Commons News

CC Newsletter #17: CC Launches Catalyst Campaign!

Allison Domicone, June 4th, 2010

CC Newsletter #17
Photo: Blue by Piotr Zurek / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Creative Commons launches Catalyst Grants! Read about our Catalyst Grants initiative (which you can support today!) that will empower educators, researchers, and technologists around the globe, as well as other exciting news developments for Creative Commons in education, science, and art & media. Download and enjoy!

Subscribe to receive our monthly e-news updates and quarterly PDF newsletters by email, and stay on top of the inspiring stories coming out of the Commons.


 

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CC Talks With: Cathy Casserly: Open Education and Policy

Timothy Vollmer, June 4th, 2010

At the beginning of this year we announced a revised approach to our education plans, focusing our activities to support of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. In order to do so we have worked hard to increase the amount of information available on our own site – in addition to a new Education landing page and our OER portal explaining Creative Commons’ role as legal and technical infrastructure supporting OER, we have been conducting a series of interviews to help clarify some of the challenges and opportunities of OER in today’s education landscape.

One major venue for the advancement of OER is through policy change at the local, state, federal, and international levels. As such, we recently caught up with Cathy Casserly. Cathy is the Vice President for Innovation and Open Networks and Senior Partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Cathy is also a member of the board of directors at Creative Commons and a longtime leader, strategist and advocate of OER. In our interview with Cathy, we discussed sustainability, challenges to integrating OER in education reform, and the infrastructure role of Creative Commons.

Q: You used to be Director of the Open Educational Resources Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Hewlett has been a huge supporter of OER over the years. How do we expand interest in OER and open education to a broader set of funders? Perhaps more importantly, how can OER initiatives within institutions transition to becoming more sustainable? What do you see as the role of government in OER?

From the funder perspective, we need to continually educate funders to help them understand that openness will aid in their core mission–which is typically to spur innovation and disseminate the knowledge developed within the projects they fund. Oftentimes that knowledge sits within the foundation, or with the program officer, and we don’t have a very reliable system to distribute it to a broader audience. As a result, there’s a lot of that knowledge goes untapped. When foundations begin to use Creative Commons licenses, and to begin to practice openness and transparency to disseminate the knowledge from within the foundation, we’ll see a multiplier effect in the reach and impact of that investment. At this point, some foundations just don’t understand that. Part of what we need to do is to help more foundations understand the role of Creative Commons and the potential for open licensing to add value to their core missions. Foundations can get their feet wet by implementing open licensing on a part of their portfolio they feel comfortable with, and extend this practice to a broader percentage later on.


Cathy Casserly by Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching
/ CC BY

Sustainability has always been a core issue. At Carnegie, we’re trying to design for sustainability and openness from the beginning. Ultimately, for a project to scale in the long term, it has to become self-sustaining in some way. We have some core funding from the Carnegie Foundation itself, and we’re securing funding from outside funders, but this won’t last forever. There will be a point in time where need to figure it out on our own. And, it can be difficult to add sustainability afterward. Today, many more organizations are much more aggressive and thoughtful in thinking about issues of sustainability. In the early days of the OER movement, we were thinking about sustainability, but as a first step we really didn’t know if or how people would use the content. We had a chicken and egg problem because we needed to find out if there was really a thirst for this content. We wanted to know whether people would use it, repurpose it, and reshare it. We’ve heard a resounding “yes” to those questions. But, the OER community is relatively young, and with any new space, some of the issues are tricky to figure out–we’re still trying to understand it.

In terms of government support for open education, I think the government obviously leads the way, certainly in investing a huge amount of public dollars in education. Some of this investment includes many types of materials and learning assets that could be created for less cost, while maintaining the same–if not higher–standards of quality. These open resources would have the added benefit of allowing iteration and continued improvement on them. The federal government, state governments too, are beginning to understand that making investments in educational materials without erecting the traditional boundaries around them is sound practice. By making content systems more permeable, such as by releasing educational resources under Creative Commons licenses, governments empower educators to build on these resources again, so they don’t have to start from scratch. We see this in the open textbook space. Right now, it’s difficult in that the market is shifting, and the publishing industry is fighting. But, at some point we have to realize that we have a new distribution system with the web, and we don’t have to resort to some of the same old models for updating and improving materials. Also, we have a data backend now such that we can begin connect students to materials and learning tools that are complimentary to their needs as an individual learner, whether it be a video, a game, or an ongoing assessment. There are powerful tools we can harness via the web. It’s imperative we do this, and that the government invests in this area too.

