OER

Planning for sustainable and strategic impact: Creative Commons and open education

Mike Linksvayer, January 25th, 2010

Creative Commons recently celebrated its seventh anniversary, capping an impressive year of success for the organization, including the launch of CC0, our new public domain tool, migration of Wikipedia to a CC license, and compelling new implementations — from CC-aware discovery in both Google and Yahoo! image search, to adoptions of CC licenses ranging from the U.S. White House to Al Jazeera, and by major educational and scientific institutions to countless individual bloggers, musicians, photographers, teachers, and more. We also surpassed our year end public fundraising goal, raising $533,898 to continue building infrastructure that makes sharing easy, scalable, and legal. Thanks again!

In light of our continued growth and maturation, we are ever mindful of how CC can best ensure that as an organization we continue to increase our impact sustainably. As a provider of critical infrastructure that millions and more depend upon, this is our responsibility. Sustainability is not only or first a financial issue — though we will ask for your continued support in funding the organization — but depends on staying focused on our goals, executing on our strengths and core competencies, constantly looking for ways to streamline operations while empowering our vast international community, and avoiding mission creep however tempting.

Over the last six months we’ve been putting these thoughts into plans and action. Last summer we integrated the team supporting our international affiliates with our core team of experts based in San Francisco, eliminating two of our three Berlin-based staff positions. Over the next several months most of our science team (Science Commons) will move from Boston to San Francisco to align message and operations with our core, also. This month, we are integrating our education team (known heretofore as CC Learn), the subject of the rest of this message.

CC Learn was conceived as a focus point for CC adoption in the education arena. Since its launch two and one half years ago, it has progressed itself into a valuable member of, and broadly engaging with, the open education movement, providing not only legal and technical infrastructure and expertise, but subject matter expertise on a range of issues relevant to open education. Education is one of the most compelling uses of CC legal and technical tools. CC licenses are mission-critical for the development and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) — the ecosystem would fail without standard, interoperable legal terms for sharing, using and reusing content. It relies on collaboration between many institutions and many individuals in many different jurisdictions. Only CC licenses are capable of providing such a bridge.

Yet as much as CC has to offer as a leader of the open education movement, we remain humbled by the many others with yet deeper expertise and experience in these areas and from whom we continue to learn. And while we have much to offer, and will continue to offer as a life-long member of these remarkable movements and communities, we feel compelled to consider our own sustainability. We come back to, as we always have, our irreplaceability on the infrastructure level of providing unparalleled legal and technical excellence that allows education, science, and culture to work — this is what we do uniquely, and this is what we do best. We’ve decided that we can best support the open education and OER communities by focusing our resources and support where we are strongest and provide the most unique value. This means engaging the open education community as legal and technical experts rather than as participants in a broad conversation about the potentialities of open education — which we fully believe in, making the need to support open education in the most leveraged fashion we can all the more compelling.

Such changes mean that some of the activities and, sadly, personnel cannot be integrated successfully with the new structure, consequently transitioning out of CC so that they can better pursue such work elsewhere. In this current transition, Ahrash Bissell, the Executive Director of CC Learn, has left the organization. As with all alumni, CC expects great things of the departing staff and looks forward to ongoing collaboration with Ahrash and the open education community, building on his excellent work. We extend to Ahrash our heartfelt gratitude for his passion, dedication and wisdom, and wish him well with his future endeavors.

In the coming months we’ll be making further announcements about our comprehensive integration of education and science into our core activities and messaging. Exciting developments are on the horizon with respect to new and enhanced legal and technical tools as well as explanatory materials and support for policy development in education and science. More importantly we’ll be asking for your support and input, including specific feedback on designs, prototypes, messages, and initiatives as they develop. Most importantly, we will be asking for your input on whether we’re on the right track. Have something to say about CC? We’re listening!

Addendum: See a follow-up post with specifics concerning CC’s plans, projects, and team for open education in 2010 and beyond.

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New Stanford Electronic Dissertation Program enables CC licensing

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

Last November, Stanford started accepting digital dissertations for the first time, allowing students to opt out of hundreds of dollars in printing and processing costs. The new program also enabled CC licensing, allowing students to make their work available under a license of their choosing. Of the 60 doctoral students who submitted their dissertations electronically, 52 went with CC licensing, choosing the CC BY-NC license. 47 doctoral theses will be displayed in their entirety in the Stanford Digital Repository. From the Stanford Report,

“The doctoral students who chose the digital route last quarter came from five of Stanford’s seven schools: Earth Sciences (1), Education (2), Medicine (7), Humanities and Sciences (15) and Engineering (35).

