open education

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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    ccNewsletter #10 – ccLearn

    Allison Domicone, December 10th, 2008

    ccNewsletter #10

    December’s newsletter features ccLearn, the education branch of Creative Commons which has grown substantially this year and has a lot of exciting plans lined up for its bright future as a leader in the open education movement. The newsletter also brings to you news highlights from each of CC’s other program areas.

    As you’ll see in this newsletter, we have begun experimenting with a new format as a way to bring you the latest CC news in a more manageable way, so check out #10 and see what you think! As always, many thanks to the CC Philippines team for designing the PDF version.

    Stay in touch with us: sign up to receive the newsletter via email and subscribe to our newly-formed events list.

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    The Student-engineered Open Textbook: Chemical Process Dynamics and Controls

    Jane Park, December 4th, 2008

    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 BYCC 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.

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    Latam Commons 2008 is a Success

    Jane Park, December 1st, 2008

    Latam Commons 2008: The Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Open Education in Latin America, held Nov 19-21 in Santiago, Chile, was a great success. The event was co-hosted and excellently managed by NGO Derechos Digitales, and representatives from all over Latin America were present and actively participated in the meeting. Project Leads of Creative Commons jurisdictions first held a one-day meeting to discuss their projects, possible strategic initiatives and collaborations across the region, and shared challenges. These conversations are just the beginning of what is planned to become a regular regional gathering to leverage the expertise and resources that are distributed throughout the region. The next day was devoted to a highly interactive “unconference” on open education which brought together leading international advocates for open education with key figures in libraries and ministries of education in Chile and beyond. The goal of the meeting was to gather information regarding top concerns and key projects involved in the growth of the open education movement, to be synthesized and then leveraged for collaborative opportunities both within and beyond the region. Look for a report on this event in the coming months. Finally, Derechos Digitales orchestrated a seminar on the public domain which included cutting-edge research reports and discussions regarding the legal and practical elements of both defining and utilizing the public domain in Latin America. The philosophical and legal issues pertinent to consideration of the public domain is clearly of broad interest in the region, and we are hopeful that these ideas will continue to serve as organizing themes for ongoing conversation and action to enhance access to knowledge and improved scholarship in the future.

    Additional details will be forthcoming from ccLearn, CCi, and Derechos Digitales.

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    Latam Commons 2008

    Jane Park, October 6th, 2008

    Santiago, Chile: ccLearn is hosting a three day conference on “open licensing, open technologies, and the future of education in Latin America” from November 19th to the 21st. The conference is split up into three meetings over the three days. 

    Nov 19 is for Creative Commons International, where CC affiliates will meet to discuss the latest developments in licensing and other CC-related issues. Though this day of the conference is only CC, the latter two days are open to all. From the Latam Commons 2008 invitation:

    “We are writing to invite you to join us in Santiago, Chile, on Nov 20-21, for a ground-breaking meeting about open licensing, open technologies, and the future of education in Latin America. The meeting on Nov 20 is called Latam Commons 2008: Creative Commons, Open Education, and the Public Domain. It is being co-hosted by ccLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, and Derechos Digitales.”

    You can register for the Nov 20 meeting on Open Education here. Registration is free and open to anyone until we reach our capacity of 60. So register now to reserve your spot.

    Derechos Digitales is also hosting a seminar on the public domain on Nov 21, to which everyone is welcome.” There is no attendance limit on this day.

    “Latam Commons 2008 is expected to include representatives of different organizations and projects in open education from throughout the Latin American region. The meeting will be a participatory gathering in which all attendees will be able to discuss a range of issues relevant to open education in Latin America, with the goal of developing a broad understanding of major education issues in the region and a focused vision of how open education and widely available educational resources can address these needs. As the workshop will be dynamic and discussion-based, we are inviting anyone interested in these issues to attend and contribute.

    Please visit the registration page at: http://accesoalacultura.cl/registros-cclearn/ You can sign up for one or both of the meeting days at this site. Registration is free, and some meals will be provided for all registered participants. Visit the meeting wiki (http://derechosdigitales.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_Learn) for additional information about travel, lodging, and the meeting agenda.

