OER

Open Ed Conference 2009 – Call for Proposals

Jane Park, March 23rd, 2009

It’s that time of year again! That is, time for planning the line-up for Open Ed 2009, the annual, international Open Education Conference, hosted this year by the University of British Columbia in breathtaking Vancouver, Canada. From the conference website (OpenEd 2009: Crossing the Chasm):

“The field of “open education” is in its second decade. There is ever more interest from new participants, with all the questions and challenges that such involvement brings. Existing projects must now address long-term issues of sustainability and accountability. And early adopters, who once made colleagues gape dumbfounded when they talked of freely sharing their content are asking a new generation of questions that induce unbelieving stares.

In recognition of the different needs of participants in these various stages of innovation in Open Ed, this year’s Call for Proposals is organized around these three broad “strands.” ”

The three strands are
1. Open Ed – Startup Camp
2. Open Ed – Sustaining Steps
3. Open Ed – The Future

For more information on the strands, see the Call for Papers. The deadline for your proposal is May 1, 2009, so you’ve got a month to brainstorm and submit your topic, project, or research. Thankfully, abstracts must be tweet-sized (150 characters or less) and all submissions (500 words or less) and presentations will be licensed CC BY.

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Health OER Student Team at UMich

Jane Park, March 19th, 2009

When it comes to the open educational resources world, we all know that the University of Michigan is a pretty hopping place to be, what with Molly Kleinman as their copyright specialist and their Attribution-only (CC BY) licensed OER repository. Since they pop up pretty regularly in our blogosphere, I didn’t want March to pass without a shout-out to the four Health OER advocates (students) that presented at the Clinton Global Initiative University, which Open.Michigan wrote about in substantive detail last week.

The students, Nejay Ananaba and Stephanie Munz (School of Dentistry), Matt Simpson (Medical School), and Kathleen Ludewig (School of Information and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy), are part of a Health OER team committed “to [making] comprehensive health curricula available as open educational resources (OER) to healthcare educators and students.”

The scope of the team’s strategy spans projects in several countries, including Ghana, South Africa, and Liberia. One significant component is their plan to open up the university’s first and second year medical school curriculum in their OER Repository by the year’s end. This would allow virtually any country to adapt, redistribute, and teach top notch health OER sans the copyright hassles.

Other projects include establishing the first dental school in Liberia using OER for its curriculum, and developing an OER program and institutional policies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. To find out more, visit Open.Michigan.

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Mozilla and CC to teach online seminar on open education

Jane Park, March 17th, 2009

ccLearn is collaborating with the Peer 2 Peer University and Mozilla to teach practical open education skills to educators and anyone else who is interested. From the announcement on the course wiki:

“This six week course is targeted at educators who will gain basic skills in open licensing, open technology, and open pedagogy; work on prototypes of innovative open education projects; and get input from some of the world leading innovators along the way.

The course will kick-off with a web-seminar on Thursday 2 April 2009 and run for 6 weeks.

Weekly web seminars introduce new topics ranging from content licensing to the latest open technologies and peer assessment practices. Participants will share project ideas with a community of peers, work on individual projects, and get feedback from experienced mentors. We will also take a close look at some of the most innovative examples of open education projects, and speak to the people who designed them, including:

  • The Open Source Software courses at Seneca College;
  • David Wiley’s Introduction to Open Education;
  • The open blog infrastructure at Mary Washington University; etc.
  • The course is targeted at educators who want to help shape the open education future. Participants should have some knowledge of web technologies, or open content licensing, or open pedagogy (or all three), but don’t need to be experts.

    Interested in participating? Head over to the course wiki, and submit your project idea!

    Course outline: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse

    Sign-up page: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse/SignUp

    For questions about the course or the sign-up process, contact:

    Philipp Schmidt
    Peer 2 Peer University
    philipp AT peer2peeruniversity.org”

    Spaces will fill up fast, but that doesn’t prevent non-registered learners from having open and complete access to the course as it plays out. And since all Mozilla Education materials are available for reuse, redistribution, and remixing under CC BY, nothing stops users from creating a mirror wiki and developing their own projects!

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    Flexbooks in beta

    Jane Park, March 16th, 2009

    Today marks the beginning of the second half of the month, and with it, the Ides of March are safely behind us. What else is behind us: the beta launches of several Flexbooks, aka the CK-12 Foundation‘s version of open source textbooks.

