A few weeks ago, CC co-hosted an open education meetup in London with P2PU, the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), and FLOSS Manuals Foundation. We also led or participated in sessions and tracks on open science, makes for cultural archives, collaborations across the open space, and open education data at the Mozilla Festival immediately following the meetup. Several interesting projects have arisen from both the meetup and sessions, so we thought it worthwhile to mention here in case others would like to get involved.
Hit the Road Map: A Human Timeline of the Open Education Space
In addition to networking and sharing our common open education interests, participants of the Open Ed Meetup at the William Goodenough house collectively built a timeline of events that they felt marked important (and personal) milestones in the open education space, from the beginning of the Open University in 1969 to Lessig’s countersuit against Liberation Music this year. The timeline was a great collaborative exercise for the group, and one that we hope is only beginning. As Marieke from the OKFN writes in her post,
“…the plan is to digitise what we have by moving all the ideas in to Google Docs and then create a TimeMapper of them. This may form part of the Open Education handbook. At that point we will be able to share the document with you so you can add more information, correct the date and add in your own ideas. We may even try to run more open education timeline events.”
In fact, CC affiliates in Europe will be co-hosting the second Open Education Handbook booksprint with the OKFN and Wikimedia in Berlin as a result!
Getting hands-on with tools on the web for Open Science
by Billy Meinke
In another team-up with the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), we ran a session investigating tools on the web that help make science more open. Hinging on the theme of alternative ways to measure (altmetrics) scholarly impact, collaborators joined us in the session and got hands-on with tools that we can use to see how publications and other research outputs are talked about and shared on the web. To help build content for lessons linked to the Open Science course in the School of Open, participants tested a handful of free tools to see what they were able to measure, how usable the tools were, and considered ways to share this with others who aren’t familiar with altmetrics. We will be organizing the content over the next few weeks, and offering the altmetrics lesson as a standalone exercise once it’s complete. For more information about how the session went, see this blog post.
Collaborations across the Open Space
We also participated in a session with Wikimedia, OKFN, and other orgs to talk about how we could better collaborate and share news among our organizations so we don’t keep reinventing the wheel. I won’t go into detail here, as the wiki session writeup does it much better, and has continued to grow since the festival. For example, something as simple as a blog aggregator for all “open” related news would help those working in this space tremendously. To join our efforts, head over to the wiki and add your thoughts and be notified of follow-up meetings.
Digital Self Preservation Toolkit
One neat thing to come out of this year’s Mozfest was the beginnings of a Digital Self Preservation Toolkit exploring the idea of what happens to your body of creative, educational, or scientific work when you die. Some questions we asked and discussed were: In your country, what happens to your work when you die? What steps can you take to ensure its posterity? How would you want it shared and who would you want to own it? Our initial aim was to develop a set of tools and tips to help people think through how they might want to release their work upon death, building on an idea that the Question Copyright folks had last year around a free culture trust. Skirting the technical and legal issues for the time being, we came up with a prototype IP donor badge that creators might use to signify their intent, a concept form that they would fill out, and a mock-up website where such a toolkit might reside. We are now continuing our efforts in collaboration with folks from numerous organizations interested in the same questions, and you can join us to move the project forward at the Free Culture Trust wiki.
OER Research Hub’s Open Education Data Detective
Lastly, we’d like to highlight our collaboration with the OER Research Hub, who held a “scrum” on visualizing open education data called the Open Ed Data Detective. Participants experimented with open education data that the OER Research Hub made available, including data on School of Open courses.Comments Off
This is a guest post by Pete Forsyth, organizer of the School of Open’s “Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics & Beyond” course and member of WikiProject Open.
The University of Mississippi’s Spring 2014 course “Open Educational Resources and Practices” will include the module “Writing Wikipedia Articles” (aka WIKISOO), which I developed and taught through the School of Open; as well as “Open Content Licensing for Educators,” developed and taught by Wayne Mackintosh as part of the OER university consortium. The new graduate level course (Edhe 670), taught by Dr. Robert Cummings, will invite learners from around the world to take these two course modules alongside graduate students, free of charge. This is the first time a university has adopted a School of Open course as part of a formal university course.
In the new course, both online learners and University of Mississippi students will actively participate in open educational practices, even as they learn the theory and history of open education and related concepts. Online learners will enjoy university-level instruction free of charge and without the need to enroll in a degree program.
