UNESCO

UNESCO launches Open Access Repository under Creative Commons

Cable Green, December 18th, 2013

UNESCO has announced a new Open Access Repository making more than 300 digital reports, books and articles available to the world under the Creative Commons IGO licenses.

From UNESCO’s press release:

“Currently, the Repository contains works in some 12 languages, including major UNESCO reports and key research publications. As well as the 300 Open Access publications, UNESCO will provide on-line availability to hundreds of other important reports and titles. Covering a wide range of topics from all regions of the world, this knowledge can now be shared by the general public, professionals, researchers, students and policy-makers… under an open license.”

UNESCO will continue to expand its collection of open resources with selected past publications and all new works following its new Open Access Policy adopted in April 2013. As of 31 July 2013 all new UNESCO publications are released with one of the CC IGO licenses and will be loaded into the Open Access Repository. The majority of UNESCO resources will be openly licensed under CC BY SA.

Kudos too to UNESCO for implementing many of the recommendations in its own 2012 Paris OER Declaration (translations):

d. Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.
g. Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.
i. Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.
j. Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.

By open licensing its publications, UNESCO not only makes all the knowledge it creates freely and openly available to the world, but it sets an important example for its 195 member (and 9 associate member) nations about the strong policy arguments for releasing publicly funded resources under open licenses. The message is clear: it is a good idea to adopt open policies that increase access and reduce costs to education, research, scientific and cultural resources.

Congratulations UNESCO!

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2012 Paris OER Declaration

Cable Green, June 29th, 2012

Ms. Catherine Ngugi and Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma KRUSE VA'AI
Ms. Catherine Ngugi.. and Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma KRUSE VA’AI / Mariana Bittencourt / CC BY

Through the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and in full partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), UNESCO hosted the 2012 World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress last week to:

  • showcase the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts;
  • release the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs; and
  • celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2002 UNESCO Forum that created the term “OER.”

I am pleased to report UNESCO member States unanimously approved the “Paris OER Declaration” (pdf).

This Declaration is the result of a yearlong process, led by UNESCO and the COL with regional and online meetings and final negotiations at the Congress. The Declaration recommends UNESCO member States:

    a. Foster awareness and use of OER.

    b. Facilitate enabling environments for use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

    c. Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER.

    d. Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.

    e. Support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials.

    f. Foster strategic alliances for OER.

    g. Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.

    h. Encourage research on OER.

    i. Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.

    j. Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.

The Declaration will now be delivered to UNESCO’s Director General. She will submit the Declaration to the UNESCO Executive Board on October, 2012. After the UNESCO Board approves the Declaration, it will go to the General Conference for final approval. While it is important to note a “Declaration” is a non-binding UNESCO instrument, a UNESCO declaration does “set forth universal principles to which the community of States wished to attribute the greatest possible authority and to afford the broadest possible support.”

OER Congress resources

Bravo to all who helped move the world to this moment! So many open advocates traveled to the regional meetings and to the Congress. Your contributions and work with your governments led us all to this successful outcome.

Lawrence Lessig’s Keynote (added 27 July, 2012):

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Join the World Open Educational Resources Congress

Jane Park, June 19th, 2012

The 2012 World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress is kicking off tomorrow in Paris, France. Organized by UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the World OER Congress will encourage more governments to adopt policies that include OER and will bring together Ministers of Education/Human Resource Development, senior policy makers, expert practitioners, researchers, students and many other relevant stakeholders to:

1. Showcase the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts
2. Release a 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs
3. Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2002 UNESCO Forum that created the term OER

Participate

There are several ways you can participate in the congress. From 20-22 June, the congress will be livecast in two web streams:

    1. The official congress featuring discussion on the Paris OER Declaration and governmental actions for OER (English stream, French stream)
    2. A parallel stream featuring an Open Seminar & Exhibition of the world’s best OER practices, policies, and initiatives (English stream, French stream). For this stream, UNESCO will have present a digital moderator to whom you can pose questions via identi.ca or Twitter using the #oercongress hashtag.

You can also follow the congress on Twitter, join and ask questions on the OER community WSIS KC platform, and contribute to the draft Paris OER Declaration (pdf) until Thursday 21 June, 12pm Paris time by writing to oerdeclaration@unesco.org.

The complete program of sessions and speakers, and all other information, is available at the website.

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Creative Commons at an International Seminar and Expert Meeting in Moscow

Jonas Öberg, December 16th, 2011


Picture of Светлана Князева, Дендев Бадарч and Юрий Хохлов during the opening of the seminar / Михаил Федин / CC BY-SA

Creative Commons’ Russian affiliate Institute of the Information Society (IIS), in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies, organized an international seminar and expert meeting on the 6th of December in Moscow. As the CC Regional Project Manager for Europe, I participated in the event together with representatives from Creative Commons in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

The seminar was attended by industry participants, organizations and representatives from Russian governments and federal agencies, including the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, Ministry of Education and Science, Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, Federal Antimonopoly Service, State Duma of the Russian Federation, Research Center of Private Law at the President of the RF and the Chamber of Commerce.

