CC BY

OERu: Distinctively Open

Paul Stacey, February 26th, 2013

While mainstream attention has been focused on MOOCs, the Open Educational Resource university (OERu) has been developing a parallel education offering which is distinctively open.

The OERu aims to provide free learning to all students worldwide using OER learning materials with pathways to gain credible qualifications from recognized education institutions.

Like MOOCs, the OERu will have free open enrollment. But OERu’s open practices go well beyond open enrollment.

The OERu uses an open peer review model inviting open public input and feedback on courses and programs as they are being designed. At the beginning of 2013, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority approved a new Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education to be developed as OER and offered as part of OERu offerings. OERu recently published the design blueprint and requested public input and feedback for the Open Education Practice elective, one of a number of blueprints for OERu courses.

OERu course materials are licensed using Creative Commons licenses (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA) and based solely on OER (including open textbooks). In addition, OERu course materials are designed and developed using open file formats (easy to revise, remix, and redistribute) and delivered using open-source software.

The OERu network offers assessment and credentialing services through its partner educational institutions on a cost-recovery basis. Through the community service mission of OERu participating institutions, OER learners have open pathways to earn formal academic credit and pay reduced fees for assessment and credit.

OERuBlogPostImage

Open peer review, open public input, open educational resources, open textbooks, open file formats, open source software, open enrollments – the OERu is distinctively open.

Congratulations to the OERu on its second anniversary and its upcoming international launch in November.

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IAmSyria.org releases Teachers Guide to Syria

Jane Park, February 1st, 2013

In December, we blogged about a new initiative by journalists called Syria Deeply, a news platform aiming to redesign the user experience of the Syrian conflict through news aggregation, interactive tools, original reporting, and feature stories. To encourage sharing and viral distribution, Syria Deeply licensed everything on its site under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY).

iamsyria

Now “I Am Syria,” a project to increase education about Syria in the classroom, is working with Syria Deeply and President-elect Steve Armstrong of the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) to build a lesson plan about the Syrian crisis. This lesson plan, along with other open educational resources for the classroom, is available at iamsyria.org under CC BY. It will be the first in a series of teaching materials on global events and humanitarian issues.

From the announcement,

Even the most off-the-shelf tech solutions can make a monumental impact in bringing more foreign policy education to our schools. Which is why we built our Creative Commons licensed open courseware on IamSyria.org as a portal to our teacher friendly lesson plan. You simply go to IamSyria.org to download a Teacher’s Guide, and you will have a full 40 minute lesson plan’s worth of Common Core friendly material to expand your student’s horizons about global affairs. Included on the website is an introductory background video for your students as well as supplemental materials for executing the lesson plan, including a PowerPoint with accompanying worksheet, a video on what other kids are doing, and a Presidential Cabinet exercise which has been focus-grouped and loved by students.

By CC licensing its resources, “I Am Syria” will encourage teachers everywhere to educate their students about events in Syria and why it impacts them. Teachers will also be able to adapt “I Am Syria” resources to their particular classroom needs, and even contribute to the resources’ improvement over time.

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$3.5 million grant funds creation of CC BY resources for adult English learners

Jane Park, December 12th, 2012

Just in time for Creative Commons’ 10th birthday celebration of its license suite, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced a 3.5 million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a new program — Integrated Digital English Acceleration (I-DEA) — that will help adult English language learners improve their language skills while simultaneously providing career and college readiness training through technology-based tools and resources.

cc10
by blogefl / CC BY

The I-DEA program targets community college learners in the state’s lowest three levels of English as a Second Language courses, and aims to help learners achieve their language goals in tandem with career goals — with fewer hours of instruction than traditional programs that teach basic language skills separately from job-specific skills.

I-DEA derives its dual approach from the state’s I-BEST model (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training), which U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter recognized as furthering adult education faster than any other program: “51 percent of I-BEST students completed a certificate in two years, vs. 14 percent of the comparison group…” (Change Magazine of Higher Learning).

A significant part of this grant is that all online learning modules developed will be made available openly under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing anyone to access, reuse, translate, and remix the modules as long as attribution is given. I-DEA learning modules will be added to the Open Course Library, Washington State’s collection of high quality CC BY-licensed educational resources for its 82 highest enrolled community college courses.

