OER

Commonwealth of Learning adopts CC BY-SA as part of new OER policy

Jane Park, June 14th, 2011

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an intergovernmental organization that “helps governments and institutions to expand the scope, scale and quality of learning,” has defined a new policy on open educational resources (OER). In addition to recognizing the importance of OER for teaching, learning, and collaboration among institutions and governments, the Commonwealth of Learning states that it will “encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER.”

The new policy specifies that COL will “release its own materials under the most feasible open licenses including the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.” The CC BY-SA license is currently used for more than 17 million Wikipedia articles in 270 languages, not to mention a plethora of other Wikimedia Foundation projects. Furthermore the CC BY license is compatible with CC BY-SA, and CC BY is used by OER platforms like Connexions and Curriki.org.

We are thrilled at this new development by COL, one of the leading intergovernmental organizations in education! Read the full policy here, and learn more about how IGOs benefit by adopting Creative Commons licenses for their own works.

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Creative Commons & the Association of Educational Publishers to establish a common learning resources framework

Jane Park, June 7th, 2011

Today Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) announce the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, a project aimed at improving education search and discovery via a common framework for tagging and organizing learning resources on the web. The learning resources framework will be designed to work with schema.org, the web metadata framework recently launched by Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, as well as to work with other metadata technologies and to enable other rich applications.

Some of the details on my Moleskine
Some of the details on my Moleskine by Kim Joar / CC BY

The great promise of Open Educational Resources (OER) to provide access to high quality learning materials is limited by the discoverability of those resources and the difficulty of targeting them to the needs of specific learners. Creating a common metadata schema will accelerate movement toward personalized learning by publishers, content providers and learners, and help to unleash the tremendous potential of OER and online learning.

From AEP’s press release:

“This is a watershed project for our industry. It benefits both users and content providers because improved discoverability expands the market,” said Charlene Gaynor, CEO of AEP. “Being part of the process allows publishers to address issues such as quality and suitability as dimensions of educational content.”

CC is co-leading the LRMI with the Association of Educational Publishers, which includes publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, Inc. and Pearson. Open education organizations in addition to CC also support the project, including the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISMKE), Curriki.org, BetterLesson.org, and the Monterey Institute for Technology (MITE).

To learn more about the timeliness and impact of the LRMI, CC’s role in the project, and what this means for OER and online education publishers, grantees of the U.S. Department of Labor’s $2 billion TAACCCT program, other CC-using publishers and platforms, and technologists, please see our LRMI FAQ.

You can keep up to date and contribute to the broader conversation by following http://creativecommons.org/tag/lrmi and using the tag #lrmi on social media. If you want to get involved, join the LRMI list at http://groups.google.com/group/lrmi and introduce yourself. We look forward to your contributions!

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Response to “Publishers Criticize Federal Investment in Open Educational Resources”

Cable Green, May 27th, 2011

On Tuesday, the Chronicle of Higher Education posted the article, “Publishers Criticize Federal Investment in Open Educational Resources.”

We strongly support the U.S. Department of Labor including a CC BY requirement in their recent TAACCCT grant which makes available $2 billion to create open educational resources (OER) for career training programs in community colleges. As we announced earlier, Creative Commons will actively assist the winning grantees by providing expertise in open licensing, adoption and use, and more, to help ensure that the OER created with these federal funds are of the highest quality.

Having just joined Creative Commons this week as its new Director of Global Learning, I look forward to leading these efforts and also to help clarify Creative Commons’ role in the education space. Below is my response, originally posted in the comments section of the Chronicle article:

(1) The US Federal Government has, for decades, provided grants to higher education to produce new research and educational content. To say it is “dangerous for [the Federal Government] to be in the product business” is irrelevant. The Department of Labor (DOL) is exercising rational, responsible public policy that more efficiently uses public tax dollars to improve education opportunities.

The DOL has put forth a simple, effective public policy: Taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources.

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others.

Information that is designed, developed and distributed through the generosity of public tax dollars should be accessible to the public that paid for it — without undue restrictions or limits.

If you think about this open policy, it makes sense. We, the American taxpayers, should get what we paid for.

