CC Talks With: Jeff Mao and Bob McIntire from the Maine Department of Education: Open Education and Policy
Maine has been a leader in adopting educational technology in support of its students. In 2002, through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), the state began providing laptops to all students in grades 7-8 in a one-to-one laptop program. In 2009, Maine expanded the project to high school students. The one-to-one laptops paved the way for open education initiatives like Vital Signs, empowering students to conduct their own field research in collaboration with local scientists, and make that research available online. Recently, Maine has been engaged in some interesting and innovative projects around OER as a result of federal grant funds. For this installment of our series on open education and policy, we spoke with Jeff Mao and Bob McIntire from the Maine Department of Education. Jeff is Learning Technology Policy Director at MLTI, and Bob works for the Department’s Adult & Community Education team.
One part of the $700 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was dedicated to creating technology-rich classrooms. This funding was distributed through the existing No Child Left Behind Title IID program. With their one-to-one student laptop program, Maine was already ahead of the game with regard to technology in the classroom, so they decided to focus the ARRA funding on OER projects. “We wanted to create something that had a longer shelf life,” said Bob. Maine’s grants were broken into two initiatives: research to identify and annotate high quality OERs, and the creation of professional development models using OER.
Curate metadata, don’t stockpile resources
Maine is a “non-adoption” state, which means that teachers at the local level determine the educational resources they wish to use in their classrooms. Most other states adopt educational materials at the state level. For instance, for a class like 9th grade world history, states will approve multiple textbook titles from multiple publishers, and schools will be able to choose from among the state approved list. Since it’s up to local teachers to determine which educational resources are good for their teaching, part of the Maine OER grants is devoted to researching the rough process that teachers step through when evaluating content. MLTI has been working on a type of educational registry. This registry will be a website that can house the metadata teachers collect around the resources they wish to use. This website–still in development–will help teachers to be able to find, catalog, categorize, and add other informative data to quality resources. Perhaps as important, it will allow teachers to share with others what they did with the content, whether the material worked (or bombed), and other sorts of useful descriptive information. Right now the team is using the social bookmarking service delicious to add metadata to high quality OERs that they find online. This project is coordinated by the Maine Support Network, a professional development and technical assistance provider, and all the resources are linked through one delicious site at http://www.delicious.com/syntiromsn.
Weaning teachers off of printed textbooks
Jeff talked about a way to restructure the traditional textbook adoption cycle that would result with an end product of 100% OER. Currently, the Maine textbook adoption process goes something like this: After six years of using the same textbook, teachers realize their turn is coming up to place an order for a new textbook. In the springtime, they call publishers and ask for demo copies of new books to potentially be used the following fall. Teachers peruse the books sent to them, and settle for the one that is the least flawed. Teachers use the book for five and half years, after which the process repeats itself. Jeff hopes this inefficient process can be changed. He suggests that rather than waiting until the final year to seek out new, pre-packaged educational materials, why not spend the interim years seeking out individual learning objects to replace every piece of their static textbooks?
Such a process could work to improve some of the content that teachers don’t like (and don’t use) in their traditional textbooks. And, through this iterative, piecemeal process, they can share their illustrative discoveries (and dead ends too) with other teachers. The Department itself could pitch in providing the tools, software, and other infrastructure to help teachers keep track of which resources have been reviewed, replaced, or modified. Jeff thinks that enabling teachers to operate in a constant revision mode is a better way to structure the acquisition of teaching and learning materials, rather than reviewing textbooks only once every five or six years.
As most open educational resources are digital, Jeff said there’s an increasing need to be able to deal with strictly digital materials. Digital materials can be leveraged better because Maine students and teachers already have the laptops to access and manipulate the content (which can’t be done with physical books), digital materials can help integrate other best-of types of technology and interactive pedagogy into their lessons, and digital materials helps set up the conditions to support embedded assessment mechanisms.