The grant also includes the creation of new technology tools, laptop computers on loan, Internet access, and online advising and tutoring. From the press release:

Among other goals, college and partner community-based organizations (CBOs) will create open source curriculum and identify best practices of technology-enhanced instruction that allow more students to be served with less in-class instruction. Courses and techniques developed with the grant will be open sourced, allowing colleges and CBOs in Washington and around the world to replicate I-DEA.

This is fantastic news that couldn’t come at a better time. Thank you for this birthday gift to CC! Thanks to the SBCTC for spearheading this initiative and to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making it possible.

For more details, including a list of the initial 10 colleges to receive and implement the grant, see the press release (pdf).

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#cc10 Featured Content: Jason Sigal on Chris Zabriskie

Elliot Harmon, December 11th, 2012

In celebration of Creative Commons’ tenth anniversary, we asked various friends of CC to write about their favorite CC-licensed works. Today, Jason Sigal tells the story of how Chris Zabriskie started licensing his music under CC BY and, in the process, opened new professional doors in his music career.

Happy 10th, CC! From the Free Music Archive

By Jason Sigal

Jason Sigal

Jason Sigal / John Dalton / CC BY-NC-SA

The Free Music Archive is a curated library of music that wants to be shared, and Creative Commons makes it all possible. Our project was born out of a simple idea from the freeform noncommercial radio station WFMU: radio has always offered free access to quality music, and we all stand to benefit when others are encouraged to spread the word. We joined forces with a coalition of likeminded curators who specialize in everything from contemporary Indonesian netaudio to early cylinder recordings to Western classical, and we provide a platform for artists who utilize the full range of Creative Commons licenses.

Each element of the CC licensing suite is a powerful tool for musicians to leverage copyright in ways they find beneficial. For some, like Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Creative Commons ensures that his re-recordings of public domain folk songs can be shared in a manner befitting the folk tradition. For the mythical 80s cassette underground duo Smersh, CC BY-NC-ND serves an archival purpose, as every digital copy ensures the preservation of sounds once confined to small batches of decaying analog tape. For the Russian duo Monokle & Galun and the Japanese netlabel Bunkai-Kei, CC BY-NC-SA encourages remixes like Creative Commons Compilation Data, where artists were challenged to make new songs by remixing other netlabel releases.

Creative Commons helps creators find each other, and we’re always inspired to hear about collaborations sparked by CC. Creative Commons also makes it possible to bypass what Lessig has termed the “permission culture,” and this is where things get really interesting. For example, we’re seeing a lot of innovative models from artists under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Attribution is not part of traditional copyright, but since hyperlinks function as a form of online currency, it is a wonderful added protection afforded by the Creative Commons licensing suite.

Chris Zabriskie

Chris Zabriskie / Chris Zabriskie / CC BY

Last year, Chris Zabriskie — an FMA artist who specializes in cinematic soundscapes, ambient piano compositions and minimal synth music — found the Attribution requirement so powerful that he decided to drop the NonCommercial clause from his work. In a post entitled Why I Went CC BY, he explained his reasoning: “There are 48 hours of new video being uploaded just to YouTube every minute. Somebody, somewhere, always needs music for their project. Let people do what they want with your music, and they’ll promote you.” His inbox was flooded with requests from fellow creators: “People with Etsy stores making videos to advertise their new, handmade products. Filmmakers who, while the goal of making their short film isn’t monetary, one day might press up some DVDs. And if that dude’s free Flash game gets really popular, he’ll want to sell it in the App Store.” He included some examples of work by “people I’m not going to sue,” and he keeps a list that now includes big names like the Cartoon Network, New York Public Library, Gizmodo, and Mashable alongside independent feature films and shorts. “Malleable Objects,” a short documentary on the artist Margaret Craig, is embedded below.

Malleable Objects from Mark & Angela Walley on Vimeo.

Zabriskie emailed the FMA earlier this year to describe how his decision paid off in ways he never expected: “I’ve scored several feature films, a number of shorts, and am doing a bunch of other contract work for people and projects all around the world.” Along with the new commissions, “a shocking number of folks from filmmakers to ad agencies to churches have been paying to license some of my existing stuff” either as a means to bypass the Creative Commons Attribution requirement, or simply because they have the means to support the music that helped make their work possible. Though he says he has no plans to leave his dream job, (which happens to include both music composition and video editing), Chris Zabriskie has allowed his music to spread freely to the point where he could afford to focus on music full time.

