Australian Government Commits to Open Access

Jane Park, May 17th, 2010

Earlier this month, the Australian federal government issued an official response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce report which recommended, among other things, that Australian Public Sector Information (PSI) should be released under CC BY as default. The response (licensed CC BY) included a commitment to the development of a comprehensive set of IP guidelines which would, in principle, follow the Gov 2.0 Taskforce recommendations. Via CC Australia:

Regarding the Gov 2.0 Recommendations 6.3-6.6, which state that Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) should be the default licence for PSI, the report provides “agreement in principle,” undertaking that the IP Guidelines will not “impede the default open licensing position proposed in recommendation 6.3.”

Since then, Australia has released three major government publications under Creative Commons licenses, the latest being their national budget under CC BY.

In fact, the last week has seen the release of three major Federal Government reports – the Budget, the Gov 2.0 response and the NBN Implementation Study – all under CC licences. This seems to be a great indicator that the government really means what it says – open access is going to be the default position for the Australian Federal Government from now on.

This marks an exciting time for the Australian government, as they move towards fulfilling their commitment to openness. For more information, see CC Australia’s post on the matter.

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Video from CC Salon NYC: Opening Education

Jane Park, April 9th, 2010

For those of you who missed CC Salon NYC: Opening Education, we uploaded live recordings of the event to the CC channel a while back. The video recording is split up into three parts in-line with the three sessions to make it easier for you to pick and choose what to watch:

All videos are available via CC BY, of course. I’d also like to point out that the Hewlett OER Grantees meeting is going on right now, which you can follow with the hashtag #oerhf.

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Teaching Open Source Software

Jane Park, April 7th, 2010

If you’re like me, then you don’t know much about software; if you’re not like me, then you know about software but not much about open source software (OSS). Regardless of which camp you fall into, there’s good news—you can learn about open source software (and help others learn about it) through open educational resources on OSS online. Practical Open Source Software Exploration: How to be Productively Lost, the Open Source Way is‘s new textbook to help professors, or anyone for that matter, teach or learn about open source software. “It’s a book that works like an open source software project. In other words: patches welcome.

For those needing something quick and simple to hand out to their classes, educators can contribute to or adapt this textbook (it’s licensed under CC BY-SA so you can share, translate, remix as long as you share alike) or search for other OER online. One K-12 educator developed this resource under CC BY, A K-12 Educator’s Guide to Open Source Software.

Via CC licenses, both resources enable a community of educators and learners to contribute to, edit, and improve them, especially Practical Open Source Software Exploration which invites people to edit the wiki directly. But fostering a community around open resources to keep them up-to-date and relevant isn’t something that just magically happens, which is why Red Hat, a successful business built around OSS, developed this meta-resource: The Open Source Way: Creating and nurturing communities of contributors. The book is available in wiki-form also under CC BY-SA, and “it contains knowledge distilled from years of Red Hat experience, which itself comes from the many years of experience of individual upstream contributors who have worked for Red Hat.” Basically, it’s a guide “for helping people to understand how to and how not to engage with community over projects such as software, content, marketing, art, infrastructure, standards, and so forth.” Of course none of this is set in stone (literally), since what works for some might not for others, but it’s worth taking a look and adapting to your own needs.

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Pratham Books uses CC to make children’s books accessible

Jane Park, April 5th, 2010

Nearly two years ago, I blogged about Pratham Books, a nonprofit children’s book publisher in India. “It was set up to fill a gap in the market for good quality, reasonably priced children’s books in a variety of Indian languages. [Its] mission is to make books affordable for every child in India.” At the time, Pratham Books had released six children’s books under a CC BY-NC-SA license, available on their Scribd page. Since then, they have changed the licenses on those books to Attribution Only (CC BY) and have expanded their offerings to books in the public domain. They have also been blogging extensively and encouraging remix of their CC licensed illustrations on Flickr.

Last month, the CC licenses enabled audio versions of Pratham children’s books for India’s National Association of the Blind. Three audio versions were recorded by Radio Mirchi, two in English and one in Urdu, with more in the works.

I asked Guatam John of Pratham Books why they moved towards more open licensing (from the books’ original CC BY-NC-SA license), and what else he saw for the future of Pratham’s CC licensed books.

