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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Coca-Cola Using CC on Facebook

Fred Benenson, September 1st, 2009

Coca-Cola Using Coke on Facebook

It recently came to our attention that Coca-Cola relaunched their Facebook Page (apparently one of the largest pages on the social network, with over 3.6 million fans), and included a policy that content shared by fans be available under our Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. The specific CC license badge appears in the sidebar on the Coke wall, but is also referenced in the Coca-Cola Facebook Terms of Service.

It appears that Coke is using a Facebook App called Static FBML that helps Page administrators include arbitrary HTML in Facebook pages. Since this is such a good idea, I’m going to work on a new version of our Official Unofficial CC License Facebook application that will enable all Page administrators to add CC license policies to their pages. More on that later this week.

Anyway, this is a great step forward for encouraging CC content and choices on Facebook, so kudos to Coke for thinking about user generated content in the right way!

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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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Back to School: Student Journalism 2.0

Alex Kozak, August 31st, 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.

In the minds of many students, back to school means back to the same old textbooks, tests, and classrooms. Instead of getting excited about learning new ideas on the forefront of human life and experience, students often dread returning to the old methodology in their classrooms.

But for journalism students in several California Bay Area high-schools, school in the 2009-10 year will mean becoming research collaborators in the world of Creative Commons licenses, copyright, and so called “new journalism”. After months of planning, ccLearn at Creative Commons will be partnering with 5 bay area journalism teachers to introduce and research how a copyright and Creative Commons-related curriculum influences (or not) the practices of budding journalists.

From the original announcement:

For journalism students, the digital age requires more than hands-on reporting, writing, and publication of stories. Students must also embrace the capabilities of the Internet for virtual collaboration, viral dissemination, and feedback loops that inform and deepen original stories. All of these web-based opportunities depend on knowledge and proactive application of open content licensing, such as with Creative Commons, and appropriate metatags and technical formats. Student Journalism 2.0 engages high school students in understanding legal and technical issues intrinsic to new journalistic practices. The lessons learned during this pilot project will be documented in anticipation of a national-scale, follow-up project.

In the initial phase of the project, we hope to develop a successful model for engaging journalism students with new ways of thinking about content, copyright, and their goals as journalists in the age of the Internet and viral communication.

And at the same time, we are hoping that projects similar to Student Journalism 2.0 will impact how students perceive their place in the developing information ecosystem. Whether they go on to become professional journalists, artists, bloggers, or participants in social media platforms, students will be armed with a firm understanding of copyright and licensing, and how their decisions in those areas affect how their work will get distributed, used, and then redistributed.

We want students, both in school and after, to become part of the information ecosystem rather than passive consumers of information products. This will lead to better pedagogies, higher quality teaching and learning materials, and a more informed society.

Visit the Student Journalism 2.0 website for more information.

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Frances Pinter from GOOD’s “We Like to Share” Series

Jane Park, August 31st, 2009

We’d like to point out GOOD’s latest interview from its “We Like to Share” series by Eric Steuer—”Frances Pinter on the (Academic) Value of Sharing.” Frances elaborates on Bloomsbury Academic‘s decision to license their academic publications via CC BY-NC, academics’ need for exposure, and the changing landscape in publishing,

“So much of academic output is now available on the web, and when you talk to academics they are not 100 percent happy with how difficult it is becoming to find their works. They are looking for tools; a digital means of selecting, filtering, and ranking the materials they are using and recommending. We are actually in a period of transition where we are still relying on the old, but wanting to experiment with the new. People like myself who spend a lot of time with the open access crowd can kind of forget there are a lot of academics who aren’t so vocal, who are primarily interested in producing their content, getting materials in front of their students, and getting their promotion and their recognition for work that they produce.

In this period of transition there is a lot of investment required in experimenting with new technologies. And with the experimenting of new technologies, we have to make sure the recognition and the openness is absolutely essential and part of it.”

The interview is also available in audio, and if you want to learn more about Frances and Bloomsbury Academic, be sure to check out the longer ccLearn interview with her from last year, as part of our Inside OER series.

All GOOD “We Like to Share” interviews are available to share via CC BY.

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Back to School Blog Week

Jane Park, August 31st, 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.

