Commons News

Open Course Library releases 39 more high-enrollment courses

Jane Park, April 30th, 2013

OCLHowto1
OCL How-to Guide / SBCTC / CC BY

A year and a half ago, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of Washington state’s 81 high-enrollment courses under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). Now they have released the remaining 39 under the same terms, which means that anyone, anywhere, including the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges and four-year colleges and universities, can use, customize, and distribute the course materials.

The Open Course Library project is funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It adheres to SBCTC’s open policy, which requires that all materials created through system grants be openly licensed for the public to freely use, adapt, and distribute under CC BY.

For further background on the project, read our 2010 feature about the project when it was just beginning. All 81 courses are available at the recently redesigned Open Course Library website where each individual course is marked with the CC BY license to enable discovery through Google and other search services on the web.

Update

The SBCTC held a press call today bringing to light a new Cost Analysis report on savings for students where Open Course Library courses have been used in lieu of traditional course materials. For more info, please see:

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California Pushes for Public Access to Taxpayer Funded Research

Timothy Vollmer, April 25th, 2013

ca oa

As we mentioned last week, California has introduced AB 609, the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act. The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Brian Nestande, would require that research articles funded through California tax dollars be made available online for free no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. A letter from the University of California may have prompted the Assembly to modify the text of the draft bill to extend the embargo to 12 months (instead of six), and to include a provision exempting the University of California and California State University from the state agencies that must comply with the legislation, if enacted.

A group of organizations (including Creative Commons) sent a letter to Assembly Member Nestande thanking him for introducing the bill. The letter urged the Assembly to considering strengthening the proposed law by including reuse rights language, such as through the adoption of open licenses:

We encourage you to consider strengthening this legislation by including a provision to ensure that manuscripts reporting on state-funded research be made fully usable by the public. To fully unlock the value of the information contained in these digital articles, they should be made available in formats and under licensing terms that permit users to read, downloaded, search, compute on, data mine or analyze for any lawful purpose.

It also asked for the original 6 month embargo to be reinstated:

Additionally, while we would strongly prefer that these articles be made available to the public immediately upon publication, we would support the inclusion of an embargo period as originally proposed of no longer than six months.

A hearing in the Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review is scheduled for May 1 in Sacramento.

California residents can support the legislation by sending a message to representatives at the Alliance for Taxpayer Access site. More information on the bill is available on the SPARC website.

California icon by Christopher Scott, from the Noun Project, under CC BY.
Unlock icon by J. Ali, from the Noun Project, Public Domain.

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Third Round of TAACCCT Grants Announced by US Department of Labor

Paul Stacey, April 25th, 2013

TAACCCTRd3

On April 19, 2013 US Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris announced the third annual round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program (TAACCCT) grant program. The press release states that the current round of grants available is $474.5 million bringing the total 2011-13 program investment to nearly $1.5 billion. A fourth round is planned for 2014. Information on all the rounds is available here.

Funding is targeted at expanding innovative partnerships between community colleges and employers. All education and career training program strategies developed through grant funds have employer engagement and use labor market information to focus training on local economic needs. This years Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) says the TAACCCT programs aim is to help “adults acquire the skills, degrees, and credentials needed for high-wage, high-skill employment while ensuring needs of employers for skilled workers are met”.

In addition to partnerships TAACCCT stimulates innovation by requiring applicants to build five core elements into their initiatives:
1. Evidence-Based Design
2. Stacked and Latticed Credentials
3. Transferability and Articulation of Credit
4. Advanced Online and Technology Enabled Learning
5. Strategic Alignment

This years SGA even encourages the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Another innovation, which DOL has maintained in all three rounds of the TAACCCT program, is the requirement for TAACCCT grantees to make all grant funded curricula and training materials Open Educational Resources (OER) by licensing them with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (CC BY).

This year’s SGA states:

  • “The purpose of the CC BY licensing requirement is to ensure that materials developed with funds provided by these grants result in Work that can be freely reused and improved by others.”
  • “To ensure that the Federal investment of these funds has as broad an impact as possible and to encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, as a condition of the receipt of a TAACCCT grant, the grantee will be required to license to the public all work (except for computer software source code, discussed below) created with the support of the grant under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CCBY) license. Work that must be licensed under the CCBY includes both new content created with the grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds.”
  • “This license allows subsequent users to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the copyrighted Work and requires such users to attribute the Work in the manner specified by the grantee. Notice of the license shall be affixed to the Work. For general information on CCBY, please visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

TAACCCT academic resources developed by the first round of grantees for industry sectors such as health, manufacturing, energy, transportation, and information technology, will become available for reuse in 2014 followed by additional resources from subsequent rounds. What a boon to education and the economy.

Congratulations to the Department of Labor and the Department of Education for their leadership and foresight in requiring publicly funded educational resources be openly licensed in a way that allows them to be reused and continuously improved. This innovation will benefit students, educators, and industry.

