Commons News

Thank you, Donatella Della Ratta

Jessica Coates, February 18th, 2014

Donatella Della Ratta
Donatella Della Ratta / Joi Ito / CC BY

Creative Commons extends its deepest gratitude to Donatella Della Ratta. For almost six years, she’s been working as a tireless advocate for Creative Commons and open culture in the Arab world, increasing the knowledge and adoption of CC, conducting outreach to creative communities, and connecting activists throughout the region. Dona has done all of this with grace and tenacity in the midst of an oftentimes unpredictable and sometimes unstable political and social environment in much of the Arab world. We thank you, Dona.

Even though Dona is leaving her position as regional coordinator for the Arab world, Creative Commons will continue to support this incredibly important region. We are in the process of bringing on two new part-time regional coordinators, as we’ve done with other geographic areas. Below is a note from Donatella.


On my way back from Amman, where the fourth Arab Bloggers meeting was held this year, I was thinking that it all started here. Back to early 2008, I was lucky enough to breathe an atmosphere of excitement and change that pervaded the Arab region, and encouraged the Arab youth to gather and discuss ideas, projects, new challenges. Technology played a key role in these gatherings: at the time, open communities such as Linux, Wikipedia, Mozilla, and the like, were being formed and getting together. We started the Creative Commons Arab world community during that wave of change, connecting with the other Arab communities which were using technology to create content together, promote social change, defend freedom of choice – and of expression.

We launched the first archive of CC-licensed broadcast footage with Al Jazeera, at a time when the lack of foreign journalists on the ground in Gaza during the Israeli attack had made information a very precious and scarce resource. Since 2008, many things happened in the Arab region. The Creative Commons Arab community has grown exponentially, and many countries have joined: together with Jordan and Egypt, where we had already official affiliates prior to 2008, informal communities started to gather in Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, UAE, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Oman, and Mauritania. The latest addition has been Yemen, where few months ago the first training workshop on CC and open licensing was held in Sana`a.

During these years, we have held CC Salons everywhere in the region, from Doha to Casablanca; we have hosted CC Iftars in a number of Arab capitals, from Damascus to Amman. CC Arab communities have gathered in regional meetings four times (2009 Doha; 2010 Doha; 2011 Tunis: 2012 Cairo). We have hosted CC training sessions, panels and hands-on workshops in many regional, tech and community related events. In 2011, we started the first Pan Arab peer-produced and CC-licensed music project, “It will be wonderful”, which is still traveling around the world and being remixed. We produced the first collaborative, open-licensed comics fanzine between Egyptian and Moroccan artists. And many other exciting projects are in the pipeline: books, videos, music, and training toolkits, in Arabic and free to share.

Meanwhile, the Arab uprisings have happened, and this was probably the biggest change that the region witnessed in decades. Today the Arab world lives in difficult conditions: after the first wave of excitement for the toppling of many authoritarian regimes in the region, the civil movement for change has now to face tough challenges. Activists are being jailed and tortured, and creativity and cooperation are being repressed in an atmosphere of dire restoration. One of the most prominent member of the CC Arab world community, Bassel Khartabil aka Safadi, has been imprisoned by the Syrian government for two years without charges, probably being guilty of having dreamt a more free and open society for himself and his peers. Yet, against all odds, the Creative Commons Arab world, together with many other youth-led movements and communities in the region, is still producing content, sharing and building on other people`s ideas, and working for a better, more open society.

After five years spent as Arab world regional coordinator, I am proud to have helped this community to come together, and humbled by the strength and energy of this youth. While I am leaving my official role at Creative Commons, I will always be involved with the amazing Arab community and work together to push forward new ideas and exciting projects, despite all the problems we have to face in the region. And we will be waiting for our friend Bassel Safadi to join us in new, upcoming challenges.

