Remember the California Free Digital Textbooks Initiative and how it resulted in 16 open textbooks, 10 of which met 90% of California’s standards? Well, since these textbooks were licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses that allows derivation (the licenses sans the ND term), they can not only be translated into various languages, but also modified and adapted into various contexts, including converting them into accessible formats, such as audio and Braille. No extra transaction costs have to be incurred by some middleman to allow these adaptations—any entity with the resources to adapt these textbooks may do so, since the rights for derivation are pre-cleared via Creative Commons.
Realizing this, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs has granted $100k to Bookshare, “the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities.” The grant is aimed at “[creating] the first accessible versions of open content digital textbooks. The initial planned conversion of open content textbooks, which are distributed freely under a license selected by the author, are math and science textbooks approved for California students.” From the press release,
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“As other states begin to approve open content textbooks, Bookshare will continue to convert these materials to accessible formats for all students who read better with accessible text. The first open content textbooks approved for use in California will be available via Bookshare. The texts will be offered in the accessible DAISY format that enables multi-modal reading, combining highlighted on-screen text with high-quality computer-generated voice, and BRF, a digital Braille format for use with Braille displays or embossed Braille.”
“Traditional copyrighted books, including those contributed to Bookshare by publishers, are protected with digital rights management technology and available only to those with a documented print disability. But Bookshare’s open content books will become part of the freely distributable books in the Bookshare collection and can be used by anybody without proof of disability,” says Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman. “These accessible books will not only help disabled students throughout the U.S. and globally, but provide parents, teachers and assistive technology developers with free access to real talking textbooks.”
In case you haven’t heard, WikiEducator‘s Wayne Mackintosh announced earlier this week that they were joining forces with Connexions “to provide educators with greater freedom of choice to mix and match the best of two OER worlds, namely “producer-consumer” models with more traditional work flow approaches and commons-based peer production.” WikiEducator and Connexions are two collaborative OER projects that use Creative Commons licenses. While WikiEducator, licensed CC BY-SA, focuses “on building capacity in the use of Mediawiki and related free software technologies for mass-collaboration in the authoring of free content,” Connexions, licensed CC BY, focuses on the collaborative development, sharing, and publishing of modular educational content that can be easily integrated into larger collections or courses. According to the announcement, the two projects will partner “to build import export capability between the Connexions and WikiEducator/Mediawiki platforms.”
It’s definitely exciting to see these two OER projects working together, especially since the collaboration is being generously funded by a grant from one of our own biggest supporters, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. There are various ways you can tune into its progress, including visiting the project planning node, subscribing to the Connexions mailing list, or helping them develop use case scenarios.Comments Off
Photo by Mr. Mayo CC BY-NC
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to George Mayo, known as Mr. Mayo to his students, a middle school Language Arts teacher in Maryland. Mr. Mayo was brought to CC Learn’s attention by Lawrence Lessig, CC’s founder and current board member, who Skyped with Mr. Mayo’s class for thirty minutes, answering questions on copyright, YouTube’s take-down policy and downloading music. Mr. Mayo and his class have integrated CC licensed works into their daily activities, documenting it all at mrmayo.org. Instead of elaborating on the various innovative ways Mr. Mayo and his class uses CC, I’m going to let George speak for himself. The following is the interview I had with him via Skype. You can also listen to the audio here.Comments Off
Molly Kleinman is a long-time friend of CC and has been doing incredible work for all things copyright over at the University of Michigan as Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries. From Espresso Book Machines to a CC-friendly Scholarly Publishing Office, we continue to be inspired by the University of Michigan’s innovative approach to open content, copyright, and especially open education, an area of focus CC is highly committed to developing through ccLearn. We’re honored to have Molly, a self-proclaimed dedicated advocate of Creative Commons, write the fourth letter in the Commoner Letter series of this year’s fundraising campaign.
Subscribe to receive future Commoner Letters by email.
Photo by Chan Wong CC BY-NC
Hello, Fellow Commoner,
Creative Commons licenses make it easier for me to do my work, and to help my faculty and students do theirs. Today I’d like to return the favor and encourage you to support the Creative Commons 2009 Annual Campaign, and help make sure they continue the wonderful work they’ve been doing.
