OER

OpenEd—the new Open Education Community site

Jane Park, July 28th, 2009

Some of you may already be familiar with the term open ed, short for open education—which represents the fantastic movement around opening up educational resources so that anyone, anywhere, can access, use, and derive existing educational materials in new, creative ways or to simply adapt them to their unique individual needs and local contexts. There are so many great educational materials out there—some already openly licensed and a great deal more in the public domain—and the problem is that a lot of people still don’t know about them or how to use them. Similarly, the open education movement has produced some really exciting projects and programs in recent years, but there is no global landing space for these inspiring movers and shakers to really connect as a coherent community.

Open Ed, the new Open Education Community site, is the result of brainstorming with other initiatives in the movement on how to provide such a space. We designed the site for open education community members, but also for teachers, learners, and those who just want to get involved. We were able to build it thanks to the strong support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Open Ed is hosted by ccLearn, but we are merely providing the web space. We’ve done some initial work on it, but the site is yours—be you an OER advocate, a teacher wanting to connect with other teachers, or a learner who would love to do the same. And you can contribute in any way you like, because Open Ed runs on MediaWiki, the same software that powers Wikipedia. Additionally, Open Ed utilizes the Semantic MediaWiki extension to enable data querying and analysis. For added functionality, we have installed various other useful extensions.

Wait… hasn’t this site been up for a while?

You’re right; it’s been public on the web for a couple of months now. Some of you may already have accounts. Others have even blogged about it previously. But we haven’t made the official announcement launch until now because we wanted to get some initial feedback from existing community members. So we need your help! Please spread the word, via your personal and professional channels—and most of all, use the space for what you need to do! It’s a wiki. That means you can create a page for your own project, add your project to ODEPO (the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations) for others to find, run your own data query for research purposes, or do virtually anything else you deem necessary to strengthen and promote open education, including translating the entire site into other languages. Not to mention that content is a little lacking right now, and it’s up to us to make it a great landing place for newbies to open education.

Give us feedback!

Please let us know what you think. Anyone can add to or improve the space by simply clicking “edit”, but as the hosts of this space, we would love to help with the process. You can also share your thoughts on Twitter with an #opened hashtag.

Lastly, thanks to White Whale, an Oakland-based consulting, design, and development company, who designed Open Ed and helped us with some of our messaging points.

Happy exploring!

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OER in Latin America – Sharing the knowledge and building community

Ahrash Bissell, July 20th, 2009

We are thrilled to welcome Carolina Botero, project lead for CC Colombia, as ccLearn’s regional liaison for the exciting projects in open education in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking world. Carolina will be working with ccLearn staff to document existing projects and initiatives related to open educational resources (OER) throughout the region. We anticipate that this work will extend the size and impact of the OER and CC networks, fostering greater collaboration among projects as well as greater awareness of their important work. Carolina will also develop reports about prior regional activities (such as the Latam Commons 2008 meeting in Chile last year) as well as forward-looking documents about future events and opportunities throughout the region.

Look for Carolina’s contributions on the Creative Commons and ccLearn sites. Bienvenida Carolina!

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Launching DiscoverEd—an education search prototype

Jane Park, July 20th, 2009

Last year, we demoed DiscoverEd along with ODEPO at the Open Education Conference in Logan, Utah. CTO Nathan Yergler explained its various features and some if its issues. Since then, it’s been worked on extensively and some of its functionality has improved. We’ve even gone ahead and produced a white paper, which explains what DiscoverEd is, what it aims to do, and what you can do to help improve it.

With the production of this white paper, we would like to officially announce the launch of DiscoverEd. Entirely open source, DiscoverEd is an experimental project from ccLearn which attempts to provide scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web. Metadata, including the license and subject information available, are exposed in the result set.

As noted above, DiscoverEd has been discussed at a few meetings already, so this launch is mainly to help spread the word and to spark additional conversation. If you are an educator or anyone else looking for educational resources, it is available for immediate use and we welcome your feedback.

