Earlier this year, Blackboard announced xpLor — a new cloud-based learning object repository that will work across the various learning management systems (LMS) in use at educational institutions: e.g., Blackboard, Moodle, ANGEL, and Sakai. xpLor’s goal, as stated by Product Manager Brent Mundy, is to dissolve content boundaries between LMS’s and institutions so that instructors can more easily share, discover, and reuse course content. While the LMS is good at administering courses, LMSs are not particularly good at large-scale content management. For example, you can only manage content within an individual course, and you can’t easily share course content with other instructors using a different LMS or even with instructors using the same LMS at different institutions.
Now, with xpLor, which is currently in beta at more than 70 institutions, you can. Since xpLor is cloud-based and built using IMS standards (such as Common Cartridge and Learning Tools Interoperability), any LMS employing IMS standards can work with it. And now, xpLor has added Creative Commons license options, which means that instructors and institutions can create, share, and even build on each other’s CC-licensed content all through the same interface.
The default license for adding content is Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY),
but instructors can opt for a different CC license or their own custom terms. Here’s an example of what a CC-licensed resource via xpLor looks like:
xpLor also integrates CC-licensed content from existing open education projects, like the Khan Academy and Blackboard CourseSites’ CC BY licensed courses.
Instructors can find resources from these projects in addition to content added by their colleagues via xpLor’s search interface. As shown below, the CC license mark is clearly displayed next to each resource. In the future, instructors will be able to filter their searches by the CC license they desire.
In addition, xpLor offers instructors the ability to directly copy, edit and remix CC-licensed content in its system, as long as the resource is one of the basic common content types found in all LMS’s, according to common cartridge standards. As instructors pull from various sources to create content, the resource’s attribution and license will automatically be retained and carried into the new, derivative work, thanks to xpLor’s built-in support for authoring and versioning. In future iterations, content will also be exportable according to the same standards, with the license metadata attached.
For those interested in learning more, Blackboard has produced an infographic site on how it all works, where you can also sign up to receive additional info. If you want the back story on how xpLor originated, including the technical details of how the different systems will operate, we recommend reading project consultant Professor Chuck Severance’s post on xpLor.4 Comments »
Boundless, the company that builds on existing open educational resources to provide free alternatives to traditionally costly college textbooks, has released 18 open textbooks under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), the same license used by Wikipedia. Schools, students and the general public are free to share and remix these textbooks under this license. The 18 textbooks cover timeless college subjects, such as accounting, biology, chemistry, sociology, and economics. Boundless reports that students at more than half of US colleges have used its resources, and that they expect its number of users to grow.
Boundless has an entire section explaining open educational resources (OER) and how they use them. However, you can easily see how it works for yourself by browsing one of their textbooks directly. For example, see their textbook on Biology. At the end of each chapter, sources are cited as a list of links where you can find the original material:
This chapter on Organismal Interactions references a Wikipedia article and several articles in The Encyclopedia of Earth. If you follow these links, you will find that the original articles are OER governed by the same CC BY-SA license.
From Boundless’ FAQ,
Is it really free? How does Boundless make money?
Absolutely. Boundless books are 100% free with no expiration dates like textbook rentals or buybacks at the bookstore. It starts with Open Educational Resources. In the future, Boundless will implement some awesome optional premium features on top of this free content to help students study faster and smarter.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Boundless is already rolling out some of those premium features, including flashcards, study guides, and quizzes. To access these features Boundless requires a free user account. The textbooks themselves are completely open, without registration required, and are accessible at boundless.com/textbooks/.
For further reading, we recommend Slate’s article entitled, “Never Pay Sticker Price for a Textbook Again – The open educational resources movement that’s terrifying publishers.” It does a fantastic job of placing the company’s aims in the context of the current publishing ecosystem.3 Comments »
This week, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent story about the rise of openly-licensed educational materials. Simon Owens’ article touches on many of the open education landmarks we’ve been celebrating over the past year, including the Department of Labor’s TAA-CCCT grant program and open textbook legislation in British Columbia and California. Owens interviewed CC director of global learning Cable Green as well as David Wiley, the Twenty Million Minds Foundation‘s Dean Florez, and several other experts in the space.
Upon its launch a decade ago, Creative Commons was embraced by the artist and literary community, and its iconic logo began appearing on the sidebars of thousands of blogs, web pages, and Flickr photos. By 2005, the nonprofit estimated there were 20 million works that utilized the license, and by 2009 that number had climbed to 350 million. But while the organization has always embraced its grassroots enthusiasm, it continually sought recognition and adoption from larger, more traditional institutions.