Creative Commons remains committed to supporting TAACCCT grantees in deploying and leveraging the CC BY requirement. See OPEN4us.org for a current list of TAACCCT grantee services Creative Commons offers in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative, Center for Applied Special Technology, and the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges.

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Digital Public Library of America Launches

Elliot Harmon, April 18th, 2013

Creative Commons would like to congratulate the Digital Public Library of America on its official launch today. The DPLA, which has been in planning since 2010, brings together millions of digital resources from numerous libraries, archives, and museums.

From DPLA:

The Digital Public Library of America will launch a beta of its discovery portal and open platform at noon ET today. The portal will deliver millions of materials found in American archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions to students, teachers, scholars, and the public. Far more than a search engine, the portal will provide innovative ways to search and scan through its united collection of distributed resources. Special features will include a dynamic map, a timeline that allow users to visually browse by year or decade, and an app library that provides access to applications and tools created by external developers using DPLA’s open data.

In January, DPLA announced that all of its metadata would be in the public domain under the CC0 Public Domain Declaration. The Open Knowledge Foundation’s Joris Pekel applauded that announcement:

The decision to apply the CC0 Public Domain waiver to the metadata will greatly improve interoperability with Europeana, Europe’s equivalent of the DPLA. Now that more different initiatives start publishing digitised heritage and its metadata, interoperability becomes more and more important in order to create a linked web of cultural heritage data, instead of new data silos. By both choosing the CC0 Public Domain waiver, Europeana and the DPLA take a great a step forward in achieving their goal.

We applaud DPLA’s commitment to open data and are excited about the launch of such an important resource.

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Free Music Archive Launches Public Domain Music Contest

Elliot Harmon, April 17th, 2013

Remember the Happy Birthday song contest? Our friends at the Free Music Archive and WFMU are running another challenge to bring more music into the commons. But this time, it’s all about creating new, public domain recordings of public domain compositions.

From FMA:

Bring the public domain into the future! This April, WFMU and the Free Music Archive are challenging artists everywhere to create new recordings and contemporary arrangements of historic compositions available in the public domain. We’re calling this our Revitalize Music Contest.

Every song (except for perhaps “Happy Birthday“) will someday fall out of copyright. Archives such as the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library and Public Domain Information Project chart the vast and ever-expanding troves of public domain music. Participants in our Revitalize Music Contest will help bring these works to life by creating new recordings, and feeding them back into the public domain.

To enter the contest, participants must release their recordings into the public domain via the CC0 Public Domain Waiver. The Free Music Archive will hire a director to create a music video of the winning recording.

Submissions are due April 28, so get started on your recording. For inspiration, check out this early entry, Noel Bush‘s ASMR-inducing rendition of “Beautiful Dreamer“:

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U.S. States considering public access policies

Timothy Vollmer, April 17th, 2013

oa state seals

With the introduction at the federal level of both the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) and the White House public access directive, several states have begun to think about supporting public access to publicly funded research. Like the proposed federal legislation and White House policy, the state-level bills aim to support the notion that the taxpaying public should have access to the research it funds. The Illinois legislation is particularly interesting in that it has included a reuse rights provision whereby the articles developed as a result of state funds would be shared under an open license such as CC BY.

California

Notwithstanding any other law, each state agency that provides funding in the form of a research grant to a grantee for direct research shall develop a public access policy that shall do the following:

(1) Include a requirement that electronic versions of the author’s final manuscripts, or a link to an electronic version of the author’s final manuscript in an open access digital repository of original research papers that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and result from research supported from state agency funding, be submitted to the funding state agency and the California State Library.

(2) Provide free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals. [...]

New York

Each agency that provides funding for direct research shall develop a public access policy that shall:

(i) Include a requirement that electronic versions of the author’s final manuscripts of original research papers that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and result from research supported from funding by the state of New York, be submitted to such funding agency;

(ii) Provide free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals; [...]

Illinios

(a) No later than 12 months after the effective date of this Act, each public institution of higher education shall develop an open access to research articles policy.

(b) All public institutions of higher education shall develop policies that provide for the following:

(1) the submission, by all faculty employed by the public institution of higher education, to the employing institution (or to an institution designated by the employing institution) of an electronic version of the author’s final manuscript of original research papers upon acceptance by a scholarly research journal, including peer-reviewed journals and related publications used by researchers to disseminate the results of their institution-affiliated research; [...]

(4) free online public access to the final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions immediately upon publication in a peer-reviewed journal;

(5) an irrevocable, worldwide copyright license granted by the author to the public that permits any use of an article on condition that the author and original publisher are attributed as such and that any such attribution is not made in a way that implies endorsement of the use by the author or original publisher. [...]

New York state seal is in the public domain.

California state seal licensed under CC BY-SA.

Illinois state seal is in the public domain.

