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CA Free Digital Textbook Initiative Launches Phase 2

Jane Park, February 2nd, 2010

Many of you have heard about California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative that launched last spring, which called for submissions of free digital textbooks in math and science for use by the state’s schools. Of the 16 textbooks submitted last year, 15 are openly licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses—and all 10 that passed 90% of CA’s state standards are CC licensed.

In addition to individuals, the CK-12 Foundation, Curriki, and Connexions submitted open textbooks on subjects like Algebra, Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Geometry, Trigonometry, and various other -ometries. You can check out the full textbook list and standards reviews at the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN).

Now, the Governor and his constituents are launching Phase 2 of the Initiative, calling this time for “content developers to submit high school history-social science and higher-level math course textbooks for review against California’s academic content standards.” From the press release,

“Resources like digital textbooks play a critical role in our 21st century educational landscape, and expanding my first-in-the-nation initiative will provide local school districts additional high-quality free resources to help prepare California’s students to compete in the global marketplace,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I urge content developers to jump on board this second phase and submit social science and advanced math material to help ensure California’s shift to a more advanced and cost-effective education system continues.”

Phase 2 is accepting submissions on a rolling basis, so if you (or your project) have an open textbook completed or in the works, make sure the CC license info is marked up correctly and submit it to the CLRN website. For more on licensing, visit creativecommons.org/about/licenses.

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OpenSA – Championing South African heritage

Jane Park, January 29th, 2009

If I hadn’t interned for Clarity Films one summer, I would never have learned most of what I know now about the apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu. I spent hours transcribing interviews and condensing documentary footage into some type of digital package that I don’t recall the name of (nor do I remember the outdated technology I used). What I do remember: the world’s reactions to the tumult that surrounded South Africa within the past fifty some odd years.

opensa-logoNow, anyone can learn about South Africa and its rich heritage with the recent launch of OpenSA, “a pilot project to make South African heritage more accessible for remixing and re-publishing by online creators.” From the announcement at The African Commons Project:

“In collaboration with SA Rocks and the African Commons Project, OpenSA! is collecting, tagging and managing donations from people who are willing to make their material freely available online. OpenSA! will also be helping to coordinate outreach to South Africa’s young creators to enable them to learn more about how to find open content that they are free to remix and share.

As access to the Internet grows in South Africa, so too does the range of creative activity by a new generation of active online citizens. Internet publishing in the form of blogging and citizen journalism, online publishing of photographic, video and music publishing are all part of a wide range of democratic speech that we as a young nation are trying to encourage and nurture.”

Some media they’ve found and posted so far:
A documentary about one of the first Chinese restaurants in Cape Town (CC BY-NC by Link Media Inc.)
Photos of Johannesburg (CC BY-NC-SA by Gregor Rohrig)

Anyone can get involved and contribute. We encourage you to choose a CC license and send in your materials, or build on what’s already out there.

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Creative Commons 868

Mike Linksvayer, September 19th, 2007

Besting Creative Commons 1967 by a mere 1099 years is the Diamond Sutra, which according to Wikipedia is the earliest example of block printing that includes a date:

The colophon, at the inner end, reads: Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong (i.e. 11th May, CE 868).

Which CC license can we (wildly) imagine this corresponding to? Depends what Wang Jie intended “free” to mean — no restrictions, or only distribute without charging.

Via Rufus Pollock’s wide ranging Talk at Law 2.0: Openness, Web 2.0 and the Ethic of Sharing.

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Creative Commons 1967

Mike Linksvayer, September 8th, 2007

At this weekend’s Singularity Summit in San Francisco, “openness” of all sorts — open source, open access, open content, transparency — seems to be considered an uncontroversial and important part of making “AI and the future of humanity” a good one, for example:

If the singularity is in fact near, the fundamental tools of information, collaboration and access will be our best hope for making it happen in a way that spreads its benefits and minimizes its dangers — in short, making it happen in a way that lets us be good ancestors.

However, Creative Commons was mentioned in reference to a forty year old poem, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Richard Brautigan. Paul Saffo highlighted the poem as an example of a “positive, compelling vision that ordinary people could buy into.” But before showing the poem, Saffo highlighted the copyright notice as CC-like:

© Copyright 1967 by Richard Brautigan

Permission is granted to reprint any of these poems in magazines, books and newspapers if they are given away free.

Sounds a lot like a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license.

Here is an example of a 2005 blogging of the poem (go there to read it). The blogger specifically cites the permission, though whether a blog qualifies as any of the permitted mediums may be questionable. So yes, granting permission up front does help spread your work, even decades later, and yes, it is good to have lawyers involved in drafting the permission language. Forty years later, Creative Commons has both taken care of. :-)

For some CC Attribution-licensed blogging and photos of the summit, see David Orban’s blog and Flickr set.

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