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2009 March

Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning

Jane Park, March 17th, 2009

In this age of information overload, traditional teaching methods and roles are fast becoming extinct. Students have access to most of the relevant information in their teachers’ heads and more, but this doesn’t mean students know how to organize and interpret this information in a meaningful way.

George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger have developed a handbook for educators who want to use technologies to aid (both teachers and learners) in the learning process. The Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning explores “[how education is] to fulfill its societal role of clarifying confusion when tools of control over information creation and dissemination rest in the hands of learners…” The issue is “information abundance” and the handbook is designed to be a resource for educators who want to face these issues head-on.

The handbook is available as a wiki and PDF, and is licensed CC BY-NC.

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Libre Planet and Libre Graphics

Mike Linksvayer, March 16th, 2009

This coming weekend (March 21-22) in Cambridge, Massachusetts the Free Software Foundation is holding its annual meeting, dubbed the Libre Planet Conference. Many of CC’s best friends and supporters will be there, as will CC staff Asheesh Laroia and I. If you aren’t familiar with the significance of the free software movement to free culture, start by checking out the links on our post celebrating the former’s 25th birthday, or better yet come to Libre Planet. The conference will feature the hottest issues in software freedom, some of which include a free culture component.

Another important conference is coming to the eastern part of North America — the Libre Graphics Meeting, May 6-9 in Montreal. Developers of the most important free software graphics applications will be represented. These applications are heavily used by contributors to free culture sites such as Wikimedia Commons and many of the developers engage in cutting edge free cultural productions themselves, e.g., Blender. CC staff have attended in years past and Jon Phillips is helping put together this one.

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Flexbooks in beta

Jane Park, March 16th, 2009

Today marks the beginning of the second half of the month, and with it, the Ides of March are safely behind us. What else is behind us: the beta launches of several Flexbooks, aka the CK-12 Foundation‘s version of open source textbooks.

The most notable Flexbook is the one we mentioned last fall—notable because of its integral tie to state standards via a partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia. The textbook now has a title, 21st Century Physics FlexBook: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies. According to Government Computer News, the effort was statewide, “a collaborative effort by the state departments of Technology and Education and volunteer educators, engineers and scientists using Web-based tools to quickly up-date educational resources” to “provide students with timely information about nanoscience, dark matter, quarks and leptons.” This only makes sense as Physics (and science in general) is a rapidly changing field that the traditional textbook review process cannot keep up with. Open textbooks, on the other hand, are instantly editable and constantly changing; you could even say that they are perpetually in beta.

Don’t hesitate to check it out, along with the myriad other Flexbooks up for review. All Flexbooks are licensed CC BY-SA.

What’s ahead of CK-12: the progression of existing Flexbooks and the partnerships they have with other states, where some are working on companion teacher editions.

Also, spring!

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Internship Application Period – Now Closed

Jennifer Yip, March 16th, 2009

Thank you to all the internship applicants. It’s past the March 13 deadline, and we have more than enough submissions to review. We will not be able to interview all applicants. We will announce our final decisions by the end of this month or early April. Applicants may email inquiries to me, Jennifer Yip. (No phone calls, please.)

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Creative Commons CTO speaking at Open Access Week

Greg Grossmeier, March 16th, 2009

open-access-badge

Open Access Week at the University of Michigan is “a week-long, campus-wide exploration of Open Access.” And a discussion sponsored by the Michigan Library on this topic couldn’t come at a better time; libraries are facing tough economic situations and the current political discourse around copyright and open access needs to be addressed. Featured Commoner (on behalf of Michigan Libraries) Molly Kleinman said it best on her personal blog announcing Open Access Week:

First we have the return of the dreadful Fair Copyright In Research Works Act, which is opposed by just about everyone except commercial publishers, including 33 Nobel Laureates in science. Then comes the word that together Elsevier and LexisNexis earned over $1.5 billion US in profit in 2008. For Elsevier that’s an adjusted operating margin — a profit — of 33%. While universities across the country are facing budget cuts of 20% or more, Elsevier brings in 33% profits, largely on the backs of university libraries. And economic news more broadly indicates that no library will escape unscathed. When Harvard starts laying off librarians and eliminating subscriptions, we’re all in trouble.

And that is only a small sub-section of the issues facing libraries today, including big issues like the Google Books Settlement. What better time to speak about the use of Creative Commons licenses in academic journals and what technological tools Creative Commons is developing to build an ecosystem of openness? With the right tools and the right attitude academic libraries will be a major player in fixing many of these issues.

Nathan Yergler, CTO at Creative Commons, will be speaking during Open Access Week on March 23rd on the University of Michigan campus. Everyone is welcome to join this event, and all of the events during Open Access Week. For the details about Nathan’s talk, check out the the schedule.

