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.2 Comments »
CEO Joi Ito gives an update on how Creative Commons has hit the ground running in 2010, with big plans for expanding our efforts in education and open educational resources (OER). You’ll also read about new jurisdictions, government adoption of CC licenses, how CC licenses have played a role in the Haiti earthquake relief effort, and more. Happy reading! This quarterly version of the newsletter is in beautifully-designed PDF format (download), designed for your reading pleasure by the CC Philippines team!
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Copyright and related rights waived via CC0
Late last year, I caught wind of an initiative that was being funded by the Gates Foundation—it had to do with redesigning the top 80 courses of Washington State’s community college system and releasing them all under CC BY (Attribution Only). The initiative was called the Washington State Student Completion Initiative and the specific project that was dealing with redesign and CC licensing was the Open Course Library Project. I decided to find out more, so I set up a Skype date with Cable Green, the head of the project. Below is the transcribed interview, edited for clarity and cut as much as possible for 21st century attention spans.
Tell me a little bit about who you are, where you come from, and what your role is in open education.
Sure, my name is Cable Green. I’m the eLearning Director for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Our system consists of 34 community and technical colleges and those colleges teach roughly 470,000 students each year. Our enrollments are growing fast in this recessionary period as people are looking to enhance their work skills and go back to college to get degrees and certificates.
At Creative Commons, we are always looking for new and interesting ways to find out just how much CC licensed content is out there on the web. Our latest project, the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations (or ODEPO), needs your help!
In 2008, ccLearn (now fully integrated into Creative Commons core) conducted a survey of educational projects online for its report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation entitled “What Status for Open? An Examination of the Licensing Policies of Open Educational Organizations and Projects” (pdf). Several months later it was followed up with a data supplement (pdf) that visualized some of the findings.
The report was developed in conjunction with ODEPO, which is a Semantic MediaWiki-based database of organizations involved in providing educational content online. Currently, ODEPO includes 1147 sites affiliated with various organizations, the majority of which were provided to us back in 2008 by educational repositories involved in the creation and expansion of Open Educational Resources (OER).
We’d like to continue supporting this database to help researchers, advocates, and learners find educational projects, analyze trends in online education, and become more effective advocates for open education. We hope that increased awareness of the digital education landscape will increase communication between consumers, producers, and curators of educational content which can lead to more open practices.
How to help: Browse ODEPO. If your favorite educational project or organization is missing, incomplete, or incorrect, please log in to or create a CC wiki account and follow these instructions. Alternatively, you can simply browse to your educational project and click the “Edit this data” button on the page.
Addendum: There is now an Open Tasks tracker for ODEPO where you can find lists of pages that need more data.Comments Off
The event I blogged about in December, TEDxNYED, is happening this Saturday, March 6, in New York City. TEDxNYED is “an all-day conference dedicated to examining the intersection of education, new media, and technology.” For those of you who can’t attend, the conference will be livestreamed from 10am EST to 6pm EST at http://tedxnyed.com.
The speaker line-up includes our own Larry Lessig (founder and board member of CC), Michael Wesch (a cultural anthropologist who created those awesome YouTube videos like “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us”), Neeru Khosla (Co-founder of the CK12 Foundation that submitted seven open textbooks to California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative), and David Wiley (big thinker in open education and associate professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at BYU).Comments Off
Flat World Knowledge, a commercial textbook publisher who uses CC licenses, aims to transform the way professors and college campuses think about textbooks through a new internship program for students. They asked for applicants last year, and launched the program last week with 19 students from colleges like New York University, Ohio State University, Auburn University, Indiana University, University of Denver, University of Florida and the College of Charleston. From eSchool News,
“The internships, introduced this year by open textbook provider Flat World Knowledge, let sophomore and junior business students earn college credit and a little spending cash if their sales pitch convinces a professor to use web-based texts that can be reorganized and modified by chapter, sentence, or word…
The company has grown in the past year as the open-content movement has gained traction in higher education, buttressed by the Creative Commons license [CC BY-NC-SA]—which doesn’t require permission from authors to change parts of a book—and the rising cost of textbooks.”
The press release states FWK’s intent to change “the college textbook market” by “taking a counter approach to the usual adversarial relationship between textbook publishers and college students.” By using CC licenses, Flat World Knowledge is exploring a business model that builds on open content by offering free digital textbooks via CC BY-NC-SA, but charging for the prints and supplementary materials. Their textbooks have been used at over 400 colleges, and they received $8 million in investments last year.
