open education

CC News: Why Open Education Matters Video Competition

Jane Park, March 5th, 2012

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Why Open Education Matters Video Competition! by Creative Commons, U.S. Department of Education, and Open Society Foundations

Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Foundations announce the launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition. The competition will award cash prizes for the best short videos that explain the use and promise of free, high-quality open educational resources and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students and schools.  Video submissions are accepted until June 5, 2012 and winners will be announced July 18, 2012. Cash prizes include $25,000 (first), $5,000 (second), and $1,000 (Public Choice Award). Judges include prominent artists and education experts, including Davis Guggenheim, Nina Paley, James Franco, and many others. Learn more.

 

$500 million available in Wave 2 of U.S. Department of Labor grant program for community colleges

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for Wave 2 of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). Wave 2 makes available an additional $500 million to “eligible institutions of higher education… with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less…” As with the first wave of funding, all educational materials created from grant funds must be released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. For Wave 2, the CC BY license must also be applied to modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds. Read more.

Creative Commons and Open Education Week

Creative Commons and its affiliates are participating in Open Education Week! a week-long series of global events on and offline to to raise awareness of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement and its impact on universal access to education. 90 organizations are contributing by hosting workshops, conferences, evening events, and online webinars. The first events started March 1, but the official week is March 5 through March 10. It’s not too late for you to join. Learn more.

In other news:

  • The next CC Salon London — Open Educational Resources: Policies for Promotion — is Thursday, March 29! The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. Learn more.
  • The U.S. Washington State Senate passed an OER Bill for K-12 education! HB 2337 will help eliminate high textbook costs for one million students. Learn more.
  • The German Aerospace Center (DLR) also adopted CC by incorporating CC licenses, including CC Attribution, for its photos and media.
  • CC community member, Makerblock, has developed a new WordPress plugin that makes it easier for you to add CC licenses to your website and blog.
  • Lastly, we urge you to act now to support public access to federally funded research by supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) which would, "require federal agencies to provide the public with online access to articles reporting on the results of the United States’ $60 billion in publicly funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal." Learn more.
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Learn about CC during Open Education Week

Jessica Coates, March 1st, 2012

As most of you are undoubtedly aware, next week, 5-10 March, is the First Annual Open Education Week – a time set aside each year to celebrate and raise awareness about open education and open educational resources (OER).

How better to spend it than learning how to share OER with CC… and to remind us all that open licenses are core to OER. OER are 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.

Open education is extremely important to Creative Commons, and vice versa. Educators are some of the strongest CC adopters and proponents, and the majority of OER are under CC licenses. This is particularly the case in areas such as Latin America, Asia and Africa, where the CC and open education communities overlap significantly.

So for our contribution to Open Education Week we want to do something big, productive, and most importantly, global. What better than a worldwide series of multilingual webinars on CC?

Over the course of next week, CC community members from around the work will be running webinars in their own local language around the theme “Introduction to Creative Commons Licenses.” CC webinars are currently being planned by teams from Chile, Israel, Russia, Poland and Korea, as well as CC’s Director of Global Education, Cable Green, here in the US.

So if you’ve always wanted to know more about CC, open education, or how to use copyright resources in the classroom, legally, now is your chance.

But this isn’t the only way to get involved. There are lots of other exciting events planned for Open Education Week. Activities being planned by the CC community alone include a Spanish language webinar on open repositories from CC Colombia, a March 9 Open Education Salon by CC Korea, and many, many others. Participation is open to everyone!

Please join the world in celebrating Open Education Week!
March 5-10, 2012

And a special thanks to our friends at the OpenCourseware Consortium for organizing Open Education Week. Well done!

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CC Salon London: Open Educational Resources — Policies for Promotion

Heidi Chen, February 29th, 2012

Creative Commons, Creative Commons United Kingdom (CC UK) and iCommons Ltd. are pleased to present the next CC Salon London on Thursday, March 29. CC Salon London will feature five panelists discussing the state of open educational resources (OER) and the effect of copyright and other policies on the development of digital tools and content for education. We will close with a period of questions and discussion from the audience. Our five panelists will be:

  • Catherine M. Casserly, CEO, Creative Commons
  • Victor Henning, Co-Founder & CEO, Mendeley Ltd.
  • Naomi Korn, Co-Founder, Web2Rights
  • Patrick McAndrew, OLnet Director, The Open University
  • Amber Thomas, Digital Infrastructure Programme Manager, JISC

CC UK Public Lead Joscelyn Upendran will moderate the panel discussion. This event is free and open to the public; however, advance registration is required. Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, and to register, visit: http://ccsalonlondon2012.eventbrite.com.