Noting the advantages of this first-of-its-kind course, Associate Professor Robert Cummings said,
“University of Mississippi graduate students in the School of Education will prepare for their careers with this unique opportunity to engage the emerging global field of Open Educational Resources. UM students will not only learn about OER, its origins, and its role in the classrooms of the future, but they will have the opportunity to work with developers and theorists—both as fellow students and emerging practitioners—in a synchronous, global classroom of enrolled students and un-enrolled learners.”
The course’s subject matter should be of particular benefit to those interested in the future of education. Educators are embracing openness in education by using the increasingly interactive and ubiquitous Internet. In doing so, they aim to lower financial costs, reduce legal complexities, and otherwise eliminate barriers for learners worldwide.
“Open education signals a return to the core values of the academy, namely, to share knowledge freely,” said OERu founder Wayne Mackintosh, who teaches the “Open Content Licensing for Educators” module. “Working together we achieve far more than working alone. This course is an exemplar of open collaboration widening learning opportunities for all.”
The ability to engage and collaborate online and in real time, across geographical borders, presents opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago. Wikipedia in particular has enabled hundreds of thousands of people around the world to connect in meaningful ways, united by a shared passion for freely sharing knowledge. As part of the team that created the Wikipedia Education Program, Dr. Cummings, Dr. Mackintosh, and I have long worked to bring Wikipedia’s community and the world of formal education closer, so that each may learn from the experience of the other.
Wikipedia is important not only as a publication, but also as a vibrant learning community, and as a collection of highly effective collaborative processes. Wikipedia offers many valuable case studies in effective online collaboration, both in connection with and independent of formal academic study. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work with UM students alongside learners around the world.
If you would like to take one or both of the open modules, sign up to receive updates today!
- Open Content Licensing for Educators (OER university; 2 weeks in February)
- Writing Wikipedia Articles (WIKISOO) (School of Open, 6 weeks, starting in February)
Providing free learning with pathways to formal credit, the OERu officially launched on Friday November 1, 2013 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops British Columbia. “In basing your learning and teaching on OER, you have an excellent opportunity to treat the minds of your students primarily as fires to be set alight rather than as vessels to be filled with the knowledge of just one teacher,” said Sir John Daniel, former UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education and open learning visionary.
Coordinated by the Open Education Resource Foundation, headquartered in New Zealand, the OERu is an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online university courses for students worldwide using open educational resources (OER). As a designated project of the UNESCO-COL OER Chair network and with over thirty-two partners from five continents, the OERu is using OER to provide more affordable ways for learners to gain academic credit towards qualifications from recognized, accredited institutions.
“The OERu makes affordable education accessible to everyone,” said Open Education Resource Foundation Director Dr. Wayne Mackintosh. “All you need is an internet connection and you can study independently from home, with access to world-class courses from recognized institutions around the world. It’s about sharing knowledge and the sustainability of education.”
Research from the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO predicts that an additional one hundred million post-secondary learners will be entering into the tertiary education system over the next fifteen years. “The key challenge we are trying to address is how to provide spaces for the additional one hundred million students – that’s the equivalent of building four sizeable universities with roughly 30,000 students each, every week for the next 15 years,” said Mackintosh. The OERu aims to provide students excluded from the formal education sector with learning pathways to credible credentials.
Coming at a time of dramatically rising higher education cost and high youth unemployment, the OERu provides a parallel learning universe based solely on OER, quality assurance, and institutional accreditation. The OERu sees OER as a key means of expanding and sustaining higher education and aims to see OER and open education practices integrated into every institution in the world.
The distinctively open aspects of the OERu, including its use of open-source software, open peer review, open public input, open file formats and open educational resources are key differentiators from MOOCs. Another major difference is the OERu’s commitment to providing students with the option of getting formal credit for their study for a small fee.
“The OERu will reduce the cost of higher education dramatically,” says Sir John Daniel. “I believe that radical innovations in higher education must be accompanied by particularly robust frameworks of accreditation and credentialing in order to reassure the public. It’s all very well for evangelists to promote do-it-yourself accreditation from the personal safety of CVs replete with reputable qualifications, but ordinary people want the ‘beef’ of proper recognition too.”