The philosophy behind this goal is simple. “The public should have access to what it paid for,” says [Cable Green]. “Free access and legal access to what it bought. The tagline is ‘buy one get one.’ If you buy something, you should get access to it.” And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Creative Commons activists have identified education materials as a prime target for their view. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had surpassed auto loans and credit debt, coming in at an estimated $1 trillion. And a not-insignificant contribution to this burden has been the rising cost of textbooks.
4 Comments »
David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham University in Utah, has been immersed in the OER community predating the creation of the Creative Commons license. He was inspired by a group of technologists who met in 1998 to rebrand the free software movement as “open source,” and he later worked to develop an “open content” license that would allow content creators to share and distribute their content easily. “The only difference was that all of us who were initially involved weren’t lawyers,” he recalls. “We were just making stuff up. It was scary, because there were hundreds of thousands of people who were using these licenses, and if any of them actually went to court, who knows what would have happened?” Imagine his relief then when the Creative Commons license was formed. “I put a big notice on our website saying, ‘please everyone, run away from our licenses as fast as you can. Here are real lawyers that have done something similar but way better.'”
This year Open Education Week takes place on March 11-15 and features a series of events, workshops, project showcases, and webinars from around the world. If you care about sharing knowledge, reducing barriers to educational access, and helping to grow the amount of free and open educational resources (OER) available on the web — join Creative Commons and many other organizations and institutions by answering the Call for Participation.
Simply submit your proposed activity by January 18. Activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Provide a Project Showcase highlighting some aspect of open education in your project, organization, region or country
- Offer a webinar or virtual Question and Answer session on a topic of interest
- Create or share basic resources about the open education movement
- Host a local event during Open Education Week
- Form a Working Group to address a common problem or opportunity
- Propose another activity—we invite you to be creative!
- Contribute your skills to creating, organizing, coordinating or spreading the word about Open Education Week
As part of Open Education Week, Creative Commons and its affiliates are hosting and participating in local events and webinars on OER, Version 4.0 of the CC licenses, the Open Policy Network, School of Open, and more. In addition, the School of Open will officially launch its first set of courses that week, including courses on copyright and Creative Commons for educators. Courses will be free to take and free to reuse and remix under P2PU’s default CC BY-SA licensing policy.
To participate in Open Education Week, visit http://www.openeducationweek.org.2 Comments »
UPDATE: As of 15 February 2013 this bill has been vetoed by the Governor of the State of Sao Paulo.
Last year we wrote about the introduction of an OER bill in Brazil. Yesterday, the State of São Paulo approved PL 989/2011, which establishes a policy whereby educational resources developed or purchased with government funds must be made freely available to the public under an open copyright license. The Governor must sign the bill for it to become law. You can view the bill text (Portuguese) linked from the State Assembly website.
Brasao Estado Sao Paulo Brasil
State-funded educational materials must be made available on the web or on a government portal. They must be licensed for free use, including copying, distribution, download and creation of derivative works, provided that the author retains attribution, the materials are used non-commercially, and the materials are licensed under the same license as the original. Essentially, the legislation language suggests a CC BY-NC-SA license, even if not specifically stated.
Congratulations to the State of São Paulo for passing this law. We’ve seen similar policies enacted in Poland, Canada, and the United States. PL 989/2011 will set a powerful positive precedent for other countries to follow, and São Paulo will be contributing to the worldwide movement to create a shared commons of high-quality Open Educational Resources.
For more information on these developments see the Recursos Educacionais Abertos site.2 Comments »
It’s been an exciting year for School of Open, from the P2PU residency in Berlin, to the curriculum building meeting in Palo Alto, to the various course building workshops we ran in Helsinki, London, Mexico City, Berlin, and more. Our community, which started off with two active volunteers at the beginning of July, has since grown into a diverse group of voices and interests. However, we all share the common goal of furthering openness in our respective fields, and helping others to take advantage of open resources to further their own goals — whether they are teachers, artists, researchers, or students.
Note: The “we” pronoun used below refers to the School of Open community collectively, which consists of volunteers from the CC and P2PU communities – and beyond!
- During the P2PU residency in Berlin, we put our heads together and figured out the what, how, and who of the School — including basic governance structure and logistics, philosophy, guidelines, and an initial set of short courses for independent learning.
- These courses are Teach Someone Something with Open Content (part one and two); Get Creative Commons Savvy; and the Open Access Wikipedia Challenge. Lots of people have taken these courses already, and you can, too.