Gunnarsdottir’s 160-page dissertation, “Modeling the Martian Surface Using Bistatic Radar at High Incidence Angles,” honed an existing method for evaluating the roughness of the planet’s terrain – one of many factors NASA uses to select landing sites for spacecraft.

She used “The Dish,” the 150-foot diameter radio telescope located in the Stanford foothills, to beam a signal to Mars. Then she analyzed the surface echo detected by the orbiting 2001 Mars Odyssey, the NASA spacecraft carrying science experiments designed to improve understanding of the planet’s climate and geologic history.

“Our results were incorporated into the landing site selection of the 2007 Mars Phoenix Lander,” said Gunnarsdottir, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iceland in 1999, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford in 2002.”

Since the program is already in place, Stanford expects greater numbers of electronic dissertations this quarter. We hope other universities will take Stanford’s lead in enabling the CC license option for their students’ work. For past dissertations that have been CC licensed by individuals, see my post “CC Licensing Your Dissertations.” “CC licensing increases your creation’s visibility, even if by only a small margin at first. It lets current and future students access and read (and even derive, based on the specific CC license you choose) your work so that they can build and improve upon it—all the while giving credit where credit is due, namely, to you.”

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CC Talks With: The Shuttleworth Foundation on CC BY as default and commercial enterprises in education

Jane Park, December 22nd, 2009

548234619_27cf7f47c4_o
Photo by Mark Surman CC BY-NC-SA

For those of you who don’t know Karien Bezuidenhout, she is the Chief Operating Officer at the Shuttleworth Foundation, one of the few foundations that fund open education projects and who have an open licensing policy for their grantees. A couple months ago, I had the chance to meet Karien despite a six hour time difference—she was in Capetown, South Africa—I was in Brooklyn, New York. Via Skype, I asked her about Shuttleworth’s evolving default license (CC BY-SA to CC BY), her personal stake in OER, and how she envisions us (CC Learn and Shuttleworth) working together. She also gave me some insights into three innovative open education projects they have a hand in: Siyavula, M4Lit, and Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

The conversation below is more or less transcribed and edited for clarity. It makes for great holiday or airplane reading, and if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to the topics or projects that interest you. This is CC Learn’s last Inside OER feature of 2009—so enjoy, and happy whatever-it-is-that-you-are-doing-in-your-part-of-the-world!

Read More…

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Deadline extended for Talis Incubator for Open Education

Jane Park, December 17th, 2009

As an early xmas present, Talis Education has extended the deadline for the Talis angel fund to January 31, 2010, one full month later than the original deadline to give you a chance to hone your proposals (or begin writing them after the holidays). If you don’t remember, I blogged about the Talis angel fund for open education in August when it launched:

“Talis Education launched an angel fund for open education, called the Talis Incubator for Open Education. Talis Education is providing funds up to “£15,000 to help individuals or small groups who have big ideas about furthering the cause of Open Education. All Talis asks in return is that the project deliverables are ‘open sourced’ and the intellectual property returned back to the community, allowing it to be used freely. Talis won’t, and never will, exert any rights to the intellectual property or ideas that are funded.”

Talis Education is licensed CC BY. Check out the announcement for more details.

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Dlaczego CC BY? (Why CC BY? in Polish)

Jane Park, December 17th, 2009

We are excited to highlight the first Polish translation of our CC Learn Productions. CC Poland has translated and adapted a CC Learn Recommendations doc—Why CC BY? into Polish: Dlaczego CC BY? The reason CC Poland could lead the way in translation and adaptation (and can do the same with all of our productions)? Because they’re licensed CC BY, which means anyone is free to translate, remix, republish, recolor, make a billion copies of… our work. Check out the Polish translation on the CC wiki, where we have set up a page for translations from around the world. Source files are available in Open Office (odt) as well as PDF, which you can also download from our newly revamped Productions page on the learn site at learn.creativecommons.org/productions.

We encourage you or anyone you know to translate and adapt our productions to your local and lingual context, and upload your translation to the wiki. Open educational resources work because there is a global community around them, and the CC Learn team fervently wishes we were fluent in more than a couple languages. However, we know we have an amazing community of people around the world who believe in the same things we do—so please help promote the movement in your region. Some suggested documents for translation are Open Educational Resources and Creative Commons Licensing, Why CC BY?, and Remixing OER: A Guide to License Compatibility. These are just a few key documents to get people’s feet wet to the idea of OER.