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School of Open: Copyright & Creative Commons for Educators Courses Now Open for Sign-up

Jane Park, February 18th, 2014

fuzzy copyright
Is copyright a little fuzzy? / Elias Bizannes / CC BY-SA

Following on the heels of “Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics and Beyond,” three more School of Open courses are now open for sign-up. They are:

1. Copyright 4 Educators (AUS)

This course will equip Australian educators with the copyright knowledge to confidently use copyright material in the classroom. It will also introduce Open Educational Resources (OER) and teach you how to find and adapt free, useful resources for your classes. The course is open to all educators around the world, but it is specifically targeted to Australian teachers, teacher-librarians from K-12, TAFE teachers, University lecturers/tutors, and University students studying to become teachers. The course material is learnt around practical case studies faced by teachers when using copyright material in their day-to-day teaching and educational instruction.

Facilitators: Jessica Smith and Delia Browne

To sign up, click the “Start course” button on the bottom left of the course page.

2. Copyright 4 Educators (US)

This is a course for educators who want to learn about US copyright law in the education context. Educators who are not in the US are welcome to sign up, too, if they want to learn about copyright law in the US. The course is taught around practical case studies faced by teachers when using copyright material in their day-to-day teaching. By answering the case scenarios and drafting and discussing the answers in groups, you and other participants will learn:

  • What is the public domain?
  • What does copyright law protect?
  • What is fair use?
  • What other exceptions are there in copyright law?
  • What are open access educational resources?

Facilitators: Laura Quilter and Lila Bailey

To sign up, apply using the Google form — also linked at the top of the course page.

3. Creative Commons for K-12 Educators

K-12 educators would like to find and adapt free, useful resources for their classes. Some would even like to incorporate activities that teach their students digital world skills — such as finding, remixing, and sharing digital media and materials on the web. In this lightly facilitated course, we will learn how to do these things with each other in a peer learning environment.

Facilitator: Jane Park

To sign up, click the “Start course” button on the bottom left of the course page.

About the School of Open

school of open logo

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community and platform for developing and running free online courses.

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Affiliate Project Grant Update: Africa

Meryl Mohan, February 18th, 2014

Last June, CC began a project grant program for our Affiliate Teams around the world. Of over 70 applicants, 18 were selected to receive funds to support events or activities in their region. The chosen projects in music, education, data, culture, and technology all work towards CC’s mission to promote the understanding and adoption of open policies and practices globally.

We wanted to share how these have unfolded in the past months. Each week for the next five weeks, we will be featuring projects from different regions: Africa, Arab World, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America. This week we’re showcasing the innovative projects from Africa.



Kenya: School of Open Kenya Initiative
#schoolofopen

by project lead Simeon Oriko

Introduction
The School of Open Kenya Initiative is a series of workshops aimed at introducing high school students to the concept and culture of ‘Open’ through the courses listed on the School of Open website. This will help them learn about and employ open tools, such as the CC licenses, as well as participate in open culture through collaboration and sharing.

Progress
Jamlab has run this project for six months now. We have worked with about two hundred high school students directly. The first batch was in Precious Blood Riruta, a girls’ high school in Kenya. The second, was Lycee Malick Sy in Thies, Senegal. The SOO Kenya program was designed to simply introduce the students to the idea of “Open” but the students gradually became more immersed and have began creating their own openly licensed content. Precious Blood Riruta students have released an Open Education Video on YouTube based on the Kenya High School literature curriculum. The students from Senegal, on the other hand, have become active editors in the Wikipedia space in Senegal. Their first collaborative effort is a Wikipedia page about their school.

What’s coming up?
For the next series of workshops, we are planning to focus our efforts in four Kenyan high schools. This will enable us to work with another two hundred students countrywide. In addition to introducing them to Open ideals, we will also encourage a system of competition in the creation of openly licensed material among the schools in order to thrust them deeper into the ecosystem that until now, has proven to change and affect their mindsets in the most gratifying way.


South Africa: Creative Commons for Kids
#schoolofopen

by project lead Kelsey Wiens

Creative Commons South Africa (ZA) and Obami are busy building a CC4Kids curriculum. This pilot program is aiming for innovative and dynamic course work to interest kids of all ages. Barbara Mallinson from Obami approached Kelsey Wiens, OER Lead from CC ZA last year to build the program after seeing a number of copyright violations from the kids on the network. The motivation behind the program: Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of teaching kids how to protect and lock down their stuff we instead taught them how to open and share freely? This is something kids and teenagers tend to do naturally. The course is planned to launch in March 2014 as part of the School of Open. We’re looking forward at getting a peek at what they’ve come up with!


