Commons News

Obama highlights open education in U.S. Open Government Partnership National Action Plan

Cable Green, September 25th, 2014

Yesterday at the United Nations, President Barack Obama marked the Open Government Partnership‘s (OGP) third anniversary by announcing that in addition to the commitments outlined in the current U.S. OGP National Action Plan, “The United States will take additional steps to make our government more open, transparent, and accessible for all Americans.”

Among the multiple new commitments: “Promote open educational resources, to help teachers and students everywhere.”

The multi-pronged commitment to promote OER is described as the first item in the updated National Action Plan Commitments document (638 KB PDF):

Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement

  • Open education is the open sharing of digital learning materials, tools, and practices that ensures free access to and legal adoption of learning resources. There is a growing body of evidence that the use of open education resources improves the quality of teaching and learning, including by accelerating student comprehension and by fostering more opportunities for affordable cross-border and cross-cultural educational experiences. The United States is committed to open education and will:
    • Raise open education awareness and identify new partnerships. The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will jointly host a workshop on challenges and opportunities in open education internationally with stakeholders from academia, industry, and government. The session will foster collaboration among OGP members and other interested governments and will produce best practices to inform good policies in open education.
    • Pilot new models for using open educational resources to support learning. The State Department will conduct three pilots overseas by December 2015 that use open educational resources to support learning in formal and informal learning contexts. The pilots’ results, including best practices, will be made publicly available for interested educators.
    • Launch an online skills academy. The Department of Labor (DOL), with cooperation from the Department of Education, will award $25 million through competitive grants to launch an online skills academy in 2015 that will offer open online courses of study, using technology to create high-quality, free, or low-cost pathways to degrees, certificates, and other employer-recognized credentials. This academy will help students prepare for in-demand careers. Courses will be free for all to access on an open learning platform, although limited costs may be incurred for students seeking college credit that can be counted toward a degree. Leveraging emerging public and private models, the investments will help students earn credentials online through participating accredited institutions, and expand the open access to curriculum designed to speed the time to credit and completion. The online skills academy will also leverage the burgeoning marketplace of free and open-licensed learning resources, including content developed through DOL’s community college grant program, to ensure that workers can get the education and training they need to advance their careers, particularly in key areas of the economy.

 

Creative Commons licenses put the “open” in OER and we stand ready to work with governments everywhere who wish to update their OGP National Action Plans with commitments to support Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data and Open Policies that require publicly funded resources be openly licensed.

Well done, President Obama!
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CC Colombia and School of Open celebrate the Web We Want

Jane Park, September 24th, 2014

webwewantcolombia
It’s time to celebrate the Web We Want / CC Colombia / CC BY-SA

This Friday, School of Open and Creative Commons affiliates in Colombia are throwing a celebration of the Web We Want that will highlight open licensing, copyright reform, and free culture. The event takes place as part of the Creative Commons Film Festival in Bogotá. Its purpose is three-fold:

      1) To launch a campaign to promote fair use in copyright reform that is pending Colombia. This campaign is named, Liberen la cultura or Let’s set culture free.

      2) To support the Colombian biologist Diego Gómez, who is facing a criminal case against him for copyright infringement. This campaign is named #CompartirNoEsDelito or #sharingisnotacrime.

      3) To promote live music, books, magazines and films under CC licenses.

As part of both campaigns, affiliates will hold a Licenciatón, a day of awareness, learning and practice for open licensing and its relationship to free culture. This activity incorporates portions of the School of Open course, ABC del derecho de autor para bibliotecarios de América Latina (ABC of Copyright for Librarians in Latin America). Promotional material about the course will also be shared.

Colombian volunteer Maria Juliana says,

We are pleased to announce that as part of the Creative Commons Film Festival, the program will include a Celebration of the Internet, a space that seeks to unite all of us who are interested in an open web where we can contribute and share content freely — a space to celebrate the Web We Want!

We will be celebrating with our friends “Radio Pachone” and our special guests will be: “La Real Academia del Sonido” and “Radio Mixticius”.

The celebration takes place thanks to “A Year of Action” campaign of Web We Want, this campaign convocated organizations around the world to generate actions to celebrate 25 years of the web; we are one of the organizations which benefited.

Event details

Date: Friday, September 26, 2014
Time: 4pm-11pm (Bogotá, Colombia time)
Location: The Raid (Calle 17 No. 2-51 La Candelaria, Bogotá.) Free entrance.

Learn more about the event and its partners at http://karisma.org.co/?p=4609.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

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, and research. Volunteers develop and run courses, 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.

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Hewlett Foundation extends CC BY policy to all grantees

Timothy Vollmer, September 23rd, 2014

Last week the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced that it is extending its open licensing policy to require that all content (such as reports, videos, white papers) resulting from project grant funds be licensed under the most recent Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. From the Foundation’s blog post: “We’re making this change because we believe that this kind of broad, open, and free sharing of ideas benefits not just the Hewlett Foundation, but also our grantees, and most important, the people their work is intended to help.” The change is explained in more detail on the foundation’s website.