For more on Flat World Knowledge, swing by CC Salon NYC on March 3 where Eric Frank, the company’s founder and Chief Marketing Officer, will be talking in depth about what they do. If you’re not in the area, stay tuned for some Flip camera action, which I’ll link to here after the event.1 Comment »
The Peer 2 Peer University, “a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls” by leveraging social software and existing open educational resources, launched its second pilot and a new website today. The first pilot launched last September with seven courses, ranging from Creative Nonfiction Writing to Behavioral Economics. Due to high demand, P2PU has doubled its course offerings for the second round. From the press release,
“Some of the courses were offered in the first phase of the pilot which launched last September, but seven are brand new, including “Urban Disaster Risk Management,” “Mashing Up the Open Web,” and “Solve Anything! Building Ideas through Design.” P2PU is also excited to announce its first Portuguese language courses organized by Brasil’s Casa de Cultura Digital, one of which is an introduction to the thinking of Paulo Freire (educational theorist who is author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed). The P2PU community has grown and is excited to have these new courses and their organizers on board.”
Since last November’s workshop in Berlin, a few changes have taken place at P2PU. P2PU is still run and governed by volunteers, but the P2PU Council, with the support of the community, has elected Philipp Schmidt as its representing Director. Philipp is one of the co-founders of the project, as well as a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, which enables him to devote himself full time to P2PU. On becoming Director, Philipp says, “We have proven that the model works and are seeing tremendous interest from people all over the world to learn together. I am very excited to help guide the project through the next phase of growth and for the opportunity to work with the inspiring and talented volunteers that make P2PU so special.”
When asked how P2PU will affect the education landscape, Council member Delia Browne says, “P2PU will revolutionize how people learn. It will help create a global open culture of learning for the 21st century.”
The P2PU community consists of a diverse group of people. They are writers, teachers, designers, doctoral and alternative grad students, artists, copyright specialists, scientists, and blues guitar players. Above all, they are learners–peers working together to learn from each other.”
If you want to learn more about the Peer 2 Peer University, see my past post on them. All P2PU produced content is licensed under CC BY-SA, which means you are free to share, distribute and derive for your own mirror initiative as long as you share alike. “P2PU is teaching and learning by peers for peers and it is run and governed by volunteers. It builds on educational content that is free from copyright restrictions or licensed under Creative Commons licenses.” The deadline to sign up for courses is February 28. Courses will run for at least six weeks starting March 12. Each course may require different information and prerequisites to apply.Comments Off
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.3 Comments »
Can’t make it in person to tonight’s salon at PariSoMa in San Francisco? Not to worry, you’ll be able to participate virtually thanks to VidSF, who will be broadcasting the event. Tune in at 7:30pm PST to hear panelists CEO Joi Ito, Arab World Media & Development Manager Donatella della Ratta, International Project Manager Michelle Thorne, and Global Voices Outreach Director, David Sasaki discuss how globally diverse communities use Creative Commons, as well as challenges faced in various regions and projects around the world.
CC Salons are global events, and anyone can start one, no matter where you live. We encourage you to check out our resources for starting your own salon in your area.Comments Off
Chuck Severance, clinical professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, recently published a new textbook in 11 days because he was able to remix an existing textbook. The book, Python for Informatics: Exploring Information, is currently being used in his winter semester Networked Computing course. The textbook is based on the openly licensed book Think Python: How to Think like a Computer Scientist by Allen B. Downey. Students are able to take advantage of the University Library’s Espresso Book Machine to print on-demand copies for approximately $10. Python for Informatics is available under a CC BY-SA license.
Severance explains, “the book is a cool example of a situation where I’ve finally got to the ‘remixing’ bit of the Open promise.” The first 10 chapters are done and eight more are planned for completion by April 2010. Read more of Chuck’s thoughts about remixing an open book.
Creating this open textbook was a part of a larger effort by Chuck to support his course with openly licensed content, and current versions of lecture slides and videos are published via the PythonLearn website. In a past iteration of the course, Chuck went through the dScribe process developed by Open.Michigan to create an OER version of SI 502, available under a CC BY license.1 Comment »