Share your process as OER; everything is miscellaneous
Maine hopes its work on OER can be used by other states and communities, considering the research and resources will be produced using federal dollars. They will publish their process and offer the resources they create as OER itself online. Jeff said, “the more we can demonstrate this process is effective, the better it speaks to the efficacy of OER.” And, publishing information about resources and processes should be something natural to share. “If a teacher expends six hours finding a great OER for teaching students polynomials,” said Jeff, “it just needs to be done once.” But at the same time, with the diversity of resources available online–and with clear rights statements through the use of Creative Commons–variations on the sets of resources can be nearly infinite. Teachers can have their own educational “iMixes,” just as iTunes users create playlists of their favorite music.
The future classroom
As Maine continues its work on OER research and professional development, Jeff and Bob offer a vision of a classroom where students gather in small groups, talking, exploring and building projects and investigating ideas together. There is no lecturing, and open educational resources integrate with classroom instruction seamlessly. As most kids are naturally inclined to try to find information online, teachers can guide students in using high quality, adaptable OER. Jeff also suggests that we should be investing time and effort into more direct support for students, building or extending the tools being built for teachers, and proactively including students in the resource evaluation and review process.
The success of Maine and others’ OER projects is not assured. Dwindling budgets will remain an ongoing challenge, and while there’s been some recognition of OER in policy initiatives such as the National Education Technology Plan, Jeff and Bob question whether current budget woes will derail national and state efforts for change. Teachers are increasingly overburdened, and the development and support for a hands-on process like Maine’s requires ongoing teacher participation, feedback, and practice.
In the long run, Jeff thinks that OER will challenge the educational content industry in much the same way that the music industry was challenged by–and eventually succumbed to–Apple’s “buy-whatever-you-want” model of music distribution, where users could break apart the album format and simply purchase the songs they wish. Jeff predicts that the textbook industry will be forced to break apart their offerings too, and sell individual chapters or lessons, where before they offered only packaged content to a captured education audience. And Jeff says the benefits apply to publishers too–“If they sell you Chapter 1 and it’s really good,” he said, “maybe you’ll want to buy the whole book.”1 Comment »
The first website CC board member Caterina Fake ever made was a fan page for Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov, her favorite writer. “When I first went online around 1993-1994, every site was just something people had just put up–pictures of their cat, or a marble collection, or Bob Dylan discography. It was just strangers making cool stuff and sharing it online. The Internet was premised on this culture of generosity.”
But as the web grew, so did the rules about copyright and ownership of content. And somewhere along the way, this culture of generosity got lost in lockdown. That’s why, within six months of co-founding Flickr in 2004, Fake made sure that users could upload their photos to her rapidly expanding photo-sharing site with CC licenses. “Flickr is very much a platform for this culture of generosity to take place,” she says. “Creators should be able to choose to make their work available. If they have no interest in the ridiculous restrictions copyright is imposing on people, that should be okay.”
Today, Flickr has over 167 million CC-licensed photos, making it one of the largest repositories of freely shareable images in the world.
In the summer of 2009, Fake started Hunch, a website that builds a “taste graph” of the Internet. Users respond to questions like: “Do you like your sandwich cut vertically or horizontally?” and “When flying, do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seat?” The data collected goes towards finding random correlations on web users and providing recommendations on magazines,TV shows, and books. It’s all part of what Fake is most passionate about, what she calls participatory media.
Fake has been a supporter of sharing creative content from very early on. Before she was even thinking about founding successful web companies, Fake was a painter, sculptor, and writer. “I’m a big proponent of people having the ability to express themselves and be part of a culture that supports creative work,” she says. “I believe everyone who wants to make a living off their work should be more than welcome to do so. And those who do not should also have the ability not to be constrained by copyright.”
Help build a culture of generosity on the web by donating to Creative Commons today.Comments Off
It’s been almost three years since the CC community last met in person, adjacent a larger event in Sapporo, Japan. For such a rapidly growing and evolving network of experts and volunteers, the time is more than ripe to meet again in 2011. As we start earnestly planning for the event, we are asking ourselves where we should meet and whether it’s possible to find a co-host for the event.