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Week Left in Pooling Ideas Competition!

Michelle Thorne, March 15th, 2009

Pooling Ideas

There’s about a week left to enter CC Australia’s Pooling Ideas competition before it closes on March 23. They’re giving away cool prizes, including an internship with ABC Radio National to co-produce The Night Air and mountains of CC gear.

Contestants are invited to creatively interpret the theme We are what we share, and upload their creation to Pool. It’s free, and there are no time limits or format requirements. Just tag your work we are what we share when you upload.

You can already check out the first few entries: a poem, a story and a picture (with some great accompanying text). So what are you waiting for? Grab your camera, pen, computer and get creative!

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Firefox 3.1beta3 and open web multimedia

Mike Linksvayer, March 12th, 2009

The third beta of the next version of the Firefox web browser is now available for download. For the approximately half of you reading this in a Firefox browser, the next version of Firefox will be (because the beta already is) much faster and more awesome all around (and will be released as version 3.5 to denote the significance of improvements over Firefox 3). You can help ensure the release is even better by using the beta. For the rest of you — now is a good time to get with the program.

Perhaps the most exciting feature in the future Firefox 3.5 for the commons is built-in support for the new <audio> and <video> tags and open audio and video codecs. Admittedly it isn’t easy to explain why open multimedia formats are so important for the open web — they are infrastructure, lowering a number of costs and enabling interoperability for everyone — so the benefits of widespread adoption of open formats (and opportunity costs of their lack) is systemic and largely invisible. We’re pretty comfortable with making such an argument and appreciate the challenges of doing so — though there are many concrete use cases enabled by Creative Commons licensing, we know those are the tip of the iceberg.

We’ve linked a few times to explanations of why open formats in particular are important, and back in 2004 a rant on fixing web multimedia by making audio and video on the web addressable like other items published on the web instead of opaque, which is essentially what the new tags and open formats drive at.

You can also see a few times over the past year where we’ve snuck <video> tags into blog posts for the entertainment of people on the cutting edge running Firefox 3.1 alpha and earlier betas at the time.

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Open Video Conference Call for Proposals

Fred Benenson, March 12th, 2009

Open Video Conference

The Open Video Conference taking place on June 19th and 20th in NYC has published its call for proposals:

The conference is a co-production of the Yale Law School Information Society Project, the Participatory Culture Foundation, Kaltura, and iCommons. The conference will feature talks from internet luminaries, panels and discussions, screenings of video art, and demonstrations of the newest internet video technology. We expect more than 400 participants. Here are some goals for the gathering:

  1. Bring together stakeholders in the online video space (video makers, coders, lawyers, academics, entrepreneurs, etc.) for cross-pollination and development of the Open Video movement.
  2. Raise public interest and awareness around the Principles for an Open Video Ecosystem, a community effort to define best practices in online video.
  3. Raise the public profile of video creators and artists working in the online space.

Check out the proposal form and make sure you get yours in by March 19th!

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Beatpick Launches New Website

Cameron Parkins, March 11th, 2009

logo1Former Featured Commoner Beatpick have launched a new website that aims to make it easier to explore their diverse catalog, showcasing improved search features and an easy way to find music to be used in commercial contexts. Of course, their entire catalog remains released broadly under a CC BY-NC-SA license, making it shareable and remixable as long as the artists are credited, any derivative works are released under the same license, and any sharing or reuse is noncommercial in intent.

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Open Learning: Open Educational Resources Issue

Jane Park, March 11th, 2009

Open Educational Resources are good for the economy (or at least, economizing). They are also good for students, teachers, and the environment. And they currently theme the most recent issue of Open Learning, The Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Volume 24, Issue 1).

ccLearn’s own Executive Director, Ahrash Bissell, submitted a paper last fall entitled, “Permission granted: open licensing for educational resources.” In it, he argues that “open licenses are critical for defining Open Educational Resources” and “explain[s] the logic of open licensing” in terms familiar “to teachers, funders, and educational policy-makers.”

Ahrash’s isn’t the only interesting read in the mix; there is also David Wiley and Seth Gurrell’s paper spanning “A decade of development…” which presents a “history of the idea of Open Educational Resources, overview[s] the current state of the Open Educational Resources movement, report[s] on critical issues facing the field in the immediate future, and present[s] two new projects to watch in 2009.”

Actually, all of them sound pretty fascinating, especially one “personal and institutional journey” at the University of the Western Cape (this one involves the struggle for political freedom) by Derek Keats. All papers illuminate different aspects of the open educational resources movement, a movement that has grown steadily since inception. You can view them online, or download the PDFs. We will also be hosting Ahrash’s paper on ccLearn’s resources page shortly.

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