These are just a few of the many models made possible by Creative Commons licensing. Thanks to Creative Commons, creators have choices beyond traditional copyright. Over the course of the past decade, these choices have facilitated collaborations and spawned the creation of countless new works. Happy birthday, CC. We look forward to what the next ten years will bring!

Jason Sigal is former director of the Free Music Archive and a DJ at WFMU. He writes music for Lame Drivers under the CC BY-NC-SA license.

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Support Grows for Open Access to Science Research

Elliot Harmon, June 29th, 2012

PeerJ Founders Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt
PeerJ Founders Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt / Duncan Hull / CC BY

In their excellent Washington Post opinion piece, Matt Cooper and Elizabeth Wiley suggest that federally funded research should be freely accessible over the Internet. They argue that when students lose their access to academic databases after graduation, society doesn’t get the same benefits it could from that research:

Students’ library cards are a passport to the specialized knowledge found in academic journal articles — covering medicine and math, computer science and chemistry, and many other fields. These articles contain the cutting edge of our understanding and capture the genius of what has come before. In no uncertain terms, access to journals provides critical knowledge and an up-to-date education for tomorrow’s doctors, researchers and entrepreneurs.

But should that access cease at graduation? Or would you rather a graduating medical student, perhaps your future doctor, be able to keep up with the latest advances? Would you rather an ambitious graduate student feel comfortable leaving the academy to found the next Google, knowing she still has access to the latest insight in her field and is able to build upon it?

Cooper and Wiley’s organizations — the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and the American Medical Student Association, respectively — joined Creative Commons and many other allies in support of a petition on Whitehouse.gov for free access to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. The petition quickly reached its goal of 25,000 signatures, sending a clear message that it’s time for the government to rethink open access policies.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Minister for Universities and Science recently commissioned a study on how the UK could adopt open access for publicly-funded research. Dame Janet Finch and her team released their findings last week, championing in particular the “gold” route to open access.

But how do the publishers themselves fit into the discussion? Some are actively exploring open access publishing models. This month, Peter Binfield and Jason Hoyt unveiled PeerJ, a new kind of peer-reviewed academic publisher. Contributors pay a $99 lifetime membership fee, and all articles are licensed CC BY. Funded by Tim O’Reilly, PeerJ has been getting a lot of attention in the mainstream press.

Coincidentally, science publishing stalwart Nature has also adopted the CC BY license, through its open access component Scientific Reports. Previously, researchers could choose whether to license their works BY-NC-SA or BY-NC-ND. Starting July 1, they’ll have the CC BY option as well. Nature’s Jason Wilde explains the decision to drop the required noncommercial stipulation:

There has been much debate about commercial reuse on open access articles […] We believe in offering our authors choice. And we now know some authors will want to choose CC BY, not least as a result of new funder mandates. Unlike Nature Communications and our other titles, Scientific Reports does not have established revenues from commercial reprints or licensing, making it an economically viable proposition.

With governments, publishers, and the public all rethinking ways to make research more freely accessible, the climate seems right for a major shift toward open access.

Related: First Thoughts on the Finch Report: Good Steps but Missed Opportunities (Cameron Neylon)

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REMINDER to enter the Why Open Education Matters video competition

Timothy Vollmer, April 30th, 2012

In March, Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Institute launched the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition. The goal of the competition is to raise awareness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and solicit short, creative videos that help explain what Open Educational Resources are and how they can be beneficial for teachers, students, and schools everywhere around the world.

There’s been lots of interest in the competition, and we wanted to remind you that the deadline to submit your video is June 5, 2012. The contest is open to all, and submissions can come from non-U.S. citizens. Nonprofits, schools, and companies may also enter a video, and you can work in teams. Please check out the website for all the information you need.

The first prize is $25,000 and the second prize is $5,000. We’ve lined up some great judges to help award these prizes, including Nina Paley, Davis Guggenheim, and James Franco. There will also be a $1,000 Community Choice Award in which the public will be able to cast their vote for their favorite video.

Again, video submissions must be received by June 5 on http://whyopenedmatters.org (look for the “Submit a Video” button). We’re eating our own dog food too–any video that is submitted must be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license so that it can be freely used and shared by anyone to help explain Open Educational Resources. Please jump in and share your creative video-making skills to explain and promote OER. Roll camera!