The OERu launch at Thompson Rivers University coincided with the second meeting of the OERu open network of partners including post-secondary institutions, nonprofits, government, and international agencies who all engaged in an intensive two-day implementation planning meeting. I was delighted to attend and contribute to the planning, including a summary of a two-week-long discussion exploring OERu’s unique differentiators, operations, micro-credentials, potential use of textbook zero, and quality assurance processes. Livestream recordings of the OERu launch and plenary meetings are available from the Thompson Rivers University live streaming channel.
At the time of launch, the OERu is offering two credentials – one undergraduate and one post-graduate and is experimenting with micro Open Online Courses – mOOCs. As an open network the OERu is expanding the courses and credentials it is offering and its partners. Organizations choose to join the OERu for three main reasons:
- to be part of a global network of “like-minded” institutions
- to participate in the philanthropic mission of widening access to more affordable education, especially for learners excluded from the formal higher education sector
- to learn new business models and retain a competitive advantage as open education approaches become more mainstream
As Estrella Patrick Moller First Nations Elder for the Secwepemc Nation put it in her OERu launch blessing, “I thank all of you for having big dreams… Help us to reach hundreds and hundreds and millions of people so that mother earth will be covered with people on an equal footing with education.”
- Free Open Learning University Launches at TRU, CFJC TV, Kamloops, 1 November 2013.
- TRU joins free education movement. Online university combines resources from around the world. The Daily New, Kamloops, 1 November 2013.
- Open Educational Resource university is launched, University World News, 1 November 2013.
- The free university launching in NZ. TVNZ Breakfast, 2013
- The launch of OERu: Towards free learning opportunities for all students worldwide, BCcampus, 31 October 2013.
- Mooc rival OERu puts accreditation on menu, Times Higher Education, 31 October 2013.
- Polytech opens a door to the world, Otago Daily Times, 26 October 2013.
- Open Educational Resource university to be launched worldwide, 25 October, 2013.
WikiProject Open is a community of new and experienced Wikipedians, dedicated to improving Wikipedia’s coverage of all things “open,” and to using openly licensed content to improve Wikipedia articles in general. In celebration of Open Access Week, we invite you to join us in improving two Wikipedia articles this week:
- Open Access Week: We should have plenty of new news coverage to draw from in improving this article
- Creative Commons license: Let’s make sure this central article is thorough and accurate; we will consider splitting off sub-articles, etc.
For those new to Wikipedia, you’ll find some tips to get you started on our “welcome” page.
Then, just get to work on the “Open Access Week” and “Creative Commons license” articles! Be sure to check each article’s talk page (you’ll find the tab in the upper left), because we’ll surely be discussing what needs to be improved and how we want to approach it as WikiProject Open’s Collaboration of the Week (COTW) gets underway.
Collaboration of the Week programs have been implemented by a number of wiki communities over the years. Academic studies have found them to be a highly effective way to keep people engaged and productive, in addition to building a sense of community. We hope you will join us as we launch this program, and help us improve Wikipedia’s coverage of important topics in the world of openness!Comments Off
This past August, I facilitated an online peer-learning course in the School of Open introducing open science to newcomers, and Michelle Sidler worked behind the scenes to keep things glued together. This guest post was written by Michelle, and gives a look at how things went teaching an entirely free course on open science over the web. It’s pretty cool.
Guiding Students through the Course
During last month’s round of School of Open courses, I helped out with a facilitated version of the Open Science course supported by Creative Commons, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and PLOS. On four Tuesdays in August, Billy Meinke hosted online discussions with a handful of well-known members of the open science community while participants from around the world completed course modules and blogged about their experiences. Here’s how things went down.
Note: The course materials and online discussions are available on the Open Science P2PU course page, and will continue to grow over the next few weeks as participants share blog about their experiences working with aspects of science that are either open or not.
While completing course units, participants blogged their experiences, offering reflections and insights about open science and sharing online resources they found. Participants were researchers and scientists from around the world, including biologists, climatologists, librarians, and even musicians.