The foundation had a long-standing policy requiring that recipients of its Open Educational Resources grants license the outputs of those grants; this was instrumental in the creation and growth of the OER field, which continues to flourish and spread. Earlier this year, the license requirement was extended to all Education Program grants, and as restated, the policy will now be rolled out to all project-based grants under any foundation program. The policy is straightforward: it requires that content produced pursuant to a grant be made easily available to the public, on the grantee’s website or otherwise, under the CC BY 4.0 license — unless there is some good reason to use a different license.

“When we began thinking about extending the policy from OER grants to the foundation as a whole, we wanted to be sure we would not be creating unforeseen problems,” said Elizabeth Peters, the general counsel of the Hewlett Foundation. “So we first broadened it to cover education grants that were not for OER — and have been pleased to find that there were very few issues, and those few easily resolved. CC BY for all grant-funded works will now be the default, but we are willing to accommodate grantees who have a persuasive reason to take a different path. The ultimate goal of this policy is to make the content we fund more openly available to everyone. We’re only just beginning to implement this change, and will continue to monitor how it’s working, but so far we have found most grantees are ready and willing to apply the license that makes their works fully open for re-use of all kinds.”

In practice, the new policy means that nearly all of the extensive content produced with Hewlett project-based grant funds–not only works specifically commissioned as Open Educational Resources, but scholarly research, multimedia materials, videos, white papers, and more, created by grantees on subjects of critical importance–will be widely available for downstream re-use with only the condition that the creator is attributed. Text will be openly available for translation into foreign languages, and high-quality photographs and videos will be able to be re-used on platforms such as Wikipedia. Releasing grant funded content under permissive open licenses like CC BY means that these materials can be more easily shared and re-used by the public. And they can be combined with other resources that are also published under an open license: this collection grows larger every day as governments and other publicly-facing institutions adopt open policies. Promoting this type of sharing can benefit both the original creator and the foundation, as it enables novel uses in situations not intended by the original grant funding.

For a long time Creative Commons has been interested in promoting open licensing policies within philanthropic grantmaking. We received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to survey the licensing policies of private foundations, and to work toward increasing the free availability of foundation-supported works. We wrote about the progress of the project in March, and we’ve been maintaining a list of foundation IP policies, and a model IP policy.

We urge other foundations and funding bodies to emulate the outstanding leadership demonstrated by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and commit to making open licensing an essential component of their grantmaking strategy.

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School of Open Africa launch event in Kenya tomorrow!

Jane Park, September 19th, 2014

Following on the heels of School of Open Africa launch events in Tanzania and Nigeria last weekend, School of Open Kenya is hosting its own tomorrow to kick off training for four high schools in Nairobi.

SOO AfricaV2
(SOO logo here. Earth icon licensed CC BY by Erin Standley from the Noun Project.)

Called Popjam, this SOO launch event + Mozilla Maker Party will be a day-long workshop introducing high school students to open educational resources (OER). Students will learn how to use OER and the open web to complement their academic studies. Students from four high schools will participate: Precious Blood Secondary School, Nairobi School, Sunshine Secondary School, and State House Girls Secondary School. SOO Kenya is hosted by Jamlab, a co-creation community based in Nairobi for high school students and graduates in Africa.

For more information about the event, and to RSVP if you’re in Nairobi, visit the event page.


About Maker Party

School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

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, and research. Volunteers develop and run courses, 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.

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Why are we prosecuting students for sharing knowledge?

Timothy Vollmer, September 18th, 2014

In July the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote about the predicament that Colombian student Diego Gomez found himself in after he shared a research article online. Gomez is a graduate student in conservation and wildlife management at a small university. He has generally poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. Paltry access to useful materials combined with a natural culture of sharing amongst researchers prompted Gomez shared a paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. The practice of learning and sharing under less-than-ideal circumstances could land Diego in prison.

The EFF reports that upon learning of this unauthorized sharing, the author of the research article filed criminal complaint against Gomez. The charges lodged against Diego could put him in prison for 4-8 years. The trial has started, and the court will need to take into account several factors: including whether there was any malicious intent to the action, and whether there was any actual harm against the economic rights of the author.

Today EFF, Creative Commons, Right to Research Coalition, and Open Access Button are launching a campaign to help raise awareness about Diego’s situation, to promote a reasonable handling of his and similar cases, and to support open access policies and practices. We hope you’ll sign on.


Let’s stand together to promote Open Access worldwide.

Help Diego Gomez and join academics and users in fighting outdated laws and practices that keep valuable research locked up for no good reason.

