open educational resources

California passes groundbreaking open textbook legislation

Timothy Vollmer, September 27th, 2012

It’s official. In California, Governor Jerry Brown has signed two bills (SB 1052 and SB 1053) that will provide for the creation of free, openly licensed digital textbooks for the 50 most popular lower-division college courses offered by California colleges. The legislation was introduced by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and passed by the California Senate and Assembly in late August.

A crucial component of the California legislation is that the textbooks developed will be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY):

The textbooks and other materials are placed under a creative commons attribution license that allows others to use, distribute, and create derivative works based upon the digital material while still allowing the authors or creators to receive credit for their efforts.

The CC BY license allows teachers to tailor textbook content to students’ needs, permits commercial companies to take the resources and build new products with it (such as video tutorials), and opens the doors for collaboration and improvement of the materials.

Access to affordable textbooks is extremely important for students, as textbook costs continue to rise at four times the rate of inflation, sometimes surpassing the cost of tuition at some community colleges. So, in addition to making the digital textbooks available to students free of cost, the legislation requires that print copies of textbooks will cost about $20.

This is a massive win for California, and a most welcome example of open policy that aims to leverage open licensing to save money for California families and support the needs of teachers and students. We’ll continue to track this initiative and other Open Education Policies at our OER registry.


Winners Announced! – Why Open Education Matters Video Competition

Timothy Vollmer, July 18th, 2012

Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Foundations are pleased to announce the winners of the Why Open Education Matters video competition. The competition was launched in March 2012 to solicit creative videos that clearly communicate the use and potential of free, high-quality Open Educational Resources — or “OER” — and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students, and schools everywhere. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the competition with a video on the Why Open Education Matters website. The competition received over 60 qualified entries. The winning videos are displayed below.

First Prize

Congratulations to Blinktower, an extremely talented creative agency based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Second Prize

Congratulations to Laura Rachfalski and her great team. Laura is an artist, videographer and photographer from Philadelphia.

Third Prize

Congratulations to Nadia Paola Mireles Torres and her collaborators from the design firm Funktionell. It’s also amazing to see that Nadia has made all the video assets available for download and reuse under CC BY!

The prize winners were decided by a panel of distinguished experts including Davis Guggenheim, Nina Paley, Liz Dwyer, Anya Kamenetz, James Franco, Angela Lin, and Mark Surman. Due to technical problems with the public voting on the Why Open Education Matters website which prevented some persons from submitting a vote, the third prize video has been awarded by the judging panel.

In addition to the winning videos, all of the qualifying videos are available for viewing on the competition website, All of the videos are licensed CC BY, which means others may distribute, remix, and build upon them, even commercially, as long as they give credit to the creators.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted a video for sharing their creativity, talents, and passion in helping explain and promote Open Educational Resources.


Vote now for your favorite Why Open Education Matters video

Timothy Vollmer, June 25th, 2012

We’re happy to see so many great submissions to the Why Open Education Matters video competition. You can now view all the qualifying videos and vote for your favorite. 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. The competition closed on June 5.

Our panel of judges is currently reviewing the entries and will choose the first ($25,000) and second ($5,000) prizes. The winner of the Public Choice Award will win $1,000. Click on a video to view it, read the voting instructions, and vote. Public Choice Award voting will end July 11, 2012. We hope to announce all the winners on July 18, 2012. Good luck!

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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 (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!


OER Policy Registry: Request for Help

Cable Green, March 26th, 2012

2071785 / / CC BY

Update June 2012:
The OER Policy Registry has moved to its permanent home at, please review and contribute any new policies there.

Update October 2012: We’ve removed the links to the Google Form and spreadsheet below. Please visit the OER Policy Registry’s permanent home at

The open community shares a need for more information to help us with our work. We know, for example, that there are many policies supporting open education at institutions and governments throughout the world. Many of us know of some of these policies, but it would be extremely helpful if we had a single database of open education policies that the entire community could access and update.

To meet this goal, Creative Commons has received a small grant to create an “OER Policy Registry.” The Open Educational Resources (OER) Policy Registry will be a place for policymakers and open advocates to easily share and update OER legislation, OER institutional policies and supporting OER policy resources. We have begun to enter OER policies into the registry, but we need your help to make it a truly useful global resource.

