open education

Dealing with Legally Incompatible Content in OER

Jane Park, October 12th, 2009

Last month, ccLearn published “Otherwise Open: Managing Incompatible Content in OER“. For those of you who never got around to reading the paper, it basically provides an overview of the problem posed by the incorporation of “all-rights-reserved” materials into otherwise open educational resources (OER). It also explores ways of dealing with this problem and the trade-offs involved in relying on jurisdictional copyright exceptions and limitations, such as fair use or fair dealing. As the paper is intended to spur further inquiry and research globally, “Otherwise Open” does not offer concrete solutions to the problem right now.

However, the average OER creator cannot afford to wait, especially if they value their work as part of a global learning commons. In order for OER to be global, the copyright of the OER must be viable across jurisdictions. OER that are available under a CC license are global, as CC licenses are effective worldwide. But the inclusion of third party content that is not under the same terms of the license changes the global nature of OER, potentially walling it off from use in other countries. Thus, ccLearn has developed some practical recommendations and alternatives for those OER creators who are concerned with the global reach and impact of their works.

ccLearn Recommendations – Dealing with Legally Incompatible Content in OER

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are defined by the use of a Creative Commons license and are generally created by those who would like to share their work globally. However, some creators find the need to consider the costs and benefits of incorporating third-party materials with incompatible licenses into their “otherwise open” OER. This document recommends ways of managing or avoiding the problems that will arise.”

This and all ccLearn Recommendations and productions are licensed CC BY.

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A Brief Overview of U.S. Public Policy on OER from California’s Community Colleges to the Obama Administration

Jane Park, October 2nd, 2009

The Publius Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society offers a new essay on OER and public policy in the United States: A Brief Overview of U.S. Public Policy on OER from California’s Community Colleges to the Obama Administration . Written by Carolina Rossini and Erhardt Graeff, it does a great job of pointing out the major recent movements toward OER in state and federal governments, and thoughtfully evaluates the issues that each initiative brings to the table.

“This post draws significantly from an interview on August 10, 2009 with Hal Plotkin, a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Dept. of Education, who has closely followed and been involved with OER policies in California. The interview was part of research on the educational materials sector being conducted under the Industrial Cooperation Project at the Berkman Center at Harvard University. The research is part of a broader project being led by Prof. Yochai Benkler and coordinated by Carolina Rossini. In the research, we are seeking to understand the approaches to innovation in some industrial sectors, such as alternative energy, educational materials, and biotechnology. The intention is to map the degree to which open and commons-based practices are being used compared to proprietary approaches and what forces drive the adoption and development of these models.”

Like all content on the Publius site, the essay is available via CC BY-SA.

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Opening Education–the little things you can do

Jane Park, September 25th, 2009

By now, you’ve heard and/or used the term OER (Open Educational Resources) a ton of times. Whether you’re an advocate for open education, promoting the use, reuse, and adaptation of openly licensed educational materials, or an everyday user of them because you find them convenient and effective for your teaching or learning needs, you have contributed in some way to improving the educational landscape for everyone, everywhere.

But there’s a lot of little things you can do to improve education and the educational process no matter who you are and where you’re located. These are things you do all the time as part of your professional or personal routines, such as filling out forms about your job or project, writing up summaries or abstracts on papers you’ve researched, or describing and tagging photos (aka adding metadata). These activities are also integral to the functioning of many open education projects, which depend on efforts from online communities consisting of persons like ourselves. A list of these projects are growing on OpenEd’s volunteer page, which currently points to projects like dScribe and AcaWiki. If your project could use help on a specific activity, please add it here! OpenEd is a wiki; anyone can edit.

dScribe needs descriptions for their medical images
dScribe has created over 200 images to aid instructors in their teaching, but they need to be made discoverable first! You can help by adding tags and short descriptions for one or two images. All images and their accompanying info will be licensed CC BY.

AcaWiki could use those summaries and abstracts you’ve written
AcaWiki makes summaries and literature reviews of peer-reviewed academic research available to the general public via CC BY, allowing people like us to easily find desired information. If you’ve written summaries and reviews for papers before, now’s the time to make them useful by uploading those files to AcaWiki. And if you regularly research and write up abstracts for class or for your own good, you can easily make uploading them a habitual part of the process. It only takes a couple of extra clicks.