IIS legal experts have prepared an analytical report, Use of Creative Commons Licenses in the Russian Federation (pdf), which was presented at the seminar. It contains conclusions and recommendations for future activities aimed at introducing Creative Commons in Russia, including discussion of potential legislative changes aimed at enabling the licence locally. It also contains an annex with information and results from the CC Global Summit 2011 in Warsaw in September 2011.

Other sessions at the seminar included presentations by representatives of each of the CC jurisdiction teams present, as well as critiques of the CC licences by local academics and the local Wikimedia chapter, with much of the discussion focusing on 4.0. The day finished with a special UNESCO-hosted session on OER.

For Creative Commons, the seminar was an excellent starting point for our future work in Russia, and the participation of Creative Commons affiliates from the CIS countries shows that there is a clear interest in working together in the regions. As part of its work, IIS will now start providing input to the recently launched Version 4.0 process, as well as continuing its work to raise awareness of Creative Commons with Russian authorities.

It’s very exciting to see this region grow; I’m very happy to see that there’s now a discussion around the upcoming Version 4.0, its relevance for Russia and the possibility for Russia to participate in the shaping of this important license suite for sharing culture globally!

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German UNESCO Commission releases “Open Content Licenses – A Practical Guideline”

Jane Park, November 17th, 2011

The German UNESCO Commission has released the publication, “Open Content Lizenzen – Ein Leitfaden für die Praxis” (pdf) aka “Open Content Licenses – A Practical Guideline.” The publication is authored by Dr. Till Kreutzer, a member of the Commission’s legal expert committee and a founder of iRights.info, a legal information website for consumers. The publication explains how to make use of open licenses, featuring the CC license suite as its primary example. Though tailored towards companies, institutions and organizations, the guideline is also a compact how-to for anyone interested in CC licensing their work. The publication is available under CC BY-NC, and is a timely follow-up to UNESCO’s related publication with the Commonwealth of Learning, “Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education” — which also highlights the use of CC licenses for OER.

Read more about the German guideline at the press release (German), and download it from UNESCO (pdf).

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UNESCO and COL release open education policy document for higher education

Timothy Vollmer, November 1st, 2011

Today UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning jointly released the policy document Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education. The purpose of the guidelines is “to encourage decision makers in governments and institutions to invest in the systematic production, adaptation, and use of OER and to bring them in to the mainstream of higher education in order to improve the quality of curricula and teaching and to reduce costs.”

UNESCO and COL note, “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain and released with an open license (such as Creative Commons). They allow communities of practitioners and stakeholders to copy, adapt and share their resources legally and freely, in order to support high-quality and locally relevant teaching and learning.”

The guidelines indicate how the potential of OER can be harnessed to support quality teaching and learning by higher education stakeholders, including governments, higher education institutions, teaching staff, students, and quality assurance, accreditation, and academic recognition authorities.

The Guidelines for OER in Higher Education inform the process leading up to the 2012 World OER Congress. That event is being organized by UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Congress will 1) work to promote the UNESCO/COL OER Policy Guidelines; 2) share the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts; and 3) release the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs.

The UNESCO/COL policy document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

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Designing assessment and credit pathways for open education learners

Jane Park, February 9th, 2011

open badge infrastructure prototype
Badge prototypes by P2PU & Mozilla / CC BY-SA

Getting students formal credit for their free and open education is a challenge, but groups and institutions are working around the world to come up with alternative pathways to recognition. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is one such group that explored the topic in an assessment workshop last September and then co-designed virtual “badges” for recognition in real time at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona. P2PU and Mozilla are piloting these badges via the P2PU School of Webcraft, and have solicited would-be developers for the skills and competencies that would best be reflected by a badge system. In collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, they have drafted An Open Badge System Framework: A foundational piece on assessment and badges (Google doc).

A meeting to build an OER University


Alternatives, such as the badge system above, may factor into a plan to bring formal recognition to open education learners’ achievements. In an effort to combine institutional forces, the Open Educational Resources (OER) Foundation will host an international planning meeting on February 23 to co-design assessment and credit pathways for open learning. As open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses become more integrated into institutional education, the OER foundation (along with Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, and Athabasca University in Canada) is hoping to “provide flexible pathways for OER learners to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit.”