Q: In Opening Up Education, you wrote, “the most important obstacles to rapid innovation are not technical…[t]hey have to do with the customs, standard practices, and vested interests of people in the universities and schools and within the markets, such as publishing, that may be forced to change as OER strategies gain more traction.” Since many of the challenges to incorporating OER are social (changing perceptions and practices of teachers and learners) and institutional (traditional school systems are slow to change and risk-averse), how do we approach this set of problems in an effective and scalable way?

In K-12, it’s well recognized that we have a big chasm now between what students do in school and what they do outside of school. Outside of school, students find information, interact with friends, and engage with the world in ways that are very technology-centric. In schools, it looks very much like it did in the 1950s. This is not surprising, because large systems tend to be very inert, so the structural education systems are very inert. Our education systems are not structured to look for innovation, and there needs to be something that is pushing on these systems to get them to integrate innovative ideas. There are pockets of innovation in the K-12 sector, but they’re on the edges. John Seely Brown has talked about the edge influencing and re-shaping the core, and this is beginning to happen within education systems.

In new markets utilizing new technologies, we can disaggregate and unbundle the commoditization of higher education, which has traditionally revolved around the intersection of the tutor (the teacher), the knowledge base (the content or other educational curriculum), and the assessment (the means to certify the knowledge that exists). Emerging models like the University of Phoenix, Kaplan, and other online groups have begun to challenge the incumbent system. We realize that many individuals can’t take the time to enroll in a four-year program at a university, or want to have flexible learning anywhere at any time. The system that we have now was structured for a good reason, it’s existed for a very good reason, and it’s been very resistant to change. When there’s pressure on these longstanding institutions, new organizations will pop up, and will begin to pull some of the education market their way because students realize they’re not being served as best as they could, or because they need more alternatives to a traditional degree, or because there’s more demand than there are spaces, allowing breathing room for alternatives to deal with the supply.

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

Creative Commons is the foundation for open education. Without flexible licensing there’s no way to determine which materials are shareable, adaptable, reusable, and localizable. Creative Commons is absolutely an incredible asset and core to the work of open education. It’s critically important that we get a broader group of people understanding the need to adopt Creative Commons licenses. A lot of educators and creators in the education space are creating different types of content and curriculum and want to share them. They think that other people can just pick them up and take them, but they don’t realize they’re most likely locked up under copyright. Teachers go into education because they believe in it, they want to share knowledge, and they like the idea of playing around with other ways of teaching. From individual conversations I’ve had with faculty at MIT, Yale, Harvard, and other universities, the ability for them to have their resources widely shared through open courses/courseware has been an incredibly affirming aspect to why they became an educator in the first place. We really haven’t tapped the depths of this volunteerism yet. What’s encouraging is that students who are now going through our schools of education are digital natives. They’ve grown up in a very different way, and it’s just a matter of time until they create so much pressure on the existing system that it will have to shift. What I’d like to see is that the system be very thoughtful about shifting, so it can serve students well, and equally.

Q: In our interview with the Virginia Department of Education, the respondents reiterated that OER is one component of comprehensive education reform, and that we have to think systematically in the incorporation of OER for it to be implemented into the education system. What are some of the things that OER producers (like open textbook providers) and infrastructure providers (like CC) should keep in mind in order to mesh OER in a smart and effective manner?