(2) Karen Cator is correct: the commercial publishers (textbook, journals, etc.) should be embracing and supporting this new public policy. When publicly funded digital content (courses, textbooks, data, research, etc.) is openly licensed with a CC BY license, everyone can use and modify the open content to meet their needs — including the commercial publishers.

Moreover, the CC BY license does not restrict commercialization of the open content. To be clear, the commercial publishers can take all $2B of content created in this DOL grant, change it, make it better, add value, and sell it. The consumer (states, colleges, students) will then have a choice: (a) use the free openly licensed version(s) or (b) purchase the commercial for-a-fee version. If the commercial content / services are worth paying for, people will pay. If not, they won’t.

Next step? We should applaud the Departments of Labor and Education for their work and encourage all US Federal agencies to follow suit: require CC BY licenses on all content produced with federal funding.

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U.S. Department of Labor seeks reviewers for TAACCCT applications

Timothy Vollmer, May 23rd, 2011

The U.S. Department of Labor continues to seek qualified peer reviewers to evaluate the first round applications for the agency’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program.

The Department is seeking a pool of education and training professionals that includes individuals with experience in providing or administering fully online or technology-enabled programs, individuals who have knowledge of or experience with evidence-based learning, and individuals with reasonable knowledge in both areas to help evaluate these applications in mid to late summer, 2011.

Detailed information and instructions for consideration is contained in this information page (PDF). Interested volunteers should contact the Department by May 27, 2011.

Creative Commons will not participate in the review process. For more information about how CC is involved in supporting grant winners, see our TAACCCT page.

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Kwame Nkrumah University adopts CC Attribution for OER policy

Jane Park, May 11th, 2011

KNUST OER production workshop team<br />
KNUST OER production workshop team by bagaball / CC BY

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has adopted a university-wide open educational resources (OER) policy with CC Attribution as the default license for university material. KNUST’s “Policy for Development and Use of Open Educational Resources (OER)” (pdf) outlines the purpose, role, and process of OER production at the university, and specifically states that,

“Materials produced which do not indicate any specific conditions for sharing will automatically be considered to have been shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license.”

The policy is available at the KNUST website and, in line with their policy, is available for use under CC BY.

KNUST is a partner institution in the African Health OER Network and works closely with the University of Michigan Medical School and Dental School to develop and distribute health OER. KNUST OER is hosted at http://web.knust.edu.gh/oer but is also duplicated for use at the Open.Michigan and OER Africa sites.

You can help us improve the case study on KNUST here.

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CC Talks With: Paul Stacey from BCcampus: Open Education and Policy

Timothy Vollmer, March 28th, 2011


Paul Stacey by BCcampus / CC BY

Paul Stacey is the Director of Communications, Stakeholder and Academic Relations at BCcampus. Headquartered in Vancouver, BCcampus provides services in support of educational technology and online learning to British Columbia’s 25 public colleges and universities, their students, faculty and administrators. The BC Ministry of Advanced Education provides funding for curriculum development. In 2003 they shifted funds to support a new thematic direction—online learning. Through this shift in priorities, BCcampus saw the opportunity to connect to the rising open education space, seeing interesting examples of other OER projects like MIT OpenCourseware and Connexions. Paul supports the strategic development of for-credit online curricula, in the form of OER, via partnerships among BC’s public post secondary institutions. He also helps coordinate a range of open online communities that support academic growth and faculty development in BC and beyond.

Foundation-funded vs. publicly-funded OER

Last year, Paul presented a paper called Foundation Funded OER vs. Tax Payer Funded OER–A Tale of Two Mandates at the Open Ed Conference in Barcelona. In that presentation he compared the goals and attributes of foundation-funded and publicly-funded OER projects. Private philanthropic foundations have provided the largest investments in OER over the last 10 years, but there are increasing examples of taxpayer-funded OER policies. Stacey observes that foundation and public sector goals are similar in wanting to expand access to education, but the means by which they do this differs. “The foundation’s primary responsibility is to the founder, while a government ministry’s primary responsibility is to its tax-paying citizens,” says Paul. While foundations often have global and humanitarian mandates and goals, government ministries, on the other hand, tend to be more geographically local to a specific nation, province, or state. They focus on providing a public service that benefits all citizens of that region rather than the entire world. “Public sector support for OER often has economic efficiency goals more than humanitarian ones,” says Paul. With public sector funding so tight, government bodies want to leverage its money in the most effective ways possible, and provide access to education to as many members of its public as possible. The ongoing question for OER is, can it do both?