The challenge is to find robust mechanisms for academic credit for these OER learners. “Students seek flexible study opportunities, but they also want their achievements recognised in credible credentials.” said Sir John Daniel, President of the Commonwealth of Learning. “This important meeting will tackle the challenges of combining flexibility with rigour, which requires clarity in conception and quality in execution.”

The OER Foundation invites and encourages all post-secondary institutions and others “who care about sharing knowledge as a core value of education” to join the meeting, which will be streamed virtually by UNESCO to enable participation by all.

The foundation believes “OER is a sustainable and renewable resource,” but that “collaboration among education institutions will be a prerequisite for success.”

Learn more about the OER for Assessment & Credit for Students Project and see UNESCO’s announcement for more information.

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Fotopedia and UNESCO Launch World Heritage Application

Jane Park, August 10th, 2010

Fotopedia, in collaboration with the UNESCO World Heritage Center, has created a breathtaking new application for the iPhone and iPad. The app builds on the concept of a coffee table book, updating and enhancing the browsing experience for the web.

UNESCO World Heritage “seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.” With 911 properties, UNESCO has identified 890 heritage sites around the world. Now for the first time, you can access these sites as one comprehensive collection via the Fotopedia Heritage project.

This project would not be possible without Creative Commons, as over 18,000 of the pictures in Fotopedia Heritage book are under one of the CC licenses. The pictures come from all around the world; as individual photographers and organizations license their high quality photos under Creative Commons, the book will only grow as a community contributed and shareable resource.

Jean-Marie Hullot, CEO of Fotopedia, writes, “I believe it is a terrific showcase for what Creative Commons enable[s]. The biggest photo book ever… growing everyday with only high quality and 100% relevant pictures due to our community-based curation process.” From the announcement:

Fotopedia Heritage is a new way to experience Fotopedia, the first collaborative photo encyclopedia. The team led by Jean-Marie Hullot (former CTO of NeXT and Apple’s application division) built the application while the Fotopedia community added and curated the photos thus ensuring high relevance and quality.

Explore our heritage deeper and deeper navigating carefully chosen tags, learn more about each place reading rich descriptions from UNESCO and Wikipedia and browse an interactive map, localize precisely each site. And if you are planning a trip, you will be just one click away from TripAdvisor travel information for the World Heritage Sites you are interested in.

The Fotopedia Heritage book currently has over 20,000 pictures. Find out more about how you can contribute!

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OER Session at UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education

Jane Park, July 16th, 2009

As part of UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education, UNESCO hosted a session and panel discussion on open educational resources (OER). The topic of the conference was “The New Dynamics of Higher Education and Research for Societal Change and Development,” and OER was considered an important dynamic in higher education. The conference took place over four days, ending on July 8, with over 1200 participants from 150 countries.

The OER session took place on July 7, 2009, and the summary is as follows:

“Building Knowledge Societies: Open Educational Resources Panel session

This conference aims to take stock of transformations in higher education since the 1998 World Conference on Higher Education and address the new dynamics likely to shape the strategic agenda for the development of higher education policies and institutions.

The growing Open Educational Resources (OER) movement has the objective of increasing access to quality educational content worldwide. Digital content that is open to re-use and adaptation is a public good that can be shared widely. The panel session is intended to explore OER as an example of a new dynamic in higher education that will contribute to building knowledge societies.”

The final Communiqué of the conference is available online. The Communiqué states some of the following conclusions:

“There is need for greater information, openness and transparency regarding the different missions and performance of individual institutions.”

“ODL (Open and Distance Learning) approaches and ICTs present opportunities to widen access to quality education, particularly when Open Educational Resources are readily shared by many countries and higher education institutions.”

The global nature of OER is integral to their quality and value. OER that allow adaptation, derivation, and redistribution encourage global activity like translation, transcontinental collaboration, and more. If OER produced from the American Graduation Initiative are licensed to allow these freedoms, U.S. college courses become global, thereby increasing their quality and value.

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UNESCO publishes “OER: Conversations in Cyberspace”

Jane Park, June 30th, 2009

In case you missed it, last Friday UNESCO published “Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace”, three years worth of documentation surrounding the UNESCO OER Community. From their announcement,

“Since 2005, UNESCO has been at the forefront of building awareness about this movement by facilitating an extended conversation in cyberspace. A large and diverse international community has come together to discuss the concept and potential of OER in a series of online forums.

The background papers and reports from the first three years of discussions are now available in print. Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace provides an overview of the first steps of this exciting new development: it captures the conversations between leaders of some of the first OER projects,and documents early debates on the issues that continue to challenge the movement. The publication will provide food for thought for all those intrigued by OER – its promise and its progress.”

You can access the online edition at their wiki, licensed CC BY-NC-SA. You can also buy a print edition.

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