OER can’t be a siloed reform effort; it has to become a part of the larger system. The Holy Grail is integrating OER with student assessments, and setting up systems to feed back loops so we can understand how students are learning and what is needed to improve. In this way, we can begin to connect students with the best lessons for them at the right time, and organize individuals into smaller groups to work through different topics–for instance, I might be faster in grasping physics, whereas you might be better in math. We don’t really have a way to differentiate instruction right now, and we won’t really be able to until we have more of an individual assessment system. Such a system can take advantage of the underlying power of technology and openness. We know that courses that use this kind of embedded assessment scaffolds the student’s learning in a very structured way, and the learning outcomes–as best as we can measure them–far surpass courses taught using traditional methods. We need to scale these innovative assessment tools and materials in a systematic way. We need to figure out how to integrate face-to-face teaching and online tools and resources so that we can create better learning communities that pull from the best parts of both worlds.

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

I think that in the next decade we’ll see a significant shift–online communities will become part of accepted hybrid models for learning. These models will blend what teachers and those with expert knowledge can best contribute to help teaching and learning, scaffold learning for individuals, and utilize the best of what we can harness with technology and the web so students can learn in interesting, animated, and engaging ways. We need to begin to understand and differentiate content, learning styles and education processes to works for individual students based on that student’s prior cognitive and non-cognitive skills. There’s a huge untapped white space in better integrating OER, and we need to think about how to blend the efficiency and effectiveness of open materials.

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Tell Shareable how much you share and earn $10 for CC!

Jane Park, June 3rd, 2010

Shareable, the online magazine about sharing culture, is carrying out an innovation study and wants you to tell them how much you share in a short 15 minute survey.

The study will assess individuals’ awareness of current shared offerings, their attitudes about sharing and trust, and their engagement with sharing across a variety of contexts. Participants will be contributing to a relatively new and increasingly important knowledge base. Moreover, they will be playing a critical role in helping to generate new ideas and opportunities for the future of sharing. (Results will be shared on both Shareable.net and Latitude’s life-connected.com in the coming weeks.)

At the end of the survey, you’ll get paid $10; you can choose to pocket it as an Amazon gift card or donate the cash towards the Creative Commons Catalyst Campaign that’s going on right now… or the Project for Public Spaces (we hope you’ll choose CC!).

So help Shareable and CC out–take the survey!

You can learn more about the survey here. Shareable magazine is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. For more on Shareable, stay tuned as CC Talks With Shareable co-founder and publisher, Neal Gorenflo, to go live next week.

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The Catalyst Campaign: Donate Now to Help Fund CC’s Catalyst Grants

Allison Domicone, June 1st, 2010

We’re thrilled today to announce the launch of the Catalyst Campaign – from now through June 30, Creative Commons is raising money to fund our recently-launched Catalyst Grants program.

Catalyst Grants will make it possible for individuals and organizations to harness the power of Creative Commons. A grant might enable a group in a developing country to research how Open Educational Resources can positively impact its community. Another could support a study of entrepreneurs using Creative Commons licenses to create a new class of socially responsible businesses.

But we can’t do it without your help. Our goal is to raise $100,000 from CC supporters like you to fund the grants that will make all this possible. Donate today to help spread our mission of openness and innovation across all cultural and national boundaries.

Special thanks to the Milan Chamber of Commerce for recognizing the importance of funding this initiative by generously donating EUR 10,000! The Milan Chamber of Commerce and its Promos Network already work to promote international collaboration and innovation and we’re honored they’ve stepped up to jumpstart the campaign.

I Love To Share
by Ruby Bhattacharya / CC BY 2.0

Will you join in?

Advocate: Take a moment to spread the word about the Catalyst Campaign and Grants program on your blog and social networks with our banners and buttons.

Donate: If you give $75 or more, you can become the proud owner of one of these bright and cheerful, limited edition “I Love to Share” t-shirts. Every bit helps so give what you can today to ignite openness and innovation around the world!

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Estonian License Draft Open for Public Discussion

Michelle Thorne, June 1st, 2010

A license draft adapted to Estonian law is ready for public discussion, the first CC license available for review in the Baltic.