To this end, CC has posted a request for proposals inviting interested organizations to apply to co-host the next global CC meeting, ideally co-located with another relevant event. The meeting will be held in the third quarter of 2011, bringing together the CC Affiliate Network, CC board and staff, key stakeholders and many others to engage strategically on issues related to the future of our shared commons and to further build CC’s vital community. Moreover, we’ll be identifying opportunities to collaborate on mutual projects, as well as celebrating our successes and exchanging experiences as we conclude our eighth year together.
Importantly, the meeting will include sessions that are open to the public as well as CC affiliate sessions. This will provide a meaningful way to connect local initiatives with our global network of legal experts and community leaders. The CC Global Meeting 2011 is a major focus this coming year, and we look to partner with a strong, well-connected host that can help CC fundraise and organize the event.
The ideal location must be easily reached from a major international airport, readily accessible by public transportation, equipped with appropriate conference venues and affordable lodging, and offer easy and inexpensive travel visas. Proposals should address fundraising to cover costs of the event and travel for principal participants.
We’re accepting proposals to co-host and co-organize the meeting through a lightweight proposal process, open until 2011 January 10. If you’re interested in submitting a proposal, our wiki page provides further details. Contact 2011global [at] creativecommons.org for more information.
Looking forward to seeing you in 2011!4 Comments »
Greg Kidd and Karen Gifford by Elizabeth Sabo / CC BY
We’re thrilled to announce that we have successfully met the $3000 matching giving challenge by 3taps, a new startup that makes sifting through classified ads a whole lot easier. We are grateful to 3taps for their support and thankful to everyone who got in on the challenge and doubled the value of their donation to CC. We are in the final weeks of our fundraising campaign, so please continue to pitch in and support the work of CC!
Why 3taps supports CC:
“3taps indexes factual data about items offered for exchange, like price, quantity and item description. Facts like these are important public information that let people find the best deal on the item they want. There has been a lot of confusion about the status of factual data on the Internet, and confusion in this area inhibits innovation. Creative Commons’ newly-released Public Domain Mark is an important tool for bringing clarity to this area. It couldn’t have come at a better time for those interested in collaboration in the sphere of data.” – Karen Gifford, co-founder. More on 3taps.
I’m delighted to introduce Andrew Rens, one of our exceptional CC Superheroes, who will tell you in his own words why he supports Creative Commons and why you should too. Rens, the founding legal lead of Creative Commons South Africa – a volunteer position he held from 2003 to 2009 – possesses particularly adept superpowers when it comes to facing tough issues around intellectual property and education in Africa. Here is his story. Join Rens and become a CC superhero – donate today.
“Since its inception Creative Commons has been instrumental in enabling so much diverse creativity, from music to design, from science to education, from business to philanthropy that I won’t attempt to refer to it all. Instead I’ll reflect on my personal experience of supporting CC, and why I think that you should seriously consider joining me in supporting Creative Commons.
From the day I first heard about Creative Commons I believed that it would be immensely helpful to two things which I am passionate about: Africa and education. Shortly thereafter I became the first legal lead for the Creative Commons South Africa project. I worked as legal lead, a volunteer position, from 2003 until 2009. What motivates someone to keep working as a volunteer for six years? What motivated me was the immense privilege of contributing to the work of others, of playing a part, however small, in some of the most inspiring initiatives I’ve ever seen.
One of those is Free High School Science Texts which offers curriculum compliant peer produced CC licensed school textbooks in math, physics, chemistry and biology. Another great project is Siyavula, a platform which enables teachers to co-create lesson materials. Then there is Full Marks, another teacher friendly site that enables teachers to co-create math and science quizzes. Astonishingly these three projects were all begun by one very smart and determined guy: Mark Horner. Yet another great project is Yoza, a self publishing platform that enables mobile access to novels and short stories, and so encourages literacy in a generation of Africans who have no ready access and whose only computers are mobile phones.
