CC Salon Beirut: Recap

Cameron Parkins, April 30th, 2010

Two weeks ago the first CC Salon Beirut took place, convening a number of fantastic groups and speakers from the surrounding region. CC Arab World Media and Development Manager Donatella Della Ratta was on hand and recapped the event on her blog.

While the Salon yielded numerous exciting announcements and presentations, two were particularly inspiring. Al Akhbar, a daily newspaper published in Beirut, announced that it would begin releasing its web content under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. Similarly, Al Jazeera used the Salon as a platform to release footage specifically on Lebanon in to its Creative Commons repository.

Be sure to read the entire recap for more information on all the projects and presenters.

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CC Talks With: Karen Fasimpaur: Open Education and Policy

Timothy Vollmer, April 29th, 2010

Karen Fasimpaur
Karen Fasimpaur by Ali Shute / CC BY

One venue for the advancement of Open Educational Resources (OER) is through policy change at the local, state, federal, and international levels. In addition to a new Education landing page and an OER portal that explains Creative Commons’ role as the legal and technical infrastructure behind OER, CC has been conducting a series of interviews to help clarify some of the challenges and opportunities of OER in today’s education landscape. We caught up with Karen Fasimpaur, a blogger, author, creator of the Kids Open Dictionary, and co-founder of K12 Open Ed.

You run a small educational technology company. Can you briefly explain your business and how it relates to OER? Can you describe your past work and how it’s lead to what you’re doing now?

For almost 10 years, our company, K12 Handhelds, has worked with schools to integrate mobile technology into the curriculum. That work includes professional development, curriculum development, and coaching and mentoring to help facilitate differentiation of instruction, which is a key to reversing the engagement and achievement gaps that challenge our schools today. In the course of that work, I discovered open resources as a solution to several issues. The biggest was that in trying to customize curriculum resources (textbooks, etc.) for use on mobile devices and use with a variety of learners, we have always had difficulty with traditional proprietary content. In some cases, publishers wouldn’t extend rights for us to do this for schools. In other cases, when we were allowed to do this, the technical work required was expensive and time consuming due to proprietary formats. OER has been a great solution to this.

In addition, we work with teachers and students to create multimedia products, such as podcasts, web sites, multimedia book reports, etc. I always try to make sure students (and teachers) understand copyright and what is legal to use and what is not. Before open resources, it was a challenge to find resources that students could use legally, especially when they want to publish to the Internet. Now, with so much great content licensed under CC and other open licenses, the sky’s the limit. Students love using this content and learning about copyright and open resources.

Beyond that, I have come to really appreciate the philosophy of OER. The K-12 education community is naturally inclined to share, so OER really makes sense in so many ways.

You’ve written extensively on your blog about the potential for cost savings with OER. A lot of policymakers and champions of “open” rely on a cost-savings argument–not surprising, given the state of the economy over the past few years. Can OER save money and how should this be situated within the larger case for OER?

I do think that OER can help cut costs, though OER is certainly not “free” in the sense of not costing anything to develop. Particularly in K-12, where many high quality OER are developed by highly specialized content experts (much like traditional textbooks), there is a cost to do so. Where OER can save cost though is through cost sharing, electronic distribution, and better leveraging of resources. With the current state budget crises, many federal and state policymakers are looking to OER as a partial solution to funding challenges. In particular, I believe that all publicly funded materials development should require an open license – that just makes good sense in terms of use of public funds.

Perhaps, even more importantly in K-12, reform of the traditional core curriculum adoption and purchasing systems, can result in cost savings to schools. Doing things like unbundling textbook and ancillary purchases, allowing flexibility in how instructional materials funds are spent, and encouraging more collaborative participation in the development process are all important.

The most important thing about OER is not that it saves money in the short term, but that it is beneficial to learning by allowing more customization and differentiation. Ultimately, that will also save money by allowing schools to spend funds on the content and services that best serve their students and by improving student engagement and achievement.

A substantial concern around supporting open educational resources is the impression that the OER model, which releases content for free under an open license, will turn the traditional commercial publishing model on its head, especially within the textbook industry. At the same time, startups like Flat World Knowledge have demonstrated viable business models around OER, and that could benefit digital textbook adoption initiatives. How can we encourage new business models around OER, and what is the future of the publishing industry?

The traditional publishing industry has been struggling over the last few years and, like most of our world, is facing change. The industry needs to be more responsive to customer needs and to help facilitate more flexibility in how schools provide instructional materials. Open educational resources is one of they many factors that will likely help bring this about.

Having worked in both commercial textbook and software publishing myself, I understand the business challenges and believe that there are exciting new business models around OER. In particular, income can be generated around customization services, professional development, and premium add-ons. This not only gives publishers a sustainable profit model, but it allows schools to shift spending from expensive, proprietary textbooks to customized services packages in order to improve learning.