Tanzania: Tanzania CC Salon
by project lead Paul Kihwelo

Creative Commons Tanzania affiliate team held their inaugural CC Salon on 6th December, 2013 at the Open University of Tanzania headquarters in Dar es Salaam. The Salon was the third in Sub Saharan region following Kenya’s in early 2013 and South Africa’s held in August, 2006.
Attracting over 60 diverse professionals, including academics, bloggers, journalists, scientists, engineers, students, librarians and information system experts, lawyers, medical practitioners, policy makers, IT professionals, representatives of Tanzania Medical Students Association, Consortium of Tanzania University Libraries and Researchers and Coalition for Open Access in Tanzania, among other participants.
Among the prominent attendees included Ms. Doreen Sinare, CEO-Copyright Society of Tanzania, Ms. Loy Mhando representing CEO-Business Registration and Licensing Agency, Dr. Mary Mayige, Director General – St. Laurent Diabetes Centre and Alex Gakuru the Regional Coordinator – Africa, Creative Commons based in Kenya.


Paul Kihwelo / CC BY

The salon focused on the importance of open copyright and open educational resources, including how Africa stood to benefit from openness in teaching, learning, and sharing as well as increased access to knowledge and quality of learning resources. Open University of Tanzania Institutional Repository also explained how the institutional repository leveraged the university and the country in adding more African content online, as African materials currently represent just 2% of online content. Other topics discussed included health and medicine, and the need to share information for better prevention and/or management for ongoing health problems like diabetes.
Alex Gakuru, Creative Commons Africa Regional Coordinator, summed up the event nicely with an overview of how the CC philosophy ties with the African community: “Creative Commons reflects our common culture and heritage of sharing.”
Click here for the full report on Tanzania’s salon.


Uganda: Promoting Creative Commons Initiatives in Uganda
by project lead Moses Mulumba

In August 2013, CC Uganda received a grant from CC HQ to implement the project “Promoting Creative Commons Initiatives in Uganda.” The project, which is in its final stages, implemented activities to include:

  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Convening CC Uganda Affiliates to discuss the potential for the implementation of the Creative Commons initiatives in Uganda.
  • Producing promotional materials like CC Uganda customised T-shirts, factsheets, stickers & IEC materials on CC Initiatives
  • Holding a salon illustrating Creative Commons licences as an example of an alternative model based on copyright to stakeholders
  • CC Translation Sprint.

The team met at Café Java on September 9th, 2013 and mapped out stakeholders to engage. The then team was composed of only 15 members i.e 9 lawyers, 2 information scientists, and 4 technology specialists (Javie Ssozi, Ruth Aine, Collins Mugume, and Micheal Niyitegeka) joined the team that day – as below:


Moses Mulumba / CC BY

Having tech specialists and social media enthusiasts join the CC Community was added advantage in breaking the monotony of lawyers being the sole advocates for CC licensing. Soon after the meeting tweets (#CCUganda) of the licences were up and blogs running news of the same –see https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ccuganda&src=typd.
The mapping exercise was followed up with a translation sprint exercise where Affiliates were subjected to an exercise to translate CC Public domain tools/factsheets to Luganda. This too was a success as we won CC HQ support to design and print the translated factsheets for dissemination.
We have also produced IEC including factsheets, T-shirts, and stickers to raise more awareness of the licences. We have convened stakeholders and held a CC salon that has attracted more members joining the open community and committing to use and advocate for use and adoption of the licences in the Ugandan community.


CC Stakeholder convening held on 31st October, 2013 at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala
Moses Mulumba / CC BY


CC Uganda Salon held on 31st January 2013, at the CEHURD Gardens in Ntinda.
Moses Mulumba / CC BY

Details of pictorials can be accessed at our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Creative-Commons-Uganda-Affiliates-Page/335875883192903.
We are currently working on our 2014 roadmap and official blog from which members can creatively post articles and developments of the open movement in Uganda. The page, which is in its infancy, can be accessed here http://creativecommonsug.wordpress.com/.