“Pratham Books has taken the position that all our content will either be under a CC-BY or CC-BY-SA license because, to us, these are the only two truly open licenses that fit our needs. Radio Mirchi gave us the content with no terms attached but since it was done pro bono, we felt that putting it out under the CC-BY-SA license was the best available choice for both the community, Radio Mirchi and us. Also, the SA component serves to limit commercial use unless it is re-shared, as the license, and our philosophy, mandates.

We continue to release content under open licenses, for example: And we will continue to do so over time. We have been working with the Connexions project to build a platform for the re-use, remix and distribution of our content too. Our basic goal is a net increase in the available content for children to read from and we think we can catalyse this two ways: Seeding the domain with our content and building a platform to make it easy to re-use and re-purpose content.”

For more on CC licensed OER being adapted to accessible versions, see “U.S. Dept of Ed funds Bookshare to make open textbooks accessible.”

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CC Talks With: The Open Course Library Project

Jane Park, March 4th, 2010

cable green
Copyright and related rights waived via CC0

Late last year, I caught wind of an initiative that was being funded by the Gates Foundation—it had to do with redesigning the top 80 courses of Washington State’s community college system and releasing them all under CC BY (Attribution Only). The initiative was called the Washington State Student Completion Initiative and the specific project that was dealing with redesign and CC licensing was the Open Course Library Project. I decided to find out more, so I set up a Skype date with Cable Green, the head of the project.  Below is the transcribed interview, edited for clarity and cut as much as possible for 21st century attention spans.

Tell me a little bit about who you are, where you come from, and what your role is in open education.

Sure, my name is Cable Green. I’m the eLearning Director for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Our system consists of 34 community and technical colleges and those colleges teach roughly 470,000 students each year. Our enrollments are growing fast in this recessionary period as people are looking to enhance their work skills and go back to college to get degrees and certificates.
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UK moves towards opening government data

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

In a step towards openness, the UK has opened up its data to be interoperable with the Attribution Only license (CC BY). The National Archives, a department responsible for “setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK,” has realigned the terms and conditions of to accommodate this shift. is “an online point of access for government-held non-personal data.” All content on the site is now available for reuse under CC BY. This step expresses the UK’s commitment to opening its data, as they work towards a Creative Commons model that is more open than their former Click-Use Licenses. From the blog post,

“This is the first major step towards the adoption of a non-transactional, Creative Commons style approach to licensing the re-use of government information.

The Government’s commitment in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government is to “establish a common licence to re-use data which is interoperable with the internationally recognised Creative Commons model”. This is key to supporting new information initiatives such as the beta release of also launched today to promote transparency, public service improvement and economic growth.”

We at CC are thrilled by this new development and congratulate the UK for this move. Though we are confident that this shift will increase the UK’s capacity to foster reuse, collaboration, and innovation in government and the world, we hope to see the UK as well as other governments move in the future towards even fuller openness and the preferred standard for open data via CC Zero, a tool that “enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright-protected content to waive copyright interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright.”

This would not have been possible without the hard work of Creative Commons teams in the UK, especially that of Dr. Prodromos Tsiavos, our CC England and Wales Legal Project Lead. Check out the press release, the PerSpectIves or blog, and the Guardian article for more details.


Daily life in Iraq—new footage at Al Jazeera

Jane Park, January 14th, 2010

Last year, Al Jazeera launched their Creative Commons Repository with 12 videos shot in Gaza under CC’s most open license, Attribution only. Since then, Al Jazeera’s collection has grown, and their most recent footage includes videos documenting everyday life and culture in Iraq.

Check out this video of an Iraqi artist sculpting a Minaret and painting a tree. The sculptures seem to be encased afterward in gold or some other substance—I’m not entirely sure since I’m not fluent in Arabic. The good news is that the video and all others in this repository are licensed CC BY, so someone can help translate this into English or other languages, for use by rival broadcasters or in documentaries.

There are also more videos about the communication network in Iraq, and Samarra’s pharmaceutical factories and poultry farms.