The public discussion is an open forum where everyone –  from lawyers to active license users, from linguists to translators — is invited to contribute. If you have comments about different aspects of the licenses, whether in regards to legal, linguistic or usability issues, please feel welcome to join the CC Estonia mailing list and share your thoughts. Comments should be submitted as soon as possible to allow enough time for review, so we encourage you to post to the list before the end of June, when the discussion is scheduled to close.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Project Lead Ene Koitla at the Estonian Information Technology Foundation, and her legal team Priit Lätt, Hele Karja, and Heiki Pisuke of Glimstedt Straus & Partners and independent legal expert Mario Rosentau from the University of Tartu for producing the draft and soliciting feedback from the Estonian public.

The Estonian and English versions of the BY-NC-SA license are available, as is a summary of the substantial changes proposed by the legal team to port the licenses to Estonian copyright law.

Efforts in the Baltic are mounting, as CC Estonia is joined by the neighboring Lithuanian team in localizing and promoting Creative Commons. CC Lithuania, currently working on a first draft themselves, recently held a workshop in Vilnius and baked some delicious CC cookies.

As activities in the Baltic continue to expand and gather peer support, we hope that the Estonian public discussion will foster more cross-border collaborations, as part of larger efforts across Europe and the globe.

Congratulations to CC Estonia, and we all look forward to comments from you, the public!

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Joi Ito to run Digital Journalism course on P2PU

Jane Park, May 28th, 2010

Joi Ito is teaching his Digital Journalism course again at Keio University this summer, but this time with a twist. In addition to the traditional semester, where Joi will be teaching within the university, the course will also have an open and online component where anyone may apply to join via the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). Digital Journalism 2010 will run for seven weeks with seven physical meetings which will be webcast and allow for online participation. Additionally, asynchronous communications will continue between classes on mailing lists, the class blog, wiki, and the P2PU platform.

Digital Journalism 2010 is “an introduction to online journalism, citizen media and the use of social networks for journalism and collective action. Participants will work on self defined projects either as individuals or in groups using any combination of media types including video, photographs, illustrations and text as well as online tools such as blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and any other reasonable tool the participant or team would like to use.” In addition to learning about how the journalism landscape is rapidly changing, participants will learn to research and create news online by publishing stories of their own in teams. These stories will be presented to the class (and the world).

The course is a work in progress, so the community can contribute by suggesting readings, activities, and more. P2PU is looking for course organizers to facilitate the P2PU end of things. If interested, please contact thepeople [at] p2pu.org. To participate in the course remotely via P2PU, you can sign up to apply at www.p2pu.org/journalism. Sign-up is open now and the course will begin on Friday, 4 June.

Joi teaches Digital Journalism annually as part of the Keio Graduate School of Media Design. He has contributed pieces to the New York Times, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and Wired. He is also a prolific photographer and if you didn’t already know, the CEO of Creative Commons.

The Peer 2 Peer University is “a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls.” In addition to leveraging existing OER, P2PU licenses all of its own courses under CC BY-SA. For more on why P2PU chose this license, visit http://p2pu.org/license.

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One Week Until the Tenth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival

Cameron Parkins, May 27th, 2010

New Yorkers: Arts Engine‘s fantastic Media That Matters Film Festival is less than a week away, taking place June 2nd at The Visual Arts Theater (Google Map). Tickets are on sale now – as the event has sold out every year, it is wise to purchase in advance. To make this easier, Arts Engine is offering a discount for the CC community – simply enter the code MTMSPECIAL at checkout and receive $2 off the regular ticket price of $13.

Now in it’s tenth year, the festival showcases twelve social justice shorts selected by a fantastic jury of filmmakers and activists. New this year is the impACT salon which will allow attendees the chance to meet the festival filmmakers, learn about the festival’s presenting partners, and will include free ice cream from the Raw IceCream Company.

Following the premiere, the films will be available for purchase under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives license on region-free unencrypted DVDs.

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3rd Free Culture Research Conference: Call for Abstracts

Michelle Thorne, May 27th, 2010

There are just 10 days left to submit your extended abstract for the 2010 Free Culture Research Conference (FCRC), which will take place October 8-9, in Berlin. The event follows last year’s one-day workshop at Harvard University and aims to further the exciting, interdisciplinary discourse on Free Culture. We hope you’ll consider applying.