There will always be a role for the commercial publishing industry, and I hope that there will be more conversations with the OER community to find ways we can collaborate for the benefit of teachers and learners.

There is much discussion around what “open” means, and sometimes related terms are used, such as free/freely available/open source/digital/online. How do you feel about these differences in terminology, and what do you think is the best path forward for the OER movement?

The discussion of what “open” means can sound like tiresome semantics, but it is really important. To me, “open” means that materials can be used, adapted, and redistributed freely by anyone. “Open” does not mean simply free or digital. There are many educational resources that are free and digital, but proprietary, and those resources don’t have the instructional benefits of OER.

The OER movement would be well-served by getting this message out to educators. In presenting to groups of educators across the country, I find that it is an easy message for people to understand and that it is very well received by policymakers, administrators, and teachers, but unfortunately are not familiar with OER right now.

How do you see the role of Creative Commons within the OER movement? How can CC help?

Creative Commons has been a tremendous leader and mover in the OER movement. Without the simple-to-understand CC licenses and all the great open content that CC has helped make available to the world, OER wouldn’t be as strong as it is. In the future, Creative Commons can continue to help by getting the word out about open content and CC licenses to encourage more and more people to use these resources and to license their own work that way.

Wrapping up, what does a successful teaching and learning environment implementing the power of OER “look like”? Do you have any lingering thoughts — worries, hopes, predictions?

Successful teaching and learning, with or without OER, includes differentiated learning opportunities, high engagement, and active participatory environments. While OER is not necessary to these, they certainly greatly facilitate this kind of environment. I believe that OER can really drive a powerful new model of learning. My worries for the future of OER are that the powerful commercial publishing lobby will fight OER adoption and that the word will be slow to get out to teachers about the power of this tool set. My hopes are that every teacher and learner will experience the power of differentiated instruction and see how OER can help enliven their learning experience. My predictions are that OER will change traditional publishing models; that printed, static textbooks will be a thing of the past relatively soon; and that change will be the only constant.

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Reminder: ccSalon SF next Monday (5/3), on Power of Open Education

Allison Domicone, April 28th, 2010

salon-sf

Join us at what’s sure to be a stellar Creative Commons Salon next Monday, on the power of open education. Bring a friend, come meet CC staff, and enjoy a refreshment as we explore the challenges facing the future of learning and how to harness the power of the internet and digital technologies as forces for good in education.

On the evening’s agenda:
Presentations from 7:15-8pm

Panel and discussion from 8:15-9pm:

When: Monday, May 3, 7-9pm
Location: PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. (map and directions). Plenty of street parking available. (Please note, the space is located up two steep flights of stairs, and unfortunately does not currently have elevator access.)

Light refreshments will be provided, and since we rely on the generosity of our community to keep us afloat, we’ll be accepting donations for CC at the door.

Check out the event posting on Facebook and Upcoming.

CC Salons are global events, and anyone can start one, no matter where you live. We encourage you to check out our resources for starting your own salon in your area.

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Al Jazeera CC Workshop Recap, Panel Debate at Perugia International Journalism Festival

Cameron Parkins, April 22nd, 2010

Today, the Al Jazeera Documentary International Film Festival hosted Remix, the first ever Creative Commons workshop in the Arab world entirely dedicated to filmmakers.

Basel Safadi kicked off the workshop, explaining in both English and Arabic the basics behind Creative Commons licenses. Safadi also presented case studies of select films and documentaries already released under a CC license including Brett Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto, Nina Paley’s Sita Sings The Blues, and Arce-Rujelah’s To Shoot an Elephant. Mohamed Nanahbay, Head of Online at Al Jazeera English, was also present to discuss the Al Jazeera Creative Commons Repository and its recent addition of footage from Lebanon.

The CC Al Jazeera repository and its importance will be at the center of a panel discussion hosted by Perugia International Journalism Festival on Friday, April 23rd. The panel will focus on how the availability of high-quality footage for free and legal download is affecting the future of video journalism. Featured participants include Moeed Ahmad, Head of Al Jazeera New Media, and Laith Mustaq, one of the most prominent bloggers at Al Jazeera Talk.

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Wikipedia on new Facebook community pages

Jane Park, April 21st, 2010

Earlier this week, Facebook announced its launch of community pages, pages based on topics of interest to the community that are not maintained by a single author. Single author pages include band or company pages that intend to promote that band or company. Instead, community pages are based on the concept of “shared knowledge” that underlies Wikipedia. Community pages integrate Wikipedia content which retains the Creative Commons license.