We also encourage you to add your project or organization to ODEPO, ccLearn’s Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations. Not only will this make your project more discoverable, it will enable better research across the landscape of open education related projects.

For other ways to get involved, see OpenEd’s Get Involved space.

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Invitation to an International Conference on OER

Jane Park, September 24th, 2009

Open Education and Open Educational Resources: Challenges and Perspectives,” an international conference on OER, is taking place in São Paulo, Brazil on Oct 29-30. Supported by the Open Society Institute and Direito GV, it will focus on “[bringing] together international and Brazilian OER projects and experiences [to set] the debate on policies to foster OER.” The conference is open and free to all, and simultaneous translations will be provided. From the invitation,

“As countries worldwide move to implement open education projects, and developing
nations in particular look to use the Internet to replace outdated and insufficient
educational systems, an examination of existing work is in order. It is important to provide
a map of lessons learned, and to understand how existing projects can be connected to
one another to create the largest possible impact for both educators and learners. Our goal
is to examine these broad issues within the lens of a detailed examination of the Brazilian
experience applying ICTs to education in policy, technology, pedagogy, and the impact of
the emerging concept of “open educational resources” in both theory and practice.

This conference will present results and discuss recommendations from the OER Brazil
Project, funded by the Open Society Institute. The conference aims to open the door for a
richer discussion focused on OER through sharing information on international and
national OER projects. The idea is to transform the conference into a working group and
draft recommendations for future public policy for OER in Brazil, in preparation for the 2010
National Conference on Education.”



En Brasil se hablará de apoyar Recursos Educativos Abierto (REA) en politicas públicas

Educación Abierta y Recursos Educativos Abiertos (REA): Metas y perspectivas, es un ciclo de conferencias que se llevará a cabo en Sao Paulo, Brasil el 29 y 30 de octubre financiado por Open Society Institute y apoyado por la facultad de Derecho de la Fundación Getulio Vargas.

Lo interesante de este evento es que presenta los resultados y pretende discutir las recomendaciones del proyecto OER Brasil financiado por Open Society Institute. Con ocasión de esta conferencia se reunirán proyectos brasileños e internacionales que tienen como foco de trabajo los Recursos Educativos Abiertos (REA, que son los OER por su sigla en inglés) y experiencias en este campo con el fin de poner sobre la mesa el debate en torno a las políticas públicas.

Con este fin se espera que los asistentes conviertan la conferencia en grupo de trabajo que proponga recomendaciones concretas de políticas públicas en la materia como preparación para la Conferencia Nacional de Educación que tendrá lugar en 2010.

El evento y sus resultados son importantes en la región pues de implementarse una decisión de este tipo en el sector público brasileño tendríamos un antecedente importante y relevante para apoyo de quienes creemos en los beneficios de una educación abierta y más accequible apoyada por las Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones (TIC).

Para quien interesen las conferencias y/o pueda asistir, el programa puede consultarse desde la página de la Fundación Getulio Vargas y la asistencia no tiene costo.

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Open Education: First meeting of CC leads in Latin America

Jane Park, September 23rd, 2009

Last year Latam Commons 2008: Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Open Education was the first meeting of CC leads in Latin America, and also the first meeting to focus specifically on open education and OER of its kind. Though I blogged briefly about its success in December, the fruits of the meeting have shown itself over time, as Latin America has been working towards greater openness in education and otherwise, with our very own Carolina Botero joining as a ccLearn liaison for that region of the Spanish-speaking world.

Now, the particular results of that first meeting are recorded for the first time, in both English and Spanish in the same report, Open Education: First meeting of CC leads in Latin America. The report was a joint production of CC Latin America and ccLearn, and is licensed CC BY so it can be further translated into other languages sans the hassle of a middleman. We urge you to check out the summary of the first meeting. As we continue to acquire better information about the open education issues in the Spanish speaking world, we hope to better facilitate communications within and beyond the region; for example, productions like this and translations of relevant CC blog posts should ideally reach interested people regardless of where they live or what language they speak (and read).

