milestone

Launching Public Discussion of CC Patent Tools

Kaitlin Thaney, April 2nd, 2010

Thinh Nguyen writes over at the Science Commons blog

“We’re happy to announce that we’re launching the public comment and discussion period for our new patent tools: the Research Non-Assertion Pledge and the Public Patent License. We invite you to join the discussion at our public wiki. There you can read about these tools, catch up on hot topics of interest to the community, or join our public discussion list to contribute your thoughts and suggestions.

These tools were conceived as part of our collaboration with The GreenXchange (GX), a network of companies interested in making publicly available unpatented know-how and patented inventions that have the potential to promote innovation, sustainability, resource management, and other socially responsible uses of ideas and inventions. The Research Non-Assertion Pledge and Public Patent License are just pieces of the underlying infrastructure for how to share and transform that kind of knowledge—just like CC licenses have become part of the infrastructure for exchanging and transforming creative works. While these tools were initially conceived in collaboration with GX, we envision them as generic tools maintained by CC for anyone to use, and we hope they will prove to be useful in other projects in the future as well. That’s why it’s important to us to get comprehensive comments and feedback from the community and the public. [...]

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New Dutch government portal uses CC0 public domain waiver as default copyright status

Mike Linksvayer, March 31st, 2010

The Netherlands government has launched Rijksoverheid.nl, a new website that all Dutch ministries will migrate to (English; other links in this post are Dutch).

Creative Commons Netherlands notes that the site’s copyright policy signals a seriousness about open sharing of public sector information — its default is to remove all copyright restrictions with the CC0 public domain waiver.

Rijksoverheid.nl not only signals a true commitment to openness but also sets a strong example for other governments. Congratulations!

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Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources in the U.S. National Education Technology Plan

Mike Linksvayer, March 6th, 2010

The United States Department of Education 2010 National Educational Technology Plan (pdf) includes the following:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are an important element of an infrastructure for learning. OER come in forms ranging from podcasts to digital libraries to textbooks, games, and courses. They are freely available to anyone over the web.

Educational organizations started making selected educational materials freely available shortly after the appearance of the web in the mid-1900s. But MIT’s decision to launch the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative to make the core content from all its courses available online in 2000 gave the OER movement a credible start (Smith, 2009). Other universities joined the OCW Consortium, and today there are more than 200 members, each of which has agreed to make at least 10 courses available in open form.

Many of these materials are available not just to individuals enrolled in courses, but to anyone who wants to use them. The power of OER is demonstrated by the fact that nearly half the downloads of MIT’s OpenCourseWare are by individual self-directed learners, not students taking courses for credit (Maxwell, online presentation for the NETP Technical Working Group, 2009).

Equally important to the OER movement was the emergence of the Creative Commons, an organization that developed a set of easy-to-use licenses whereby individuals or institutions could maintain ownership of their creative products while giving others selected rights. These rights range from allowing use of a work in its existing form for noncommercial purposes to the right to repurpose, remix, and redistribute for any purpose.

Additional advances in our understanding of how to design good OER are coming out of the work of the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon University. OLI has been developing state-of-the-art, high-quality online learning environments that are implemented as part of courses taught not only at Carnegie Mellon, but also at other universities and at community colleges. The OLI learning systems are submitted to rigorous ongoing evaluation and refinement as part of each implementation. (For more information on OLI, see the Assessment section of this plan.)

The Department of Education has a role in stimulating the development and use of OER in ways that address pressing education issues. The federal government has proposed to invest $50 million per year for the next 10 years in creating an Online Skills Lab to develop exemplary next-generation instructional tools and resources for community colleges and workforce development programs. These materials will be available for use or adaptation with the least restrictive Creative Commons license. This work is expected to give further impetus to calls for open standards, system utilities, and competency-based assessments. (For more information on the Online Skills Lab, see the Learning section of this plan.)

The OER movement begun in higher education should be more fully adopted throughout our K-16 public education system. For example, high-quality digital textbooks for standard courses such as algebra can be created by experts and funded by consortia arrangements and then made freely available as a public good. Open textbooks could significantly reduce the cost of education in primary and secondary as well as higher education. Textbooks constitute a significant portion of the government’s K-12 budget as well as the student-borne cost of higher education.

Also see the plan’s sidebar on the California Free Digital Textbook Initiative, the first phase of which has been dominated (15 of 16) by CC licensed textbooks.

The plan also directly demonstrates effective reuse — it includes and properly attributes two CC-licensed illustrations.

Congratulations to the U.S. Department of Education and the OER movement!

Addendum: See open education pioneer David Wiley’s reaction to a speech by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan given the day before the National Education Technology Plan’s publication. Wiley highlights OER’s role as infrastructure for education innovation. Those aren’t just buzzwords — read Wiley’s post.