For example, check out the community page for Cooking. The page has directly imported CC BY-SA licensed content from the Wikipedia entry on Cooking. All links to Wikipedia are retained, including direct links to edit the information. At the bottom of the page, the source of content is explicitly stated with links to the CC BY-SA license and history of the article:

For more information on how Wikipedia is integrated into community pages, check out Facebook’s FAQ on Community pages and an email from Wikimedia Foundation’s Head of Business Development, Kul Takanao Wadhwa:

Wikipedia articles on Facebook will further increase the reach of free knowledge on the internet. Facebook has hundreds of millions of users, and now more than 70% of their traffic is coming from outside of the US. Our hope is that many Facebook users (if they are not already) will also be inclined to join the large community of Wikipedia contributors. Facebook will follow the free licenses (CC-BY-SA) and help us find more ways people can share knowledge. Furthermore, we will be looking at other ways that both parties can cooperate in the future.

It’s worth noting privacy concerns about they way Facebook has connected community pages to user profiles — these concerns have nothing to do with the reuse of Wikipedia content.

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FMA Guest Curator: Spark

Cameron Parkins, April 21st, 2010

The latest addition to our guest curation series at the Free Music Archive comes from Spark, “a weekly audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching” from CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Centre). Dan Misener, one of Spark’s producers, helmed the mix, providing context as to why Spark uses CC-licensed music on its podcast – you can listen to the mix in full at the Free Music Archive:

We knew we wanted Spark to be more than a traditional broadcast radio program. We wanted it to be a collaboration and a conversation — a platform for exploring the intersection of technology and culture. We wanted to embrace the values of online culture to talk about online culture. And as we worked on our first episode, one question we kept asking ourselves was, “What does the Internet sound like?” As it turns out, the Internet sounds an awful lot like the best CC-licensed music: collaborative, remixable, and constantly evolving.

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CC Salon Beirut & CC Salon Istanbul

Cameron Parkins, April 16th, 2010

An exciting few days for our international community sees first time Salons in both Beirut, Lebanon and Istanbul, Turkey. CC Salon Beirut is taking place currently (7PM-12AM EEST), featuring an incredible lineup of events and speakers. Covered in advanced by the Al Akhbar newspaper, you can follow the event in real time via the CCBeirut Twitter account.

Two days later on Sunday, April 18th, CC Salon Istanbul takes place at Istanbul Bilgi University’s Dolapdere Campus. The Salon, which received national news coverage, takes place one day before a Communia workshop and directly follows a CC Europe meeting.

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ccSalon SF (5/3/10): The power of open education

Allison Domicone, April 12th, 2010

salon-sf

If you’re in the SF Bay Area, we hope to see you at our next Creative Commons Salon on the power of open education, featuring:

Brian Bridges, Director of the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN)
Murugan Pal, co-Founder and President of CK-12 Foundation
Carolina Rossini, Berkman Fellow, Advocate for OER in Brazil, and Peer2Peer University community member

The Internet and digital technologies have transformed how people learn. Educational resources are no longer static and scarce, but adaptable and widely available, allowing educational institutions, teachers, and learners to actively participate in a global exchange of knowledge via Open Educational Resources (OER). At next month’s salon, we’ll be gathering together three preeminent individuals involved in shaping the future of education and harnessing the power of the internet and digital technologies as forces for good in this field. Each participant will give a brief presentation on their respective projects, followed by an informal panel/discussion period where we’ll explore more in depth the issues, challenges, and opportunities emerging in the field of education.

This is a great chance to meet CC staff, learn more about Creative Commons, and connect with Bay Area creators and innovators. Hope to see you there!

When: Monday, May 3, 7-9pm
Location: PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. (map and directions). Plenty of street parking available. (Please note, the space is located up two steep flights of stairs, and unfortunately does not currently have elevator access.)

Light refreshments will be provided, and since we rely on the generosity of our community to keep us afloat, we’ll be accepting donations for CC at the door.

Check out the event posting on Facebook. We hope to see you there!

CC Salons are global events, and anyone can start one, no matter where you live. We encourage you to check out our resources for starting your own salon in your area.

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Video from CC Salon NYC: Opening Education

Jane Park, April 9th, 2010

For those of you who missed CC Salon NYC: Opening Education, we uploaded live recordings of the event to the CC blip.tv channel a while back. The video recording is split up into three parts in-line with the three sessions to make it easier for you to pick and choose what to watch:

All videos are available via CC BY, of course. I’d also like to point out that the Hewlett OER Grantees meeting is going on right now, which you can follow with the hashtag #oerhf.

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Talis Incubator for Open Education Announces Winners

Jane Park, April 9th, 2010

Talis Education announced the first round of project winners yesterday for its Talis Incubator for Open Education. If you recall, I pointed out the Talis Angel Fund for Open Education last year, which was set up “to further the cause of Open Education through the use of technology.” Talis awarded £1,000-£15,000 to three projects for the first round: Drawtivity, Moodle Course Repository, and TwHistory. The Moodle Course Repository proposes “to build a repository of every course ever created on Moodle, a leading open source Virtual Learning Environment.” According to team leader, Joseph Thibault, it would “give users an easier way to share their content and find new course templates, resources and Creative Commons licensed materials.”

If you have a CC licensed project you’d like funded, the deadline for the second round is June 31st. See the website for more details.

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