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Blackboard’s xpLor: Cross-platform learning repository adds Creative Commons license options

Jane Park, January 28th, 2013

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.

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