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Open Licensing Policy Toolkit (DRAFT)

Cable Green, September 22nd, 2015

Files. By Pieter J. Smits, CC BY 3.0

Creative Commons believes that public and foundation funded resources should be openly licensed by default. We have written extensively about the importance of open licensing policies in government, foundations, and have built the Open Policy Network and the Institute for Open Leadership with our open policy partners around the world. In the past few years, the United States federal government has accelerated its interest in and implementation of open licensing policy requirements on the products of publicly funded grants and contracts.

To support the education of government staff creating, adopting and implementing open licensing policies – we’ve created an Open Licensing Policy Toolkit. While this draft is tailored for U.S. government federal staff, it can easily be revised to meet the needs of any country. We share it here under a CC BY 4.0 license hoping others will take, improve, and modify it to meet regional, national and/or local needs. We look forward to seeing what you create… and we are happy to collaborate with you should you identify an opportunity to work with your government on broad open licensing requirements on publicly funded resources.

Open Licensing Policy Toolkit (Google docs version)
Open Licensing Policy Toolkit (Wiki version)

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U.S. Secretary of Education highlights Schools using OER to #GoOpen

Cable Green, September 15th, 2015

Williamsfield video by U.S. Department of Education is licensed CC BY

I’m pleased to announce two important updates from the U.S. Department of Education!

#1: Williamsfield Community Unified School District embraces OER

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Williamsfield Community Unified School District in Illinois to highlight the progress the rural school district has made in shifting to digital and open educational resources (OER) to connect their students to the world. “The walls break down,” Zack Binder, the Pre K-12 Principal said. “You’re no longer in Williamsfield, Illinois. You have the same access to this information that anyone in the world does.”

Over the past two years, the 310-student district decided to adapt and adopt OER (e.g., EngageNY) rather than procuring new commercial textbooks for students, and direct those savings towards new devices for students.

“We worked to start leveraging open education resources in May of 2013. It coincided with a decision to purchase—or not purchase—a math textbook series. We decided to leverage OER and invest the money that was allocated for textbooks into technology and technological infrastructure,” said Williamsfield Superintendent Tim Farquer.

While this move saved money, and allowed the district to buy tablets and laptops for students and teachers, it was mostly about using Creative Commons (CC) licensed educational resources to make the content better – it helped change the classroom by empowering teachers and students to customize learning resources for students.

“The biggest transition for me, from what it was like before to what it is like now, is that kids can do things that they’re interested in, instead of having one prescribed way to do things that comes from a textbook,” said Lori Secrist, a district science teacher.

The newly formed K12 OER Collaborative, an initiative led by a group of 12 U.S. states, has similar goals and is in the process of creating comprehensive, high-quality, OER-supported K–12 mathematics and English language arts that are aligned with state learning standards.

If you’d like to replicate this in your school district, see the CC-USA FAQ on OER in Williamsfield.

#2: U.S. Dept of Ed hires its first full-time OER leader

Secretary Duncan announced today the hiring of the Department’s first full-time OER position to lead a national effort to expand schools’ access to high-quality, openly-licensed learning resources and help districts and states follow the path of Williamsfield. Andrew Marcinek will serve in the Department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) as the first “Adviser for Open Education.”

“Creating a dedicated open education adviser position at the Department will greatly enhance our ability to support states and districts as they move to using openly licensed learning resources,” said Richard Culatta, Director of the OET. “The use of openly-licensed resources not only allows states and districts to adapt and modify materials to meet student needs, but also frees up funding to support the transition to digital learning.”

The availability of low-cost, high-quality learning resources in U.S. K12 public schools is a priority for President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative.

These exciting moves are part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and open access to publicly funded resources. Last month Creative Commons and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are openly licensed and released to the public as OER. Creative Commons looks forward to working closely with the Department’s new Open Education Adviser and will continue working with our partners to advance OER and open licensing policy in the U.S. Government, and around the world with the members of the Open Policy Network and the CC Affiliate Network.