CC would like to give special thanks to Nature Publishing Group for generously hosting this event. Under the leadership of CEO Annette Thomas, a member of the CC Board of Directors, Macmillan’s Nature Publishing Group offers multiple scientific journals under CC BY-NC-SA and CC BY-NC-ND.

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Mozilla releases Learning, Freedom & the Web (e)book

Timothy Vollmer, December 23rd, 2011

Anya Kamenetz and Mozilla have released a great book called Learning, Freedom & the Web. It details many of the activities and ideas generated at Mozilla’s eponymous festival held last year, “a 500 person meta-hackfest that took place in a Barcelona city square,” says Ben Moskowitz from Mozilla. The book features participant interviews, project highlights, photographs and blog posts from the festival, as well as related content from across the Web reflecting on ideas around learning, freedom and the Web. One CC-related project conceptualized at the Festival is OpenAttribute, a browser plugin that makes it simple for anyone to copy and paste the correct attribution for any CC licensed work. Learning, Freedom & the Web is available as PDF download, HTML5 web version, or printed book. The book is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license.

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Open Course Library Launches 1st 42 Courses

Cable Green, November 2nd, 2011

On Monday, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of the state’s high-enrollment 81 Open Course Library courses. The remaining 39 courses will be finished by 2013. Funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library joins the global open educational resources (OER) movement, and adheres to SBCTC’s open policy, which requires that all materials created through system grants be openly licensed for the public to freely use, adapt and distribute.

All courses are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license (CC-BY).

The first 42 courses are available in multiple technical formats including:

Michael Kenyon’s students at Green River Community College used to pay nearly $200 for a new pre-calculus textbook. Now they pay only $20 for a book – or use it online for free. Kenyon’s pre-calculus textbook (CC BY SA) was written by community college faculty David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen, who teach at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. “We looked at a lot of textbooks,” Kenyon said. “There are some people who think this is the best book out there.”

“The courses were created with the needs of Washington’s college students in mind,” said Tom Caswell, SBCTC Open Education Policy Associate. “And with the idea we would share the courses with the world.”

Each course was developed and peer reviewed by a team of instructors, instructional designers and librarians. Use of the course materials is optional, but many faculty and departments are already moving to adopt them.

According to an informal study by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), the Open Course Library could save students as much as $41.6 million on textbooks annually if adopted at all of Washington’s community and technical colleges. The study also estimates that the 42 faculty course developers will save students $1.26 million by using the materials during the 2011-2012 school year, which alone exceeds the $1.18 million cost of creating the 42 courses. “These savings will not only help Washington’s students afford college, but clearly provide a tremendous return on the original investment,” said Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate for the Student PIRGs.

Justin Hamilton, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said the Washington state effort was groundbreaking for the nation. “Lowering college costs increases a student’s ability to take more courses, finish their degree on time, and enter the workforce prepared for success in a global economy. That’s not just good for them, it’s good for the country.”

“It really is the beginning of the end of closed, expensive, proprietary commercial textbooks that are completely disconnected from today’s reality,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) of Washington State’s 36th District, a champion of the Open Course Library and OER. “This is a significant state investment in this era of massive budget cuts. We had little choice but to seize the opportunity of this crisis to challenge the status quo of the old-style cost models in both K-12 and higher education.”

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WikiSym 2011 is open for registration and student volunteers!

Jane Park, September 9th, 2011

Earlier this year, we announced that Creative Commons is an official sponsor of the 7th annual WikiSym, the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration. WikiSym is taking place right near Creative Commons headquarters in Mountain View, CA on October 3-5 at Microsoft Research Campus in Silicon Valley.

WikiSym is the premier conference on open collaboration and related technologies for researchers, industry, entrepreneurs and practitioners worldwide. It is supported by relevant organizations and companies such as Microsoft, Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, the National Science Foundation, and CosmoCode. As an Associate Partner and like-minded organization concerned about the instrumental role of open content and open licenses in today’s society, Creative Commons supports WikiSym to further disseminate the goals of this forum among their audience around the world.

