Towards a Collaborative, Coordinated Strategy for OER Implementation

Cable Green, November 17th, 2015

Game Plan

Game Plan. By Rob Armes, CC BY 3.0

Today, the OER community releases the Foundations for OER Strategy Development. This document provides a concise analysis of where the global OER movement currently stands: what the common threads are, where the greatest opportunities and challenges lie, and how we can more effectively work together as a community. Ideas for this document came from across the OER community, following a 6-month drafting and feedback process. The document can be found at http://oerstrategy.org

This document reflects the state of the OER movement through the eyes of its practitioners: what we need as a movement, what we agree on, areas where we differ, and opportunities for advancing OER globally. The Cape Town and Paris Declarations set the vision for the OER movement, including the value statements that form the basis for our work. We see the Foundations for OER Strategy Development as forming the basis for future actions and commitments.

Our next step is to make the commitments for actions that will continue the momentum.

Make a commitment to advance OER:

  1. Read the document.
  2. What actions will you take? Consider:

– How will you address the opportunities and challenges outlined?
– What do you see as the greatest opportunity and what ideas do you have to address it?
– How can your organization work effectively with others to address this?
– What roles are you best suited to take?

  1. Make your commitment public.

– Tweet your commitment using the hashtag #oerstrategy.
– Follow the conversation … we’ll also capture the tweets at oerstrategy.org

  1. Get to work and keep us updated.

– Tweet your updates using #oerstrategy.
– Let’s track our collective progress and build an even stronger global OER community.

Thank you for helping to build the open future of education!

Foundations for OER Strategy Development drafting committee: Cable Green, Nicole Allen, Mary Lou Forward, Alek Tarkowski, Delia Browne.

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US Dept. of Education proposes Open Licensing Policy. CC joins White House announcement.

Cable Green, October 30th, 2015


U.S. Department of Education Seal


Yesterday, Creative Commons joined the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for a series of important announcements that will advance OER in grades PreK-12 across the United States. ED announced the launch of its #GoOpen campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use Open Educational Resources (OER). OER, made “open” by CC licenses, will benefit schools in a number of ways including: increasing equity, keeping content relevant and high quality, empowering teachers, and saving districts money.

“In order to ensure that all students—no matter their ZIP code—have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials. Districts across the country are transforming learning by using materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.” – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan


#GoOpen announcements include:

(1) Creative Commons will lead OER workshops across the country (with CC US and OER coalition colleagues) with thousands of district leaders to help them scale the use of OER with the goal to replace old, outdated, expensive textbooks in their districts with new, up-to-date, OER. CC will provide the hands-on help that districts need to propel them to a new model of empowering their teachers to create, share, customize, and improve openly licensed educational resources.

(2) Open License Policy

ED has proposed a regulatory change requiring “grantees who receive funding through competitive discretionary grant programs to openly license all copyrightable resources created with ED funds. This open license will allow the public to access and use the intellectual property for any purpose, provided that the user gives attribution to the creator of that work.”

“By requiring an open license, we will ensure that high-quality resources created through our public funds are shared with the public, thereby ensuring equal access for all teachers and students regardless of their location or background. We are excited to join other federal agencies leading on this work to ensure that we are part of the solution to helping classrooms transition to next generation materials.” – John King, Deputy Secretary of Education

While the CC BY 4.0 license meets this requirement, and it always better to be specific re: open license requirements (to help grantees understand and comply), and CC will suggest that ED require the CC BY license by name, the following “open license” definition looks pretty good:

The license must be worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable, and must grant the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use, for any purposes, copyrightable intellectual property created with direct competitive grant funds, provided that the licensee gives attribution to the designated authors of the intellectual property.

With this proposed open licensing policy, ED joins the U.S. Departments of Labor and State, USAID, and other agencies in adding open license requirements to federal grants to ensure the public has access to publicly funded resources. This policy proposal is the first major step the Obama Administration has made toward fulfilling a call made by more than 100 organizations for a government-wide policy to openly license federally funded educational materials.

This good news caps a busy month for OER where: legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to provide support for open textbooks, the White House blogged about how OER provides equitable access to education for all learners, and the U.S. government released its 2016 Open Government National Action Plan, which includes a commitment to expand open licensing of federally funded resources.