    The most notable Flexbook is the one we mentioned last fall—notable because of its integral tie to state standards via a partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia. The textbook now has a title, 21st Century Physics FlexBook: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies. According to Government Computer News, the effort was statewide, “a collaborative effort by the state departments of Technology and Education and volunteer educators, engineers and scientists using Web-based tools to quickly up-date educational resources” to “provide students with timely information about nanoscience, dark matter, quarks and leptons.” This only makes sense as Physics (and science in general) is a rapidly changing field that the traditional textbook review process cannot keep up with. Open textbooks, on the other hand, are instantly editable and constantly changing; you could even say that they are perpetually in beta.

    Don’t hesitate to check it out, along with the myriad other Flexbooks up for review. All Flexbooks are licensed CC BY-SA.

    What’s ahead of CK-12: the progression of existing Flexbooks and the partnerships they have with other states, where some are working on companion teacher editions.

    Also, spring!

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    Open Learning: Open Educational Resources Issue

    Jane Park, March 11th, 2009

    Open Educational Resources are good for the economy (or at least, economizing). They are also good for students, teachers, and the environment. And they currently theme the most recent issue of Open Learning, The Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Volume 24, Issue 1).

    ccLearn’s own Executive Director, Ahrash Bissell, submitted a paper last fall entitled, “Permission granted: open licensing for educational resources.” In it, he argues that “open licenses are critical for defining Open Educational Resources” and “explain[s] the logic of open licensing” in terms familiar “to teachers, funders, and educational policy-makers.”

    Ahrash’s isn’t the only interesting read in the mix; there is also David Wiley and Seth Gurrell’s paper spanning “A decade of development…” which presents a “history of the idea of Open Educational Resources, overview[s] the current state of the Open Educational Resources movement, report[s] on critical issues facing the field in the immediate future, and present[s] two new projects to watch in 2009.”

    Actually, all of them sound pretty fascinating, especially one “personal and institutional journey” at the University of the Western Cape (this one involves the struggle for political freedom) by Derek Keats. All papers illuminate different aspects of the open educational resources movement, a movement that has grown steadily since inception. You can view them online, or download the PDFs. We will also be hosting Ahrash’s paper on ccLearn’s resources page shortly.

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    Access to OER Discussion Launched

    Jane Park, February 9th, 2009

    by the UNESCO Open Educational Resources Community today. For those of you who don’t know, the UNESCO OER Community is an international online community “[connecting] over 700 individuals in 105 countries to share information and discuss issues surrounding the production and use of Open Educational Resources – web-based materials offered freely and openly for use and reuse in teaching, learning and research.” (We blogged about them last October.) The new discussion will run for three weeks and is open to all. From their community’s wiki:

    OER is seen as having the potential to extend access to knowledge worldwide, but there exist certain barriers to its achieving this objective. Access is one potential barrier – and a crucial challenge.

    Although our initial interaction on the issue started with the consideration of limited or no connectivity, lack of electricity was identified as an even more basic barrier to access to OER. However, there are many other potential barriers or constraints and it will be useful to identify the range of them, for there are emerging solutions or approaches that would mitigate the problems. Developers of OER will benefit from having these in mind – donors and other agencies may be able to contribute to addressing them.

    This week the discussion will focus on “Identification and description of the main problems associated with access, and an initial development of a classification scheme.” The discussion is already underway, moderated by Bjoern Hassler, a senior research associate at the University of Cambridge, so if you have something to say, go join it now!

    All content on the UNESCO OER Community wiki is licensed CC BY-SA. Like ccLearn, UNESCO’s work on open educational resources is generously supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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    Thanks and congratulations to Catherine Casserly!

    Melissa Reeder, January 30th, 2009

    Catherine Casserly, Director of Open Educational Resources Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and long-time supporter of CC, has taken a new position at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. As stated in the press release:

    As the first full-time Senior Partner appointed by Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk, Casserly will be responsible for new program initiatives and will manage the strategic direction of Carnegie’s work in Open Educational Resources. In leading efforts to build a new field of Design, Educational Engineering and Development, Carnegie provides an ideal combination of timing and place to extend the knowledge and evidence base regarding the effectiveness of innovation and Open Educational Resources for learning.

    Catherine Casserly and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have been instrumental in the growth of Creative Commons and in establishing ccLearn. It’s important for the commons community to recognize the work Casserly has done over the years, as she has been and will continue to be a key player in the open movement. Congratulations to Catherine and Carnegie from all of us here at CC!