Key topics in WikiSym include open collaboration and related technologies, open content, open licenses and their connections and implications for different areas of interest (education, e-democracy, data transparency and industry). A CC Salon on Open Educational Resources organized in San Francisco in June already served as a preview of some interesting discussions in this field that will be developed at the conference.

The conference program is packed with presentations, workshops, panels, demos and keynotes. Alongside is the Open Space, an unconference track in which attendees can self-organize their own agenda with discussions, presentations and informal gatherings.

This year, WikiSym is proud to host 3 outstanding keynotes by world-renowned figures in their fields.

  • Cathy Casserly (CEO @ Creative Commons) will talk about the forthcoming challenges for open content and open licenses, with special emphasis in their implications for the critical field of educational content.
  • Jeff Heer (Assistant Professor @ Stanford) will present a tour around the most compelling and innovative advances in information visualization (InfoViz), a field that is evolving rapidly, along with the emergence of open data sources, public transparency and data analysis.
  • Bernardo Huberman (Senior HP Fellow and Director of the Social Computing Lab @ Hewlett-Packard Laboratories) will emphasize the implication of the latest advances in the study of virtual communities, distributed systems and dynamics of information in large networks to understand the way open collaboration will likely evolve in the future.

WikiSym 2011 registration is still open. Don’t miss this unparalleled opportunity to tap into the latest trends and ground-breaking advances in open collaboration–the force that is reshaping the way we work, live and interact with each other everyday.

For updates, follow the WikiSym blog and Twitter feed. We look forward to seeing you this October in Mountain View!

Volunteer at WikiSym 2011!

You can also volunteer to help run WikiSym if you are a student (undergrad, grad, PhD). Volunteers will receive free access to the conference (including meals, reception and dinner) for the entire 3 days. Apply to be a volunteer by September 24!

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$20,000 Open Textbook Challenge from the Saylor Foundation

Jane Park, September 6th, 2011

The Saylor Foundation has been known for organizing comprehensive curriculum for popular subject areas, and licensing the resources when they can under the CC Attribution license. Now with the launch of its Open Textbook Challenge, the Saylor Foundation aims to expand the amount of high-quality CC BY-licensed course materials by offering a $20,000 award for open textbooks! If a textbook is submitted and accepted for use with Saylor.org‘s course materials, then the copyright owners receive $20,000 while the referrer receives $250. Then the textbook is re-licensed (if not already) for free and open use under CC BY. For more information, visit http://www.saylor.org/OTC. The deadline is November 1, 2011.

To submit a textbook with Creative Commons as the referrer, go to http://www.saylor.org/otc-form/?refcode=6.

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CC Talks With: Sir John Daniel of the Commonwealth of Learning: Open Education and Policy

Timothy Vollmer, July 27th, 2011

Sir John Daniel has been working in open education from its earliest days. “Openness is in my genes,” he says. Sir John is President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, or COL. COL is an intergovernmental organization comprised of 54 member states. The overarching focus area for COL is “learning for development.” It aims to help its member nations—especially developing countries—use technology and develop new approaches to expand and approve learning at all levels. Sir John’s first interaction at COL happened over 20 years ago, when he chaired its planning committee. At that time, he was president of Canada’s Laurentian University. He went from there to lead the Open University in the UK, and then served as head of Education at UNESCO. Sir John’s colleague, Dr. Venkataraman Balaji, is Director of Technology and Knowledge Management, and led the efforts in crafting COL’s recent Open Educational Resources policy.

What were the primary motivations in developing an OER policy at COL? What hurdles (legal, social, cultural) did you have to overcome, both within the organization and among the member states?

We’re in the open business, so it made sense to communicate a formal open policy prominently on our website. It really wasn’t a problem, and there were few hurdles inside COL. We drafted the policy, it went through a few iterations within our staff, and then we adopted it. That said, we should be clear that we didn’t take this policy to the member states for review. We’re a small organization, and we do not have a general assembly of our membership. So, we didn’t have to wade through the politics of getting all the states to sign on. However, we didn’t develop the OER policy just pat ourselves on our back. We want to show the world that supporting open education is how we all should behave these days.