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Government and Library Open Data using Creative Commons tools

Jane Park, April 24th, 2012

The last few months has seen a growth in open data, particularly from governments and libraries. Among the more recent open data adopters are the Austrian government, Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italian Chamber of Deputies, and Harvard Library.

Open data
Open data / opensourceway / CC BY-SA

The Austrian government has launched an open data portal with much of its data available under CC BY. The portal’s terms of use states that CC BY is recommended for open data, and that such data will be indicated as CC BY in the data description.

The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research launched its Open Data Portal under CC BY, publishing the data of Italian schools (such as address, phone number, web site, administrative code), students (number, gender, performance), and teachers (number, gender, retirement, etc.). The Ministry aims to make all of its data eventually available and open for reuse, in order to improve transparency, aid in the understanding of the Italian scholastic system, and promote the creation of new tools and services for students, teachers and families.

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has also developed a platform for publishing linked open data under CC BY-SA.

Lastly, Harvard Library in the U.S. has released 12 million catalog records into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication tool. The move is in accordance with Harvard Library’s Open Metadata Policy. The policy’s FAQ states,

“With the CC0 public domain designation, Harvard waives any copyright and related rights it holds in the metadata. We believe that this will help foster wide use and yield developments that will benefit the library community and the public.”

Harvard’s press release cites additional motivations for opening its data,

John Palfrey, Chair of the DPLA, said, “With this major contribution, developers will be able to start experimenting with building innovative applications that put to use the vital national resource that consists of our local public and research libraries, museums, archives and cultural collections.” He added that he hoped that this would encourage other institutions to make their own collection metadata publicly available.

We are excited that CC tools are being used for open data. For questions related to CC and data, see our FAQ about data, which also links to many more governments, libraries, and organizations that have opened their data.

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World Bank stakes leadership position by announcing Open Access Policy and launching Open Knowledge Repository under Creative Commons

Diane Peters, April 10th, 2012

The World Bank has announced a new Open Access Policy! Effective July 1, 2012, the Open Access Policy requires that all research outputs and knowledge products published by the Bank be licensed Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as a default. Today, as the first phase of this policy is unfolded, the Bank launched a new Open Knowledge Repository with more than 2,000 books, articles, reports and research papers under CC BY. President of the World Bank Group, Robert B. Zoellick, said in the press release:

“Knowledge is power. Making our knowledge widely and readily available will empower others to come up with solutions to the world’s toughest problems. Our new Open Access policy is the natural evolution for a World Bank that is opening up more and more.”

CC BY is the most permissive Creative Commons license, allowing others to reuse, remix and redistribute works, even commercially, as long as attribution is given to the copyright holder. It is recommended for those seeking maximum dissemination and re-use of their materials while preserving copyright. We applaud the World Bank for its leadership and embracing this objective by incorporating CC as the framework for its Open Access Policy.

Lawrence Lessig, Board member and co-founder of Creative Commons, says,

“The World Bank is not only leading by embracing the principles of open access. But by making its works available under a CC BY license, it is encouraging the widest spread of the knowledge it is producing. This work is incredibly valuable in assuring access to knowledge universally, and not just at elite universities.”

The Open Access Policy reinforces scholarship norms. The terms require that publishing embargoes are respected and research is made available under CC BY. The Bank “expects the amount of time it takes for externally published Bank content to be included in its institutional repository to diminish over time” and that the working paper versions of journal articles will be made available under CC BY without any embargo period. Additionally, the CC BY policy only applies to works published by the Bank. Works published by third party publishers will be made available in the repository under CC BY-NC-ND, with the option of CC BY should the publisher choose.

All of this content will be aggregated via the Open Knowledge Repository, which has been built with an eye toward maximizing interoperability, discoverability, and reusability by complying with Dublin Core metadata standards and the Open Archives Initiatives protocol for metadata harvesting:

“The repository will be fully interoperable with other major international repositories such as RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), SSRN and Economists Online. This means that the World Bank publishes just once in its own Open Knowledge Repository while its research is also “harvested” and made openly available through many other searchable online repositories, increasing the number of people able to find World Bank content.”

Currently, the repository contains books and papers from 2009-2012 in various fields and from all around the world, including the World Development Report and two World Bank journals, the World Bank Economic Review (WBER) and the World Bank Research Observer (WBRO). The Bank will continue to add new and old content, including those works published prior to 2009, and beginning in 2012, the Bank will include links to research-related datasets.

