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.Comments Off
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!Comments Off
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.
Now, 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.”Comments Off
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.Comments Off
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 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;
- 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.
It is commonly known that students learn by doing—by practicing, rather than simply soaking in, the information that is taught them in the classroom. But it is also commonly known that anyone can obtain information; the internet is chock-full of the stuff; all one has to do is type in a few key words and hit search. The reality is that formal education, aka the classroom, can no longer be, and no longer is, just one side of this perceived divorce in education: the acquisition of knowledge versus the practice of it.
Open education acknowledges that information is abundant, and that it takes someone to organize, interpret, and make it meaningful. This is one value that formal and higher education still offers the net generation, those bred on Google and Wikipedia. The culling of data becomes the responsibility of professionals, their peers, and their students—the results of which are high quality educational resources available to the rest of the world.
The Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan has taken this idea of synthesis and run with it. They have integrated the practice of knowledge into class curriculum, by requiring students to contribute to an open textbook in wiki format—Chemical Process Dynamics and Controls. Since 2006, senior chemical engineering students have been developing this resource, building off of the preceding year’s work. The result is a comprehensive and dynamic textbook, available for free on the web, that is both high quality and openly licensed under CC BY. Though you must be a member of the class to directly edit the wiki text, nothing prevents the rest of the world from copying and deriving it for their own uses—even republishing it and distributing it at a low cost in concrete form is possible.
Originally conceptualized by Peter Woolf (Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering) with help from Leeann Fu, the system of textbook creation is anything but haphazard. Each week, a team of students is selected to become “experts” on a particular topic. The students research and present on the topic, adding the relevant text and diagrams to the wiki. The wiki’s content is further vetted by “the faculty and Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs)” who “act as managing editors, selecting broad threads for the text and suggesting references.” They also check for copyright issues, and the students are encouraged to re-use public domain materials.
“In contrast to other courses, the students take an active role in their education by selecting which material in their assigned section is most useful and decide on the presentation approach. Furthermore, students create example problems that they present in poster sessions during class to help the other students master the material.”
In addition, full class lectures in video format and powerpoint presentations are available on the wiki, also under CC BY. CC BY is the most appropriate license for educational materials, since all one has to do is attribute the original authors. The freedoms to copy, adapt, remix, and redistribute are crucial to advancing progress in education.1 Comment »
Some of you might remember Cameron’s post back in June regarding the United Nations University (UNU) Media Studio‘s decision to license their Media Studio and Online Learning sites under CC BY-NC-SA. Well one month later they launched “Our World 2.0“, the English version, also licensed under the same (with the Japanese version taking off just this past month), which is a webzine dedicated to exploring environmental issues and what can be done about them, specifically dealing with the “complex, inter-connected and pressing problems like climate change, oil depletion and food security.” Taking its name from Web 2.0, a sweeping trend in the use of the Internet for “community and social network based approaches to content development that take advantage of new technologies,” Our World 2.0’s central tenet is “that we can use our collective knowledge, technology and design to facilitate creativity, innovation, and, most notably, collaboration amongst people.”
Today, they announced the launch of their new video documentary series on the web, “short high-definition documentaries which examine key issues relating to climate change, energy, and food security, the subjects at the heart of [their] Our World 2.0 webmagazine.” The first video is titled “The Electric Sunflower” which focuses on electric vehicles—their current use and future. It’s pretty exciting stuff. The video, along with the rest of the content on their website, is open for use via CC BY-NC-SA.
The UNU Media Studio is dedicated to the sharing and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER), which they believe will ultimately improve education. They write that “[Their] main goal is to try to help academics in the developing world and [they] are fully engaged with a number of exciting innovative movements that could help better share knowledge and improve education. These include efforts to share content (opencourseware and open educational resources). This movement is supported by new approaches to copyright licensing and intellectual property rights that promote sharing and collaboration, specifically through Creative Commons.”1 Comment »
A long-standing provider of open courseware, MITOpenCourseWare reached a million visit milestone yesterday for two of their online courses: 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics and 18.06 Linear Algebra. The courses are two of MIT’s most popular to date, taught by renowned professors Walter Lewin and Gilbert Strang. From MIT’s media coverage on Lewin:
“Professor Lewin is an international webstar. He is well-known at MIT and beyond for his dynamic, inspiring and engaging lecture style. His courses are also among the most downloaded at iTunes U. 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics explains the basic concepts of Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, and kinetic gas theory, and a variety of interesting topics such as binary stars, neutron stars, and black holes.”
“Strang is a 50-year mathematics veteran whose teaching style is recognized internationally. Linear Algebra introduces mathematical concepts that include matrix theory, systems of equations, vector spaces, and positive definite matrices. “Everyone has the capacity to learn mathematics,” says Strang. “If you can offer a little guidance, and some examples, viewers discover that a whole world is open.”
8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics offers lecture notes, exams with solutions, complete videotaped lectures and their accompanying transcripts under CC BY-NC-SA. 18.06 Linear Algebra offers (interactive) Java applets with sound in addition to video lectures and translations into Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish, also under CC BY-NC-SA. CC BY-NC-SA allows for these kinds of adaptations and derivations of material—and translation is a crucial step in broadening access to a global audience.