You can also start remixing these videos to tell a compelling story, whether it’s a 30 sec or twenty minute film clip, maybe laid with some CC licensed soundtracks. Be creative. There’s a lot of CC licensed stuff out there. All Al Jazeera CC repository videos are available via CC BY, which means you can edit, adapt, translate, remix or otherwise use them as long as you credit Al Jazeera. Interested persons can add the Al Jazeera repository to their Miro feeds.

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CC Talks With: The Shuttleworth Foundation on CC BY as default and commercial enterprises in education

Jane Park, December 22nd, 2009

Photo by Mark Surman CC BY-NC-SA

For those of you who don’t know Karien Bezuidenhout, she is the Chief Operating Officer at the Shuttleworth Foundation, one of the few foundations that fund open education projects and who have an open licensing policy for their grantees. A couple months ago, I had the chance to meet Karien despite a six hour time difference—she was in Capetown, South Africa—I was in Brooklyn, New York. Via Skype, I asked her about Shuttleworth’s evolving default license (CC BY-SA to CC BY), her personal stake in OER, and how she envisions us (CC Learn and Shuttleworth) working together. She also gave me some insights into three innovative open education projects they have a hand in: Siyavula, M4Lit, and Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

The conversation below is more or less transcribed and edited for clarity. It makes for great holiday or airplane reading, and if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to the topics or projects that interest you. This is CC Learn’s last Inside OER feature of 2009—so enjoy, and happy whatever-it-is-that-you-are-doing-in-your-part-of-the-world!

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Deadline extended for Talis Incubator for Open Education

Jane Park, December 17th, 2009

As an early xmas present, Talis Education has extended the deadline for the Talis angel fund to January 31, 2010, one full month later than the original deadline to give you a chance to hone your proposals (or begin writing them after the holidays). If you don’t remember, I blogged about the Talis angel fund for open education in August when it launched:

“Talis Education launched an angel fund for open education, called the Talis Incubator for Open Education. Talis Education is providing funds up to “£15,000 to help individuals or small groups who have big ideas about furthering the cause of Open Education. All Talis asks in return is that the project deliverables are ‘open sourced’ and the intellectual property returned back to the community, allowing it to be used freely. Talis won’t, and never will, exert any rights to the intellectual property or ideas that are funded.”

Talis Education is licensed CC BY. Check out the announcement for more details.

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Vital Signs Launches New Site with CC BY as default

Jane Park, December 4th, 2009

Vital Signs
Photo by Vital Signs CC BY

Yesterday, Vital Signs kicked off their new site with more than 300 supporters, including Maine’s former Governor Angus King, who spearheaded the initiative that resulted in a laptop for every 7th and 8th grader in the state. Vital Signs, a field-based science education program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, started 10 years ago just before the turn of the century. Since then it has evolved to “[leverage] Maine’s laptop program to enable students to participate in a statewide effort to find invasive species, and to document the native species and habitats most vulnerable to future invasions.” The new site “provides a digital platform, including social networking tools, to facilitate a fluid exchange of knowledge between students and experts. It changes each student’s relationship with science from distant spectator to thoughtful participant.” You might remember our Back to School feature on them, or even my Inside OER interview with Sarah Kirn, the Manager of the project, from the spring of 2008.

Back then, CC Learn and VS tossed around a lot of ideas on how to get them to move towards openness, and now more than a year a later those ideas have come to fruition. Their new site leverages the research and data of more than 50 middle school classrooms who are paired with real scientists, researchers, and conscientious citizens to explore and address the issue of invasive species.

“Stewarding 32,000 miles of rivers and streams, 6,000 lakes and ponds, 5,000 miles of coastline and 17 million acres of forest is a job for every Maine citizen, young and old,” said Andrew Fisk, director, Bureau of Land and Water Quality, Department of Environmental Protection. “Engaging seventh and eighth grade students in the issue of invasive species promises to build a heightened level of public awareness and a meaningful body of scientific knowledge. You never know who will save the next lake from a milfoil infestation. The kids are a resource of significant magnitude for us.”

Now Vital Signs work can be leveraged by other states and around the world. The new site’s default licensing policy is CC BY, which means that anyone is free to copy, distribute, adapt, or remix VS work as long as they attribute Vital Signs. The issue of invasive species is not unique to Maine, and now Vital Signs can lead in opening up the work that will enable future solutions.

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