Diego Gomez, a Colombian graduate student, currently faces up to eight years in prison for doing something thousands of researchers do every day: posting research results online for those who would not otherwise have a way to access them.

If open access were the default for scholarly communication, cases like Diego’s would become obsolete.

Academic research would be free to access and available under an open license that would legally enable the kind of sharing that is so crucial for enabling scientific progress.

When research is shared freely and openly, we all benefit. Sign the petition to express your support for Open Access as the default for scientific and scholarly publishing, so researchers like Diego don’t risk severe penalties for helping colleagues access the research they need.

Sign-on statement:
Scientific and scholarly progress relies upon the exchange of ideas and research. We all benefit when research is shared widely, freely, and openly. I support an Open Access system for academic publishing that makes research free for anyone to read and re-use; one that is inclusive of all and doesn’t force researchers like Diego Gomez to risk severe penalties for helping colleagues access the research they need.

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Daily awesome from the internet: CC presents the Thing of the Day

Elliot Harmon, September 15th, 2014

When you go searching for Creative Commons–licensed content, you never know what you’ll find. Sometimes you’ll find the exact photo or piece of sound you were looking for, and sometimes you’ll find something you never could have imagined.

We’ve created a new Tumblr blog to celebrate those unusual, beautiful, and quirky CC finds from around the web. It’s the Creative Commons Thing of the Day!

Sign up to get the Thing of the Day delivered to your inbox every morning.

Here’s the last week and a half in Thing of the Day.


Italic Shelf / Ronen Kadushin / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Ronen Kadushin designs unusual pieces of furniture like this unorthodox bookcase. He shares the designs under Creative Commons licenses and invites people to experiment with them, adapt them, and share their modified versions. Kadushin writes, “An open design value is increased with wider modification possibilities and transformation potentials into other products. Designs that typically live only a few years in the marketplace can live on and develop into new shapes and uses.”


Buy My Bed in Brooklyn / Jonathan Mann / CC BY 3.0

Jonathan Mann writes a song every day. Many of them tackle complex emotions and ideas. But inevitably, a lot of them are just silly, like “Buy My Bed in Brooklyn.” In songs like “Buy My Bed,” we see a songwriter whose talent lies in his childlike approach to day-to-day life.

On why he licenses all his music under CC, Jonathan told us, “It’s kind of a no-brainer… I don’t even really understand why anyone would do anything different. It makes such simple sense.”


Coming Out Simulator / Nicky Case / CC0

Nicky Case creates videogames that deal with issues many videogame designers wouldn’t touch. Nicky’s Nothing to Hide is a frank look at government and corporate surveillance, and an addictive puzzle game to boot.

Coming Out Simulator is a semiautobiographical game about Nicky coming out of the closet to their parents. The player is given choices of what to say, but the heartwrenching ending is inevitable.


Andrew Archer / CC BY-NC 3.0

Illustrator Andrew Archer drew these terrifying images of a post-apocalyptic California for a feature in California Magazine.


Found in Translation / Anjaya Iyer / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

These gorgeous prints feature words that capture ideas and feelings we’ve all experienced, but that don’t translate well into English. By introducing such perfect words to English speakers, they serve as a testament to the way that languages constantly grow, adapt, and borrow words from each other.


Copyright / XKCD / CC BY-NC 2.5

It even happens to us some days.


프라하 까를교 악사 / Miyoung Yi / CC BY 2.0

Miyoung Yi’s gorgeous drawings capture everyday moments, both in her home country of South Korea and around the world. As a Creative Commons activist, she encourages other Koreans to consider sharing their work under open licenses.


Steven Lewis / CC0

Here at CC, we’re huge fans of the photography blog Unsplash. The blog presents a single photo every day – the Unsplash curators have a great eye for delightful slices of life. The best part is that all of the photos are available under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication, meaning that anyone can use them for any purpose, commercial or noncommercial, with or without attribution.


Silhouettes / The OO-Ray / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Illustration: Broken window / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The OO-Ray’s Silhouettes is a great example of how Creative Commons–licensed work can take on a life of its own. The OO-Ray (né Ted Laderas) composed and recorded the piece in 2011. Since then, it’s appeared in dozens of videos thanks to its CC license. As Laderas told SoundCloud, “It’s incredibly energizing to see that people like your music so much to include it in their video.”

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Hey, CC musicians! Enter the Free! Music! Contest!

Elliot Harmon, September 15th, 2014

Every year, our friends at Musikpiraten e.V. host the Free! Music! Contest to find the best Creative Commons–licensed music of the year. CC is proud to serve as a partner in this awesome tradition.