We want to emphasize that DiscoverEd is a prototype intended to explore how structured data may be used to enhance the search experience. We are by no means launching this as a definitive tool; in fact, we intend just the opposite. We are launching this so that others in the search and discovery space can contribute to this project. There are a number of known issues which we would love help on, especially since we think the community’s input and work should go into shaping future versions of this tool. This tool is currently intended for educational resources, but there is no reason anyone can’t take and adapt it for other purposes.

Where do the search results come from?

Results come from institutional and third party repositories who have expended time and resources curating the metadata. These curators either create or aggregate educational resources and maintain information about them. If you’re a producer or curator of educational resources and would like to be included in the search contact us. If you’re an educator, we want to hear from you. What works for you? What’s broken? What can be improved?

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OER Session at UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education

Jane Park, July 16th, 2009

As part of UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education, UNESCO hosted a session and panel discussion on open educational resources (OER). The topic of the conference was “The New Dynamics of Higher Education and Research for Societal Change and Development,” and OER was considered an important dynamic in higher education. The conference took place over four days, ending on July 8, with over 1200 participants from 150 countries.

The OER session took place on July 7, 2009, and the summary is as follows:

“Building Knowledge Societies: Open Educational Resources Panel session

This conference aims to take stock of transformations in higher education since the 1998 World Conference on Higher Education and address the new dynamics likely to shape the strategic agenda for the development of higher education policies and institutions.

The growing Open Educational Resources (OER) movement has the objective of increasing access to quality educational content worldwide. Digital content that is open to re-use and adaptation is a public good that can be shared widely. The panel session is intended to explore OER as an example of a new dynamic in higher education that will contribute to building knowledge societies.”

The final Communiqué of the conference is available online. The Communiqué states some of the following conclusions:

“There is need for greater information, openness and transparency regarding the different missions and performance of individual institutions.”

“ODL (Open and Distance Learning) approaches and ICTs present opportunities to widen access to quality education, particularly when Open Educational Resources are readily shared by many countries and higher education institutions.”

The global nature of OER is integral to their quality and value. OER that allow adaptation, derivation, and redistribution encourage global activity like translation, transcontinental collaboration, and more. If OER produced from the American Graduation Initiative are licensed to allow these freedoms, U.S. college courses become global, thereby increasing their quality and value.

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Reuse of material in the context of education and research

Jane Park, July 6th, 2009

Last December, when ccLearn issued its report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Creative Commons Netherlands published its own entitled, “Reuse of material in the context of education and research.” However, the report was only available in Dutch until recently. Now, thanks to Paul Keller (Creative Commons Nederland) and Wilma Mossink (SURF), the English version of the report is online. It recommends the most open Creative Commons license, Attribution Only, for reuse of material in the context of education and research. From the original announcement,

“The rise of the Internet and other new ICT tools have led to drastic changes in the options for distribution and reuse. These changes demand a reorientation in the rules for sharing educational and research materials.

Since sharing educational and research materials is high on the agenda of Dutch higher education and research institutions, SURFdirect and Creative Commons examined the different Open Content licences that are available and that will make clear to reusers what they are permitted to do with material held in repositories.

SURFdirect has indicated that the choice of licence must not create barriers to the future use of educational and research material, that it can be applied at both research universities and universities of applied sciences [hogescholen], and that this can in fact be done in 80% of cases, this report recommends using the most liberal Creative Commons licence for textual output…

Another important recommendation in this report is that SURF should set up an effective awareness-raising campaign in order to introduce and explain Creative Commons licences to those ‘in the field’.”

The report itself is licensed CC BY, and you can download the report as an openly editable document.

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ccLearn at the Whipple Hill User Conference 09

Jane Park, July 2nd, 2009

ccLearn presented on CC and Open Educational Resources at the WhippleHill User Conference yesterday in Boston. WhippleHill Communications is a company that started off more or less building websites for schools. As the Internet evolved, so did WhippleHill’s business model into a service one meeting schools’ online communication needs. WhippleHill targets independent high schools and is a for-profit. However, like a lot of companies who offer services around next generation web technologies, they promote open content and tools for their clients. They also host an annual user conference where they invite cutting edge initiatives to lead sessions on new media and technologies pertinent to the changing world. ccLearn had the opportunity to lead one of these sessions entitled, “Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources: How the world is changing and what you need to know to keep up” targeted mainly at education around CC and copyright for high school students.