Cross Regional Africa: Activate Africa
#schoolofopen

by project lead Kelsey Wiens

To Open Africa we need to activate the community. This week is the start of a month-long training program that centres around all things ‘Open’. This pilot program have been created to activate 5 Africa communities. Advocates from across Africa including Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, and Ghana are being taken through an Open bootcamp. The intense training program for them covers all the tools and skills required for them to return to their home country and activate their communities. We are teaching them all things Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Data, Open Government, and the related fundraising & community building. An online version of the training program will be featured as part of the School of Open. They are all racing for the prize to be the first Kumusha Bus stop (a week-long activation in their home country on Africa Day). The Kumusha Bus is the Africanized LibreBus done in South America. The winning bid country will organize activations for a week in different locations around the country. It will be the first bus stop (of many) in Africa.


From left to right: Abel Asrat – Ethiopia, Nkansah Rexford – Ghana, Michael Phoya – Malawi, Cyriac Gbogou – Cote d’Ivorie, Erina Mukuta – Uganda
Kelsey Wiens / CC BY

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Next phase of the CC Toolkits project: Regional events

Billy Meinke, February 17th, 2014

Back in November, we launched the CC Toolkits project with the aim of invigorating the CC Community through affiliate events. CC Argentina collaborated with Wikimedia Argentina to hack out a template for the toolkits during a sprint, creating a starting point for just about anyone to collect open content about CC, and publish it on the web.

CC Toolkits Hackathon / by Gino Cingolani / CC BY-NC-SA

Building momentum for sharing resources about CC

This month, affiliate groups in Argentina, Paraguay, Nigeria, and Poland will be running local events bringing people together around openness in law, government, education, and cultural works. Though the events will be about much more than open copyright licenses, volunteers in our community will be sprinting and hacking to gathering and create useful videos, guides, and other content on the web that make it easy for others to learn about the importance of CC.

CC Toolkits Homepage

CC Toolkits Homepage

The toolkit template developed by the design team is composed of a WordPress theme built from the ground up, with media panes for embedding and linking and viewing content about CC that various affiliate groups have created. The goal is make it easier for creators and curators in the CC community to frame interesting and useful content into toolkits that can support conversations about CC. But beyond the tech, the regional events happening this month will help set the stage for new ways we can share about open.

Here is a rundown of events being run by affiliates this month:

CC Nigeria flag
CC Nigeria will be hosting an event at the University of Lagos to talk about CC, address offline and low-bandwidth components of toolkit bundles, and translate the current version of the Basics of CC toolkit into local languages.
 

CC Argentina will be running a multi-day event in Capital Federal (Buenos Aires), Resistencia (Chaco), and Cordoba, focusing CC and it’s importance in education. Two days of hackathons will take place in late February, bringing together members of CC and other open organizations to discuss how CC licenses can improve education.
 

CC Paraguay will be hosting a 2 day “CCthon” in late February to produce toolkit materials to support CC in government. The group has invited participation from the Open Government of Paraguay to guide the toolkit, and is coordinating the event with local translators and bloggers.
 

CC Poland will be focusing on the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, museums), holding a meeting between among CC community members, Wikimedians and other open culture supporters. The two-day summit will take place February 20-21 in Krakow, Poland, crafting a toolkit about CC licence use for cultural heritage institutions.
 


To keep up with the working groups, check out the About page on cctoolkits.com, and the hashtag #cctoolkits on social media channels, and uploading photos to flickr with the same tag. If you’re interested in seeing how the pieces of the toolkits are being threaded together, the Collaborate page has more information about creating toolkits with our design files and media.

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Call for Participation: Open Education Week 2014

Jane Park, February 14th, 2014

oew-logo 2
OCW Consortium / CC BY

Creative Commons invites you to participate in the 3rd annual Open Education Week! Taking place from 10-15 March, 2014, the purpose of Open Education Week is raise the profile of open educational resources (OER) and the global movement of people and organizations behind them, in addition to highlighting the crucial role that legal tools, such as Creative Commons licenses, play in making OER possible.