(3) CC licenses in new OER Platforms: Creative Commons is thrilled to be working with the following platforms and congratulates them for committing to integrate CC licenses into their tools – making it easier for the public to share, find and reuse OER. CC is actively working with these (and other) organizations to ensure their platforms and terms of service are compliant with and fully support CC licenses. We will make joint announcements with each platform when the CC / OER integrations are complete.

  • Amazon will leverage its technology and expertise in content discovery and distribution – and add CC licenses to a new content sharing platform – to support OER initiatives in K-12 education. Amazon will also provide infrastructure and developer support for ED’s Learning Registry for two years.
  • Microsoft announced new features to Docs.com, Sway and OneNote Class Notebook to enable educators to create, discover, rate, and share OER. The products are integrated with Microsoft Office and will enable tailored curation of resource collections, and encourage reuse by supporting CC licenses and metadata sharing. In addition, Microsoft will index content from the Learning Registry by creating a new app so educators can search and access OER through LTI compliant learning management and publisher systems.
  • Edmodo announced an upgrade to its resource sharing platform, Edmodo Spotlight, to enable searching, curating, and sharing OER – using CC licenses – with the Learning Registry. Edmodo will also provide professional learning resources for districts to curate, organize and share OER in Spotlight.
  • The Illinois Shared Learning Environment released a redesigned version of their IOER platform that makes it easier for teachers and school leaders to find OER by CC license and learning standards. Additionally, IOER developer code is available as open source for other states interested in implementing a similar functionality.

(4) First US Government Open Education Adviser: Andrew Marcinek is now working with school districts, education platforms, civil society, and open education leaders to expand awareness of OER in PreK-12.

(5) Ten school districts will replace at least one textbook with OER within the next year.

(6) Six #GoOpen Ambassador Districts will help other school districts move to openly licensed materials. These #GoOpen Ambassador Districts currently use OER and will help other districts understand how to effectively discover and curate OER.

(7) ASCD will provide ongoing professional development resources and webinars for Future Ready school districts committing to help train educators on the use of OER. ASCD will work with district leaders to support districts pledging to replace one textbook with openly licensed educational resources by next fall.

We look forward to working with ED on its new open licensing policy proposal and other exciting OER initiatives in this new #GoOpen campaign. This is another positive sign that both OER and open licensing policy are going mainstream!

Will your country be next to #GoOpen? Send me a note if you want to shift to OER in your country: cable at creative commons dot org


Additional resources for the #GoOpen campaign:

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White House takes another step in support for open education

Timothy Vollmer, October 28th, 2015


Yesterday the Obama administration released an updated version of its Open Government National Action Plan. Ever since the launch of the global Open Government Partnership in 2011, participating nations have made commitments to work on initiatives “to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable.” Included in the U.S. plan is a section aimed at supporting open educational resources and open licensing.

Expand Access to Educational Resources through Open Licensing and Technology (p.3)

Open educational resources are an investment in sustainable human development; they have the potential to increase access to high-quality education and reduce the cost of educational opportunities around the world. Open educational resources can expand access to key educational materials, enabling the domestic and international communities to attain skills and more easily access meaningful learning opportunities. The United States has worked collaboratively with domestic and international civil society stakeholders to encourage open education initiatives. Building on that momentum, the United States will openly license more Federal grant supported education materials and resources, making them widely and freely available. In addition to convening stakeholders to encourage further open education efforts, the United States will publish best practices and tools for agencies interested in developing grant-supported open licensing projects, detailing how they can integrate open licensing into projects from technical and legal perspectives.

You’ll recall that Creative Commons and over 100 other organizations called on the White House to act so that federally funded educational materials are made available under liberal open licenses for the public to freely use, share, and improve. One way for the Obama administration to meet this goal is to make open licensing policy a major commitment in their updated Open Government National Action Plan.

The newest White House plan—released during the Open Government Partnership Summit in Mexico City this week—is not as progressive as our earlier recommendations. Still, it mentions open education and open licensing as important areas for action. And this type of work could help move the U.S. toward a default open licensing policy for the digital education and training resources created with discretionary federal grants funds.

Text of the updated U.S. Open Government National Action Plan (PDF)

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European migrant crisis: Czech teachers create and share resources

Timothy Vollmer, September 24th, 2015

This is a guest post by Jan Gondol.