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La Stampa and Global Vocies Online Collaborate on Voci Globali

Cameron Parkins, February 19th, 2010

Voci Globali is a new collaboration between Italian newspaper La Stampa and Global Voices Online that aims to expose Italian audiences to citizen media from around the world. GVO will assist in translating select international blogs into Italian, releasing the stories they publish under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Initially twenty-five blogs from all world regions have been selected as the primary sources – including Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Repeating Islands, Registan, Talk Morocco, Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca McKinnon.

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Search and Discovery for OER

Nathan Yergler, February 16th, 2010

One of the issues that comes up repeatedly when talking about open educational resources (OER) is search and discovery. CC licenses provide the legal basis for sharing OER, but there’s a large technical component to sharing, as well. Publishers want to make sure their work is visible to users, and learners or educators need to be able to find resources relevant to the subject they’re interested in. Too often web scale search engines don’t do suffice: the amount of OER compared to the entire web is small, so the information you’re actually looking for is lost in the flood.

Last summer, CC, supported by Open Society Institute, organized a meeting of individuals working with OER repositories and tools to discuss the state of search and discovery for OER. There are many efforts under way looking at this issue, and the purpose of the meeting was to examine how these efforts can be made interoperable. For example, some countries are building national repositories, where the answer to the question is “put your OER in this big box”, while others — including Creative Commons, through our prototype DiscoverEd — are focusing on indexing a subset of the web, and trying to make results more relevant. We wanted to talk about how these different approaches can work together, so that consumers are able to find the resources they’re seeking, no matter where they’re located on the web.

What we discovered is that regardless of the approach being taken to solve the search issue, there are certain things that could be identified as best practices for publishers. We’ve pulled these together as an initial outcome from the meeting: Towards a Global Infrastructure For Sharing Learning Resources. As the title implies, this is the first step to building the interoperability needed to make OER discoverable. We’re going to be continuing examining these issues as part of the AgShare project, among others. If you want to keep up with that work as it develops, you can subscribe to the oer-discovery mailing list.

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Bing Maps Streetside Photos

Jane Park, February 12th, 2010

Yesterday, Bing Maps pointed out a new application—Streetside Photos—that it added to its spatial search. Streetside Photos pulls CC licensed images from Flickr to use them in a transformative way—as part of mapping tools that help you navigate the world on different visual levels. Chris at Bing Maps says it best,

“So, you have all these killer photos of different cities around the world just sitting on some hard drive or server and the best you can do with them is send them to friends as is, right? Isn’t it funny that the photos you tend to zip through are the ones with no people in them, but when you were there man it was a cool shot that you just HAD to capture? Well, we’re giving those photos some love (and context) with our latest mash-in to the Bing Maps Application Gallery. We’ve just rolled out a new application that is currently in a tech preview phase that pulls photos from Flickr®, associates them with Bing Maps Streetside photos and then overlays them by stretching the photo to form fit where in the world it belongs. The new application called Streetside Photos is currently available in Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver (Canada) – (hello, Olympics!!) to view your Flickr photos in a whole new way.”

Bing Maps is a great example of leveraging what CC licenses enable—in this case the ability to reuse and repurpose photos in creative ways that also serve a functional purpose, to better inform people about the cultural landscape of a place. Who doesn’t want to see the awesome orange skeleton from a past Carnaval in SF?

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Victorian Government Commits to CC as Default Licensing System

Michelle Thorne, February 5th, 2010

The UK government recently made a splash with its move towards opening government data. Now CC Australia’s Jessica Coates shares a promising government initiative in her home country. The Victorian Government has become the first Australian government to commit to using Creative Commons as the default licensing system for its public sector information (PSI). Many of its reports and other works will use CC BY, which she explains is becoming the preferred license for Australian PSI.

The commitment is part of the Government’s response to its Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee’s Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data, which recommended that the Victorian Government adopt a “hybrid public sector information licensing model comprising Creative Commons and a tailored suite of licences for restricted materials.”

Specifically, the response (which is under CC BY-NC-ND) states at p.8 that:

he Victorian Government endorses the committee’s overarching recommendation that the default position for the management of PSI should be open access. The Victorian Government further commits to the development of a whole-of-government Information Management Framework (IMF) whereby PSI is made available under Creative Commons licensing by default with a tailored suite of licences for restricted materials.

As far as we are aware, this is the strongest commitment to Creative Commons implementation made by any Australian government. While there have been a number of excellent CC-friendly recommendations coming out of recent government inquiries – notably the Government 2.0 and Venturous Australia reports – these are yet to be officially adopted. And while there are some excellent implementation projects – the Victorian Government specifically mentions the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Queensland’s Government Information Licensing Framework – these are still limited to individual agencies.

We’ll be very excited to see where the Victorian goes from here.