Though we are still working through much of the blog posts, here are some examples of people learning about open access, open data, and open research for free through the School of Open:
The first of three modules introduced the topic of open access (OA), and after browsing through content about OA, learners were to report on the openness of published research articles they found on the web. A learner named Peter Desmet provided a fine overview of the history of open access and the different “flavours” of open access in an entry on his blog. The second module led folks to the topic of open data for science, where a peer by the name Odon shared her process of learning through her blog, Odonlife. Her writings offered definitions and descriptions of open data and assessed the openness of datasets she found online. Drawing from these lessons, she also described her experiences contributing to open data crowdsourcing projects and how they inspired her to start a similar project. For the third unit on open research, a peer in the course named Nicki Clarkson described the work of Jon Tennant, a paleontologist and open science advocate who deposited the data from his PhD research into the Paleontology Database, a repository for similar data. Jon even commented on her post, thanking her for the shout-out—another example of the ways in which open information brings researchers together!
In addition to supporting the online course participants, Billy Meinke hosted online discussions with many open science friends and advocates from many locales and types of involvement with science around the world. Guests from a variety of organizations joined open, broadcasted Google Hangouts and shared their experiences in open science with dozens of learners watching each stream. Thanks to all the guests who took the time to chat with us about open science! Links to the video and etherpad notes (taken during the live sessions) can be found on the Open Science course page.
Taking the Open Science course further
The Open Science course doesn’t end when we complete the units and assignments. Continue the conversation by spreading the word to other scientists about this resource and encouraging them to participate. There has been interest in volunteer translation efforts and other adaptations of the material. Anyone is free to do so, in compliance with the CC BY-SA license on the course. Much of the material is licensed CC BY or CC0, which give even more open reuse rights!
If you’d like to find out more about what’s happening with this course and others in the School of Open, head on over to the School of Open Google Group and join the discussion! You can also sign up to be notified when the next facilitated course launches, likely in Spring 2014.1 Comment »
It has come to our attention that the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and top internet service providers are drafting curriculum to teach kids in California elementary schools that copying is wrong, or as Wired.com puts it, “Downloading is Mean!”
This message is way too simple. In this digital age, the most important thing we should be teaching kids is to be creative and take full advantage of all the web has to offer. Copyright, asking permission, open licensing, and all the other legal nuances, should be seen as secondary (and even complementary) to this purpose. We should be starting with the things kids can do versus what they can’t do.
In addition to the campaign’s overly simple and negative approach, other issues include the complete absence of fair use from the curriculum — exceptions and limitations to copyright that allow various uses of copyrighted materials for educational, journalistic and other purposes. Wired.com reports, “Its president, Marsali Hancock, says fair use is not a part of the teaching material because K-6 graders don’t have the ability to grasp it.”
Assuming the net generation and their younger counterparts are as dumb as assumed in the above statement, the curriculum still leaves out a crucial and growing part of the Internet landscape — the commons of free and open materials in the public domain and/or released under open licenses that actually encourage copying, redistribution, revision, and remix! In short, everything this simplified anti-piracy campaign is conveniently leaving out in its copyright curriculum for kids.
There is a more balanced approach to educating kids about copyright that includes the alternatives, and here are some organizations and experienced educators who have developed copyright curricula. The following list of resources are open educational resources (OER), licensed under a CC license that enables free and legal reuse, redistribution and remix. In short, stuff that is free and just fine and even great to copy!
Copyright curriculum for kids
Common Sense Media’s K-12 Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum
Common Sense Media has developed a comprehensive K-12 Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum for educators to use in their classrooms. Part of the curriculum focuses on Creative Credit & Copyright, which you can navigate easily via their Scope & Sequence tool. The resources are aligned to Common Core standards and licensed under CC BY-NC-SA.
New Media Rights Copyright FAQ Videos
New Media Rights has developed a series of short Copyright FAQ YouTube videos (because what better way to interact with youth but through YouTube?) answering common questions about copyright and the public domain. These videos are drafted by lawyers and read by students and are licensed under CC BY.
Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Teaching Copyright Curriculum
EFF developed this copyright curriculum for teachers to use in the classroom several years ago to counter campaigns like the one above, proving that topics like fair use can be taught! Teachingcopyright.org is available under CC BY.
Australia’s Smartcopying Guide for Schools and Interactive Resource for Kids
Australia has an official website for its schools regarding copyright for educators and students. However, this website, called Smartcopying, doesn’t just cover Australian copyright law — it also covers open educational resources and Creative Commons licenses. It’s quite the comprehensive resource with lesson plans, info sheets, videos, and more, and is licensed under CC BY-SA. This includes All Right to Copy, an interactive web activity “designed to teach students about copyright, and how it impacts them as both users and creators.” These resources are useful even if you’re not Australian, so check it out at http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/ and navigate using the horizontal menu to the topic of your choice.
