sustainability

Planning for sustainable and strategic impact: Creative Commons and open education

Mike Linksvayer, January 25th, 2010

Creative Commons recently celebrated its seventh anniversary, capping an impressive year of success for the organization, including the launch of CC0, our new public domain tool, migration of Wikipedia to a CC license, and compelling new implementations — from CC-aware discovery in both Google and Yahoo! image search, to adoptions of CC licenses ranging from the U.S. White House to Al Jazeera, and by major educational and scientific institutions to countless individual bloggers, musicians, photographers, teachers, and more. We also surpassed our year end public fundraising goal, raising $533,898 to continue building infrastructure that makes sharing easy, scalable, and legal. Thanks again!

In light of our continued growth and maturation, we are ever mindful of how CC can best ensure that as an organization we continue to increase our impact sustainably. As a provider of critical infrastructure that millions and more depend upon, this is our responsibility. Sustainability is not only or first a financial issue — though we will ask for your continued support in funding the organization — but depends on staying focused on our goals, executing on our strengths and core competencies, constantly looking for ways to streamline operations while empowering our vast international community, and avoiding mission creep however tempting.

Over the last six months we’ve been putting these thoughts into plans and action. Last summer we integrated the team supporting our international affiliates with our core team of experts based in San Francisco, eliminating two of our three Berlin-based staff positions. Over the next several months most of our science team (Science Commons) will move from Boston to San Francisco to align message and operations with our core, also. This month, we are integrating our education team (known heretofore as CC Learn), the subject of the rest of this message.

CC Learn was conceived as a focus point for CC adoption in the education arena. Since its launch two and one half years ago, it has progressed itself into a valuable member of, and broadly engaging with, the open education movement, providing not only legal and technical infrastructure and expertise, but subject matter expertise on a range of issues relevant to open education. Education is one of the most compelling uses of CC legal and technical tools. CC licenses are mission-critical for the development and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) — the ecosystem would fail without standard, interoperable legal terms for sharing, using and reusing content. It relies on collaboration between many institutions and many individuals in many different jurisdictions. Only CC licenses are capable of providing such a bridge.

Yet as much as CC has to offer as a leader of the open education movement, we remain humbled by the many others with yet deeper expertise and experience in these areas and from whom we continue to learn. And while we have much to offer, and will continue to offer as a life-long member of these remarkable movements and communities, we feel compelled to consider our own sustainability. We come back to, as we always have, our irreplaceability on the infrastructure level of providing unparalleled legal and technical excellence that allows education, science, and culture to work — this is what we do uniquely, and this is what we do best. We’ve decided that we can best support the open education and OER communities by focusing our resources and support where we are strongest and provide the most unique value. This means engaging the open education community as legal and technical experts rather than as participants in a broad conversation about the potentialities of open education — which we fully believe in, making the need to support open education in the most leveraged fashion we can all the more compelling.

Such changes mean that some of the activities and, sadly, personnel cannot be integrated successfully with the new structure, consequently transitioning out of CC so that they can better pursue such work elsewhere. In this current transition, Ahrash Bissell, the Executive Director of CC Learn, has left the organization. As with all alumni, CC expects great things of the departing staff and looks forward to ongoing collaboration with Ahrash and the open education community, building on his excellent work. We extend to Ahrash our heartfelt gratitude for his passion, dedication and wisdom, and wish him well with his future endeavors.

In the coming months we’ll be making further announcements about our comprehensive integration of education and science into our core activities and messaging. Exciting developments are on the horizon with respect to new and enhanced legal and technical tools as well as explanatory materials and support for policy development in education and science. More importantly we’ll be asking for your support and input, including specific feedback on designs, prototypes, messages, and initiatives as they develop. Most importantly, we will be asking for your input on whether we’re on the right track. Have something to say about CC? We’re listening!

Addendum: See a follow-up post with specifics concerning CC’s plans, projects, and team for open education in 2010 and beyond.

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CC Talks With: A chat with Stephen Downes on OER

Jane Park, October 12th, 2009

A prominent member of the open education community, Stephen Downes is a researcher, blogger, and big thinker in open education and access related issues. He frequently debates with other open education advocates via the medium of the Internet, once in a while meeting up in person at conferences to hash out more of the same. I thought I might capture his slice of insight into the future of open educational resources and how he views them evolving in an ideal world.