There are other and more interesting ways to adapt material, however, and we are curious to know how the visitors constituting the 1,000,000+ hits of these two courses (and others) have actually used the materials. Since educational needs vary contextually, it would be beneficial to know what types of adaptations are being made beyond translation. Of the 600 visits per day that these courses average, how many of them result in derivations? These, and other questions (such as visitor demographic, global reach, etc.) are things to consider as the OCW project continues to expand and evolve. The future impact of OER lie in the ways information is conceptualized, organized, and related; simply offering up free content on the web is no longer enough—remember David Wiley’s quote from OpenEd 08: “If my students can Google it, I don’t have to teach it.” As progressive models of OER develop and evolve, it will be interesting to see how OCW’s scope and impact also grows.Comments Off
Last week, a bill enabling the California Community Colleges to integrate open educational resources (OER) into its core curriculum was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. AB 2261 authorizes the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges “to establish a pilot program to provide faculty and staff from community college districts around the state with the information, methods, and instructional materials to establish open education resources centers.” The program would provide a structure by which community college faculty and staff could vet and repurpose OER in order to create high quality course materials and textbooks for college students. The resulting materials would themselves be openly licensed or available in the public domain so that they could be further adapted and repurposed for future and individual contexts. High quality OER would also set a new and much needed economic standard for publishers, who currently charge exorbitant prices for college textbooks. According to the LA times, textbook prices accounted for almost 60% of a community college student’s educational costs last year.
“This is the first legislation that puts the state of California squarely behind those of us who are working to create free, high-quality, vetted public domain — or “open” — educational resources for community college students, who stand to save literally hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming decade as a result.
The scholar David Wiley has observed that introducing Open Educational Resources into the public education system is the most significant development since the establishment of Land Grant colleges and universities in the mid 1800’s.
What’s also wonderful is the knowledge that, even in these difficult days when our system seems so very broken, an ordinary citizen like me can still offer up a useful idea and see it enacted into law.”
See the news article on this here, and the latest version of the bill here. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Silicon Valley is a leading institution in the open education movement; they established the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) last year, which exists “to identify, create and/or repurpose existing OER as Open Textbooks and make them available for use by community college students and faculty.”1 Comment »
The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is a global movement. Education is an issue that crosses borders and spans continents; open education—the creation and distribution of OER—empowers people in a global dialogue. However, the mere promotion of OER is not sufficient for the success of this international effort, as many issues and barriers to open education are country- and culture-specific. In this sense, the international OER community has some significant differences to bridge, and we must somehow synthesize the diverse range of projects and perspectives into clear and tangible objectives.
The UNESCO OER Community exemplifies progress made on this front, with currently 700+ members from 105 countries. Although North America and Western Europe account for about half of the participants, the community is still represented by 72 developing countries. One of the most compelling components of the community is its case studies project, “stories – of how institutions and individuals have developed or used OER,” based in various countries. These case studies—including those from Canada, Rwanda, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, the Netherlands and more—explore OER against the background of their heterogeneous contexts. What works? What doesn’t work? What did the organization or persons involved do or must they now do in order to overcome obstacles—either due to institutional bureaucracy, lack of resources, or otherwise? These stories are windows of insight into different ways of progressing globally.
In addition to case studies, the international community is developing an OER toolkit, templates for ease of sharing more stories (from community members, academics creating and using OER, and learners using OER), and discussion surrounding such issues as access to technology, copyright, best practices, learning psychology of OER, and more. The OER toolkit will prove especially useful in addressing the issues raised by case studies, as it targets any persons interested in becoming involved with OER, either as creators or users, and those wishing to integrate OER into their institutions or organizations.
eLearning Papers, a journal that “promotes the use of ICT for lifelong learning in Europe,” recently examined similar issues surrounding OER and the international community in its September installment, “Open Educational Resources.” From the editorial,
“This issue of eLearning Papers is dedicated to the thriving work around Open Educational Resources (OER) by committed individuals, institutions and user communities. Five selected papers by the guest editors investigate the organisational, social, cultural, pedagogical and technical aspects of implementing OER…
We have two papers that investigate how higher education institutions work OER into their policies and practices. “Open Educational Resources for Management Education: Lessons from experience” elaborates on a French faculty which created a digital distribution place to share and disseminate university courses. The initial resistance of the faculty members evaporated as they started receiving positive feedback on their courses, as well as international interest in their French content. On the other hand, “Reflections on sustaining Open Educational Resources: an institutional case study” shows how first gaining high level policy support within the institution for the initiative of OER was turned into a sustainable institutional practice.”
The journal is licensed CC BY-NC-ND, while the UNESCO OER Community site is open for re-use and adaptation under CC BY-SA. It is also hosted on a wiki which means anyone is free to contribute to the OER case studies and OER toolkit. The UNESCO OER Community has been funded by one of our avid supporters, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, since its inception in 2005.Comments Off