National Library of New Zealand’s Free to Mix Guide for Educators
The National Library of New Zealand takes a different approach to copyright education; instead of focusing on what students can’t do, it focuses on what teachers and students can do with its Free to Mix guide. The guide was popular enough to spin off its own remix by CC New Zealand (pdf) with beautifully done graphics. Both versions are licensed under CC BY.
Shared Creations: Making Use of Creative Commons
Emily Puckett Rogers and Kristin Fontichiaro with the University of Michigan created this short and colorful lesson plan book for elementary school teachers that covers copyright, the public domain (even trademarks and patents!), and Creative Commons. This book is short and sweet with age-appropriate activities (that are even fun for adults). You can browse the book for free online or purchase a hard copy at the publisher’s website. The book is licensed CC BY-NC-SA.
School of Open’s Copyright 4 Educators
The School of Open, a community of volunteers around the world providing free education opportunities on the meaning and impact of openness in the digital age, offers an online course called Copyright 4 Educators. While this course (offered as adapted to both US and AUS law, but open to anyone) is primarily designed for educators and not kids, teachers can take what they’ve learned and then relay it to their students. The School of Open also offers more kid-friendly resources such as Get CC Savvy, Teach someone something with open content, and numerous lesson plans and activities integrated in CC for K-12 Educators. All School of Open courses on the P2PU platform are licensed under CC BY-SA; others hosted elsewhere may be licensed under CC BY.
This list is not exhaustive; if you know of other copyright education resources, please share them below! And if you would like to contribute to providing free copyright, OER, or CC education opportunities for kids (or adults), please join the School of Open community in its efforts! Visit http://schoolofopen.org/ to get started.2 Comments »
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and Commission Member Androulla Vassiliou today announced Opening Up Education, an initiative that looks to increase the use of digital technologies for learning and spur the development of Open Educational Resources and policies across the European Union.
The Opening Up Education communication (PDF) indicates a strong support for Open Educational Resources. On the subject of OER, the Commission will:
- Ensure that all educational materials supported by Erasmus+ are available to the public under open licenses and promote similar practices under EU programmes;
- Use the new programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 to encourage partnerships between creators of educational content (e.g. teachers, publishers, ICT companies), to increase the supply of quality OER and other digital educational materials in different languages, to develop new business models and to develop technical solutions which provide
transparent information on copyrights and open licenses to users of digital educational resources;
- Launch with this Communication the Open Education Europa portal linking it to existing OER repositories in different languages and bringing learners, teachers and researchers together, so to improve the attractiveness and visibility of quality OERs produced in the EU.
The communication also urged Member States and education institutions to:
- Stimulate open access policies for publicly-funded educational materials;
- Encourage formal education and training institutions to include digital content, including OERs, among the recommended educational materials for learners at all educational levels and encourage the production, including through public procurement, of high-quality educational materials whose copyrights would belong to public authorities.
The communication document defined OER as “learning resources that are usable, adaptable to specific learning needs, and shareable freely.” We think that it would be better for the Commission to adopt the longstanding and well-understood OER definition promoted by the Hewlett Foundation, which defines OER as “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”
Creative Commons provided feedback last year when the Commission was gathering information from stakeholders on how to proceed around the issues of ICT and OER. Congratulations to the EC on what looks like a promising initiative that will increase access to and reuse of open educational resources and technologies for a wide range of learners in Europe.Comments Off
This blog post was written by Teresa Sempere García, CC’s Community Support Intern June-August, 2013. The cycle graphics below were designed by Timothy Vollmer and Teresa Sempere García.
The current system for public access to research articles and educational materials is broken: ownership is often unclear, and the reuse of knowledge is limited by policies that do not maximize the impact of public funding. The following graphics will try to simplify and compare two alternative funding cycles for research publications and educational resources that emphasize the positive impacts of open policies on publicly-funded grants. More information and links to a current directory of current and proposed OER open policies can be found in the OER Policy Registry on the Creative Commons Wiki.
Cycles for Research Articles
The existing system for producing and distributing publicly funded research articles is expensive and doesn’t take advantage of the possibilities of innovations like open licensing. Without a free-flowing system, access to the results of scientific research is limited to institutions that are able to commit to hefty journal subscriptions — paid for year after year — which don’t allow for broad redistribution, or repurposing for activities such as text and data mining without additional permissions from the rightsholder. This closed system limits the impact on the scientific and scholarly community and progress is slowed significantly.
