice
  • Introduction to Management

Collectively, these courses — all first year courses except for Critical Reasoning, which is a 2nd year-level course in Philosophy — will carry credit towards a Bachelor of General Studies, the inaugural credential selected at the OERu meeting in November 2011. Two of the courses will be based on existing course materials under CC BY from U.S. Washington State’s Open Course Library project and the Saylor Foundation.

The OER Foundation has been trailing technologies and delivery approaches of large OER courses to help inform the design and development of these prototype courses. One such course is Open Content Licensing for Educators, which was designed as a free online workshop for educators and learners to learn more about OER, copyright, and CC licenses. The course materials, also under CC BY, were developed collaboratively by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons, with funding support from UNESCO. In January, Open Content Licensing for Educators was conducted online with 1,067 participants from 90 different countries — demonstrating the success of a large, collaborative, and high quality OER project. The OERu model will build on successes such as these, and demonstrate how CC licenses can maximize the return on investment in education at a massive scale.

Kudos to Wayne Mackintosh and all of his colleagues at OERu. Well done!

To learn more, visit WikiEducator.

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$500 million available in Wave 2 of U.S. Department of Labor grant program for community colleges

Jane Park, February 27th, 2012

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced and released a Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for Wave 2 of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). Wave 2 makes available $500 million to “eligible institutions of higher education… with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less…”

The full announcement, including the SGA, is available at http://www.doleta.gov/grants/Find_grants.cfm, where you can access it as a pdf. As with the first wave of TAACCCT funding, all educational materials created from grant funds must be released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. For Wave 2, the CC BY license must also be applied to modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds.

The SGA also contains requirements for accessibility (“All online and technology-enabled content and courses developed under this SGA must incorporate the principles of universal design (see http://www.cast.org/udl/)”) and technical standards for digital assets (“All digital assets within online and technology-enabled courses… should be produced to maximize interoperability, exchange and reuse. In addition, all assessments and/or other content that result in a student score or grade must conform to industry-leading e-learning open standards and specifications…”).

As previously mentioned, Creative Commons, along with Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, have been funded by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide free support to grantees to help them meet these grant requirements. Together, we have formed the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN), to more effectively help grantees. For more information on OPEN and the free services we will be providing, see http://open4us.org. If you are a Wave 1 grantee, you can also sign up directly for our free services there.

The TAACCCT program supports President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. Applications to the solicitation are now open for Wave 2, and are due May 24, 2012.

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Free and unrestricted Public Sector Information: Study finds benefits outweigh costs

Timothy Vollmer, November 28th, 2011

Governments around the world are increasingly relying on open licenses to release public sector information (PSI). A September 2011 report titled Costs and Benefits of Data Provision, prepared by John Houghton for the Australian National Data Service, examines the immediate and wider economic costs and benefits to making PSI available.

The key takeaway from the study: “the direct and measurable benefits of making PSI available free and unrestrictedly typically outweigh the costs. When one adds the longer-term benefits that we cannot fully measure, cannot even foresee, the case for open access appears to be strong.”

The report offers an interesting and instructive analysis about the overarching cost-saving potential of making PSI available online for free and under open licenses (we assume the figures to represent Australian dollars):

[W]e find that the net cost to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) of making publications and statistics freely available online and adopting Creative Commons licensing was likely to have been around $3.5 million per annum at 2005-06 prices and levels of activity, but the immediate cost savings for users were likely to have been around $5 million per annum. The wider impacts in terms of additional use and uses bring substantial additional returns, with our estimates suggesting overall costs associated with free online access to ABS publications and data online and unrestrictive standard licensing of around $4.6 million per annum and measurable annualised benefits of perhaps $25 million (i.e. more than five times the costs).

The Houghton study suggests that open licensing is a key component to reducing friction in the downstream use of PSI:

It is not simply about access prices, but also about the transaction costs involved. Standardised and unrestrictive licensing, such as Creative Commons, and data standards are crucial in enabling access that is truly open (i.e. free, immediate and unrestricted) … The efficient economic solution for the dissemination of PSI is likely to be free libre and free gratis (i.e. making it freely available online and using unrestrictive licensing such as Creative Commons).

In a separate internal document noted in the report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics described the impact of adopting CC licensing. It says that CC licensing “meets public expectations with regard to open government, facilitates data sharing (including across government), allows for more timely reuse of statistics, facilitates innovation, [and] makes sense to a growing percentage of people who recognise and understand CC licence symbols and conditions.”

The study urges us to try to understand and foster the unpredictable yet potentially powerful innovation that can be unleashed when PSI is made freely available online and released using unrestrictive licenses:

In the longer term, there may also be unforeseen uses and re-uses that simply cannot be accounted for, and again this may mean that the costs and benefits experienced in the early years of implementation tend to understate the longer-term advantages. Use and re-use can also have wider impacts, in terms of innovation and the development and introduction of new products, services and processes that, in turn, generate new economic economic activity, new business opportunities, better informed and potentially better government and business decisions.