CC BY-NC by Stephen Downes

CC BY-NC by Stephen Downes

So I caught up with him via Skype; and though different operating systems and timezones may have jumbled some of our conversation, I was still able to catch most of his words, if not the heart of his views. Below is our chat transcribed, in more or less the same fashion as it progressed.

Read More…

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Smithsonian Commons and Sustainable Content Usage Policies

Fred Benenson, August 3rd, 2009

Smithsonian Logo.gif
On Thursday, Michael Edson of the Smithsonian posted on the Smithsonian 2.0 blog that they had released their “Web and New Media Strategy” with the purpose of laying a groundwork for a Smithsonian Commons:

The strategy talks about an updated digital experience, a new learning model that helps people with their “lifelong learning journeys,” and the creation of a Smithsonian Commons—a new part of our digital presence dedicated to stimulating learning, creation, and innovation through open access to Smithsonian research, collections and communities.

Of particular interest to our community is that the report PDF itself (and its draft wiki) are both licensed under our permissive, Attribution license. More substantially is the report’s section on the proposed content usage policy of the Smithsonian Commons:

Content Usage: Establish a pan-Institutional policy for sharing and using the Smithsonian’s digital content, with particular focus on Copyright and Public Domain policies that encourage the appropriate re-use and sharing of Smithsonian resources.

Congratulations to the Smithsonian for thinking about the future lives of their content in such a sustainable fashion. We’re very excited to see the future developments that the Smithsonian Commons brings to free culture on an institutional scale.

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BYU Launches OCW Pilot

Jane Park, June 10th, 2009

It appears that David Wiley’s move to Brigham Young University has already resulted in progress towards opening the university’s content. Long-time pioneer and academic of open education, Wiley reports that BYU’s Independent Study has launched its Open CourseWare (OCW) pilot with six Creative Commons licensed courses under CC BY NC-SA.

“The pilot includes three university-level courses and three high school-level courses (BYU IS offers 250 university-level courses online for credit and another 250 high school-level courses online for credit). The courses in BYU IS OCW are content-complete – that is, they are the full courses as delivered online without the need of additional textbooks or other materials (only graded assessments have been removed).”

The most interesting thing about this pilot is that it “is part of a dissertation study to measure the impact of OCW courses on paying enrollments.” So far, “the results are very positive – 85 of the 3500 people who visited the OCW site last month registered for for-credit courses… if this pattern remains stable, then BYU IS OCW will be financially self-sustainable with the ability to add and update a number of new courses to the collection each year, indefinitely, should they so choose.” Echoing Wiley, that is an exciting prospect. We look forward to seeing these results develop, in addition to other inquiries into the sustainability of general OER initiatives in the future…

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UNU Media Studio Launches Our World 2.0 VideoBriefs

Jane Park, November 6th, 2008

Some of you might remember Cameron’s post back in June regarding the United Nations University (UNU) Media Studio‘s decision to license their Media Studio and Online Learning sites under CC BY-NC-SA. Well one month later they launched “Our World 2.0“, the English version, also licensed under the same (with the Japanese version taking off just this past month), which is a webzine dedicated to exploring environmental issues and what can be done about them, specifically dealing with the “complex, inter-connected and pressing problems like climate change, oil depletion and food security.” Taking its name from Web 2.0, a sweeping trend in the use of the Internet for “community and social network based approaches to content development that take advantage of new technologies,” Our World 2.0’s central tenet is “that we can use our collective knowledge, technology and design to facilitate creativity, innovation, and, most notably, collaboration amongst people.”

Today, they announced the launch of their new video documentary series on the web, “short high-definition documentaries which examine key issues relating to climate change, energy, and food security, the subjects at the heart of [their] Our World 2.0 webmagazine.” The first video is titled “The Electric Sunflower” which focuses on electric vehicles—their current use and future. It’s pretty exciting stuff. The video, along with the rest of the content on their website, is open for use via CC BY-NC-SA.

The UNU Media Studio is dedicated to the sharing and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER), which they believe will ultimately improve education. They write that “[Their] main goal is to try to help academics in the developing world and [they] are fully engaged with a number of exciting innovative movements that could help better share knowledge and improve education. These include efforts to share content (opencourseware and open educational resources). This movement is supported by new approaches to copyright licensing and intellectual property rights that promote sharing and collaboration, specifically through Creative Commons.”

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