You can also create your own community on OpenED for your local project or region, where ES and Brazilian communities have currently dropped anchors. It’s a wiki as well–so anyone can create an account and start editing.

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TEDxNYED

Jane Park, December 16th, 2009

tedxnyed
You’ve all heard of the TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design), the annual meeting of great minds with amazing 20 minute speeches that share what they’ve been doing with their lives. But not all of you may have heard of TEDx—spinoffs off TED that are independently organized around a central theme or idea.

TEDxNYED is one of those spinoffs—“an all-day conference dedicated to examining the intersection of education, new media, and technology, will take place on March 6, 2010 in New York City.” 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).

CC Learn is partnering with TEDxNYED and Whipple Hill to help with this amazing event. With currently 300 or so people expected to attend, space is limited, so please apply if you would like to join. “TEDx NYED is particularly seeking applicants who work in and around education and who are dedicated to reforming schools from the inside-out as well as outside-in. Those interested in attending should apply at http://tedxnyed.com/apply.”

From the press release,

“TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited
to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology,
Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our
future… The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists — is
almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane
Goodall, Frank Gehry, Paul Simon, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

At the TEDx NYED event, live speakers, two Ted Talks videos, and networking
sessions will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The
TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx
events, including ours, are self-organized.”

All TED Talks are licensed CC BY-NC-ND.

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The Future of Peer 2 Peer University

Jane Park, December 8th, 2009

wall of organized ideas
Photo by John Britton CC BY-SA

The pilot phase of P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) ended in October, after having run for six weeks with seven courses and approximately 90 participants. Last month, the pilot phase volunteers, including the course organizers, met in person for the first time at the first ever P2PU Workshop in Berlin. The goal of the workshop was to integrate pilot phase experiences into a working plan for the future of P2PU. Judging from the outcomes, the workshop achieved its goal. Check out CC Learn’s video download of the workshop at Blip.tv, Vimeo, or YouTube. (It’s CC BY, so feel free to share and remix!)

Background

“The mission of P2PU is to leverage the power of the Internet and social software to enable communities of people to support learning for each other. P2PU combines open educational resources, structured courses, and recognition of knowledge/learning in order to offer high-quality low-cost education opportunities. It is run and governed by volunteers.”

Why is CC Learn interested in P2PU?

“P2PU is the social wrapper around open educational resources.”

The open education movement started by focusing on the legal and technical aspects of educational resources, and how they could be opened up for use by anyone, anywhere. Creative Commons licenses provide the legal, technical, and social infrastructure for OER, enabling the easy use and reuse of OER while improving discoverability and adaptability around the world. This movement towards opening education has resulted in an abundant and still growing commons of open educational resources (OER).

However, P2PU recognizes that content isn’t enough. Accessing OER does not automatically result in learning. There are reasons why traditional education institutions exist, one of these being the social interaction between peers that enables, facilitates, and motivates learning. But what about those that want to learn outside of brick and ivy walls? P2PU is an initiative outside of the traditional institution that aims to provide the social learning structures, the “social wrapper”, around existing open educational resources.

Because P2PU is a true OER project, testing the bounds of what can work when you empower a community of volunteers and peers to learn for free from each other, CC Learn is interested in where it’s going.

Where is P2PU going?

In the short term, P2PU is aiming to double its courses for its second pilot, which launches towards the end of January next year. P2PU has also established a strong community of core volunteers in tech, outreach, sustainability, research, and course organizing. These volunteers run P2PU, and they are all very busy getting P2PU ready for its next phase which will feature, among other things:

  • a new website and social platform
  • an orientation process for new course organizers
  • a CC BY-SA licensing policy (and a compendium on how to choose a license for your open education project)
  • a set of core values that the community subscribes to

P2PU is also preparing a research workshop on alternative accreditations in early 2010, and building relationships with other organizations (such as CC Learn) to explore avenues in research, assessment, and sustainability.

What is the role of P2PU in education?

Good question, and good answers—here. Like the education landscape, P2PU is still evolving. For more reflections on the workshop, check out the video, Nadeem Shabir’s post on Talis Education, and my post on OnOpen.net.

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U.S. Dept of Ed funds Bookshare to make open textbooks accessible

Jane Park, December 2nd, 2009

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,

“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.”

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WikiEducator, Connexions, and MediaWiki join forces in OER Remix Project

Jane Park, November 20th, 2009

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.

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CC Talks With: Mr. Mayo’s Class Integrates CC, Skypes with Lawrence Lessig

Jane Park, November 19th, 2009

mr mayo
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.

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