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Welcoming Cathy Casserly to the Creative Commons board of directors

Joi Ito, January 31st, 2010

I’m pleased to announce that today the Creative Commons board of directors has elected Cathy Casserly as a new member. Cathy has been a foremost champion of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement for a decade and of Creative Commons since its inception.

She served as Director of Open Educational Resources Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. A year ago she joined The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as Senior Partner.

Cathy has become a great personal friend and invaluable mentor as I ramp up my involvement in CC’s open education strategy. It is a great honor for me to welcome Cathy to the Creative Commons board of directors.

Addendum: CC board chair Esther Wojcicki on her Huffington Post blog writes Open Education Resources Get a Big Boost: Cathy Casserly Joins Creative Commons Board.

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CC & OER 2010

Mike Linksvayer, January 30th, 2010

Earlier this week we announced a reorganization of Creative Commons open education projects. The objective of this reorganization is to maximize CC’s impact by focusing our activities in support of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement where we have unique leverage and expertise — developing and explaining the legal and technical infrastructure required to make “open” work.

Today’s post lays out the details of our structure going forward and highlights some of our open education projects and goals for 2010. Apologies for the length of this post (and that of the previous announcement), but there’s much to cover. If you just want to hear about new developments as they happen please bookmark or subscribe to the Open Educational Resources tag on this blog or follow us on Facebook, Identi.ca, or Twitter.

Brand and Websites

The ccLearn (sometimes written CC Learn) brand and website are going away. Over the past year we’ve realized two things that fed into this decision. First, the Creative Commons brand is very strong and we need to leverage it wherever we can, including in education and science. While the ccLearn brand has gained recognition among those in the open education community we’ve directly engaged with, we want our impact and visibility to scale far beyond those we talk to directly. Second, separate branding led to a separate website for our open education activities, which essentially meant nobody saw them — last quarter alone the main CC site had 400x more visitors than the ccLearn site.

It will take some time to migrate and rebrand all relevant content, but the net effect is that going forward you can expect to see much more OER-related content and news on the CC home page, main site, and wiki. This is a big win for the open education movement — many more people will learn about OER, and for CC as well — OER may be the single most compelling use of our tools, and one that any member of the public can understand right away. Free access to materials for learning, worldwide — of course!

Resources and Funding

Creative Commons is increasing, not decreasing, its resource commitment to open education projects. The reorganization results in the departure of one staff, but the addition of direct open education project responsibility to several of our most senior staff, including our CEO, Creative Director, CTO, GC, and VP. It’s fair to ask what these people will not be doing now that they have significant new responsibilities. In brief, we get some efficiency gains through less internal communications overhead due to the reorganization and some replication of efforts that both core and ccLearn have pursued in the past. Additionally, we’re doing less pure outreach and outreach-related travel. This is worth an entire post in itself, but the short version is that direct outreach by CC staff now constitutes drops in the ocean of the burgeoning commons movement, so we’re focusing on relationships where an official CC representative is required and implementation could have a major impact. We plan to leverage education experts in our worldwide affiliate network — who are better positioned and more knowledgeable than staff at times — to do more of the direct outreach on behalf of CC. And finally, we’ll be making some support hires to free up more senior staff time for education project management and strategy.

We also think that making OER part of CC’s core messaging and focusing more of our project energy on supporting OER makes CC more attractive to donors — see brand above.


Photo: Cathy Casserly by Joi Ito / CC BY. OER champion Casserly joined the CC board of directors this month.

Team

Following are staff with direct open education responsibilities. All are listed on our organization chart (pdf), which you can always find linked from our people page. Note that all are completely integrated into the organization and that several others have (and always had) supporting roles for OER through as a matter of course in their work running CC’s operations, supporting affiliates, developing software, etc.

Joi Ito, CEO. Joi sets the overall direction of the organization, including our OER strategy. He will be greatly increasing the visibility of CC’s open education projects this year with the public and funders, including via keynoting conferences, writing, and personal appearances. He also has responsibility for leveraging the extensive education expertise of our board of directors and bringing external expertise to a new CC advisory board comprised in part of education experts. Joi will also play a key role in helping CC and OER grow in regions such as the Middle East and Africa — for those in the San Francisco, please come to our salon on February 16 to hear Joi speak on this topic.

Lila Bailey, Counsel, is focused on legal projects supporting OER and is supervised by Diane Peters, General Counsel, who leads the development of CC’s legal tools and overall legal strategy and policy, and will make OER one of the primary drivers in development of upgraded licenses and public domain tools.

Nathan Yergler, CTO, heads CC’s technology team, has direct responsibility for our OER search projects, and was lead developer for DiscoverEd, our OER search prototype. Nathan is currently hiring a software engineer to support further development of DiscoverEd.