The slide show is up under CC BY (except otherwise noted). We would like to acknowledge Jessica Coates’ slide show “Creative Commons in the Classroom” from which we co-opted some great slides!

Thanks again to WhippleHill and its President, Travis Warren, for the strong support!

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UNESCO publishes “OER: Conversations in Cyberspace”

Jane Park, June 30th, 2009

In case you missed it, last Friday UNESCO published “Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace”, three years worth of documentation surrounding the UNESCO OER Community. From their announcement,

“Since 2005, UNESCO has been at the forefront of building awareness about this movement by facilitating an extended conversation in cyberspace. A large and diverse international community has come together to discuss the concept and potential of OER in a series of online forums.

The background papers and reports from the first three years of discussions are now available in print. Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace provides an overview of the first steps of this exciting new development: it captures the conversations between leaders of some of the first OER projects,and documents early debates on the issues that continue to challenge the movement. The publication will provide food for thought for all those intrigued by OER – its promise and its progress.”

You can access the online edition at their wiki, licensed CC BY-NC-SA. You can also buy a print edition.

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The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Jane Park, June 26th, 2009

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) announced a new report called, “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age,” now available at MIT Press. The report is in response to our changing times, and addresses what traditional educational institutions must know to keep up. From the announcement,

“Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg in an abridged version of their book-in-progress, The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, argue that traditional institutions must adapt or risk a growing mismatch between how they teach and how this new generation learns. Forms and models of learning have evolved quickly and in fundamentally new directions. Yet how we teach, where we teach, who teaches, and who administers and serves have changed only around the edges. This report was made possible by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in connection with its grant making initiative on Digital Media and Learning.”

A central finding was that “Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete. The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.”

Not coincidentally, one of the ten principles for redesigning learning institutions was open source education: “Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an “open source” culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.”

The report is available in PDF via CC BY-NC-ND.

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Teaching About Copyright and Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Jane Park, May 26th, 2009

Last November, the Center for Social Media at AU released a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, which followed on the heels of a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. These guides were aimed at clearing up many of the urban myths surrounding copyright, especially when it came to classroom use of copyrighted materials.

Now, the Media Education Lab at Temple University has produced excellent resources based on the original guide to help teachers teach about copyright and fair use in their classrooms. Resources include lesson plans, Powerpoint slides, videos, case studies, podcasts, and FAQs. The lesson plans iterate on topics from the code such as “Understanding Copyright”, “The Cost of Copyright Confusion”, and “Defining and Applying Fair Use”.

What tickles me: that in order to find out just what you can do with these resources, you get to view and use them first—Learning fair use via fair using! To use these resources in your classroom or study group (or for simply personal edification), check them all out here.

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Open Education and Open Science in Poland

Jane Park, May 14th, 2009

Two very important conferences were held in Warsaw earlier this month (and late last month): “Open Educational Resources in Poland” (23 April) and “Open Science in Poland” (5 May). Alek Tarkowski, Public Lead of Creative Commons Poland, elaborates on the open education workshops held at each conference, one of which was led by ccLearn’s Ahrash Bissell:

“Two practical workshops on open education were organized by the Coalition for Open Education (KOED) in coincidence with two conferences taking place in Warsaw in April and May 2009: the conference on open education on 23rd of April 2009 and the conference on open science on 6th of May 2009. The first workshop, conducted by Susan d’Antoni from UNESCO and Richard Baraniuk from the Connexions project at Rice University, provided an overview of practical issues tied to open education, such as community building, IT tools and development strategies. The second workshop, led by Ahrash Bissell from ccLearn, focused on open licensing issues.

The two workshops were attended by a dozen representatives of NGOs active in the field of education and culture, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Education. Most important, they provided an opportunity for people working with open educational projects or considering starting such a project to meet and network.

As a result of the project, the Coalition for Open Education hopes to increase its number of member institutions, as well as enable the growth of open educational projects in Poland.”

For information on the conferences themselves, check out Alek’s detailed reports for both.

Read More…

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