Why is Creative Commons so helpful and important? Because it provides a balanced, sane alternative to the madly out-of-whack copyright system I deal with every day. I am an academic librarian and copyright specialist who teaches faculty, students, librarians, archivists and others about their rights as creators and their rights as users. Anyone familiar with the state of copyright law knows it’s messy and confusing stuff, and the very notion of users’ rights is contentious in some circles. Big Content has been waging a propaganda campaign to convince the public that all unauthorized, un-paid-for uses are infringing, illegal uses. It’s not true, but the widespread misinformation is bad for educators, bad for students, and bad for all of us who benefit from the fruits of scholarly research. Professors are afraid to share educational material with their students. Parents are afraid to let their kids post homemade videos online. All this fear hinders the ability of scholars, teachers, and students to do the work of research, teaching, and learning that is their job.
As my favorite CC video says, “Enter Creative Commons.” Creative Commons carves out an arena in which people can use and build on new works without fear. It frees us from both the looming threat of lawsuits and the time consuming and expensive demands of clearing permissions. Creative Commons helps people share openly, and the more content that CC helps to open up, whether it’s music or photography or scientific data or educational resources, the more it expands what faculty and students can teach and study freely.
I’d like to call particular attention to the work of one of Creative Commons’ offshoots, ccLearn. ccLearn is striving to realize the full potential of the internet to support open learning and open educational resources, and to minimize legal, technical, and social barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this work. In the United States alone, plummeting budgets and rising costs for both K-12 and higher education are making it harder for students and teachers to access the quality educational resources they need. Until recently, most educational content was locked behind digital paywalls or hidden in print books, and the free stuff you could find online was often unreliable. Now, the pool of high quality open educational resources is growing every day, with open textbooks, open courseware, and other experimental projects popping up all the time. Many of these projects have received support from ccLearn, and nearly all of them are built on the framework of Creative Commons licenses. Every one provides expanded access that is crucial to the future of a quality educational system, both in this country and throughout the world.
This is why it is so important to support Creative Commons, in any number of ways. Though I donate (and you should, too), I believe that one of my greatest contributions has been in helping to build the Creative Commons community from the ground up, one frustrated professor or librarian at a time. Every person I teach about Creative Commons is a person who may eventually contribute to the Commons herself, attaching licenses to her works and sharing them with the world. The bigger the Commons, the better for all of us.
Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries
University of Michigan Library
In July, CC Learn officially launched DiscoverEd, a search prototype that provides scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web. We blogged about it again during Back to School week, emphasizing the future of search and discovery of educational resources and how we hoped DiscoverEd would catalyze efforts in that direction. Since then, we have been working with various organizations and projects who want to include their resources into DiscoverEd, and through all the back and forth about feeds and mark-up–essentially what’s required to get your stuff included for greater discovery–we realized we could streamline the process by putting some necessary information into a brief document.
Preparing Your Educational Resources for DiscoverEd is second in the CC Learn Step by Step Guides series, which is part of our larger Productions schema. It is a basic guide for those interested in preparing their resources for inclusion into search engines like DiscoverEd that utilize structured data. It is targeted at people or institutions interested in making their digitally published educational resources more discoverable. Though the document contains technical language and sample XHTML and RDFa, it’s really not all too complicated. Basically, you just need one of the right feeds to start, which you can then copy and paste the link of into ODEPO (the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations). ODEPO is hosted on OpenED, the community site for open education. It’s a wiki, so anyone can create an account and add their project or organization to the database.
But the guide explains all that, (as does the DiscoverEd FAQ) and the alternatives–which include contacting us directly. DiscoverEd already pulls from a number of institutions and repositories, and as it expands we hope to improve its search capabilities. Any feedback is welcome.Comments Off
The OpenEd ES Community: Educación y Comunidad—un nuevo portal internacional para la educación abierta, ¡en español!
Having just blogged about the UNESCO OER Community, I also want to emphasize that international communities like UNESCO are themselves made up of communities around the world, some as broad as OER for all Spanish speakers and some as specific as Food Safety in OER.