Alex Kozak, Program Assistant, does project coordination for our Student Journalism project, works on OER metrics and other analysis, and provides support and documentation for our education-related technology projects. Jane Park, Communications Coordinator does much of our OER-related blogging and interviewing and liaises with both the media and community. Alex and Jane are supervised by Eric Steuer, Creative Director. Eric was CC’s primary representative at education events prior to the formation of ccLearn. In addition to education management responsibilities, Eric will be using experience gained from orchestrating major CC adoptions and improvements across many fields to help OER platforms improve their support for CC tools.

Tim Vollmer, Open Policy Fellow, is primarily responsible for supporting the OER policy community with analysis, explanations, metrics, and case studies concerning the benefits of open licensing for OER. Tim is supervised by Mike Linksvayer, Vice President, who manages CC’s day to day operations and oversees overall OER project planning, and is writing this blog post. If you have questions about CC’s open education projects, feel free to contact Mike at ml@creativecommons.org.

Many of CC’s affiliates are heavily involved in OER projects worldwide. We’ll be featuring many of them over the coming months.

Projects

Following is a sampling of open education projects CC is working on this year.

Legal

  • Licensing and copyright for OER, including its relationship to minors. Especially as OER becomes more prevalent in K-12, consideration must be given to the licensing of works created by minors. Our goal is to provide materials which allow parents, teachers, and learners to use and contribute to OER with confidence by following common-sense best practices, keeping parents and teachers involved.
  • Explanations of all elements of our core legal tools for an education audience.
  • A Continuing Legal Education course module for lawyers on copyright and open licensing that addresses education-specific issues.
  • Development of education use cases to inform the future development of our licenses and public domain tools.
  • Further exploration of copyright exceptions & limitations (including fair use) and OER production.

Technology

  • R&D on metadata, discoverability, provenance for OER — a mouthful, but some of the key challengesopportunities for increased OER adoption and impact.
  • Publications on known best practices for OER metadata.
  • Continued development and support of DiscoverEd, pushing ahead the state of the art for OER search.
  • Consulting on implementations of CC tools on key OER platforms.
  • Convening further in-person and online summits and code sprints concerning OER, discoverability and CC tools.

Social, Media, Policy

  • A new introductory video focusing on CC and OER.
  • A new and continuously updated slide deck for anyone to use and modify for presentation on CC and OER.
  • Further interviews and case studies highlighting the best and brightest implementations and implementers of CC for OER.
  • Analysis of lessons learned from Open Access policy and possible translation to OER policy.
  • Metrics regarding CC and OER adoption.
  • Further analysis of the reasons for heterogeneous copyright policies in online education and a new push for CC adoption and interoperability.
  • Materials for teaching about CC in curricula where open licensing and remix are instructive, e.g., journalism and arts education.

As with staffing resources above, it’s fair to ask what projects we won’t be doing, given that we’ve said we’re focusing our support for open education on projects in which our core legal and technical expertise come to bear. Here are some examples of areas related to open education that we’ve considered or been lobbied to consider involvement in that are outside of our core expertise and therefore out of scope: advising on health privacy and education; translation, formats, and content management systems beyond their support for open licensing and discoverability; direct advocacy and political movement building; advising on pedagogy. This is not a complete list by any means — there is much demand for expertise within the burgeoning open education movement.

We believe that by focusing on legal and technology projects and explanations that further adoption of CC and OER we will make great progress on the in-scope projects above and more in 2010, setting up 2011 to be a breakthrough year for the open education movement. Onward!

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$500,000 raised for CC by YOU and thank YOU!

Mike Linksvayer, December 31st, 2009

cc-shepard-fairey-logo-mediumWe launched our fifth year-end campaign on October 5 in a very difficult economic environment. Today, the final day of the year, the decade, and last scheduled day of the campaign, we surpassed our goal of raising $500,000.

Three major contributions in the last 24 hours carried us over the top from our board member Eric Saltzman, entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, and the Lewis Charitable Foundation.

Just as exciting, we’ve received support from more individual donors than in any previous year.

THANK YOU!

If you’re a new supporter, you’re joining many individuals, corporations, and foundations that have supported our work to build the commons for years. Congratulations!

One new supporter needs to be called out here — Lulu — for making a very significant multi-year commitment to Creative Commons. Details in a dedicated post soon. Many thanks to Lulu founder Bob Young, one of our original funders.

2009 was a groundbreaking year for Creative Commons. Thanks to you, 2010 should be even better. With your support, we will be working to make the 2010s a decade in which the voluntary commons contributes mightily to realizing the potential of digital networks for the arts, media, education, science, the public sector, and collaboration and innovation across fields.

If you haven’t given yet, there’s still time to support the commons in 2009! Any amount will help. As a reminder, a donation of $75 or more gets you a CC t-shirt designed by artist Shepherd Fairey (image above). For as little as $3.50 you can get swag from our store.

Thanks again. Watch for an analysis of the campaign and lots of exciting initiatives in 2010 — we’ll be asking for your input. Spread the word!

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