Pencil by Mari Pi, Public Domain.

In the midst of the European migrant crisis, the Czech Republic is showing the power of open educational resources (OER).

EDUin, a non-profit organization based in Prague worked with the Czech organization of civic education teachers to address the current migrant crisis. Students in schools were asking questions and wanted to understand what was going on. Why are so many people on the run? What is the difference between a refugee and a migrant? What is the difference between migration, emigration and immigration?

The teachers worked on developing the materials for Czech schools, and the resulting worksheets are now shared on their website (in the Czech language). These worksheets are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0, and there are different versions for ages 6-11 and ages 12-16.

“This activity shows that open educational resources can help react to a new situation very quickly in a way traditional textbooks cannot,” says Tamara Kováčová, coordinator of EDUin’s open education program. “Because of fast distribution, materials get to schools around the country in a matter of days. Teachers get support in time when they need it and teaching is up-to-date. Furthermore, it’s possible to join several school subjects together on phenomenon based learning principle.”

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Open Licensing Policy Toolkit (DRAFT)

Cable Green, September 22nd, 2015

Files. By Pieter J. Smits, CC BY 3.0

Creative Commons believes that public and foundation funded resources should be openly licensed by default. We have written extensively about the importance of open licensing policies in government, foundations, and have built the Open Policy Network and the Institute for Open Leadership with our open policy partners around the world. In the past few years, the United States federal government has accelerated its interest in and implementation of open licensing policy requirements on the products of publicly funded grants and contracts.

To support the education of government staff creating, adopting and implementing open licensing policies – we’ve created an Open Licensing Policy Toolkit. While this draft is tailored for U.S. government federal staff, it can easily be revised to meet the needs of any country. We share it here under a CC BY 4.0 license hoping others will take, improve, and modify it to meet regional, national and/or local needs. We look forward to seeing what you create… and we are happy to collaborate with you should you identify an opportunity to work with your government on broad open licensing requirements on publicly funded resources.

Open Licensing Policy Toolkit (Google docs version)
Open Licensing Policy Toolkit (Wiki version)

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U.S. Secretary of Education highlights Schools using OER to #GoOpen

Cable Green, September 15th, 2015

Williamsfield video by U.S. Department of Education is licensed CC BY

I’m pleased to announce two important updates from the U.S. Department of Education!

#1: Williamsfield Community Unified School District embraces OER

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Williamsfield Community Unified School District in Illinois to highlight the progress the rural school district has made in shifting to digital and open educational resources (OER) to connect their students to the world. “The walls break down,” Zack Binder, the Pre K-12 Principal said. “You’re no longer in Williamsfield, Illinois. You have the same access to this information that anyone in the world does.”

Over the past two years, the 310-student district decided to adapt and adopt OER (e.g., EngageNY) rather than procuring new commercial textbooks for students, and direct those savings towards new devices for students.

“We worked to start leveraging open education resources in May of 2013. It coincided with a decision to purchase—or not purchase—a math textbook series. We decided to leverage OER and invest the money that was allocated for textbooks into technology and technological infrastructure,” said Williamsfield Superintendent Tim Farquer.

While this move saved money, and allowed the district to buy tablets and laptops for students and teachers, it was mostly about using Creative Commons (CC) licensed educational resources to make the content better – it helped change the classroom by empowering teachers and students to customize learning resources for students.

“The biggest transition for me, from what it was like before to what it is like now, is that kids can do things that they’re interested in, instead of having one prescribed way to do things that comes from a textbook,” said Lori Secrist, a district science teacher.

The newly formed K12 OER Collaborative, an initiative led by a group of 12 U.S. states, has similar goals and is in the process of creating comprehensive, high-quality, OER-supported K–12 mathematics and English language arts that are aligned with state learning standards.

If you’d like to replicate this in your school district, see the CC-USA FAQ on OER in Williamsfield.

#2: U.S. Dept of Ed hires its first full-time OER leader

Secretary Duncan announced today the hiring of the Department’s first full-time OER position to lead a national effort to expand schools’ access to high-quality, openly-licensed learning resources and help districts and states follow the path of Williamsfield. Andrew Marcinek will serve in the Department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) as the first “Adviser for Open Education.”