To learn how this exciting new move builds on the Bank’s other open efforts, read the press release.

For more info on the Open Access Policy, read the policy. For more info on the Open Knowledge Repository, see the feature article and FAQ.

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Thanks to Creative Commons, OER university will provide free learning with formal academic credit

Cable Green, March 21st, 2012

Creative Commons licenses are enabling an international partnership of accredited universities, colleges and polytechnics to provide free learning opportunities for students worldwide with pathways to formal academic credit. The OER university (OERu) will create a parallel learning universe for learners who cannot afford a tertiary education by offering CC-licensed courses — with the opportunity to acquire formal academic credit at greatly reduced cost when compared to full-tuition studies. The OERu will assemble courses from existing open educational resources (OER) under CC licenses, reducing the overall cost of development. It has adopted the Free Cultural Works approved licenses (CC BY and CC BY-SA) as the default for OERu courses.

The OER Tertiary Education Network, the force behind the OERu, includes an impressive line-up of education providers, including: Athabasca University, BAOU (Gujarat’s open university), SUNY Empire State College, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, NorthTec, Open Polytechnic, Otago Polytechnic, Southern New Hampshire University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Canterbury, University of South Africa, University of Southern Queensland, and the University of Wollongong. BCcampus and the OER Foundation are supporting the network as non-teaching partners. These founding OERu anchor partners are accredited institutions in their respective national, provincial or state jurisdictions, which means that the OERu will be able to provide formal academic credit towards credible degrees in Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America — all using CC-licensed courses. Senior executives of the network have facilitated agile and rapid progress targeting the formal launch of the OERu operations in 2013. (More on that here.)

The OERu anchor partners have shortlisted eight university- and college-level courses to be developed as prototypes for refining the OERu delivery system:

  • College Composition
  • Art Appreciation and Techniques
  • Regional relations in Asia and the Pacific
  • A Mathematical Journey
  • General and Applied Psychology
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Why Sustainable Practice
  • Introduction to Management

Collectively, these courses — all first year courses except for Critical Reasoning, which is a 2nd year-level course in Philosophy — will carry credit towards a Bachelor of General Studies, the inaugural credential selected at the OERu meeting in November 2011. Two of the courses will be based on existing course materials under CC BY from U.S. Washington State’s Open Course Library project and the Saylor Foundation.

The OER Foundation has been trailing technologies and delivery approaches of large OER courses to help inform the design and development of these prototype courses. One such course is Open Content Licensing for Educators, which was designed as a free online workshop for educators and learners to learn more about OER, copyright, and CC licenses. The course materials, also under CC BY, were developed collaboratively by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons, with funding support from UNESCO. In January, Open Content Licensing for Educators was conducted online with 1,067 participants from 90 different countries — demonstrating the success of a large, collaborative, and high quality OER project. The OERu model will build on successes such as these, and demonstrate how CC licenses can maximize the return on investment in education at a massive scale.

Kudos to Wayne Mackintosh and all of his colleagues at OERu. Well done!

To learn more, visit WikiEducator.

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$500 million available in Wave 2 of U.S. Department of Labor grant program for community colleges

Jane Park, February 27th, 2012

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced and released a Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for Wave 2 of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). Wave 2 makes available $500 million to “eligible institutions of higher education… with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less…”

The full announcement, including the SGA, is available at http://www.doleta.gov/grants/Find_grants.cfm, where you can access it as a pdf. As with the first wave of TAACCCT funding, all educational materials created from grant funds must be released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. For Wave 2, the CC BY license must also be applied to modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds.

The SGA also contains requirements for accessibility (“All online and technology-enabled content and courses developed under this SGA must incorporate the principles of universal design (see http://www.cast.org/udl/)”) and technical standards for digital assets (“All digital assets within online and technology-enabled courses… should be produced to maximize interoperability, exchange and reuse. In addition, all assessments and/or other content that result in a student score or grade must conform to industry-leading e-learning open standards and specifications…”).

As previously mentioned, Creative Commons, along with Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, have been funded by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide free support to grantees to help them meet these grant requirements. Together, we have formed the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN), to more effectively help grantees. For more information on OPEN and the free services we will be providing, see http://open4us.org. If you are a Wave 1 grantee, you can also sign up directly for our free services there.

The TAACCCT program supports President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. Applications to the solicitation are now open for Wave 2, and are due May 24, 2012.

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