Join the conversation on social media with @creativecommons using hashtags #ReadyforSuccess / #GoOpen / #OER

Related press / blog posts:

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edX makes it easy for authors to share under Creative Commons

Cable Green, June 2nd, 2015


edX has added the ability for authors to apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to their courses and videos on its platform. More than 50 academic institutions, including MIT and Harvard, use edX to offer free courses that anyone in the world can join. Now, authors at these institutions and elsewhere may license their courses for free and open reuse directly on the edX platform.

edx snedX license chooser. edX has also developed this step-by-step guide for course authors and a learners guide on adding CC licenses to courses and videos.

With the addition of the CC license suite, edX joins the global Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. The CC licenses make education content accessible and expand opportunities for innovation by providing everyone with the legal permissions to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain educational resources.

Since massive open online courses (MOOCs) were first launched, CC has advocated that MOOCs have both open admission (in the classic Open University tradition) and provide authors the option to share their content as OER under Creative Commons licenses.

edX’s addition of the CC license suite is the result of demands for CC licensing options in edX from many schools and partner Universities who were already sharing their content under CC on other platforms. Special thanks goes to the Open Education Consortium’s OECx partners who pushed edX to add CC to the platform for their courses.

The Delft University of Technology played a major role in this work. During Open Education Week 2014, Willem van Valkenburg of TU Delft organized an Open.EdX hackathon to create a CC license plugin for edX. The winning plugin — developed by FeedbackFruits — made it simple to add a CC license to an edX course.

“TU Delft is all about open, so openMOOCs is what we prefer. Thanks to FeedbackFruits we can now publish our courses with a Creative Commons license.” — Willem van Valkenburg

Congratulations to edX for its leadership in furthering the Commons. We hope Coursera, FutureLearn, and other education platforms will follow edX’s lead and offer the CC license suite for their authors and academic partners.

edX joins CC’s new Platform Initiative, which works to create easy, clear, and enjoyable ways for users to contribute to the commons on community-driven content platforms. If you are a platform that would like to join this movement for the commons, please get in touch!

See edX’s post.

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U.S. K12 State Policy Recommendations for OER: Sign Letter of Support

Cable Green, May 8th, 2015

second grade writing class
second grade writing class / woodleywonderworks / CC BY

(a nonpartisan education reform organization widely known for its CC BY licensed OER Rubrics) has developed policy recommendations with input from its OER Institute U.S. state partners for U.S. states to use OER as part of their college and career ready implementation plans.

These recommendations aim to provide helpful information and guidance for U.S. states that are interested in but have not yet begun an organized effort to use OER.

The OER policy recommendations center on:

  • States and school districts using OER as part of their strategy to support the implementation of college and career ready standards.
  • Recommending when public funds are used, the instructional materials created should be openly licensed.
  • States and school districts should ensure all instructional materials being used, including OER, are high quality and aligned to college and career ready standards.

To illustrate the broad array of audiences that support and have made effective, standards-aligned OER a priority, Achieve was recently joined by U.S. states, funders and organizations, including Creative Commons, in signing a letter of support for Open Educational Resources.

If your state or organization is interested in signing this letter, please contact Hans Voss at

This open letter outlines the benefits OER can provide to U.S. states and K12 school districts as they engage the hard work of college and career ready standards implementation. Particularly in an environment where many states are implementing the Common Core State Standards, OER can be used to leverage the benefits of these common standards by providing the legal rights and technical ability to freely share and modify instructional resources to help support the needs of individual classrooms (e.g., K12 OER Collaborative).

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Open Education Week: 9-13 March 2015

Cable Green, March 7th, 2015

Banner by Open Education Consortium / CC BY

Open Education Week is an annual convening of the global open education movement to share ideas, new open education projects and to raise awareness about open education and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Open education encompasses resources, tools and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve education access, affordability and effectiveness. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone.

There are many ways to participate:

While all of the events are worthy of your attendance, here is a quick preview of events to be hosted by Creative Commons affiliates and staff:

We look forward to seeing you online!