Speaking of blog posts, two more Back-to-School blog posts are now available in Spanish, Back to School: DiscoverEd and the Back to School Conclusion: The Open Trajectory of Learning. The translated versions are posted just below the English, and as more translations come in, we will add them to the original posts. All relevant blog posts will be tagged Latin America, so that you can see Latam open education news at anytime in one place.

And in Spanish, thanks to Carolina Botero and CC Latin America:


Educación Abierta: Primera reunión de líderes de CC en América Latina.

El año pasado tuvo lugar la primera reunión de líderes de CC en América Latina: Latam Commons 2008: Dominio Público, Creative Commons, y Educación Abierta. Esta fue también la primera reunión que se enfocó específicamente en educación abierta y REA (Recursos Educativos Abiertos, OER por sus siglas en inglés). Aunque ya se había blogueado brevemente sobre su éxito en diciembre, los resultados de la reunión se han ido mostrando con el tiempo, América Latina ha venido trabajando hacía una mayor apertura tanto en educación como en otros temas, al punto que Carolina Botero se unió oficialmente como enlace para la región hispanoparlante.

Ahora, los resultados particulares de esta primera reunión aparecen por primera vez, tanto en español como en inglés en un mismo informe titulado Educación Abierta: Primera reunión de líderes CC en América Latina. El informe fue una producción de CC América Latina (ccLatam) y ccLearn, se encuentra licenciado CC BY por lo que puede ser traducido a cualquier otro idioma sin intermediarios. Los invitamos a revisar el resumen de esta primera reunión. De otro lado, una vez tengamos una mejor idea sobre los temas de educación abierta que le interesan a los hispanoparlantes podremos concentrarnos en comunicaciones más efectivas, por ejemplo, en lograr que producciones como ésta y traducciones de entradas del blog de CC relevantes para esta audiencia puedan llegar a sus miembros.

Respecto a las entradas en el blog aprovechamos para contarles que hay dos nuevas entradas de la serie Regreso al Colegio están disponibles ahora en español: De Regreso al Colegio: DiscoverEd y De Regreso al Colegio, conclusiones: El camino abierto para el aprendizaje. Las versiones traducidas se agregan al final de la entrada en inglés y, a medida que otras traducciones lleguen las iremos agregando allí. Todas las entradas de este tipo en el blog serán etiquetadas Latin America, para que puedan registrar las noticias de América Latian a cualquier hora en cualquier lugar.

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CC Talks With: Back to School: Peer 2 Peer University and the Future of Education (an interview)

Jane Park, September 1st, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

A recent emigrant to New York, I experienced the first turn in weather on the east coast marking the transition from summer to a fast approaching fall. Though a lovely relief from the hot, muggy season that has persisted here for the last few months, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. Many students all over the world are feeling this same twinge, mingled with excitement, as their summer vacations skid to a halt. No more lazy, hazy days in the sun—instead, it’s time to hit the books and lockers, classrooms and lecture halls.

This is the vision of school we have had with us for ages. A first grader, when asked to draw school, usually draws a little red school house with a bell, or a teacher standing at her desk, with an apple for added effect. However, this traditional picture is hardly where the future of education is headed, as new technologies and mediums of communication, like the Internet, have already revolutionized the way we interact, learn, and live.

CC BY by Philipp Schmidt

CC BY by Philipp Schmidt

Peer 2 Peer University is one initiative that acknowledges this fact—that the world has already changed, and not everyone is going to settle for the traditional modes of teaching. First of all, not everyone can afford to dole out the thousands of dollars required for a higher education, and secondly, not everyone has the time to—those of us with full-time or several part-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities, especially.

P2PU, in their own words, is sort of like an “online book club for open educational resources.” It’s “an online community of open study groups for short university-level courses… The P2PU helps you navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, creates small groups of motivated learners, and supports the design and facilitation of courses.” Unlike formal universities or distance education, P2PU’s courses are all defaulted under CC BY, which means anyone can access, share, adapt, and redistribute them. In fact, the founders are more than happy for others to adapt the model they have begun to new and successful ways of thinking about education’s future.

What do you think is the future of education? P2PU co-founder Philipp Schmidt answers the big question and more.