Paul notes other differences between foundation-funded and publicly-funded OER. Foundation grants have primarily gone to single prestigious institutions and have been used for publishing existing lectures, course notes, and learning activities associated with campus-based classroom activity. Foundation grants have a defined start and end date and are generally not provided for ongoing operations. Government Ministries have primarily invested in OER for formal credit-based academic purposes that fulfill the education access, societal, and labor market needs of their region. Government grants are given, not to single prestigious institutions, but to collaborative partnerships of schools and institutions in their jurisdiction, often for development of new curricula intended for online delivery. Government Ministries oftentimes concern themselves with both start-up and ongoing operations funding.

A spectrum of licenses: To choose or not to choose?

Paul has constructed an interesting chart that plots various OER projects with their associated licensing terms.

Stacey notes that foundation-funded OER projects generally require a single Creative Commons license (usually CC BY or CC BY-NC-SA). But, for publicly-funded OER, there are usually more license options available. One recommendation Paul makes is for OER projects to offer a range of licensing options along the “open” continuum. “Multiple options provide greater buy-in and lower the threshold for OER participation,” suggests Paul. He concedes that there are downsides to permitting individual projects to choose their own license: a variety of licenses make remixing and adapting OER more complex, and can create interoperability issues and siloed content. While he’s noticed that no OER project places content into the public domain, Paul thinks that this approach could be tested.

BC Commons and suggestions for Creative Commons

Stacey says that Creative Commons has played a central role in making OER possible in the first place. The current licensing solution used by BCcampus intuitions, BC Commons, is modeled on Creative Commons. The BC Commons license is different than CC licenses. Where the Creative Commons licenses are applicable worldwide, the BC Commons license is applied to content for use and sharing between institutions, faculty and students affiliated with the BC public post-secondary system. BCcampus adopted the BC Commons license to support educators gradual entry into the waters of openness. “If you say to a faculty member that you want them to share their resources with everyone, they worry that they might lose control of the integrity of the resources they create,” says Paul. “Even with the BC Commons license, these concerns do not go away entirely, but fears are mitigated because the sharing is contained within the province.” Stacey thinks that the more convincing reason for rallying around the BC Commons license is the local collaboration generated by its use. “When you create a license that supports local sharing, it creates a local commons,” says Paul. The local ties among educators are oftentimes much stronger than ties outside of the community. And, BCcampus actively cultivates partnerships to encourage multiple institutions to work together on developing content—“we collectively develop and collectively reuse the resources,” says Paul.

Paul offered several recommendations for Creative Commons:

  • Develop a tracking piece of code embedded in each CC license that reports back to the OER creator on reuse. We know from social media that seeing use is a motivator for doing more.
  • Encourage CC licensing choice along the open continuum and make it simple for people to start with one license and then transition or migrate a resource to more open licenses along the continuum as they get comfortable with sharing.
  • Work with those trying to create regional versions of CC licenses, (like we’ve done in BC with the BC Commons license), to craft the regional license to be as similar to CC as possible. In our experience its been crucial to complement global sharing choices with local regional ones.
  • Refine the decisions associated with CC license choices. Attribution, commercial/non-commercial, derivatives, and share alike go a long way but could be complemented with other decision-making points specific to OER.
  • Consider adding metadata fields to the CC license to allow the creator to add additional information about the resource including their interest in collaborating with others on improving and modifying it.
  • Work with national, state and other public sector institutions and organizations to incorporate Creative Commons license options into education policy that governs IP and copyright so that educators have CC choices built into their agreements.
  • Continue work with software companies that develop applications used to create and deliver educational resources to incorporate CC licenses as default options within the application.

Future of OER

Stacey speculates that while government Ministries have yet to be convinced that making all their publicly funded educational resources open to the world is in the best interests of its citizens, he predicts that this will eventually prove to be the case. “Foundations and public sector entities will work together to define the OER value proposition in a way that meets both sets of mandates and goals and is mutually beneficial regionally and globally,” says Paul.