    This meeting is intended to catalyze conversations and projects that will continue after the meeting is over, and to build relationships among people and organizations so that we can bring our collective energies and resources to bear on common challenges for open education. Future meetings are already planned, and we look forward to seeing the progress on this global effort that grows out of Latam Commons 2008.

    Please direct any questions or concerns to Ahrash Bissell, Grace Armstrong, or Claudio Ruiz. We hope to see you in Santiago.”

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    International OER Community Update

    Jane Park, October 1st, 2008

    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.

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    ccLearn’s COSL Open Ed ’08 download

    Jane Park, September 30th, 2008

    Although we’ve already had a weekend plus a Monday to digest COSL’s Open Ed ’08, the events from the conference and general good feeling inspired by speakers and individual conversations still drives us forward into the week and the beginning of next month. This year’s conference featured several notable speakers; the keynotes themselves were given by WikiEducator‘s Wayne Mackintosh, Magnatune‘s Teresa Malango, and MITE’s (Monterey Institute for Technology and Education) Gary Lopez . Personally, I attended all three keynotes plus a few other sessions from which I extracted some thought-provoking facts and ideas.

    WikiEducator, Commonwealth of Learning: Wayne broke the news that WikiEducator will be moving to the awe-inspiring Dunedin, New Zealand, home to not only breathtaking landscapes but also Otago Polytechnic, the first ever university to have a default CC BY licensing policy. See my interview with Leigh Blackall in April. He also shed light on why many educators use WikiEducator. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your presumptions), the number one reason people go to the site is “to explore new ideas and trends”. I found this encouraging; educators are seeking to innovate, to learn in order to innovate. Case in point: the second reason was “to learn wiki skills”. Now we’ve just got to help them do it. Wayne also mentioned catering to different knowledge levels when it came to open source and sharing. He described what he called “capability phases”. The phases go something like this: personal teaching resources → WikiEducator featured resource → WikiEducator featured collaboration → peer-reviewed resource. Teachers begin by sharing their personal educational resources developed primarily for their own classroom; then they realize they can create resources on WikiEducator; furthermore, in collaboration with other educators!; finally, they ensure quality by reviewing each other’s work and constantly making changes to better place the work in context.

    Magnatune – a history: Teresa’s presentation provided an outside viewpoint regarding possible business and sustainability models for openly licensed resources. She described how Magnatune was founded with a few core principles around which the business models had to be developed. The principles included respect and fair compensation for the artists, engagement with the consumers, and transparency in all that they do. Much of the conference focused on issues of sustainability and mechanisms for leveraging the value of OER, so her presentation served as a useful lesson regarding such issues from a different domain. Many of the key tools and technologies developed by Creative Commons, such as the CC Plus protocol, are core elements of the Magnatune site. What possibilties lie ahead for OER?

    MITE on How to Build a Financially Self-sustaining OER: Practical Considerations: Gary launched an interesting study of how OER could financially sustain itself, based on MITE’s own policy regarding individuals and institutions. Basically, the premise is that individuals shouldn’t have to pay, but someone’s got to―that leaves institutions who are usually more than happy to pay for a service that would be free for their members. The value I took away from this was this off-shoot idea; that in the age of the internet, we are now living in a service-economy where content is free (either legally or illegally on the internet), but the services required to aggregate, make cohesive, and analyze that content is still needed. In the words of David Wiley, “If my students can Google it, I don’t need to teach it.” Open education is not just about freeing up content; it’s about making that content accessible in ways that are smart, novel, and interesting.

    Financial sustainability is still an issue, but if we go back to Wayne’s presentation: what about commercial activities that would support OER? There are distribution channels; for example, we’ve already got sites like Lulu.com, and Flat World Knowledge is another big open textbook initiative set to launch next year. We’ve also got to think about incentive systems to get educators, researchers, and commercially employed persons to contribute beyond their full-time jobs. And finally, the most important statement that, I think, reiterates David’s sentiment: in the development of OER, quality is more about the process than it is about the product. Quality is a very different thing in one country’s context than it is in the next. But the process of producing OER, of gaining those critical thinking and analytic skills (remember why some of us went to college?) yields a quality process that can be integrated universally.