These are all good examples of the creativity of the open educational resources (OER) movement. The OER movement draws its inspiration from the Cape Town Open Education Declaration which speaks of “developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use.” Enabling sharing eliminates one barrier to education: highly priced learning materials. It also begins something else, described in the Cape Town Declaration as “planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.”
One of the first seeds to sprout is Peer to Peer University (P2PU), a volunteer driven project to create a peer to peer driven learning community. P2PU bills itself as the “social wrapper around open educational resources.” Peer learning may well be the key innovation that helps resolve the crisis which tertiary education is experiencing worldwide.
Each new development is only possible because of the development before it; peer learning is only possible with open educational resources; open educational resources are only possible with open licences such as the Creative Commons licences. Each layer relies on the continuing viability of the layer which it builds on. That is one important reason that I support the ongoing work of Creative Commons, because the fundamentals of easily understood, easily used, open copyright licences need to be maintained.
Another reason I support the ongoing work of Creative Commons is the urgent need for work on patents and databases to enable people to research collaboratively and share their results. Yet another reason is because Creative Commons is committed to expanding the network of Creative Commons projects in Africa, supporting Africans not just to port Creative Commons licences to their jurisdictions but also to provide trusted local expertise to their educational communities.
I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing that the time sacrificed as a volunteer to port the Creative Commons licences has been more than repaid; the South African CC licences have been used vastly more times than any other technical legal document I’ve drafted. This is typical of how Creative Commons has worked; for every license ported there have been thousands if not millions of works using that license. The outpouring of human expression and ingenuity enabled by Creative Commons has been a huge return on every hour of volunteer time and every dollar spent on the staff who support the volunteers and keep the website working. These investments of time and money are small only relative to the creativity they’ve enabled. Every dollar donated, every hour spent could have been used to another end, and yet without them the return would not have been as great.
Although I have been privileged to participate in these exciting developments, I don’t believe that my experience is exceptional. Everyone who contributes to Creative Commons has the opportunity to be involved with a plethora of fascinating individuals and world changing projects. Please join me in supporting Creative Commons today.”Comments Off
In addition to changing their default licensing policy from CC BY-NC to CC BY, the University of Michigan has enabled even greater sharing and reuse by releasing more than half a million bibliographic records into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication. Following on the heels of the British Library, who just released three million bibliographic records into the public domain, the University of Michigan Library has offered their Open Access bibliographic records for download, which, as of November 17, 2010, contains 684,597 records.
The University of Michigan Library has always been particularly advanced in regards to open content licensing, the public domain, and issues of copyright in the digital age. To learn more, see the John Wilkin’s post and help to improve the case study.
In addition, ever since we rolled out the CC0 public domain dedication, CC0 use for data has been on the increase. Check out the wiki for all current uses of CC0, and feel free to add case studies of any that are missing.Comments Off
Rice University’s Connexions and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Signal Process Society (IEEE-SPS) recently announced the release of a set of open educational resources on signal processing. The materials allow engineering instructors to mix and match to build customized courses, textbooks and study guides, and are useful for practicing engineers for their own education and career growth. The high-quality resources are peer-reviewed and available for free on the Connexions IEEE-SPS portal.
From the press release:
While the open-education movement has grown rapidly in recent years, critics have questioned how open-access publishers can ensure the quality of freely authored and edited materials. An oft-proposed option is adapting peer review — the process academic researchers have used for centuries to vet and certify research papers and books.
“All materials must pass thorough a rigorous quality evaluation before they appear on the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s branded portal in Connexions,” said Roxana Saint-Nom, chair of the society’s Connexions Lens Subcommittee.