Paul thinks that both foundation and public sector funding will increasingly look to achieve a formal learning outcome where credit is associated with OER,” he says. OER will be help spur other changes in our education system too, and continue to affect the dynamics of the teaching/learning environment. Stacey predicts: “Student-to-student and network-based learning will generate global OER education networks that will eventually prove to provide a better education than is currently available through existing traditional education providers.” Stacey reinforces the need to include students in the OER creation process, as they are the primary beneficiaries of open learning materials. “We’ve tended to see students as consumers of OER,” says Paul, “but I believe students will ultimately produce more OER than educators.” He predicts that someday students will get credit for producing course content OER. But, the demand for well-trained and credentialed educators isn’t going away. The role of a teacher will continue to evolve. Lecturing is out. Facilitating, mentoring, connecting students together in ways most productive for their learning is in. And critically important is the need for professionals to take on the role of assembling OER into sensible curriculum, and delivering it in a way that allows for ongoing assessment to take place.

Stacey believes there’s no one-size-fits-all vision for the future of OER. Open education can be transformative in a variety of ways, and it should be able to fit alongside more traditional environments too. He thinks it’s exciting to imagine the various possibilities, and has described one vision for how this might look as the University of Open. He also points to the work Wayne Mackintosh is leading around an OER University. Paul thinks that a quality education is a shared aspiration for everyone around the world. “We’re seeing OER change education from something defined by scarcity to something based on an idea of plenty,” he says. “OER, together with the ability to form global learning networks, makes education for all an attainable goal.”

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Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly receives President’s Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence

Jane Park, March 23rd, 2011


Cathy Casserly by Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching
/ CC BY

The OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC), a community of over 250 member institutions worldwide committed to sharing their courses online, has voted to present Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly with the President’s Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence, a special recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the open courseware community. Prior to Cathy’s role as the CEO of Creative Commons and Senior Partner and Vice President of Innovation and Open Networks at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Cathy,

“served as director of the Open Educational Resources Initiative at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and guided more than $100 million in support to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of knowledge sharing worldwide. Casserly’s work helped raise global awareness of resources, participants and their projects.”

We are thrilled for Cathy to receive this honor and for her continuing work supporting open educational resources (OER) at Creative Commons. Cathy, along with other distinguished recipients, will be presented the award at the upcoming OCWC meeting in May, celebrating 10 years of open courseware.

The Open CourseWare movement has taken off around the world, powered by CC licenses. Materials from 2,000 MIT courses are available for reuse, translation, and remix under the CC Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license (CC BY-NC-SA) and nearly 800 MIT OCW courses have been translated into other languages. The Open Courseware Consortium contains over 250 global member institutions and affiliates, including the African Virtual University, Japan OCW Consortium, Open University Netherlands, and China Open Resources for Education.

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Creative Commons sponsors WikiSym 2011

Jane Park, February 24th, 2011

We are thrilled to announce our involvement in the 7th annual WikiSym, International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration. WikiSym explores the impact of wikis, open resources, and open technologies across all sectors of society, including education, law, journalism, art, science, publishing, business, and entertainment.

WikiSym 2011 will be held in Mountain View, California on October 3-5. You don’t want to miss this conference. WikiSym draws an international group of leading thinkers from industry, non-profits and academia. Last year’s WikiSym 2010 in Poland was packed with exciting people and ideas. WikiSym 2011 is gearing up to be the best gathering on open collaboration ever held.

Creative Commons is an official sponsor of the event, and we will be presenting some of our ideas on Open Educational Resources (OER) and open content in general.

Want to present your ideas at WikiSym 2011? The program will include: research papers, workshops, panel discussions, poster sessions, demos, and a doctoral symposium. See the call for participation page for details and deadlines. Be sure to follow their blog and Twitter account for updates leading up to the event.

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Designing assessment and credit pathways for open education learners

Jane Park, February 9th, 2011

open badge infrastructure prototype
Badge prototypes by P2PU & Mozilla / CC BY-SA

Getting students formal credit for their free and open education is a challenge, but groups and institutions are working around the world to come up with alternative pathways to recognition. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is one such group that explored the topic in an assessment workshop last September and then co-designed virtual “badges” for recognition in real time at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona. P2PU and Mozilla are piloting these badges via the P2PU School of Webcraft, and have solicited would-be developers for the skills and competencies that would best be reflected by a badge system. In collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, they have drafted An Open Badge System Framework: A foundational piece on assessment and badges (Google doc).