- We planned the curriculum for more courses with a fantastic group of open advocates and experts at a two-day Convening on an Open Policy Institute and School of Open in Palo Alto.
- We also held smaller course building workshops and discussion sessions at the Open Knowledge Festival, the Mozilla Festival, the Open Ed Conference, the Summit on Open Strategies, and the CC- Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America regional meetings. You can see all events on our roadmap.
- We held our first real world course sprint at the Open Video Forum, resulting in the draft course, A Look at Open Video. (A course sprint is like a book sprint, but the end result is a course instead of a book.)
- We also held our first real world class in Ann Arbor, Michigan, based on Get CC Savvy.
- We discussed and settled on a course review process for all School of Open courses…
…in the spirit of open governance, because we strive to work as openly and transparently as our name makes us out to be!
What to expect in 2013
The Library of Congress / No known copyright restrictions
- We will officially launch our first set of courses during Open Education Week! (March 11-15). We have 16 courses in development: the bulk of these will be designed for independent learning, such as Get CC Savvy, but a few, such as Copyright 4 Educators, will be facilitated for a set period of time beginning in March. You can check out the full list of draft courses at http://schoolofopen.org.
- We will run more offline workshops around the world. In fact, we are developing a course to prepare people for the delivery of workshops on open culture and related topics in informal spaces.
- We will run additional course sprints. We have one in mind around open science data (watch out Bay Area) and another on open video (Berlin or London).
With the development of 16 courses; the running of offline workshops in cool spaces; and the emergence of the course sprint — we have a very full year ahead of us! If you would like to help shape any of the courses or activities above, join us at https://groups.google.com/group/school-of-open and introduce yourself and your area of interest. Additional ways to get involved and more info at http://schoolofopen.org.
That’s all folks! We wish you a wonderful holiday and a happy new year.Comments Off
Just in time for Creative Commons’ 10th birthday celebration of its license suite, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced a 3.5 million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a new program — Integrated Digital English Acceleration (I-DEA) — that will help adult English language learners improve their language skills while simultaneously providing career and college readiness training through technology-based tools and resources.
by blogefl / CC BY
The I-DEA program targets community college learners in the state’s lowest three levels of English as a Second Language courses, and aims to help learners achieve their language goals in tandem with career goals — with fewer hours of instruction than traditional programs that teach basic language skills separately from job-specific skills.
I-DEA derives its dual approach from the state’s I-BEST model (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training), which U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter recognized as furthering adult education faster than any other program: “51 percent of I-BEST students completed a certificate in two years, vs. 14 percent of the comparison group…” (Change Magazine of Higher Learning).
A significant part of this grant is that all online learning modules developed will be made available openly under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing anyone to access, reuse, translate, and remix the modules as long as attribution is given. I-DEA learning modules will be added to the Open Course Library, Washington State’s collection of high quality CC BY-licensed educational resources for its 82 highest enrolled community college courses.
The grant also includes the creation of new technology tools, laptop computers on loan, Internet access, and online advising and tutoring. From the press release:
Among other goals, college and partner community-based organizations (CBOs) will create open source curriculum and identify best practices of technology-enhanced instruction that allow more students to be served with less in-class instruction. Courses and techniques developed with the grant will be open sourced, allowing colleges and CBOs in Washington and around the world to replicate I-DEA.
This is fantastic news that couldn’t come at a better time. Thank you for this birthday gift to CC! Thanks to the SBCTC for spearheading this initiative and to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making it possible.
For more details, including a list of the initial 10 colleges to receive and implement the grant, see the press release (pdf).1 Comment »
Today, I’m honored to be a keynote speaker at the Technology Affinity Group conference in Monterey, CA. I’ll be talking about my career and my experiences in the open space, and sharing three suggestions for the foundation community:
Technology deserves a bigger place at the table. Technology is what drives the big innovations in the philanthropic world, but all too often, the technology people don’t have enough of a voice in a foundation’s leadership. That’s a problem that I think foundations need to address before they can work at full potential.
Share by default. When foundations share their data, it’s often the exception rather than the rule. What if foundations made sharing the default? Yesterday, we blogged about a group of foundations making a commitment to share their grant data regularly, openly, and in a usable format. I’ll be applauding the Reporting Commitment and urging other foundations to get onboard.
Bake open into philanthropy. Every foundation wants to get the most good for its money. There’s a strong argument that grant dollars go further if they go toward openly-licensed work and resources.
