Department of Education

Congress passes spending bill requiring free access to publicly funded research

Timothy Vollmer, January 16th, 2014

agencylogos

Update: The bill was signed by President Obama January 17, 2014.

Both the U.S. House of Representative and Senate have passed the 2014 omnibus appropriations legislation (2.9 MB PDF). President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.

What’s so special about this legislation? Federal agencies with research budgets of at least $100 million per year will be required provide the public with free online access to scholarly articles generated with federal funds no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The agencies affected by the public access provision of the appropriations bill include the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services (which includes research-intensive sub-agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

According to SPARC, the bill “ensure[s] that $31 billion of the total $60 billion annual U.S. investment in taxpayer-funded research is now openly accessible.”

The inclusion of the public access provision builds upon existing initiatives, such as the NIH Public Access Policy. And it echoes the more recent push for public access to publicly funded research advocated through the introduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) and the White House directive. But with FASTR tabled in Congress last year and the federal agencies dragging their feet on complying with Obama’s public access directive (plans were due in August 2013), the passage of the 2014 spending legislation is a welcome measure for increasing access to publicly funded research.

SPARC thinks the language in the bill could be strengthened by adopting a shorter embargo period (e.g. six months), which would benefit the public without harming journal publishers. In addition, they suggest that research articles be shared via a central repository similar to PubMed Central and incorporate provisions to ensure the ability to conduct text and data mining on the entire corpus of federally-funded articles. Creative Commons and other groups have also communicated the need for not only free public access, but also access whereby publicly funded research is made available under open licenses.

Open Access icon was created by Duke Innovation Co-Lab and in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Education seal is in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Labor seal is in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seal is in the public domain.

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Winners Announced! – Why Open Education Matters Video Competition

Timothy Vollmer, July 18th, 2012

Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Foundations are pleased to announce the winners of the Why Open Education Matters video competition. The competition was launched in March 2012 to solicit creative videos that clearly communicate the use and potential of free, high-quality Open Educational Resources — or “OER” — and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students, and schools everywhere. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the competition with a video on the Why Open Education Matters website. The competition received over 60 qualified entries. The winning videos are displayed below.

First Prize

Congratulations to Blinktower, an extremely talented creative agency based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Second Prize

Congratulations to Laura Rachfalski and her great team. Laura is an artist, videographer and photographer from Philadelphia.

Third Prize

Congratulations to Nadia Paola Mireles Torres and her collaborators from the design firm Funktionell. It’s also amazing to see that Nadia has made all the video assets available for download and reuse under CC BY!

The prize winners were decided by a panel of distinguished experts including Davis Guggenheim, Nina Paley, Liz Dwyer, Anya Kamenetz, James Franco, Angela Lin, and Mark Surman. Due to technical problems with the public voting on the Why Open Education Matters website which prevented some persons from submitting a vote, the third prize video has been awarded by the judging panel.

In addition to the winning videos, all of the qualifying videos are available for viewing on the competition website, http://whyopenedmatters.org. All of the videos are licensed CC BY, which means others may distribute, remix, and build upon them, even commercially, as long as they give credit to the creators.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted a video for sharing their creativity, talents, and passion in helping explain and promote Open Educational Resources.

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Launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition

Timothy Vollmer, March 5th, 2012

Creative Commons, U.S. Department of Education, Open Society Institute launch high profile video competition to highlight potential of free educational materials

Mountain View, California and Washington, D.C., — March 5, 2012

Today Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Institute announce the launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition. The competition will award cash prizes for the best short videos that explain the use and promise of free, high-quality Open Educational Resources—or “OER”—and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students and schools.

Video submissions are accepted until June 5, 2012 and winners will be announced July 18, 2012. Cash prizes, provided by the Open Society Institute, include $25,000 (first), $5,000 (second), and $1,000 (Public Choice Award). Judges include prominent artists and education experts, including Davis Guggenheim, Nina Paley, James Franco, and many others. The competition website is whyopenedmatters.org and features an introductory video by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. All entries must be shared under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan underlined various benefits of OER. Duncan, in a video that appears on the Why Open Education Matters contest website, said, “Open Educational Resources can not only accelerate and enrich learning; they can also substantially reduce costs for schools, families and students.”

Catherine Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons, pointed out the importance of raising awareness for Open Educational Resources. “Both Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources are 10 years old this year, and there’s been an amazing explosion in the amount and quality of free, openly-licensed educational content being shared online. Now is the time to push awareness of OER into the mainstream.”

The launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition coincides with the first annual Open Education Week (openeducationweek.org), which runs from March 5-10, 2012. Open Education Week is a global event that seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of free and open sharing in education.

About Creative Commons
Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute and make specific uses of it.

About U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education (http://ed.gov) coordinates most federal assistance on education. It works with state and local partners to promote excellence and equity for students at all levels of education to ensure that our citizens are college and career ready and can compete in a global economy.

About Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute (http://soros.org) works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens and, through its Information Program, works to increase public access to knowledge, including increasing access to open, high quality, educational materials.

Contacts
Timothy Vollmer
Creative Commons
tvol@creativecommons.org

Jane Glickman
Department of Education
(202) 401-1307

Darius Cuplinskas
Open Society Institute
Darius.Cuplinskas@osf-london.org

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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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