The OpenCourseWare Consortium, organizer of Open Ed Week, cites several case studies demonstrating the growing impact of OER, including:

  • A pilot program in Utah’s K-12 schools that used printed open textbooks, cutting textbook costs by over 50%
  • A Haitian solar energy company that built their business to serve the needs of its local community thanks to open courseware that helped to deepen its knowledge about solar engineering
  • An engineer in India that developed his management skills and international perspectives to advance his career thanks to a self-designed study plan consisting of OER

…not to mention CC’s own set of Team Open and OER case studies!

You can contribute to the week by submitting an informational video about OER or a specific OER project; hosting a local event/workshop or webinar, and promoting the week to your networks. The deadline to submit your resource or event is 28 February, 2014.

We look forward to seeing your contributions in March!

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Precocious One Year Old Turning Academic Publishing On Its Head

Puneet Kishor, February 12th, 2014

 

“If we can set a goal to sequence the Human Genome for $99, then why shouldn’t we demand the same goal for the publication of research?”

 

PeerJ logo started with that bold challenge. Now, the scrappy startup that dared has done it. One year old today, PeerJ, the peer-reviewed journal, has seen startling growth having published 232 articles under CC-BY 3.0 last year. By the way, per Scimago that number is more than what 90% of any other journal publishes in a year. Then in April 2013 PeerJ started publishing PeerJ PrePrints, the non-peer-reviewed preprint server with 186 PrePrints in 2013, all under CC BY 3.0.

Now PeerJ has more than 800 Academic Editors, from a wide variety of countries and institutions. There are also five Nobel Prize winners on the PeerJ Board. PeerJ receives submissions from all over the world, and covers all of the biological, health, medical sciences. As of the time of this post’s publication, the top subject areas for PeerJ submissions were

Subject Articles
Ecology 106
Bioinformatics 69
Evolutionary Studies 66
Zoology 54
Computational Biology 49
Microbiology 48
Psychiatry and Psychology 47
Marine Biology 45
Biodiversity 45
Biochemistry 45

Not everything has been easy. Starting an entire publishing company from scratch has been a learning experience for the entire team. From no brand recognition, no history, no infrastructure etc. to having successfully established themselves in all the places that a publishing company should be in: archiving solutions; DOI issuing services; indexing services; membership of professional bodies; ISSN registrations etc. PeerJ has done very well. Last year PeerJ won the ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation.

PeerJ’s vision/mission are deceptively simple:

  • Keep Innovating
  • Remember Whom We Serve
  • Pass on the Savings
Interpretive drawing of DNHM D2945 Hongshanornis longicresta

PeerJ decision-making process is fast, very fast. Authors get their first decision back in a median of 24 days. Being small, and non-traditional means they can take risks. They have built interesting functionality and models such as optional open peer review; Their business model is based on individuals purchasing low cost lifetime publication plans, and that has resulted in a lot of their functionality being very individual-centric.

Compared to traditional publishers, PeerJ is a very tech-focused company. They built all the technology themselves, quite unusual in the academic publishing world, which normally uses third parties for their peer-review software and publication platforms. By doing it themselves they have much more control over their destiny, cost, and can build functionality which suits their unique needs. The high percentage of authors describing their experience with PeerJ as their best publishing experience is arguably a direct result of this. Much of PeerJ’s software is open source, and their techie roots are evident in their engagement with the community via events such as Hack4ac, a hackday to specifically celebrate, ahem, CC BY!

Peter Binfield, Co-Founder, says:

We firmly believe that Open Access publishing is the future of the academic journal publishing system. With the current trends we see in the marketplace (including governmental legislation; institutional mandates; the rapid growth of the major OA publishers; and the increasing education and desire from authors) we believe that Open Access content will easily make up >50% of newly published content in the next 4 or 5 years.

 
Once all academic content is OA and under an appropriate re-use license we believe that significant new opportunities will emerge for people to use this content; to build on it for new discoveries and products; and to accelerate the scientific discovery process.