A meeting to build an OER University


Alternatives, such as the badge system above, may factor into a plan to bring formal recognition to open education learners’ achievements. In an effort to combine institutional forces, the Open Educational Resources (OER) Foundation will host an international planning meeting on February 23 to co-design assessment and credit pathways for open learning. As open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses become more integrated into institutional education, the OER foundation (along with Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, and Athabasca University in Canada) is hoping to “provide flexible pathways for OER learners to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit.”

The challenge is to find robust mechanisms for academic credit for these OER learners. “Students seek flexible study opportunities, but they also want their achievements recognised in credible credentials.” said Sir John Daniel, President of the Commonwealth of Learning. “This important meeting will tackle the challenges of combining flexibility with rigour, which requires clarity in conception and quality in execution.”

The OER Foundation invites and encourages all post-secondary institutions and others “who care about sharing knowledge as a core value of education” to join the meeting, which will be streamed virtually by UNESCO to enable participation by all.

The foundation believes “OER is a sustainable and renewable resource,” but that “collaboration among education institutions will be a prerequisite for success.”

Learn more about the OER for Assessment & Credit for Students Project and see UNESCO’s announcement for more information.

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CC News: $2 billion fund available for open education

Jane Park, February 3rd, 2011

Stay up to date with CC news by subscribing to our weblog and following us on Twitter.

CC heads into February with exciting new developments in policy, science, and journalism.

A new U.S. education fund makes available $2 billion to create open educational resources in community colleges

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Education announced a new education fund that will grant $2 billion to create open educational resources (OER) materials for career training programs in community colleges. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT) will invest $2 billion over the next four years into grants that will “provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs.” What’s more, the full program announcement (PDF) states that all the resources created using these funds must be released under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. The first round of funding will be $500 million over the next year. Applications to the solicitation are now open, and will be due April 21, 2011. Read what our incoming CEO, Cathy Casserly, has to say at the full post.

Nature Publishing Group announces a new open access journal and support for CC

nature reports logo

Nature Publishing Group has long been a leader in scientific and medical publishing. Last month, the company announced a brand new online open access journal called Scientific Reports. With this launch, a full 80% of NPG academic and society journals and 50% of all journals the company publishes offer open access options to authors. Additionally, NPG is going to make a donation to Creative Commons for every publication in Scientific Reports. We are thrilled to have this financial support that will help us continue to provide the legal and technical infrastructure of open systems. Read more.

Al Jazeera adds Egypt and Tunisia coverage to its CC video repository

Since the beginning of the Egyptian uprising on January 25th, Qatar-based all-news Arabic channel Al Jazeera has been feeding its repository of CC-licensed video with up-to-date footage from Egypt and Tunisia. With a powerful network of journalists and reporters on the ground who can provide footage that is sometimes very difficult to obtain, “Al Jazeera has decided to make its content available for other news sources to use through their Creative Commons website” (Wired). The footage released on Al Jazeera’s Creative Commons repository is under the CC BY license, which makes it legally available to be downloaded, shared, re-mixed, translated and even re-broadcast without asking for further permission as long as the original source is credited. Read more.

In other news:

  • Open data is huge this year. Read about CC’s open data strategy and what you can do to help.
  • Belgian and Israeli Courts granted remedies to CC licensors.
  • Director Vincent Moon (of the Take-Away Shows) announced public-private screenings for his new film, “An Island.” The film, like all his work, is available under CC BY-NC-SA.
  • We launched a new blog series on Creative Commons and Public Sector Information for the ePSIplatform.
  • We talked with Nick Shockey of the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) about the benefits of adopting CC tools for open access literature, and the similarities between the open access and open education movements.
  • We changed our website!
  • We also created CC REL by Example in an effort to make CC license metadata much easier to implement. It includes many example HTML pages, as well as explanations and links to more information.
  • Finally, we rounded out the month by holding our first board meeting of 2011 and completing three CC license 3.0 localizations in Estonia, Costa Rica, and Chile.
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