The work of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) is very important, but to the outside observer it is sometimes not apparent what IGOs do. What does COL do to “encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER”?

If I may be so bold, I think your question reflects an American bias. The United States and other large, powerful countries tend to operate bilaterally. Smaller countries prefer the facilitative, collaborative approach of working via intergovernmental organizations. UNESCO is the extreme example, where 193 countries operate democratically, and everyone’s voice is at least in principle equal. When I worked at UNESCO, I was surprised how seriously the member states took the recommendations that were developed. They trust that sort of process more than directives that come at them bilaterally.

In general, the IGO process aims to get countries to work together to do things they cannot do separately. One example is a virtual university for small states within the Commonwealth. Since two-thirds of the 54 member states are nations with populations of 2 million or less, they have fewer resources to spend on content creation. You can imagine when the dot com boom came along the small states were worried how they could come to terms with all the potential benefits (and address the challenges) of this rapidly changing digital, networked world. So their ministers of education looked at the challenge and said, “if we can’t crack it individually, why not crack it collectively?” COL helped them start a ‘virtual university’, which is not a new institution but a collaborative network where countries and institutions can work together to produce course materials as OER that they can all adapt and use. This virtual university has developed curriculum in various areas, such as a diploma in sustainable agriculture for small states. You can imagine that agricultural practices in a place like the atolls of the Maldives are very different than agriculture in the volcanic islands of Dominica. However, developing a vanilla version of the curriculum and then allowing each region to tailor the resources to the specifics of their own agricultural ecosystem has proved much more efficient than each state starting from scratch. A condition of participating in the virtual university is that anything you create must be released as OER.

COL has chosen the CC BY-SA license for its own materials. Can you describe how the organization decided upon this license for its resources?

Well, our policy simply says COL will release its own materials under the most feasible open license, which includes the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. We understand why MIT OCW adopted a noncommercial license for its materials—they were the first to do it and didn’t know what was going to happen. But now, we encourage people to not use noncommercial if they can avoid it, and we follow our own recommendation. It wasn’t until Dr. Balaji arrived that we were able to sort through the legal and technical challenges that COL, as an intergovernmental organization, faced in adopting an open license.

Many of the COL member states are located in the global south. How does an OER policy affect global south states differently than the global north?

I’m exaggerating quite a bit here, but we’ve observed that in the north people are more focused on producing OER and that in the south people are more focused on how they can use OER. Just a few months ago I was at the Open Courseware Conference in Boston. Perhaps three-fourths of the presentations there focused on producing OER, while only a small number were about re-purposing and reusing OER content. This has to change for the OER movement to take off.

In the south, there’s a cautious attitude of “there’s lots of stuff available, why not use it?” We’ve been encouraging the north to take a more universal approach and think multidirectionally. This is why we’re delighted that a school like the University of Michigan is using OER from Malawi and Ghana in its medical programs. Why should the University of Michigan create OERs about tropical diseases when there are folks that live in the tropics that can do it better? So, we encourage people to see OER production and use as a multi-directional flow.

Can you discuss the goals and outcomes of the Taking OER beyond the OER community project, organized by COL and UNESCO. What’s next?

This project has a long history, and really goes back all the way to the origin of the term Open Educational Resources. But more recently, in 2009 UNESCO hosted a world conference on higher education. That event didn’t ruffle feathers in the north so much, but influenced thinking in the south. It reiterated the importance of open distance learning, ICTs, and particularly emphasized the global sharing of OER to expand quality higher education. COL picked up the work with UNESCO. We realized that unless there is a much wider appreciation of what OER is, it’s not going anywhere. And as the name of the project implies, our goal was to advocate to those outside of the already-established open education community. We held six face-to-face workshops in Africa and Asia. These were mainly aimed at university presidents, quality assurance groups, and those interested in open distance learning.

Last December we held a policy forum at UNESCO in Paris to pull these threads together. We decided there that it would be helpful to develop a set of OER guidelines targeted at key stakeholder groups. These included governments, higher education institutions, teacher and student groups, quality assurance agencies, and qualification bodies. We’ve been iterating on these guidelines since then, and they are now being distributed for wide consultation. In October of this year there will be another policy forum where the OER guidelines for higher education will be put into final form. We hope to unveil these recommendations at the UNESCO general conference in November alongside an OER platform UNESCO will also be launching at that time.

