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Catherine Casserly on Open Educational Resources

Mike Linksvayer, November 7th, 2007

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been a tremendous supporter of Creative Commons and our new educational division, ccLearn. The foundation’s newsletter just published a great interview with Catherine Casserly, their Program Officer for Open Educational Resources. Here are a couple excerpts:

Aren’t copyright laws an obstacle to all of this?

Traditionally, they have been. We’re trying to move to “copy left.” That’s really the term they use. It’s a concept of legal constructions that provide much more flexibility so the creator of content still owns it, and those using it must attribute it to them, but the owner can choose the ways they are willing to share it with others. A key player in this is Creative Commons, a non-profit corporation that Hewlett and other foundations support that helps people who create content define a range of legal control that allows certain shared use of their material.

You know, only a very small number of professors ever make money on textbooks. Everyone thinks they are going to hit, but most don’t. I suppose if you’re one of the few, you might give up some revenue stream by making a text available in this way. We’re looking into making these books available for free to those who can’t afford them. And there are other models emerging. There’s a for-profit company planning to make textbooks available for free and makes its money selling the supplemental materials like flashcards for mobile phones.

But intellectual property issues have been huge and will continue to be a factor.

Look into your crystal ball. What do you think all this will look like in another decade based on advances in technology and current trends?

We can’t even imagine what the technology will look like in ten years. I think we’ll have a vast library of available knowledge and alternative ways for people to get access to higher education. I think we’ll have institutions that grant credentials for this learning. And I hope we’ll have students who engage in learning in rewarding ways that make them creators of knowledge. And it’s through that creation that they learn. That will be a big turning point.

Read the whole interview.

Thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and our other supporters! Please join them.

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