Binfield continues:

We regard the CC-BY license as the gold standard for OA Publications. Some other publishers provide authors with “NC” options, or try to write their own OA licenses, but we have a firm belief in the CC BY flavor. If there are many different OA licenses in play then it becomes increasingly difficult for users to determine what rights they have for any given piece of work, and so it is cleaner and simpler if everyone agrees on a single (preferably liberal) license. We were pleased to see the license updated to 4.0 and were quick to adopt it.

In Jan 2014, PeerJ moved to CC BY 4.0 for all articles newly submitted from that point onwards (prior articles remain under CC BY 3.0 of course). Today, on PeerJ’s first birthday, we at CC send PeerJ our best wishes, and look forward to ever more courageous, even outrageous innovations from this precocious one year old.

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“Really Open Education” Policy Discussion In the European Parliament

Timothy Vollmer, February 4th, 2014

ROE_banner

Creative Commons would like to invite you to a breakfast discussion “Really Open Education. Domestic Policies for Open Educational Resources”. The event will take place on the 18th of February 2014 and be hosted in the European Parliament by Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, MEP.

The event will highlight open education initiatives currently implemented in European member states, with a particular focus on primary and secondary education. With the event, we would like to draw the attention to the development and use Open Educational Resources as a key aspect of the new “Opening Up Education” initiative.

Invited panelists will present projects that deal with open e-textbooks and supplemental resources, repositories for open resources created by teachers, and policies developed in support of open education initiatives. We aim these examples to support the development of open education in Europe within the scope of current educational initiatives and programs, such as Erasmus+.

Program of the event

Welcoming remarks:
Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, MEP

Presentations of country-level activities and key issues related to Open Educational Resources:

  • Hans de Four (KlasCement, Belgium): the role of KlasCement, an open educational resources repository, in Belgian education;
  • Teresa Nobre (Creative Commons Portugal): legal aspects of Open Education, in the perspective of EU copyright reform;
  • Robert Schuwer (UNESCO Chair on OER, Open Universiteit, Netherlands): development of Open Education in the Netherlands;
  • Krzysztof Wojewodzic (Centre for Educational Development, Poland): Polish open e-textbooks project and the „Digital School” program.

Presentation of the “Opening Up Education” Initiative:
Ricardo Ferreira (DG Education and Culture, European Commission)

Questions and answers.

The meeting will be moderated by Alek Tarkowski (European Policy Advisor, Creative Commons).

The event will take place on the 18th of February (Tuesday) at 8.15-10.00, in the Members’ Salon, Altiero Spinelli Building, European Parliament.

Please note that badges are needed to enter the European Parliament building. Badges will be handed out to participants at the Place du Luxembourg entrance. Persons with European Parliament badges should enter through the rue Wiertz entrance (closer to the salon).

If you plan attending the event, please RSVP by sending email to: rsvp@oerpolicy.eu

(Information about the event (PDF) and event poster (PNG) – please share!)

This blog post was written by Alek Tarkowski and originally published on the European Open Education Policy Project website. It is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

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Discussion period open for Draft ShareAlike Statement of Intent

Kat Walsh, February 3rd, 2014

Today we’re beginning our discussion period for the Draft Statement of Intent for the ShareAlike Licenses. Because of the new provision in the 4.0 ShareAlike licenses allowing licensees to use SA works in Adapted Material under the conditions of a later license version, we are working on a statement of intent that publicly commits to attributes of the ShareAlike licenses that CC will keep constant in future versions. The statement is meant to address concerns about what may happen with future versions of SA, and what it means for licensors.

You can view the initial announcement to the license development list, and the announcement of the new revision and final discussion period.

Many of you are familiar with the existing statement of intent on the scope of ShareAlike, made in preparation for Wikipedia’s migration from GFDL to CC BY-SA, which we wrote about in 2008. This statement isn’t a replacement for it; instead, it will be a supplement to the commitments made there. The 10 items in the current discussion draft include a commitment to a public discussion process for all future license versions, as well as a commitment not to narrow the scope of future versions (though it could be expanded). Items 9 and 10 of the draft are proposals included for consideration, but are unlikely to appear in the final document.

We are discussing the development of this statement on the license development list before publication so that the CC community can provide its thoughtful guidance and feedback before we make this long-term commitment. (You can sign up here to join the discussion.) It will remain open for comment until February 21.