From the conference’s Call for Abstracts:

The 3rd Free Culture Research Conference: Free Culture between Commons and Markets: Approaching the Hybrid Economy?

The Free Culture Research Conference presents a unique opportunity for scholars whose work contributes to the promotion, study or criticism of a Free Culture, to engage with a multidisciplinary group of academic peers and practitioners, identify the most important research opportunities and challenges, and attempt to chart the future of Free Culture.

This event builds upon the successful workshop held in 2009 at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, organized and attended by renowned scholars and research institutions from the US, Europe and Asia. The first event was held in Sapporo, Japan, in 2008, in conjunction with the 4th iCommons Summit. This year’s event is larger in ambition and scope, to provide more time for interaction in joint as well as break-out sessions. It is hosted jointly by the Free University of Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies and will take place at October 8-9, 2010 at the Free University Campus in Berlin, in collaboration with COMMUNIA, the European Network on the digital public domain. Funding and support is also provided by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

Given this year’s theme and the generous support of the Free University’s School of Business and Economics, we encourage submissions at the interface of Free Culture and business, although we welcome submissions from any relevant discipline, will be inclusive and will maintain the interdisciplinary nature of the event, as in previous years. Enabled by new Internet technologies and innovative legal solutions, Free Culture prospers in the form of new business models and via commons-based peer production, thereby both challenging and complementing classic market institutions. Alongside business perspectives, we expect that perspectives from law, IT, the social sciences and humanities will help us develop a better understanding of the challenges at hand, for individuals, business, law, the economy, and society at large.

Deadline for extended abstracts is June 7.

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Choosing An Open License – the P2PU Experience

Jane Park, May 25th, 2010

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing a CC license. The factors are different for everyone, whether you’re an individual creator or an institution. Usually, the decision is made and the process by which it was made fades into memory or only remains via word of mouth or blog posts. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) didn’t want this to happen so they decided to document their process when the community held its first workshop in Berlin. A Guide to CHOOSING AN OPEN LICENCE: The Peer 2 Peer University Experience is the result of their efforts. From the announcement:

P2PU has always been committed to openness in everything we do, from the way we run our activities, to how we licence the materials we produce. However, as many people who have worked in the Open Educational space will attest, choosing the right kind of licence, one that provides both the protections and the freedoms that a project like P2PU may require, can be a tricky process…

As we went through the process, we also realised that our experiences may be useful for other people who are undergoing a similar exercises. So we decided to document what we did, and why, and how it turned out. And today, we are proud to announce the publication of our Guide to Choosing an Open Licence (with a CC licence, of course!) In this document, you’ll find details of every step we took to choose our licence, and a range of opinions from several open educators, lawyers and practitioners which we found invaluable.

The P2PU experience is only one of many, and it is not necessarily the process or the license that everyone should choose. It is simply one example of a process that worked for a diverse community of people with various viewpoints. In the end, they chose CC BY-SA (with the allowance of CC BY for when content is entirely funded by a third party). The document is thorough, objective, helpful, and not very long–so make sure to check it out, especially if you’re wondering how to go about choosing a CC license for your own project. (The document itself is available via CC BY-SA).

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Open Video Conference Call for Proposals

Jane Park, May 24th, 2010

The Open Video Conference, “a multi-day summit of thought leaders in business, academia, art, and activism [exploring] the future of online video,” is taking place this fall from October 1-2 in NYC and includes a keynote from Michael Wesch, the cultural anthropologist responsible for the YouTube phenomenon, The Machine is Us/ing Us. Last year, OVC “was host to over 800 guests, including 150 workshop leaders, panelists and speakers. Over 8,000 viewers tuned in from home to watch the live broadcast. The event earned coverage in WIRED, NewTeeVee, BBC News, Filmmaker Magazine, and The New Yorker.”

You can apply to host or be part of a panel, presentation, workshop, or demo session at http://openvideoconference.org/proposals/. The deadline to apply is June 7. For more about OVC, visit http://www.openvideoconference.org/about/.

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