The last day of August also marks the start of the first week of September, and many schools in the northern hemisphere are opening their doors for the first time since spring, if they haven’t done so already. Parents are dusting off their kids’ backpacks, kids are tying on their squeaky new sneakers, and teachers and administrators are abuzz in the halls with preparations for the big week. In the U.S., back-to-school week has come to reach a significance usually reserved for spring in many countries, which is that for new life, a fresh start and chance to overshadow the past year’s failures with future successes.

In acknowledgment, and perhaps in celebration, of all the back-to-school weeks around the world, ccLearn is blogging its own. In the spirit of back to school, we will be blogging daily this week on the various projects, old and new, that have flourished in the open education space, while setting milestones and advancing our stance on a few pressing subjects and news items to date. What’s been in the news: open textbooks, open courseware, peer to peer online initiatives, OER in Africa, copyright exceptions and limitations, education search, and the ever rapidly changing world of journalism and new media.

Please join us in blogging this week. Re-blog and re-tweet at will, and comment away!

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An Evaluation of Private Foundation Copyright Licensing Policies, Practices and Opportunities

Jane Park, August 28th, 2009

CC is pleased to announce that the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, in collaboration with the Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Institute, has recently published a new study entitled, An Evaluation of Private Foundation Copyright Licensing Policies, Practices and Opportunities, by Philllip Malone. From the announcement,

“This project… undertook to examine the copyright licensing policies and practices of a group of private foundations. In particular, it looked at the extent to which charitable foundations are aware of and have begun to use open licenses such as Creative Commons or the GPL for the works they create and that they support with their funding. We surveyed foundation staff and leaders and examined a number of examples where foundations have begun to take advantage of new licensing models. Based on the survey results, foundation experiences and additional research, we identified a variety of significant benefits that the use of open licenses can bring to foundations and their charitable goals. In particular, open licenses permit knowledge and learning to be widely shared and more readily adapted, improved or built upon, and allow those later improvements to be readily distributed. The result can be dramatically faster and greater access to research, information, technologies and other resources in ways that directly benefit foundations’ core missions and the public good.

The study sought to develop an analytical framework and set of factors that foundations can use to begin considering when and where the use of open licenses would further their mission and day-to-day work and where such licenses might not be useful or appropriate. It provides a great starting point for informed consideration of open licenses and the new opportunities they create for foundations and related organizations.”

This report creates an amazing opportunity for foundations to propel themselves into the future via open licensing and open technologies. Please read and share far and wide, as the entire study is open via CC BY.

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Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin Support CC with $500,000 Gift

Melissa Reeder, August 27th, 2009

Creative Commons is honored to have received an incredibly generous gift of $500,000 from 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. We are delighted that the couple recognizes the importance of Creative Commons and has decided to invest in our work to support sharing, collaboration, and the spread of knowledge and creativity. This gift – made in addition to the financial support that Google offers CC annually – will be used to support Creative Commons generally, with a focus on developing our Science Commons project, which Wojcicki and Brin are particularly excited about.

Today’s challenging economic climate has made it difficult for nonprofit organizations like Creative Commons to raise funds, making Wojcicki and Brin’s wonderful gift all the more appreciated. CC is busier than ever – we’re working with artists, scientists, educators, students, programmers, entrepreneurs, companies, universities, governments, and cultural institutions around the world to increase sharing and improve collaboration in ways that benefit all parts of society. As a nonprofit, we simply couldn’t do this work without the generous support of people like Wojcicki and Brin, as well as the other private donors, foundations, and corporations that enable Creative Commons to operate. For information about support for Creative Commons – including how you can get involved – please visit https://support.creativecommons.org.

Thank you to Ms. Wojcicki and Mr. Brin, from the Creative Commons staff, board, and community. We are very happy to have your support.

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3rd CC Community Call (8/18/09) recording now online

Allison Domicone, August 25th, 2009

We hosted our third community conference call last Tuesday, August 18. Donors were invited to join members of CC’s staff and board, including CEO Joi Ito and new Board Member Glenn Otis Brown, to hear updates from CC’s most recent board meeting, which included an overview of the steps we are taking to develop CC as a global organization, as well as progress on consolidating around the core Creative Commons brand. We also took questions and comments from participants. The call was a great success and a valuable opportunity to reach out to and connect with our supporters; we will continue to host community conference calls on a quarterly basis, and anyone giving $300 or more will be invited to take part.

An audio recording of the call is now available online. Thanks to everyone who participated, and as always, we would like to extend a big thank you to all members of our community for your continued support!

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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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