A Closed Research Model
When funding cycles for research include open license requirements for publications, increased access and opportunities for reuse extends the value of research funding. As an example, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy requires the published results of all NIH-funded research to be deposited in PubMed Central’s repository, the peer-reviewed manuscript immediately, and the final journal article within twelve months of publication. Similarly, the recent directive issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mandates that federal agencies with more than $100 million in research expenditures must make the results of their research publicly available within one year of publication, and better manage the resultant data supporting their results. These policies utilize aspects of the optimized cycle below, and are a step in the right direction for making better use of public funding for research articles.
An Open Research Model
Cycles for Educational Resources
The incumbent system for developing and sharing publicly funded educational resources doesn’t guarantee materials are accessible and reusable by the public that paid for their creation.
A Closed Education Model
If policies are put in place that mandate open licenses on publicly funded educational resources, knowledge can flow more freely because the public is clear about how they may reuse educational content, and the funders can realize a more impactful return on their investments. An example of better use of public funding for the production of educational resources, the US DOL TAACCCT Program mandates that all content created or modified using grant funds are openly-licensed (CC BY) and deposited in a public repository upon completion of the project. Being conducted in four waves, the TAACCCT program is making better use of a large (US$2 billion) investment of US taxpayer money by ensuring the public will have access the educational resources created during the four-year term, and is able to reuse and adapt them beyond what automatic copyright allows. The following graphic demonstrates an open funding model, with licensing and access recommendations to remove barriers to sharing and help speed access and reuse of publicly funded educational content.
An Open Education Model
Open policy — specifically, the idea that publicly funded materials should be openly licensed materials — is a sensible solution that ensures the public’s right to reuse the materials it paid for, and improves the efficiency of government grant funding. Open licensing is a sensible requirement for publicly funded grant programs.6 Comments »
Join us for a fun evening event on 24 October in London! The School of Open community along with members of the Open Knowledge Foundation and FLOSS Manuals Foundation is holding a meetup at the Large Common Room in the William Goodenough House (yes, that’s a real name!). Details at the Eventbrite and below.
Join the School of Open (Creative Commons & P2PU), the Open Knowledge Foundation, and FLOSS Manuals Foundation for a fun evening to connect with your peers in the open education space! So many efforts exist to “open” up education around the world. How can we help connect these efforts? We’d like to start by collaboratively building a human timeline of open education — Do you remember when and where you first became aware of open education? When did you first become passionate about “open” or participate in an “open” event or job? Where and what was it? What else in this area has most inspired you? We will share experiences and manually place ourselves along a real world timeline (think rolls of butcher paper, markers, glitter is optional). Then we’ll start fleshing out the timeline with key events and persons that we think brought the open education and knowledge movement to where it is today. We’ll stop whenever we get tired, make merry with refreshments and snacks, and digitize whatever we have by the end of the evening for further contributions from everyone and anyone on the web. We’ll make the resulting timeline available openly (either via CC0, CC BY, or CC BY-SA), and feature it in a chapter of the Open Education Handbook!
Due to the awesome, but limited space, this event will be first come, first serve, capping registrations at 30 participants. Please update your registration if you cannot make it to make room for those on the waiting list!
Guest post by Elizabeth Kiragu Wanjugu and Tobias Schonwetter
As we were busy getting ready for our community Global Summit a few weeks ago, we nearly missed the announcement of another very important addition to that community – our new CC Kenya affiliate.
Our new Kenyan team is based around two Nairobi-based affiliate institutions: Strathmore University‘s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) and the National Council for Law Reports (NCLR). CIPIT – led by Dr. Isaac Rutenberg – is Kenya’s Public Lead, while the NCLR – led by Michael Murungi – serves as CC Kenya’s Legal Lead institution.