Do you have any questions or thoughts from the session? Share them in the comments.Comments Off
Here’s an exciting opportunity for the open education community. Susan D’Antoni, a long-time leader in Open Educational Resources (OER), is coordinating an important effort to map the global OER space.
You can join the list by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and typing “subscribe” in the subject line. I have signed up to contribute. I hope you will too.
Read the complete announcement below for more information.
The following invitation is extended to any of you who might be interested in a discussion of how the OER community at large might design, create and sustain an OER world map of institutional initiatives – to help us connect and communicate.
The objective of this conversation is to consider together whether the global OER community could design and build a world map of OER institutional initiatives.
Over the past decade, there have been more and more initiatives in more and more countries. It has become difficult to have a sense of the global OER landscape. As we seek to communicate with stakeholders, as we seek to connect with potential partners and as we seek to learn from the experience of others, we might find useful a picture of the OER world – a global map of institutional and perhaps national initiatives as a starting point. Over time, an “OER World Map” could be enhanced as the community wished and found feasible.
Maps can be effective in communicating a message visually. There are already several global maps that have been created for specific OER groups, such as, the Open CourseWare Consortium and the Open University OLnet project in the United Kingdom.
As many of you will remember, the former IIEP OER community showed enormous energy in its interaction. And importantly, the community showed a capacity to self-organize. A number of groups came together to translate the report of the group’s consensus on priorities to advance the OER movement. If mapping the OER world were seen to be useful, perhaps the worldwide OER community could self-organize to build and maintain an OER world map together.
Our conversation is scheduled to take place online over a three-week period from 12 – 30 November. At the conclusion of the discussion a draft report will be sent to everyone for review and comment.
In addition to this international discussion in English, some groups have already decided to hold similar interactions in their own languages for their own communities or networks. Their input will be shared with the international group, and incorporated into the final report of our collective deliberation and conclusions. We hope others may also wish to organize separate discussions.
I will be back in contact with further details before we begin. I am very much looking forward to being back together again.
Outline of the international discussion
Week 1: What could an OER world map look like? (12- 16 November)
- Why map the OER landscape?
- Essential information and visual presentation
Week 2: Could a world map be built collaboratively? (19-23 November)
- Organizational approach for collaboration
- Ensuring the quality of the information
Week 3: Reflection and next steps (26-30 November)
- Design of an “OER World Map”
- Resources available/needed
- Next steps
- Send an email to email@example.com and type “subscribe” in the subject line.
- Share this announcement with your colleagues and networks.
- Plan a parallel or follow up discussion in your own language and network and give your feedback for the final report of all the discussions.
In August we wrote about the European Commission’s request for information on the topic Opening Up Education. The point of the consultation is to gauge the need for EU action to promote the adoption and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in education. Several Creative Commons affiliates in Europe have submitted a joint response to the survey. The jurisdictions signing onto the response include Luxembourg, Denmark, Greece, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden, Czech Republic, France, Portugal, Serbia, Poland, Netherlands, Finland, Bulgaria, and Ireland.
The joint response urges the Commission to support the recommendations in the 2012 Paris OER Declaration, which was unanimously supported by UNESCO member nations at the World Open Educational Resources Congress on 20-22 June 2012. As described in the consultation document (PDF), “the EU will use the tools at its disposal (policy guidance, EU regulation whenever relevant, funding mechanisms, exchange of good practices and innovative pilots).” By leveraging these various tools in alignment with the suggestions laid out in the Paris Declaration, the Commission can be very effective in promoting the development and use of OER. Those recommendations urge UNESCO member nations to:
- Foster awareness and use of OER.
- Facilitate enabling environments for use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).
- Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER.
- Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.
- Support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials.
- Foster strategic alliances for OER.
- Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.
- Encourage research on OER.
- Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.
- Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.
The European Commission is in a position to help coordinate, promote, and support most — if not all — of these recommendations. In addition, these recommendations align with the Europe 2020 priorities, especially in increasing effective investments in education by encouraging free open access to publicly funded educational content.
The Paris Declaration reaffirms OER as “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.” The EC should support this definition of OER so that users of OER know the rights available to them and so that producers of OER get the credit they deserve. Since a clear legal framework is crucial to the success of OER, we strongly suggest that the EC consider promoting the use of Creative Commons licenses and public domain tools like the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. CC licenses are globally applicable and are seen as the gold standard for open content licensing. It would be beneficial for the EC to adopt CC licenses because they are already established and understood, instead of creating customized licenses that may not interoperate with existing solutions.
The full response is available here.Comments Off