Over the winter, we wish to conduct a rather extensive survey of governments around the world to find out where they are on policies related to OER, open access, open formats, and other related topics. Surveying governments is not an easy task, especially when they don’t always understand the questions you are asking. But, if all goes well, those survey results will be pulled together, to the end of working toward an update to the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. There’s a desire for COL and UNESCO to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the term “Open Educational Resources” with a conference in June 2012 at which countries can sign an updated declaration.

What do you predict will be the impact of the COL OER policy, and what would you like to see come out of this? What can you recommend to other IGOs that are beginning to think about developing an open education policy?

My advice is to just do it and don’t get too fussed about the license at the beginning. We hope that our small organization, which seems to have an influence larger than its size, will be the grain of sand in the oyster for other IGOs. UNESCO is working to get on the right page; given their name it would seem peculiar if they are not more in the ‘open’ business. But I understand the problem with large organizations. When you look at UNESCO, you’ve got general assemblies with lots of people that don’t like things unless they’re invented there. For example, everyone in the world wants for there to be standardization in electrical sockets, as long as the standard that is adopted is the one they use. Those organizations interested in adopting an open policy should start small, and work their way through the problems as they go. If you try to make your entire back catalog available, you’ll be lost. Those big intergovernmental organizations should say, “from now on, we’re going to be as open as we can be.” An important thing is to adopt the philosophy of openness.

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Commonwealth of Learning adopts CC BY-SA as part of new OER policy

Jane Park, June 14th, 2011

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an intergovernmental organization that “helps governments and institutions to expand the scope, scale and quality of learning,” has defined a new policy on open educational resources (OER). In addition to recognizing the importance of OER for teaching, learning, and collaboration among institutions and governments, the Commonwealth of Learning states that it will “encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER.”

The new policy specifies that COL will “release its own materials under the most feasible open licenses including the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.” The CC BY-SA license is currently used for more than 17 million Wikipedia articles in 270 languages, not to mention a plethora of other Wikimedia Foundation projects. Furthermore the CC BY license is compatible with CC BY-SA, and CC BY is used by OER platforms like Connexions and Curriki.org.

We are thrilled at this new development by COL, one of the leading intergovernmental organizations in education! Read the full policy here, and learn more about how IGOs benefit by adopting Creative Commons licenses for their own works.

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Creative Commons & the Association of Educational Publishers to establish a common learning resources framework

Jane Park, June 7th, 2011

Today Creative Commons and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) announce the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, a project aimed at improving education search and discovery via a common framework for tagging and organizing learning resources on the web. The learning resources framework will be designed to work with schema.org, the web metadata framework recently launched by Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, as well as to work with other metadata technologies and to enable other rich applications.

Some of the details on my Moleskine
Some of the details on my Moleskine by Kim Joar / CC BY

The great promise of Open Educational Resources (OER) to provide access to high quality learning materials is limited by the discoverability of those resources and the difficulty of targeting them to the needs of specific learners. Creating a common metadata schema will accelerate movement toward personalized learning by publishers, content providers and learners, and help to unleash the tremendous potential of OER and online learning.

From AEP’s press release:

“This is a watershed project for our industry. It benefits both users and content providers because improved discoverability expands the market,” said Charlene Gaynor, CEO of AEP. “Being part of the process allows publishers to address issues such as quality and suitability as dimensions of educational content.”

CC is co-leading the LRMI with the Association of Educational Publishers, which includes publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, Inc. and Pearson. Open education organizations in addition to CC also support the project, including the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISMKE), Curriki.org, BetterLesson.org, and the Monterey Institute for Technology (MITE).

To learn more about the timeliness and impact of the LRMI, CC’s role in the project, and what this means for OER and online education publishers, grantees of the U.S. Department of Labor’s $2 billion TAACCCT program, other CC-using publishers and platforms, and technologists, please see our LRMI FAQ.

You can keep up to date and contribute to the broader conversation by following http://creativecommons.org/tag/lrmi and using the tag #lrmi on social media. If you want to get involved, join the LRMI list at http://groups.google.com/group/lrmi and introduce yourself. We look forward to your contributions!

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