This collaboration is one of the first between a major professional society and an open educational resource provider. Connexions is one of the largest repositories of OER in the world, and all its materials are available under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization, with over 395,000 members.2 Comments »
In other news:Comments Off
Greg Kidd and Karen Gifford by Elizabeth Sabo / CC BY
Today, we’d like to turn your attention to 3taps, a new startup that makes sifting through classified ads a whole lot easier. 3taps is supporting our fall fundraising campaign with a $3000 matching challenge! That means if you donate now, 3taps will match your donation dollar for dollar – but only for a limited time. Read on to learn how two friends who once worked at the Federal Reserve see the powerful potential of the CC Public Domain Mark and donate today to have your gift automatically doubled!
Say you’re looking for a 2002 Saab Viggen—a rare car that could take hours to find if you were to have to comb through every Craigslist, eBay, and Hemmings listing site. A new web service called 3taps, founded by Karen Gifford and Greg Kidd in San Francisco, is making searching for products and services a whole lot easier: it indexes factual data from different sites and neatly spits out relevant search results on their web, iPhone, and iPad interfaces. You can just type “2002 Saab Viggen” into the search box and, within seconds, have a full list of search results from the over 6.7 million posts made each day that the software sorts through.
Gifford and Kidd both worked at the Federal Reserve and later met working at a financial consulting company. When their large, global clients would run up against systems and data incompatibility issues, they recognized that there was a massive amount of financial data out there but no central database. Thinking about the issue of data management sparked many ideas for Gifford and Kidd and eventually led to the idea of 3taps. While searching for a car seems like a completely different function than searching for aggregated financial data, Gifford and Kidd explain that the concept of having snippets of public information easily available is the same. “The idea is to be ubiquitous,” Kidd says. “Everyone should have equal access, open access, and clarity about what’s out there that is not protected by copyright.”
3taps aims to make the data currently kept in silos more accessible by clearly marking it with the public domain mark once it is located. “We’re using the CC public domain mark to bring clarity to the idea that facts are in the public domain and not protected by copyright. Equal access to pricing information is a public good. We see the public domain mark as really important in clarifying what information belongs to the public.”
That is one of the many reasons 3taps supports CC. They are showing their support with this matching challenge and we are inviting everyone to make the most of 3taps’s generosity donating to CC now to have your gift doubled.
Why 3taps supports CC:
“3taps indexes factual data about items offered for exchange, like price, quantity and item description. Facts like these are important public information that let people find the best deal on the item they want. There has been a lot of confusion about the status of factual data on the Internet, and confusion in this area inhibits innovation. Creative Commons’ newly-released Public Domain Mark is an important tool for bringing clarity to this area. It couldn’t have come at a better time for those interested in collaboration in the sphere of data.” – Karen Gifford
Science@creativecommons by Creative Commons / CC BY
November has been an exciting month for science at Creative Commons. Earlier this month we hosted a Creative Commons Salon in San Francisco on the promises and pitfalls of personalized medicine, which you can now watch online. We met a matching giving challenge by Hindawi, the open access scholarly journal publisher (disciplines from neuroscience to pharmacology), who doubled $3000 in donations to our annual fundraising campaign. We also saw BioMed Central, the world’s largest OA publisher, provide in-kind support for our fundraising campaign.
The icing on the cake is the most recent addition to our CC Store: this super-cool science-themed CC shirt, for which the world-famous XKCD was gracious enough to let us re-use a variation on a classic cartoon. Many of you may already read and enjoy the delightful webcomic of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language” which is under a CC BY-NC license. Now you can show your love for Creative Commons and science at the same time by buying one of these t-shirts, available for $20 over at the CC store.
Huge thanks to XKCD for being such a wonderful and creative member of the CC community, and for freely sharing that creativity with the world.
At Creative Commons, we see a lot of potential for bringing open access to the world of science, whether it pertains to genomics research, scholarly journal publishing, or unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
If you love science as much as we do, then hurry over to the CC Store and get your limited edition shirt today!Comments Off