This year, anyone who preorders the album of winning selections earns the right to vote for their favorite entries. From the announcement:

“With the public voting we want to achieve two things,” explains Christian Hufgard, chairman of the Musikpiraten. “On the one hand, the selection of songs on the CDs are placed on a broader footing. And the obvious choice is to give a voice to those who will hear the CDs afterwards? But we also hope that the participating bands indicate their fans even before publication of the sampler the competition and we still get the more attention.”

Additionally, German gothic rock band Aeon Sable is offering a special prize for remixing its song “Visions,” which the band has shared a multitrack version of under CC BY-NC.

Submissions are due September 30. Check it out!

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Creative Commons launches School of Open events in Tanzania and Nigeria

Jane Park, September 12th, 2014

Today and tomorrow the School of Open launches in Tanzania and Nigeria in conjunction with Mozilla Maker Party!

SOO AfricaV2
(SOO logo here. Earth icon licensed CC BY by Erin Standley from the Noun Project.)

In Tanzania, CC Tanzania is hosting a creative event for kids at the Open University of Tanzania, the first university in the region to offer open and distant learning programs. Kids will use the Internet and open educational resources to create animations. This event occurs today: see the Maker Party page for details. It marks the launch of three training programs around ICT empowerment training for unemployed youth, teaching persons with disabilities how to use computers, and training educators on using ICT to improve how they teach their students.

In Nigeria, CC Nigeria is hosting a web building skills event for the public at the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies at the University of Lagos. Anyone may join to learn how to build the web and share creative works through Mozilla and CC tools. The opening ceremony and maker party are tomorrow, see the Maker Party page for details. The event also marks the launch of a five-week training program around Nigerian copyright and Linux Operating System. During the opening ceremony, SOO Nigeria’s facilitators, partners and supporters will meet and set expectations for program participants. See the School of Open Nigeria page for more details. You can follow SOO Nigeria on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #SOOAfrica and #MakerParty.

School of Open launch events are also set to occur in Kenya and South Africa — stay tuned! (Read more about their plans here.)


About Maker Party

School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

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, and research. Volunteers develop and run courses, 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.

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Time is running out: We all need to support a fair and neutral Internet

Timothy Vollmer, September 10th, 2014

Today a large group of companies and organizations are raising awareness about the importance of net neutrality by joining the Internet Slowdown campaign. The action asks what would happen if large internet service providers (ISPs) and cable companies get their way and are able to squash net neutrality. Net neutrality is the concept that ISPs should treat all data that travels over their networks equally. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a framework for “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet.” But to many companies and users the guidelines are inadequate for truly supporting an open internet. Instead, some think that the FCC proposal props the door open for ISPs to offer internet “fast lanes” to customers who can pay more–thus breaking the principle of network neutrality.

Creative Commons licenses and public domain tools support access and reuse of hundreds of millions of pieces of creative work by allowing creators to attach rights information about how they wish to share their creativity. And of course, open licensing is just one part of the ecosystem of sharing. CC helps break down copyright barriers to online sharing, but without net neutrality, the sharing of all works (both CC licensed and not) will be restricted from the users who cannot cough up the money to jump into the fast lane. Creators should be able to share content on equal footing. And users should be able to access and reuse that shared content via a fair and open internet.

The FCC has been soliciting feedback from the public. You can support the campaign for net neutrality at Battle for the Net and sign the letter which will be sent to your members of Congress, the FCC, and the White House. And you can still have your voice heard by sending your comments to the FCC. The public comment period ends on 15 September.

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MapWorks Learning combines OER and open data to protect threatened biodiversity

Billy Meinke, August 28th, 2014

Mangrove forests have been described by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the world’s most threatened tropical ecosystems. In an effort to protect and raise awareness around this problem, MapWorks Learning launched the first of what they plan to make an annual Mapathon for ecological preservation and learning. The inaugural event engaged schools, universities, and environmental groups around the world to document the health and well being of mangrove populations using the Mapping the Mangroves tool.

Screenshot 2014-08-21 14.45.03

The Mapping the Mangroves (MTM) toolkit is a project originally funded by Qatar Foundation International, and is now a keystone project of MapWorks Learning. MTM uses a mapping application built on the open source Ushahidi software platform, relying on crowdsourcing to collect geographic and descriptive data about mangrove forests. The project’s reporting system allows anyone to submit a report about mangrove forests, describing the area’s biodiversity and pairing it with geographic coordinates and other sensor data. The data are then displayed on an interactive map on the project’s homepage, with all reports searchable and explorable by geographic region and other habitat or report traits. The data are freely available for download and licensed under a CC0 Public Domain Dedication, too.

The MTM project is supporting the development of OER curriculum introducing learners to mangrove forest ecosystems, basic species identification, and explaining how they can take part in the monitoring and protection of forests around the world. The toolkit’s learning material is available under a CC BY-NC-ND license on OER Commons.

To find out more about MapWorks Learning and their upcoming Mapathons see mapworkslearning.org, visit them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
mtm_logo

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