Special thanks and congratulations to the Open Education Consortium for coordinating Open Education Week!
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Boston Children’s Hospital OPENPediatrics Launches Open Multimedia Library

Cable Green, January 6th, 2015

boston children's hospital
Children’s Hospital, Boston, Mass. [front] / Boston Public LIbrary / No known copyright restrictions

The OPENPediatrics program at Boston Children’s Hospital announced the launch today of a new open educational resource (OER), a multimedia library that presents animations and illustrations from OPENPediatrics instructional videos under CC BY-NC-SA for use by clinicians and academics in their own instructional materials.  OPENPediatrics provides online learning opportunities for pediatric clinicians worldwide on a website specifically for medical professionals, but some of the resources created for that site—including those in the new multimedia library—are now being made available to the general public as well.

“An important part of our production process is the addition of high quality animations and illustrations to our didactic and procedural videos,” said Steve Carson, Director of Operations for the program.  “Until now these resources have been embedded in our videos and only accessible to clinicians.  Now, inspired by MIT OpenCourseWare and other OER projects, we are making the animations and illustrations available under open licenses and in downloadable formats to encourage wide usage.”

The initial 48 animations and illustrations are among the hundreds that will eventually be made available. The first set of resources illustrates key concepts of airway management, respiratory care, neurology, clinical procedures and other areas of pediatric care. The animations and illustrations have all been peer reviewed for accuracy.  In the coming months, OPENPediatrics will continue publishing animations and illustrations from its back catalog as well as from newly released videos and other resources. The multimedia library is the second publicly available resource from OPENPediatrics, joining a collection of World Shared Practice Forum videos, which share global perspectives on key aspects of pediatric care.

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K-12 OER Collaborative launches RFP for math and English

Cable Green, November 26th, 2014

Math, Math, Math, math, mathh....maaah.....
Math, Math, Math, math, mathh….maaah….. / Aaron Escobar / CC BY

The newly founded K-12 OER Collaborative has released an RFP for the creation of open educational resources (OER) in mathematics and English language arts and literacy. As all content developed under this RFP will be openly licensed under CC BY 4.0, U.S. states, territories and school districts (and anyone else in the world) may freely reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain these educational resources.

Forty-three US States + Washington DC + Guam + American Samoan Islands + US Virgin Islands + Northern Mariana Islands (map) have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)… and they all need current, high quality, affordable, CCSS-aligned educational resources for their students, teachers, parents and districts.

Will these US States and territories have the public funds necessary to update educational resources (including textbooks) for these two subjects?

According to the Association of American Publishers school districts across the U.S. spend over $8 billion on instructional materials every year. Textbooks quickly fall into disrepair, students are not allowed to write in or keep their books as they graduate each grade, and teachers are not legally and technically empowered to update outdated educational resources. In addition, much of this spending is on costly, yearly subscription fees for digital content which school districts merely lease (not own).

This aggregate demand represented by the nationwide need for new CCSS-aligned educational materials creates a unique opportunity for states to acquire higher quality, more effective content in a smarter, far less expensive, and far more flexible manner, and make these resources available to teachers, parents and districts. Specifically, states and districts can transition from expensive and rigidly controlled materials to OER.

The RFP specifically seeks complete courses for the following grades and subjects:

  • K–2 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • 3–5 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • 6–8 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • 9–12 English Language Arts/Literacy
  • K–5 Mathematics
  • 6–8 Mathematics
  • 9–12 Mathematics — Integrated/International Pathway (Secondary Mathematics I, II, III)
  • 9–12 Mathematics — Traditional Pathway (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2)

Courses will be designed to meet Common Core State Standards, accessibility standards, technical specifications, and an open licensing requirement of CC BY 4.0 on all new content produced. For details on the development process, see the complete RFP.

An informational webinar will take place next week on December 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM PST for those interested. RSVP at

The deadline for an initial Letter of Intent is January 9, 2015 by 5:00 PM PST.