“Creating a dedicated open education adviser position at the Department will greatly enhance our ability to support states and districts as they move to using openly licensed learning resources,” said Richard Culatta, Director of the OET. “The use of openly-licensed resources not only allows states and districts to adapt and modify materials to meet student needs, but also frees up funding to support the transition to digital learning.”

The availability of low-cost, high-quality learning resources in U.S. K12 public schools is a priority for President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative.

These exciting moves are part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and open access to publicly funded resources. Last month Creative Commons and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are openly licensed and released to the public as OER. Creative Commons looks forward to working closely with the Department’s new Open Education Adviser and will continue working with our partners to advance OER and open licensing policy in the U.S. Government, and around the world with the members of the Open Policy Network and the CC Affiliate Network.

Join the conversation on social media with @creativecommons using hashtags #ReadyforSuccess / #GoOpen / #OER

Related press / blog posts:

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Obama administration should require sharing of federally funded educational resources under Creative Commons licenses

Timothy Vollmer, August 4th, 2015

White House_600
White House by Diego Cambiaso, available under the CC BY-SA license.

Today, Creative Commons and a broad coalition of education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organizations are calling upon the White House to take administrative action to ensure that federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) for the public to freely use, share, and improve.

We ask the administration to adopt a strong Executive branch-wide policy requiring that educational, training, and instructional materials created with federal funds be shared under an open license. Some agencies have already implemented an open licensing policy for the outputs of federal grants, including the $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program, jointly administered by the Departments of Labor and Education. In order to receive these funds, grantees are required to license to the public all work created with the support of the grant under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY) license.

In issuing this public statement, we hope to ensure that the billions of taxpayer dollars invested in the creation of educational materials produce resources that are freely available to the members of the public that paid for them. The administration has both an educational and economic imperative to increase access to learning and workforce development opportunities. Further, it has the opportunity to spur innovation through opening access to a wealth of educational resources that can be improved and built upon.

To ensure that administrative policy advances these goals, the coalition has outlined five core principles for executive action:

  1. Adopt a broad definition of educational materials.
  2. Provide free online access to these educational resources.
  3. Create conditions that enable easy reuse of materials.
  4. Require prompt implementation of the policy.
  5. Mandate regular reporting of progress and results.

The following can be attributed to Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons:

“By embracing Creative Commons licenses for the digital education and training outputs of federal agency grant making, the Obama administration will be demonstrating its commitment to collaboration, innovation, and effective government spending. When we contribute publicly funded educational materials to the public commons, everyone wins. This type of sharing is worth fighting for.”

A copy of the complete letter is available here. You can show your support for open access to publicly funded education materials by signing it too.


edX makes it easy for authors to share under Creative Commons

Cable Green, June 2nd, 2015


edX has added the ability for authors to apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to their courses and videos on its platform. More than 50 academic institutions, including MIT and Harvard, use edX to offer free courses that anyone in the world can join. Now, authors at these institutions and elsewhere may license their courses for free and open reuse directly on the edX platform.

edx snedX license chooser. edX has also developed this step-by-step guide for course authors and a learners guide on adding CC licenses to courses and videos.

With the addition of the CC license suite, edX joins the global Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. The CC licenses make education content accessible and expand opportunities for innovation by providing everyone with the legal permissions to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain educational resources.

Since massive open online courses (MOOCs) were first launched, CC has advocated that MOOCs have both open admission (in the classic Open University tradition) and provide authors the option to share their content as OER under Creative Commons licenses.

edX’s addition of the CC license suite is the result of demands for CC licensing options in edX from many schools and partner Universities who were already sharing their content under CC on other platforms. Special thanks goes to the Open Education Consortium’s OECx partners who pushed edX to add CC to the platform for their courses.

The Delft University of Technology played a major role in this work. During Open Education Week 2014, Willem van Valkenburg of TU Delft organized an Open.EdX hackathon to create a CC license plugin for edX. The winning plugin — developed by FeedbackFruits — made it simple to add a CC license to an edX course.