This week, we would like to highlight OpenEd in Spanish, aka the OpenEd ES Community. I’ve mentioned before that OpenEd is a community site for anyone interested in open education or OER, especially for those who want to develop their own mini-communities on the site. CC Latam and ccLearn have collaborated to localize OpenED for the ES Community, including translating and adapting the events, resources, and ODEPO pages. Our hope is that the Spanish speaking community around OER, including Latam, will grow and thrive within its native language. OpenEd ES is part of a greater effort to make visible all of the interesting work that is being done in various languages around the world. We hope other linguistic communities will see fit to build a home on OpenEd as well.
So I urge you to check it out and contribute. If you speak another language, consider localizing OpenEd for your own community or project. OpenEd is a wiki and anyone can create an account. Also, feel free to give us feedback.
Thanks to Carolina Botero for the Spanish announcement:
Educación y Comunidad: un nuevo portal internacional para la educación abierta, ¡en español!
Para impulsar el movimiento en nuestra región hace falta generar puentes que sirvan para conectar los fabulosos proyectos que están teniendo lugar en la comunidad de habla hispana en América Latina y en la península Ibérica. Tenemos la obligación y a la vez la oportunidad de hacer visible y promover lo que sucede en nuestro propio entorno y además podemos apoyarnos unos a otros para generar una cultura participativa y activa en pro de la educación abierta. Este es el espacio que la Comunidad OpenEd Hispanoparlante –OpenEd en Español http://opened.creativecommons.org/Es, busca ocupar, desarrollar e impactar con la ayuda de todos.
¿Qué es OpenEd?
OpenEd http://opened.creativecommons.org/ es la comunidad de educación abierta en Internet. OpenEd es el nuevo portal desarrollado y sostenido por el Proyecto ccLearn http://learn.creativecommons.org/ de Creative Commons http://creativecommons.org/ los invitamos a conocerlo y a ¡participar del sitio para hispanoparlantes: OpenEd-ES!
OpenEd es un wiki y por tanto, es una invitación para que colabores y aportes tu propia visión de la comunidad, para que ¡crezcamos juntos!
Para dar un primer paso hemos creado unos espacios que buscan dar inicio y bases a esta comunidad. Te invitamos a conocer el sitio y a colaborar, hay muchas formas de hacerlo escoge la tuya y encontrémonos en OpenEd
¿Tienes un proyecto de educación abierta o de recursos educativos abiertos?
Revisa si los datos están acá http://opened.creativecommons.org/Es/Proyectos o ajusta e ingresa los datos correspondientes
¿Vas a hospedar o conoces un evento en el que el tema de educación abierta sea eje central?
Revisa si los datos están acá http://opened.creativecommons.org/Es/eventos o ajusta e ingresa los datos correspondientes
¿Eres un novato en esto?, ¿ya sabes algo y quieres contribuir con recursos para informar y explicar a otros sobre educación abierta, recursos educativos abiertos, Creative Commons, etc.?, ¿quieres ayudarnos a traducir?
Puedes ayudarnos contribuyendo con material, podemos traducir lo que valga la pena y de esa forma comunicar a los demás de qué se trata. Si te interesa éste es el sitio que debes visitar http://opened.creativecommons.org/Es/SobreAbierto
¿Quieres participar activamente y formar parte del grupo que arranque y dinamice esta comunidad?
¡Inscríbete en la lista de discusión!
Estamos presenciando el nacimiento de una comunidad que necesita nuestra región, ¡gracias por participar, divulgar y apoyar esta iniciativa!
Importancia de OpenEd en Español para la Educación:
Pensar en educación abierta es hablar del creciente y fantástico movimiento que ha surgido en torno a la apertura de los recursos educativos que pretende que cualquiera, en cualquier lugar, pueda acceder, usar y reutilizar materiales educativos ya existentes en formas nuevas y creativas o simplemente permitir que los adapten para satisfacer sus necesidades propias y sus contextos locales o culturales. Internet ha servido de plataforma tecnológica para potenciar y favorecer este tipo de proyectos sin embargo, reconocemos que el material y los recursos más visibles son aquellos del mundo angloparlante, ayudemos a dar visibilidad y fuerza al mundo hispanoparlante.