Update (February 19): After hearing community feedback, we’ve decided not to publish this now, but instead to revisit it at a later date as more general versioning principles for all of the CC licenses.

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School of Open: “Writing Wikipedia Articles” Course Now Open for Registration

Jane Park, February 3rd, 2014

Below, Sara Frank Bristow invites you to join “Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics & Beyond”. Sara is a co-organizer of the course and a member of WikiProject Open. Both projects are part of the School of Open.


The School of Open will offer its popular “Writing Wikipedia Articles” course (WIKISOO) starting 25 February, 2014. This free introductory online course, now in its fourth incarnation, runs for six weeks. Enrollment is open to all.

WikiSOO_Burba

WIKISOO Burba Badge

WIKISOO students learn about the values and culture that have driven hundreds of thousands of volunteers to build Wikipedia. Through their work in the course, they join an effort that has generated millions of free articles in hundreds of languages since 2001.The course covers the technical skills needed to edit articles, and also offers practical insights into the site’s collaborative norms and social dynamics. Students graduate with a sophisticated understanding of how to use Wikipedia both as a reader and as an active participant.

The course focuses on articles about openness in education: open educational resources (OER), MOOCs, Creative Commons licenses and more. Students will forge connections with WikiProject Open, a community of volunteers focused on this topic area. Upon successful completion, students earn the WIKISOO Burba Badge.

The course is sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the University of Mississippi. Course instructors are:

  • Pete Forsyth, Wikipedia trainer & consultant (Wiki Strategies)
  • Sara Frank Bristow, OER and online education researcher (Salient Research)
  • Dr. Robert Cummings, Associate Professor (University of Mississippi)

Course registration is now open!

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U.S. PIRG report finds students would perform better with open textbooks

Jane Park, January 30th, 2014

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a report this week called, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives.” The report features responses to a survey administered to over 2,000 students across 163 college campuses in the U.S. in regards to the rising cost of textbooks and how it affects student usage and academic performance. The report has been making the rounds in major news outlets and is highlighted in a letter to Congress by Senators Durbin and Franken as a push for the Affordable College Textbook Act. It is available for anyone to read online under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license, but here are the tl;dr highlights:

What the survey results say

  • 65% of students choose not to buy a college textbook because it’s too expensive
  • 94% report that they suffer academically because of this choice
  • 48% say they altered which classes they took based on textbook costs, either taking fewer classes or different classes
  • Senator Durbin wholeheartedly agrees: “According to the students surveyed in this report, the rising cost of textbooks not only adds to the overall financial burden of attending college, it can also have a measurably negative impact on their academic performance and student outcomes.”
  • 82% of students say they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook were free online and a hard copy was optional!
  • Case studies at both Houston Community College and Virginia State University suggest that classes using open textbooks have higher grades and better course completion rates

Textbook industry facts

(as reported by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs)

  • College textbook prices have increased by 82% in the past ten years, aka 3x the rate of inflation
  • Though alternatives to the new print edition textbooks exist, the costs of these alternatives (such as rental programs, used book markets and e-textbooks) are still dictated by publishers who re-issue editions every few years
  • Ethan Sendack at U.S. PIRG says: “[Students] can’t shop around and find the most affordable option, meaning there’s no consumer control on the market.”
  • On average students spend $1,200 a year on textbooks which = 14% of tuition at a four-year, public college; 39% of tuition at community college

Open textbook facts

  • Open textbooks are written by faculty and peer-reviewed like traditional textbooks
  • Open textbooks are free to access, use, download to electronic devices, and affordable to print — all thanks to the open content licenses on them that legally allows these uses
  • U.S. PIRG estimates that open textbooks could save each student ~$100 per course they take

Find out for yourself

Links to the press release, full report, and news coverage below.

What you can do

Support the Affordable College Textbook Act which would establish open textbook pilot programs at colleges and universities across the country! Learn more at http://www.sparc.arl.org/advocacy/national/act and read Senators Durbin and Franken’s Dear Colleague letter to Congress at http://www.sparc.arl.org/sites/default/files/S.%201704%20Dear%20Colleague.pdf.

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