P2PU has been getting a ton of attention lately. Courses are set to start on the 9th! What are you hoping to gain from these first six weeks? What are you most excited about?

This is the first time we will run courses. We have been thinking a lot about how to make sure participants get a lot out of the experience, but this is the real test. I am sure we’ll discover many things we did not anticipate at all—and I look forward to learning as much as the participants. This is an amazing learning experience not just for the participants, but also for ourselves.

I am most excited by the fact that we seem to be providing something that many people from all over the world find useful and want to participate in. One person is taking the Copyright for Educators course and intends to get credit from his university for it. The fact that he is thinking about the course in his own context and trying to “hack” the system in a way that makes sense for him is awesome. This is exactly what we were hoping to see. Another person said that she had always wanted to take a course about cyberpunk literature, but couldn’t find a place to take one. To realize that we can provide a type of learning experience that people are looking for and which simply doesn’t exist elsewhere, is incredible.

There’s so much speculation around the future of formal education. What are your thoughts on it? What will be P2PU’s role in this changing educational landscape?

It is clear to me that the education landscape will change dramatically. I should mention that I am a huge fan of the university as an institution where young people spend a few years learning and immersing themselves into knowledge. It’s wonderful and I wouldn’t want to miss it. However, learning is not just what happens in universities and there will be new and different organizations providing many of the components that today’s universities offer as a package. There are two areas where P2PU could fill a gap. One is to create the social learning experience that will make open educational resources more useful to more people. The other is to provide forms of recognition for informal learning—this could be by enabling pathways to formal credits or by creating a community based reputation.

What do you have to say to those who confuse P2PU with distance learning? How is P2PU more than that?

The core of P2PU is social learning—working with others who are interested in the same topic as you. The fact that it happens by distance is almost secondary and we are hoping to have local off-line groups joining the P2PU community in the future. Distance learning is a broad term, but too often it is used in the context of what I would call industrialized education. Content is delivered to students—either by an online teacher or in the form of course materials designed for self-study. Knowledge is considered as something that can easily be measured, like weight or height. It is a totally different model from what P2PU is doing.

All P2PU courses are licensed CC BY. Why CC BY?

The pilot phase materials are licensed CC BY because that places the least amount of restrictions on others who might want to use and re-mix our content. However, the licensing choice is still a big debate. Some members of the community feel that CC BY-SA better reflects their desire to create a global knowledge commons. It’s one of the topics we will discuss at our upcoming workshop and we will make a final decision there.

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OER Copyright Survey now closed

Jane Park, August 31st, 2009

Thanks to all of you who filled out the OER Copyright Survey! The survey is now closed, with many thoughtful responses. Again, we appreciate your responses, among which was an overarching request to have the survey translated. We definitely hope and intend to broaden the survey to more countries and in more languages in the future, and are open to ideas and support. Please contact us if you, an individual you know, or a project/organization you are in touch with is interested in participating in the next stages of research. Participation can be anything from simply responding to the survey in your own language or helping to translate, organize, or analyze the data.

In the meantime, please take advantage of the user group currently active on OpenEd to continue the discussion. Also feel free to review and contribute to the survey notes.

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Remix Open Ed 09

Jane Park, August 24th, 2009

This year’s open education conference was held in breathtaking Vancouver, BC and the ccLearn team (consisting of Lila Bailey, Ahrash Bissell, Alex Kozak, and myself) was there to soak it all in. Vancouver could be the emerald city, or an alternate reality to San Francisco, from whence three of us hail. This parallel universe yielded skyscrapers made of turquoise tinted glass, Lion’s gate (sea foam green instead of Golden Gate’s deceptive red), and a plethora of downtown eats and night life. The conference itself was located right next to the Vancouver Art Museum, home of the Dutch masters.

While my colleagues presented OpenEd (opened.creativecommons.org, the global open education community site we launched earlier this month), the OER Copyright survey, and cogitated on whether international copyright exceptions and limitations can support a global learning commons—I had the chance to run around with lots of people and talk to some of them. I was pleasantly surprised by the increase in diverse persons and locales represented, and I picked each of their brains for a few seconds with the help of my Flip cam.