The full report is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

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Open Course Library Launches 1st 42 Courses

Cable Green, November 2nd, 2011

On Monday, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of the state’s high-enrollment 81 Open Course Library courses. The remaining 39 courses will be finished by 2013. Funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library joins the global open educational resources (OER) movement, and 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.

All courses are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license (CC-BY).

The first 42 courses are available in multiple technical formats including:

Michael Kenyon’s students at Green River Community College used to pay nearly $200 for a new pre-calculus textbook. Now they pay only $20 for a book – or use it online for free. Kenyon’s pre-calculus textbook (CC BY SA) was written by community college faculty David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen, who teach at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. “We looked at a lot of textbooks,” Kenyon said. “There are some people who think this is the best book out there.”

“The courses were created with the needs of Washington’s college students in mind,” said Tom Caswell, SBCTC Open Education Policy Associate. “And with the idea we would share the courses with the world.”

Each course was developed and peer reviewed by a team of instructors, instructional designers and librarians. Use of the course materials is optional, but many faculty and departments are already moving to adopt them.

According to an informal study by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), the Open Course Library could save students as much as $41.6 million on textbooks annually if adopted at all of Washington’s community and technical colleges. The study also estimates that the 42 faculty course developers will save students $1.26 million by using the materials during the 2011-2012 school year, which alone exceeds the $1.18 million cost of creating the 42 courses. “These savings will not only help Washington’s students afford college, but clearly provide a tremendous return on the original investment,” said Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate for the Student PIRGs.

Justin Hamilton, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said the Washington state effort was groundbreaking for the nation. “Lowering college costs increases a student’s ability to take more courses, finish their degree on time, and enter the workforce prepared for success in a global economy. That’s not just good for them, it’s good for the country.”

“It really is the beginning of the end of closed, expensive, proprietary commercial textbooks that are completely disconnected from today’s reality,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) of Washington State’s 36th District, a champion of the Open Course Library and OER. “This is a significant state investment in this era of massive budget cuts. We had little choice but to seize the opportunity of this crisis to challenge the status quo of the old-style cost models in both K-12 and higher education.”

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Blackboard to add support for CC Attribution

Jane Park, October 19th, 2011

Blackboard, the popular Learning Management System (LMS), has announced that they will build in support for CC licensing, specifically enabling instructors the ability to publish and share their course materials under the CC Attribution (CC BY) license. From the press release,

“Support for OER enables instructors to publish and share their courses under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) so that anyone can easily preview and download the course content in Blackboard and Common Cartridge formats. The new functionality is available now for CourseSites, Blackboard’s free, fully-hosted and supported cloud offering launched a year ago and now used by over 18,000 instructors from nearly 12,000 institutions in 113 countries. Similar support for OER will be available soon for Blackboard Learn.”


The Chronicle of Higher Education
and Inside Higher Ed also covered Blackboard’s move toward openness in education. Cable Green, CC’s Director of Global Learning, notes,

“The core part of any OER is an open license, and Blackboard has shown its leadership by empowering instructors to share so others can revise, reuse, remix and redistribute their courses.”

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$500 million awarded to first round grantees for community college career training program

Timothy Vollmer, September 26th, 2011

Today the U.S. Department of Labor, in coordination with the Department of Education, announced the first wave of grant winners in support of “targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated workers who are changing careers.” Today’s announcement commits nearly $500 million to 32 grantees, with a $2 billion investment expected over the next 4 years.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in the Department’s press release:

“Making it possible for unemployed Americans to return to work is a top priority of President Obama’s. This initiative is about providing access to training that leads to real jobs,” said Secretary Solis. “These federal grants will enable community colleges, employers and other partners to prepare job candidates, through innovative programs, for new careers in high-wage, high-skills fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and STEM occupations.”

As we mentioned in January when the program was announced, we’re excited that the grant guidelines includes a requirement that where new learning materials are created using grant funds, those materials must be made available under CC BY. Creative Commons, with its partnering organizations, is positioned to provide support to grantees on open licensing, learning and course design, professional development, and adoption and use.

Congratulations to the first round winners and to the Department of Labor and Department of Education in supporting this innovative education initiative.

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CC is seeking a Senior Project Manager and Senior Project Analyst

Jennifer Yip, September 12th, 2011

Creative Commons is seeking highly motivated and organized individuals to fill two positions: Senior Project Manager and Senior Project AnalystBoth positions are full-time with full benefits. Both positions will be key members of the team supporting Department of Labor TAACCCT grantees.

Ideal candidates have contributed to open source, open education, open licensing, and/or other open content projects, are proficient in required technologies, and possess at lease two years of work experience. Joining CC means getting the chance to interact with motivated staff and a brilliant international network of affiliates and community members.

Please feel free to share these jobs descriptions as far and wide as possible. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until we find the right candidates. Please be sure to indicate the job title you are interested in applying for in the email subject line, and send to “jobs@creativecommons.org

Application Deadline: Friday, 7 October.

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