    Demos: I was busy demo-ing ODEPO while Nathan was just as busy demo-ing the Universal Education Search, but I did get to check out one other tool―the University of Michigan’s dScribe. This technology was definitely built around the idea of sustainability. The basic question as I saw it: How do you make the materials (slides, handouts, images, video, etc.) that an educator uses in the classroom legal so that it can be shared online as OER? Further, how do you do so without draining the school of huge amounts of dollars and other resources? Answer: You build a tool that trains and allows students to gauge and evaluate the course materials for copyright information, and then to search for creative replacements (licensed under a CC or other open license) for those materials that are fully restricted. Ingenious! Props to the U of Michigan; we look forward to seeing progress on this initiative.

    Various other sessions I attended were equally inspiring, but the basic sentiment I gathered from everyone was that this year’s conference marked great progress in all the projects initiated the year previous. ccLearn is excited about its own projects and looking forward to more dizzying collaboration within the Open Ed community.

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    “Opening Up Education”

    Jane Park, September 18th, 2008

    is the new publication by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and MIT Press exploring “the potential of open education to transform the economics and ecology of education.” Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge is a collection of thirty essays written by leaders in the open education movement. From the press release:

    [They] reflect on current and past open education initiatives, offer critical analyses, share the strategic underpinnings of their own work, and delve into open education’s implications in three areas: technology, content, and knowledge. Together, they address the central question of how open education can improve the quality of education.

    Co-editor M. S. Vijay Kumar is also quoted:

    A look at the landscape tells us that efforts with open education so far have been largely confined to attempts at improving what we already do. While this is certainly valid, we encourage consideration of approaches that transcend traditional practices, organizations, disciplines and audiences.” 

    John Seely Brown agrees in his Foreword, “We need to reconceptualize twentieth-century education models, and at the same time reinforce learning outside of formal schooling. This book provides real leverage for open education, and is a major step toward creating a culture of learning for this century.”

    The book is also edited by Toru Iiyoshi and is available for download at MIT Press under CC BY-NC-ND.

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    OER Handbook for Educators 1.0

    Jane Park, August 29th, 2008

    The Center for Open and Sustainable Learning (COSL) has been hosting an OER Handbook on WikiEducator for a while now, inviting others to contribute and edit various elements of the book. Now they’ve finally published the first printable version of one of their mini-handbooks: OER Handbook for Educators 1.0

    The actual handbook isn’t so mini—though it weighs nothing at all in the virtual world, the printed version is a hefty 269+ pages. But you don’t have to print it out; you can access it in various forms for free on the web: as it currently exists on WikiEducator or as black and white or full color pdf’s on Lulu.com. 

    The OER Handbook for Educators is the collaborative result of various contributors, ultimately authored by Seth Gurell and edited by David Wiley. Its aim is to serve as an introductory guide to educators on open educational resources: how to “find, use, develop and share OER to enhance their effectiveness online and in the classroom.” The handbook is an especial eye-opener for those new to the world of open education. However, it is also useful for more seasoned OER creators and users, grappling with such topics as “The Copyright Paradox”—because we all know that copyright is no simple matter. 

    The handbook itself is licensed CC BY-SA, so go check it out! If your connection is slow, don’t worry: the black and white graphics are just as stunning as their full color counterparts.

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    ccLearn Workshop Video Now Live at OSL

    Jane Park, May 12th, 2008

    In April I blogged about Open Source Lab‘s fourth official workshop featuring ccLearn’s Executive Director, Ahrash Bissell. The Open Source Lab has now posted a video of the workshop at their blog. The workshop focuses on recent developments within open education, including but not limited to the impact of open licensing, as Ahrash emphasizes the grander scale of the movement.

    The video, like all content on OSL’s blog, is licensed CC BY-NC-SA.

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