The result is this video (blip.tv), which we hope you will enjoy and encourage you to remix! It’s all open via CC BY, including the soundtrack—laid with the album Ambient Pills by Zeropage (thanks to Jamendo). We also have lots of footage we didn’t include due to time constraints, so you may see snippier iterations down the line.

The video is also available at YouTube and Vimeo.

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OpenEd—the new Open Education Community site

Jane Park, July 28th, 2009

Some of you may already be familiar with the term open ed, short for open education—which represents the fantastic movement around opening up educational resources so that anyone, anywhere, can access, use, and derive existing educational materials in new, creative ways or to simply adapt them to their unique individual needs and local contexts. There are so many great educational materials out there—some already openly licensed and a great deal more in the public domain—and the problem is that a lot of people still don’t know about them or how to use them. Similarly, the open education movement has produced some really exciting projects and programs in recent years, but there is no global landing space for these inspiring movers and shakers to really connect as a coherent community.

Open Ed, the new Open Education Community site, is the result of brainstorming with other initiatives in the movement on how to provide such a space. We designed the site for open education community members, but also for teachers, learners, and those who just want to get involved. We were able to build it thanks to the strong support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Open Ed is hosted by ccLearn, but we are merely providing the web space. We’ve done some initial work on it, but the site is yours—be you an OER advocate, a teacher wanting to connect with other teachers, or a learner who would love to do the same. And you can contribute in any way you like, because Open Ed runs on MediaWiki, the same software that powers Wikipedia. Additionally, Open Ed utilizes the Semantic MediaWiki extension to enable data querying and analysis. For added functionality, we have installed various other useful extensions.

Wait… hasn’t this site been up for a while?

You’re right; it’s been public on the web for a couple of months now. Some of you may already have accounts. Others have even blogged about it previously. But we haven’t made the official announcement launch until now because we wanted to get some initial feedback from existing community members. So we need your help! Please spread the word, via your personal and professional channels—and most of all, use the space for what you need to do! It’s a wiki. That means you can create a page for your own project, add your project to ODEPO (the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations) for others to find, run your own data query for research purposes, or do virtually anything else you deem necessary to strengthen and promote open education, including translating the entire site into other languages. Not to mention that content is a little lacking right now, and it’s up to us to make it a great landing place for newbies to open education.

Give us feedback!

Please let us know what you think. Anyone can add to or improve the space by simply clicking “edit”, but as the hosts of this space, we would love to help with the process. You can also share your thoughts on Twitter with an #opened hashtag.

Lastly, thanks to White Whale, an Oakland-based consulting, design, and development company, who designed Open Ed and helped us with some of our messaging points.

Happy exploring!

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Launching DiscoverEd—an education search prototype

Jane Park, July 20th, 2009

Last year, we demoed DiscoverEd along with ODEPO at the Open Education Conference in Logan, Utah. CTO Nathan Yergler explained its various features and some if its issues. Since then, it’s been worked on extensively and some of its functionality has improved. We’ve even gone ahead and produced a white paper, which explains what DiscoverEd is, what it aims to do, and what you can do to help improve it.

With the production of this white paper, we would like to officially announce the launch of DiscoverEd. Entirely open source, DiscoverEd is an experimental project from ccLearn which attempts to provide scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web. Metadata, including the license and subject information available, are exposed in the result set.

As noted above, DiscoverEd has been discussed at a few meetings already, so this launch is mainly to help spread the word and to spark additional conversation. If you are an educator or anyone else looking for educational resources, it is available for immediate use and we welcome your feedback.

We want to emphasize that DiscoverEd is a prototype intended to explore how structured data may be used to enhance the search experience. We are by no means launching this as a definitive tool; in fact, we intend just the opposite. We are launching this so that others in the search and discovery space can contribute to this project. There are a number of known issues which we would love help on, especially since we think the community’s input and work should go into shaping future versions of this tool. This tool is currently intended for educational resources, but there is no reason anyone can’t take and adapt it for other purposes.

Where do the search results come from?

Results come from institutional and third party repositories who have expended time and resources curating the metadata. These curators either create or aggregate educational resources and maintain information about them. If you’re a producer or curator of educational resources and would like to be included in the search contact us. If you’re an educator, we want to hear from you. What works for you? What’s broken? What can be improved?

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