The Kenyan team is supported by a large existing CC community in the country, which has been active for quite some time. Unsurprisingly, therefore, a number of projects and activities are already under way. The NCLR’s Kenya Law Report already uses CC’s Public Domain Mark for its content, the team has been a major contributor to bringing the School of Open to the region, and there is an exciting initiative to translate some of CC’s licence tools into Kiswahili. According to the new team, Kenya’s thriving cultural industry requires access to shareable resources that facilitate remixing, and CC Kenya also strives to support newly realisable democratic freedoms by enabling widespread access to knowledge and information. CC Kenya makes East Africa now one of the most active regions for CC in Africa with affiliate teams in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
One of the first major activities of the new team, even before they had formally launched, was Kenya’s inaugural Creative Commons Salon. Held on 6 June, 2013 at Nairobi’s iHub and themed, “using technology as a democratizing tool, especially one that will level the playing field for education and opportunity in Kenya,” the event drew approximately 50 participants from different backgrounds.
Organised by Akili Dada in partnership with newly established team, the Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) and Jamlab.
Akili Dada is a leadership incubator investing in high-achieving young African women from underprivileged backgrounds who are passionate about social change. CIPIT is CC Kenya’s Public Lead while Jamlab drives the School of Open in Kenya.
In her opening remarks Allison Domicone, Akili Dada’s Director of Development (and who incidentally ran CC Salons from late 2008 through early 2011 and helped grow them significantly while working with Creative Commons in San Francisco, California) welcomed the attendees then asked Alex Gakuru, Creative Commons Africa Regional Coordinator, to say a few words.
Expressing optimism for continued growth, Alex reflected on the positive reception thus far accorded to Creative Commons in Kenya and across Africa.
The panelists comprised Michael Muringi, CEO/Editor National Council for Law Reports; CC Kenya Legal Lead, Judith Owigar, President of Akirachix; Paul Kihwelo, Public Lead of Creative Commons Tanzania; and Simeon Oriko, Co-Founder of Jamlab. Akili Dada founder Wanjiru Kamau Rutenberg moderated the session.
Discussions on how technology can be harnessed as democratizing tool delved into how it can be made more accessible to all people with a special attention to girls and women given local statistics that they constitute only 15 percent of a technology field dominated by men. Discussion around access was extended to include access to online resources, empowering instruments and digital tools such as the mobile phone.
Discussants established among major barriers to access included: Inequitable financial access; Lack of knowledge; Absent or unpredictable electricity; Resultant societal stereotyping; to name but just a few. Probing, “What exactly is a level playing field?” was asked at the question session, with panelists responding as follows:
Jamlab – “A level playing field enables a person to achieve goals that s/he has set for own self.”
Creative Commons Tanzania – “A level playing field is where a person can have a balance between retaining ownership and encouraging open access to shared creative works.”
National Council for Law Reporting – “A level playing field is where any citizen gains access to justice without having to relying on costly representation through legal intermediaries.”
Akirachix – “A level playing field is where information is provided to enable girls to make informed career choices.”
Noted challenges included socialization in technology that favoured men over women, parents preferring to take the girl child to secretarial colleges to study languages and at best computer packages rather than encouraging them to venture into computer programming/coding and website development.
“Fortunately, the challenge is slowly being conquered by educating parents on importance of technology to the economy,” said Judith Owigar.
In Tanzania, librarians are championing the cause of Open Educational Resources (OER) due to their background and understanding of the importance of equitable access to knowledge.
Thereafter, the moderator invited audience participation with a reaction that children between 3 and 7 years were most impressionable urging stakeholders to focus their girlhood education and empowerment efforts on that age group.
Responding, Simeon Oriko said at that age the children were best under their parents care learning everything from parents. Jamlab chose to target high school students where youth peer influence, including what they see on social media, have the most impact on their adult character.
Professor Suki Mwendwa cautioned that technology, per se, should not be viewed as the solution to all access problems:
“Reading should be encouraged and technology used as a tool to increase access to knowledge. Technology having a seductive nature should also be regulated at home so that the children can be well rounded.”
The event ended with the moderator narrating inspiring stories of successful women providing role models for the younger generation — and encouraging others to do the same. She called upon more women to step forward to rally behind a solid community of mentors to change the world as we know it today.
It was a very informative interaction and well acknowledged. The audience later engaged and networked while enjoying the refreshments and food courtesy of NCLR sponsorship.
I thank Akili Dada, Creative Commons, Akirachix and Jamlab for taking the time to collect and relay information on matters of access and also women in technology. We look forward to the next CC Salon, perhaps in Tanzania, considering that CC Tanzania expressed their interest in replicating the event back home.
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Correction: The original article incorrectly listed Kenya’s Salon as the first CC Salon held in Sub-Sahara Africa. The first was actually held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2006.