About the K-12 OER Collaborative

The K-12 OER Collaborative is a coalition of eleven U.S. states and eight organizations, including Creative Commons. Together we are working to make quality K-12 educational resources aligned to state standards and accessible under the most open Creative Commons license, CC BY, so that we can drive down the cost of K-12 education for everyone. Learn more about the collaborative at

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Leicester City Council gives permission to 84 schools to create and share OER

Cable Green, November 3rd, 2014

Leicester City Council / CC BY 4.0

Leicester City Council is the first local government authority in the United Kingdom (UK) to provide 84 community schools with blanket permission to openly license their educational resources. The council is recommending that school staff use the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to share materials created in the course of their work. The Council has also released guidance and practical information for school staff on using and creating open educational resources (OER).

As part of Josie Fraser’s (ICT Strategy Lead, Leicester City Council) work with the council, she leads on a citywide project to raise school staff skills and confidence in using technology to support teaching, learning, and school community development. The project has surveyed staff across the city to identify strengths and gaps in their use of technologies and digital resources. While the results on the whole have been very positive, the survey identified that school staff knowledge about OER and open licensing is very limited.

In response to this, Josie worked with Björn Haßler and Helen Neo (from the University of Cambridge) to create accessible OER schools guidance and practical resources for schools on finding, attributing, remixing, creating, and sharing CC licensed resources. School staff were invited to participate in the development of the resources, by review and discussion, and by taking part in pilot workshops for school staff and leaders.

“The response to the guidance has been very positive, with schools keen to raise the profile of excellent work being produced through the use of Creative Commons licenses. Schools want to raise staff knowledge in relation to copyright and open licensing, and see the classroom modelling of good practice in using and accrediting resources as important for their learners.”
– Josie Fraser

Schools routinely make use of web-based resources to support their learners, but don’t routinely benefit from the range of openly shared resources available if they aren’t aware of open licensing. The permission and guidance are designed to work together in raising awareness about CC licenses and OER, and support schools in promoting the work they are doing by sharing – enabling them to create, and to connect and collaborate with other educators. At a time when so many resources used in schools are digital, and accessed and shared online, understanding copyright and the role that open licenses play is essential for education professionals.

“Leicester City Council is the first local authority in the UK to provide its school employees with permission to openly license their resources. This is a highly commendable and visionary step. We very much hope that this will inspire other councils and schools to look at how they can also support staff in sharing their work.”
– Dr. Björn Haßler, University of Cambridge

Resource packs, which including model policies, guidance and resources for schools, are available at: The resources themselves build on existing openly licensed materials, and all new materials are all released under CC BY 4.0 and are available in editable versions for adaptation.

Josie concludes:

“Open licensing is an important step in making cultural change happen – for educators and learners to benefit from public work, and for schools across the city to move towards open practice. Change will not happen overnight, but the permission and guidance provides a great way for schools to think about how they share and collaborate, and how they would like to take their communities forward.”


Related: Creative Commons policies grow in New Zealand schools


LRMI stewardship transferred to Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

Cable Green, October 23rd, 2014



Re-post from:

Effective October 23, 2014, leadership and governance of the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI), an education metadata project developed to improve discoverability and delivery of learning resources, have transferred from the Association of Educational Publishers and Creative Commons to the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI).

This long-planned transfer represents a logical next step for the LRMI since the project has reached the end of its initial scope of work.  DCMI will take the leadership role in advancing the project into its next phase with AEP and CC engaged as active LRMI community members.

“Creative Commons and AEP are happy to add this governance transfer to the long list of successes we’ve achieved together on the LRMI project,” said Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons. “After a long and careful evaluation process, the LRMI leadership identified a candidate in DCMI that is well-established and highly respected in the metadata sector and will carry on the LRMI’s spirit of transparency and community involvement.”

“AEP has enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside our partners Creative Commons the past three years to get the LRMI effort off the ground, build a community of practice, and finally, to establish a plan for long-term sustainability for the project,” said Dave Gladney, Project Manager of the AEP LRMI project, which has been housed at the Association of American Publishers since the merger of AEP and AAP in July 2013. “With this transfer, we’re confident that we’re leaving the LRMI with the ideal steward for long-term success.”