The open movement is reaching a stage where we’ve had some real, concrete OER policy victories and there is the potential to achieve many more. Sharing our collective knowledge of existing OER policies, in the same way we believe in sharing educational resources, will help advocates and policymakers worldwide be more successful.

Please join the effort:

(1) Contribute any OER policies you know about via this Google form.

  • We are collecting both legislative AND institutional (non-legislative) OER policies from around the world. Your form submissions will be added to the draft list of OER policies.

(2) Review the draft list of OER policies. (Google doc)

(3) Pass on this call to your colleagues, lists, blogs, and other channels, to ensure that we get as much input as possible. As the OER movement is global, it is critical that we capture OER policies from around the world.

Anyone can add OER policies to the Google form through the next month. Beginning May 1, the OER Policy Registry will move to the Creative Commons wiki. At that point, anyone will be able to edit and update the OER Policy Registry on the wiki, and all contributions will be licensed under CC BY.

We’re starting with a Google form because (a) it’s easy and (b) wikis require you to create an account before editing, and that may be a barrier to participation.

CC is in contact with other projects that collect similar information, including UNESCO, CoL, the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, EU OCW and a project in New Zealand. We will add OER policy data they gather as it becomes available. If anyone knows of other efforts to gather OER policies, please send them to Anna Daniel ( and we will reach out to them too.

If you have any suggestions or feedback on the content and/or framework, please let us know.

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Launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition

Timothy Vollmer, March 5th, 2012

Creative Commons, U.S. Department of Education, Open Society Institute launch high profile video competition to highlight potential of free educational materials

Mountain View, California and Washington, D.C., — March 5, 2012

Today Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Institute announce the launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition. The competition will award cash prizes for the best short videos that explain the use and promise of free, high-quality Open Educational Resources—or “OER”—and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students and schools.

Video submissions are accepted until June 5, 2012 and winners will be announced July 18, 2012. Cash prizes, provided by the Open Society Institute, include $25,000 (first), $5,000 (second), and $1,000 (Public Choice Award). Judges include prominent artists and education experts, including Davis Guggenheim, Nina Paley, James Franco, and many others. The competition website is and features an introductory video by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. All entries must be shared under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan underlined various benefits of OER. Duncan, in a video that appears on the Why Open Education Matters contest website, said, “Open Educational Resources can not only accelerate and enrich learning; they can also substantially reduce costs for schools, families and students.”

Catherine Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons, pointed out the importance of raising awareness for Open Educational Resources. “Both Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources are 10 years old this year, and there’s been an amazing explosion in the amount and quality of free, openly-licensed educational content being shared online. Now is the time to push awareness of OER into the mainstream.”

The launch of the Why Open Education Matters Video Competition coincides with the first annual Open Education Week (, which runs from March 5-10, 2012. Open Education Week is a global event that seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of free and open sharing in education.

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 U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education ( coordinates most federal assistance on education. It works with state and local partners to promote excellence and equity for students at all levels of education to ensure that our citizens are college and career ready and can compete in a global economy.

About Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute ( works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens and, through its Information Program, works to increase public access to knowledge, including increasing access to open, high quality, educational materials.

Timothy Vollmer
Creative Commons

Jane Glickman
Department of Education
(202) 401-1307

Darius Cuplinskas
Open Society Institute


CC Salon London: Open Educational Resources — Policies for Promotion

Heidi Chen, February 29th, 2012

Creative Commons, Creative Commons United Kingdom (CC UK) and iCommons Ltd. are pleased to present the next CC Salon London on Thursday, March 29. CC Salon London will feature five panelists discussing the state of open educational resources (OER) and the effect of copyright and other policies on the development of digital tools and content for education. We will close with a period of questions and discussion from the audience. Our five panelists will be:

  • Catherine M. Casserly, CEO, Creative Commons
  • Victor Henning, Co-Founder & CEO, Mendeley Ltd.
  • Naomi Korn, Co-Founder, Web2Rights
  • Patrick McAndrew, OLnet Director, The Open University
  • Amber Thomas, Digital Infrastructure Programme Manager, JISC

CC UK Public Lead Joscelyn Upendran will moderate the panel discussion. This event is free and open to the public; however, advance registration is required. Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, and to register, visit:

CC would like to give special thanks to Nature Publishing Group for generously hosting this event. Under the leadership of CEO Annette Thomas, a member of the CC Board of Directors, Macmillan’s Nature Publishing Group offers multiple scientific journals under CC BY-NC-SA and CC BY-NC-ND.