“TU Delft is all about open, so openMOOCs is what we prefer. Thanks to FeedbackFruits we can now publish our courses with a Creative Commons license.” — Willem van Valkenburg

Congratulations to edX for its leadership in furthering the Commons. We hope Coursera, FutureLearn, and other education platforms will follow edX’s lead and offer the CC license suite for their authors and academic partners.

edX joins CC’s new Platform Initiative, which works to create easy, clear, and enjoyable ways for users to contribute to the commons on community-driven content platforms. If you are a platform that would like to join this movement for the commons, please get in touch!

See edX’s post.

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CC Tanzania expands OER and CC training to more primary schools

Aristarik Maro, May 19th, 2015

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Aristarik is an Assistant Lecturer at the Open University of Tanzania and Creative Commons Tanzania volunteer.

CC Tanzania SOO Training Training
SOO Tanzania Training by CC Tanzania under CC BY

Creative Commons Tanzania through School of Open programme trained 50 pupils from Kumbukumbu primary school on the benefits of the Internet, computer programmes information/knowledge sharing, and Open Education Resources (OER). This is one of the planned activities for School of Open (SOO) Tanzania where this training was preceded by a donation of computers, chairs and tables to the computer lab as part of CC Tanzania’s initiative to enable public schools’ use of ICTs in teaching and learning.

This event was officiated by Prof. Tolly Mbwette, the former Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), who agreed to be the patron of CC Tanzania. The university supported the training by providing two training labs that were used by the pupils. Open and Distance Learning (ODL) computer labs were used in the training.

Steven Lukindo, Acting Director of the Institute of Educational Technology & Management (IETM) kicked off the 3-day program on 17, April 2014. 50 pupils were introduced to the open web to aid teaching and learning and the use of Google, Microsoft Word and Excel. The concept of the commons, copyright, and how CC licenses have enabled the global OER movement was also introduced.

A one-month teacher training for 40 primary school teachers was also launched, commencing on 20, April 2015. The training equips teachers from the same school with ICT skills in teaching and learning. Internet, OER and the concept of the commons were introduced to comply with school’s ICT syllabus. This training was SOO Tanzania’s follow-up activity after the donation of computers by CC Tanzania to the same school.

SOO Tanzania has planned for additional training to the school’s pupils on the benefits of sharing OER and the use of different teaching and learning tools customized to local content.

Challenges and lessons learned

A number of challenges were encountered by SOO Tanzania, including: lack of funding to carry out some of its key planned activities, time to merge busy schedules of facilitators work and volunteering activities, publicity, inadequate ICT facilities in most public schools, and low understanding of ICT in teaching and learning in most schools and perception change in sharing of innovations and creativity within the community. More publicity and training is required to take School of Open to the next level in the country.

CC Tanzania through its School of Open planned activities is planning to approach more donors and volunteers to support its 2015 road map, in addition to publicizing its activities to teaching and learning institutions to attract awareness of how CC affiliates work for a better and brighter future of sharing.

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U.S. K12 State Policy Recommendations for OER: Sign Letter of Support

Cable Green, May 8th, 2015

second grade writing class
second grade writing class / woodleywonderworks / CC BY

(a nonpartisan education reform organization widely known for its CC BY licensed OER Rubrics) has developed policy recommendations with input from its OER Institute U.S. state partners for U.S. states to use OER as part of their college and career ready implementation plans.

These recommendations aim to provide helpful information and guidance for U.S. states that are interested in but have not yet begun an organized effort to use OER.

The OER policy recommendations center on:

  • States and school districts using OER as part of their strategy to support the implementation of college and career ready standards.
  • Recommending when public funds are used, the instructional materials created should be openly licensed.
  • States and school districts should ensure all instructional materials being used, including OER, are high quality and aligned to college and career ready standards.

To illustrate the broad array of audiences that support and have made effective, standards-aligned OER a priority, Achieve was recently joined by U.S. states, funders and organizations, including Creative Commons, in signing a letter of support for Open Educational Resources.

If your state or organization is interested in signing this letter, please contact Hans Voss at hvoss@achieve.org

This open letter outlines the benefits OER can provide to U.S. states and K12 school districts as they engage the hard work of college and career ready standards implementation. Particularly in an environment where many states are implementing the Common Core State Standards, OER can be used to leverage the benefits of these common standards by providing the legal rights and technical ability to freely share and modify instructional resources to help support the needs of individual classrooms (e.g., K12 OER Collaborative).

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