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    OpenSA – Championing South African heritage

    Jane Park, January 29th, 2009

    If I hadn’t interned for Clarity Films one summer, I would never have learned most of what I know now about the apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu. I spent hours transcribing interviews and condensing documentary footage into some type of digital package that I don’t recall the name of (nor do I remember the outdated technology I used). What I do remember: the world’s reactions to the tumult that surrounded South Africa within the past fifty some odd years.

    opensa-logoNow, anyone can learn about South Africa and its rich heritage with the recent launch of OpenSA, “a pilot project to make South African heritage more accessible for remixing and re-publishing by online creators.” From the announcement at The African Commons Project:

    “In collaboration with SA Rocks and the African Commons Project, OpenSA! is collecting, tagging and managing donations from people who are willing to make their material freely available online. OpenSA! will also be helping to coordinate outreach to South Africa’s young creators to enable them to learn more about how to find open content that they are free to remix and share.

    As access to the Internet grows in South Africa, so too does the range of creative activity by a new generation of active online citizens. Internet publishing in the form of blogging and citizen journalism, online publishing of photographic, video and music publishing are all part of a wide range of democratic speech that we as a young nation are trying to encourage and nurture.”

    Some media they’ve found and posted so far:
    A documentary about one of the first Chinese restaurants in Cape Town (CC BY-NC by Link Media Inc.)
    Photos of Johannesburg (CC BY-NC-SA by Gregor Rohrig)

    Anyone can get involved and contribute. We encourage you to choose a CC license and send in your materials, or build on what’s already out there.

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    Access 2.0

    Jane Park, January 20th, 2009

    Happy Inauguration Day! Following on the heels of Fred’s post, I’d like to point out a Seminar on open knowledge that will take place on February 4th and 5th at the National University of Bogota. Access 2.0: A discussion on intellectual property from the sciences, arts, library sciences, and education is being hosted and coordinated by the National University of Colombia and the Karisma Foundation. It will address “the important changes [that have occurred] in the past decade with regard to “the way in which we create and broadcast knowledge.” The Seminar acknowledges the emerging necessity of open educational resources (OER) and their future impact on the state of education:

    “The issue of intellectual property and of copyright has ceased to be the exclusive province of lawyers, or to be relevant only in the area of the commercialization of cultural products. It no longer deals solely with concerns regarding remuneration of professional artists. For this reason, the responsibility of academics, teachers, scientists, and managers of information and knowledge in general in the construction of the legal culture has acquired a new and updated dimension.”

    Our very own John Wilbanks, head of Science Commons, will speak at the meeting. The Seminar itself is free of charge and open to the public, though afternoon workshops will require prior registration.

    The Seminar is the first step in a four objective research project examining intellectual property in public policy. For more information, see the description of the project on ccLearn’s resources page.

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    “What Status for Open?” A ccLearn Publication

    Jane Park, December 18th, 2008

    ccLearn is pleased to announce the publication of a research report entitled, “What Status for Open? An Examination of the Licensing Policies of Open Educational Organizations and Projects.” We encourage you to read the whole report, which you can find in several formats, along with an FAQ, on the ccLearn website.

    The report asks, “What makes an educational resource “open”? Is it enough that resources are available on the World Wide Web free of charge, or does openness require something more?” These questions have become more urgent as the open education movement has gained momentum and as potential users of open educational resources (OERs) increasingly face uncertainty about whether permission is required when they translate, reuse, adapt, or simply republish the resources they find.

    With the support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, ccLearn surveyed the copyright licensing policies of several hundred educational projects or organizations on the Internet to assess whether these legal conditions limit the usefulness of self-designated open resources from the user’s perspective.

    The study reveals three principal findings:

    • The copyright licenses or terms of use associated with some OERs are difficult to find or to understand;
    • The majority of OER projects or organizations have adopted a standardized license created by an independent license provider, and of these, the large majority have adopted one or more of the six Creative Commons copyright licenses (“CC licenses”) to define the terms of openness. But, a sizable minority of OER providers have chosen to craft their own license – often borrowing terms from one of the standardized licenses. Thus, as a group, OER providers have adopted a diverse, and often customized, set of license conditions that in some cases require significant work by users to understand;

    and

    • The usefulness of OERs as a group is limited by incompatible license conditions that functionally prohibit combination or adaptation of OERs provided by different sources.

    This report concludes with a recommendation that creators of open educational resources consider using CC licenses to provide users with readily found, standardized terms of use. It recommends further that OER creators consider adopting the most open of CC licenses, the Attribution-only License (CC BY), to nourish the creativity of educators and learners alike by allowing the adaptation, combination, and republication of OERs from multiple sources.

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