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UNESCO and COL release open education policy document for higher education

Timothy Vollmer, November 1st, 2011

Today UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning jointly released the policy document Guidelines for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Education. The purpose of the guidelines is “to encourage decision makers in governments and institutions to invest in the systematic production, adaptation, and use of OER and to bring them in to the mainstream of higher education in order to improve the quality of curricula and teaching and to reduce costs.”

UNESCO and COL note, “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain and released with an open license (such as Creative Commons). They allow communities of practitioners and stakeholders to copy, adapt and share their resources legally and freely, in order to support high-quality and locally relevant teaching and learning.”

The guidelines indicate how the potential of OER can be harnessed to support quality teaching and learning by higher education stakeholders, including governments, higher education institutions, teaching staff, students, and quality assurance, accreditation, and academic recognition authorities.

The Guidelines for OER in Higher Education inform the process leading up to the 2012 World OER Congress. That event is being organized by UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Congress will 1) work to promote the UNESCO/COL OER Policy Guidelines; 2) share the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts; and 3) release the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs.

The UNESCO/COL policy document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.


$500 million awarded to first round grantees for community college career training program

Timothy Vollmer, September 26th, 2011

Today the U.S. Department of Labor, in coordination with the Department of Education, announced the first wave of grant winners in support of “targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated workers who are changing careers.” Today’s announcement commits nearly $500 million to 32 grantees, with a $2 billion investment expected over the next 4 years.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in the Department’s press release:

“Making it possible for unemployed Americans to return to work is a top priority of President Obama’s. This initiative is about providing access to training that leads to real jobs,” said Secretary Solis. “These federal grants will enable community colleges, employers and other partners to prepare job candidates, through innovative programs, for new careers in high-wage, high-skills fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and STEM occupations.”

As we mentioned in January when the program was announced, we’re excited that the grant guidelines includes a requirement that where new learning materials are created using grant funds, those materials must be made available under CC BY. Creative Commons, with its partnering organizations, is positioned to provide support to grantees on open licensing, learning and course design, professional development, and adoption and use.

Congratulations to the first round winners and to the Department of Labor and Department of Education in supporting this innovative education initiative.

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Brazil introduces OER into federal legislation and adopts local government policy

Timothy Vollmer, June 15th, 2011

OER seminar at the Sao Paulo Legislative Assembly by reanetbr / CC BY

There’s been some exciting announcements in support of open educational resources (OER) in Brazil over the last few weeks.

First, legislation was introduced into Brazil’s House of Representatives. The bill deals with three main issues: It 1) requires government funded educational resources to be made widely available to the public under an open license, 2) clarifies that resources produced by public servants under his/her official capacities should be open educational resources (or otherwise released under an open access framework), and 3) urges the government to support open federated systems for the distribution and archiving of OER. Last week in São Paulo, a group of educators, journalists, policymakers, activists, and OER experts held an event at the Legislative Assembly to discuss open education projects and promote OER policies. In addition to this federal legislation, a similar bill will be introduced at the São Paulo state level.

Second, the municipality of São Paulo Department of Education has now mandated that all its educational and pedagogical content will be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Share-Alike (BY-NC-SA) license. From the translated announcement:

“We didn’t have an appropriate way to license our content”, says Alexandre Schneider, Secretary of Education. “We hold the rights to our content because we created it, and we realized it would be right to release it under a license that allows everyone to use and adapt what was created with public money.”

Congratulations to the REA-Brasil (OER-Brazil) team on these recent successes and ongoing commitment to supporting open education in Brazil.


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