¡Repite este mensaje a quienes creas que pueda interesar!Comments Off
The UNESCO OER Community attempts to put OER in light of not one, but many cultural contexts around the world. Connecting 900 individuals in 109 countries, the community runs on a wiki platform and communicates centrally via its listserv. Earlier this year in February and March, they held a discussion on the various barriers to accessing OER in different jurisdictions, with one of its ultimate aims to develop concrete proposals in this area. The outcomes of the discussion are now compiled into a report in both PDF and wiki versions.
From the announcement by Bjoern Hassler,
“The first proposal is about “Introducing digital Open Educational
Resources into Zambian primary schools through school-based
professional development”. Through this project we seek to overcome
access barriers, and engage with OER for Zambian primary/secondary
school mathematics teaching. The barriers are manifold, including
infrastructural, awareness, appropriateness of materials, etc, but we
hope that we’ll be able to draw on the various experiences and
solutions to make this successful… Further information is available here
The second outcome is continued engagement through the UK National
Commission for UNESCO. Within the Information Society Working Group,
OER has been a long-standing theme. However, based on the experience
of the discussion, we are now focussing on issues around OER access
and collaboration. The aims for this are concrete: We are running a
series of meetings to further focus on feasible projects in this area.
The first meeting will take place on 25th/26th in conjunction with the
Nottingham Open Learning Conference (
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/olc/ ) and in conjunction with OER Africa
( http://www.oerafrica.org ).”
The report, as all content on the UNESCO OER wiki, is available via CC BY-SA.Comments Off
IssueLab, “an open source archive of research produced by nonprofit organizations, university-based research centers, and foundations,” launches their Research Remix Video Contest this week. The contest “aims to engage working artists and digital media students with social issues while encouraging nonprofits to make their research more broadly available and usable through open licensing.” If you recall my interview with co-founder Lisa Brooks earlier this year, a good chunk of IssueLab’s research is licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses. From the press release,
“Contestants will be asked to remix facts or data from one of over 300 openly licensed research
reports on IssueLab into a video or animation under three minutes in length. Winners will be selected
after the December 31, 2009 deadline, and nonprofits will be able to use all submitted videos freely to
support their causes.
The launch of “Research Remix” coincides with Open Access Week, an international movement that
pushes for broad and free access to research findings and publicly funded studies. IssueLab’s official
participation is marked by its continued commitment to bringing open access and licensing to the
social and policy research fields. “It is especially important that nonprofits consider openly licensing
their research and resources. By giving people the ability to re-use, remix, and share research on
social issues we can much better inform and engage public debate and public policy.”
We encourage you to remix and submit your videos by the year’s end, especially because all finalists receive a free CC t-shirt and buttons (not to mention first prize is a netbook). I’m also one of the judges, so I look forward to your submissions!Comments Off
Last October, I mentioned that the UNESCO OER Community was developing an OER Toolkit “aimed at individual academics and decision-makers in higher education institutions interested in becoming active participants in the OER world, as publishers and users of OER.” Today, the draft version (1.1) has been released with an announcement by Philipp Schmidt of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa:
“15 October 2009 — Today the UNESCO OER Toolkit (with support from the UNESCO Communications and Information Sector) was released as a resource for academics and institutions — with a special focus on developing countries — who are interested in participating in open education projects.
OVERVIEW — Most of the Toolkit is designed for academics who are interested in finding and using OER in the courses they teach, or who wish to publish OER that they have developed. Some sections are aimed at institutional decision-makers and academics that [are] interested in setting up a more formal OER project. These projects may start with just a few interested academics but, as they grow, institutional policies, funding and legal constraints become more relevant. Individuals who are not aiming to set up a institutional project may nonetheless be interested to read the whole document. Likewise, institutional planners, IT staff or librarians who are interested in setting up an OER project would benefit from understanding the academic’s perspective.”
A prominent member of the open education community, Stephen Downes is a researcher, blogger, and big thinker in open education and access related issues. He frequently debates with other open education advocates via the medium of the Internet, once in a while meeting up in person at conferences to hash out more of the same. I thought I might capture his slice of insight into the future of open educational resources and how he views them evolving in an ideal world.
So I caught up with him via Skype; and though different operating systems and timezones may have jumbled some of our conversation, I was still able to catch most of his words, if not the heart of his views. Below is our chat transcribed, in more or less the same fashion as it progressed.3 Comments »