“DCMI is pleased to assume stewardship of LRMI at this key, long-planned transition in its development,” said Eric Childress, DCMI Governing Board Chair. “Meeting the metadata needs of the education and training community has been a goal of DCMI since the founding of its Education Community in 1999. DCMI has played encouraging, advisory roles in development of the LRMI specification from the inception of Phase I technical development in 2011 under the leadership of AEP and Creative Commons. DCMI is now poised to provide LRMI with both a permanent home that assures the long-term sustainability of the specification and an open, collaborative context for future community-driven development.”

More information about the transfer and the project follows.


The LRMI began in 2011 shortly after the announcement of, a search engine-backed standard for tagging content on the web.   AEP and Creative Commons, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, set out to extend the general hierarchy with a lightweight set of metadata properties that could describe the instructional intent of a web page, resource or piece of content.  The resulting LRMI specification version 1.1 was accepted as an official extension of in April 2013.  Additionally, AEP and Creative Commons have worked closely together throughout the past three years to meet dozens of important project milestones.

The third and final Gates-funded phase of the project focused on long-term sustainability and success.  Among other Phase III projects, the LRMI leadership team has worked over the past six months to identify the ideal next-phase steward for the LRMI specification.  This process included surveying the LRMI community, identifying potential candidates, measuring each candidate against a list of agreed-upon requirements and vetting candidates through a series of interviews.

Why DCMI was chosen

DCMI was chosen based on its status as a well-known, well-respected name in the metadata space; its open governance structure, which closely aligns with the open spirit of the LRMI; and its ongoing connection to the LRMI through the involvement of DCMI’s Managing Director and Education Community chair, Stuart Sutton, on the LRMI Technical Working Group.

DCMI’s next-stage priorities

DCMI stewardship of the LRMI specification will include:

  1. Moving the canonical representation of the specification from to with appropriate cross referencing between the two websites.
  2. Creating a permanent LRMI Task Group within the context and working processes of the DC Education Community to supplant the original LRMI Technical Working Group for:
    • Ongoing maintenance of the LRMI 1.1 specification
    • Assessment of open community input as the means for defining future development of the specification
    • Management of transparent editorial and decision-making processes in executing further developments
  3. Supporting open community communications through a Jiscmail list for the new LRMI Task Group (public “read”) and through the existing DC-Education Jiscmail list (public “join/read/write”).   Public conversations on the existing, open LRMI Google Group will be continued until the coordination of two public lists is deemed by DCMI to be no longer tenable. During this time, current members of the Google Group will be encouraged to join the Jiscmail lists.
  4. Initiating immediate engagement with to coordinate changes in its cross-referencing for LRMI and the potential development of additional developer/web master documentation at of those aspects of LRMI 1.1 it has adopted in support of learning resource markup.

For more information:


About Creative Commons

Creative Commons ( is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make specific uses of it.

About the Association of Educational Publishers

The Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) is the 501(c)(3) arm of the Association of American Publishers. At the inception of the LRMI in 2011, AEP was an independent organization serving the educational resource community with programs, events, advocacy, and thought leadership. In July of 2013, AEP merged with the AAP School Division to form the PreK-12 Learning Group. Most of AEP’s programs were transferred over to the newly-formed Learning Group pursuant to the merger, but LRMI projects and administration of grant funding continued on under the 501(c)(3).

About the Association of American Publishers

The members of AAP are building the future of publishing. AAP represents America’s premier creators of high-quality entertainment, education, scientific and professional published content. They include commercial and not-for-profit organizations, scholarly societies, university presses, educational technology companies and digital start-ups. These nearly 450 organizations dedicate the creative, intellectual, financial and technological investments to bring great ideas to life and deliver content to the world’s diverse audiences in all the ways they seek it.

About Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)

DCMI is a global community that has played key roles in the development of best practices in metadata modeling, design and implementation since 1995. The DCMI community has developed and maintains some of the major languages of description used on the Web and in systems. DCMI’s principles of operation are open consensus building, international scope and participation, neutrality of purpose and business models, neutrality of technology, and a cross disciplinary focus. DCMI is a project of ASIS&T, a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and is supported through membership programs for both individuals and organizations.

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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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