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Open Textbook Summit

Paul Stacey, April 12th, 2013

OpenTextbookSummit2

On April 8 & 9, 2013 BCcampus hosted, and Creative Commons facilitated, an Open Textbook Summit in Vancouver British Columbia Canada. The Open Textbook Summit brought together government representatives, student groups, and open textbook developers in an effort to coordinate and leverage open textbook initiatives.

Participants included:

BCcampus
BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology (AEIT)
Creative Commons
eCampus Alberta
Alberta Enterprise & Advanced Education
The 20 Million Minds Foundation
Washington Open Course Library
University of Minnesota Open Textbook Catalogue
Lumen Learning
Siyavula
Open Courseware Consortium
OpenStax/Connexions
Student Public Interest Research Groups
Right to Research Coalition
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA)

California and British Columbia recently announced initiatives to create open textbooks for high enrollment courses. Susan Brown in her welcoming remarks on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology noted the Open Textbook Summit was “a unique opportunity to share information about the work underway in our respective jurisdictions and organizations to capitalize on lessons learned; to identify common areas of interest; and to discover potential opportunities for collaboration. The real power of a project like this is only realized by working together.”

On the summit’s first day the BC government announced it was “Moving to the next chapter on free online textbooks” releasing a list of the 40 most highly enrolled first and second-year subject areas in the provincial post-secondary system.

Over the course of the summit participants identified existing open textbooks that could be used for BC’s high enrollment courses. Development plans for creating additional open textbooks were mapped out. Strategies for academic use of open textbooks were discussed ranging from open textbooks for high enrollment courses to zero textbook degree programs where every course in a credential has an open textbook.

Open textbook developers described the tools they are using for authoring, editing, remixing, repository storage, access, and distribution. Participants discussed the potential for creating synergy between initiatives through use of common tools and processes.

Measures of success, including saving students money and improved learning outcomes, were shared and potential for a joint open textbook research agenda explored. The summit concluded with suggestions from all participants on ways to collaborate going forward. David Porters recommendation of an ongoing Open Textbook Federation was enthusiastically endorsed.

Mary Burgess created a Google group called The Open Textbook Federation for further conversations and collaborations. This group is open to anyone currently working on, or thinking of working on, an Open Textbook Project. Notes from the Open Textbook Summit are posted online. Clint Lalonde created a Storify of the Twitter conversation captured during the summit.

The Open Textbook Summit was an incredible day and a half of learning. The sharing of insights, experiences, hopes, and ideas left everyone energized with a commitment to join together in a cross-border federation that collaborates on open textbooks.

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DRM in HTML5 Is a Bad Idea

Dan Mills, April 11th, 2013

Creative Commons strongly believes in the respect of copyright and the wishes of content creators. That’s why CC has created a range of legal tools that rely in part on copyright to enable our vision of a shared commons of creative and intellectual works.

But when creators’ rights come at the expense of a usable internet, everyone suffers for it. Over the past 15 years, various companies have started using mechanisms to limit the ways in which users can use their content. These digital rights management (DRM) techniques make the internet less usable for everyone. CC believes that no DRM system is able to account for the full complexity of the law, since they create black-and-white situations where legally there is wiggle room (such as for fair use, for example). This failing causes DRM to limit consumer freedoms that would otherwise be permitted, and that can create very real harm to consumers. Examples abound, but a recent one can be seen in this report on how DRM and the DMCA have seriously limited the ability of the visually impaired to have access to e-books they can use over the past 15 years.

The W3C recently published a draft proposal that would make DRM a part of HTML5. While CC applauds efforts to get more content distributed on the web, DRM does more harm than good. In addition to limiting consumer freedoms, it’s not at all clear this proposal would even be effective in curbing piracy. Given the proposal’s architecture, it will cause dependence on outside components which will not be a part of the standardized web. A standardized web is essential to allow anyone to participate in it without locking them into giving any one player a say on what proprietary device, software, or technology they need to use. The proposal opens up exactly such a dependency: it allows web pages to require specific proprietary software or hardware to be installed. That a dangerous direction for the web, because it means that for many real-life uses it will be impossible to build end-to-end open systems to render web content.

Read EFF’s post on defending the open web from DRM for more details on the proposal, history, threat. Get the facts and, if you’re interested, sign the Free Software Foundation’s petition to oppose DRM in web standards.

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CC Talks With: CC Talks With: David Liao: Open Courseware and CC Licenses

Billy Meinke, April 10th, 2013

Last week a researcher and educator by the name of David Liao contacted our team at Creative Commons about open courseware he had created, which we tweeted:

I sat down last Wednesday to speak with David about his course, motivations for using a CC-license, and about other challenges in scholarly communication and education that are being changed by new ways of “open.” He’s created a set of videos and curriculum titled A Mathematical Way to Think about Biology, released under a CC BY-SA license. David, an Analyst with the University of California, SF and a member of the Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Network, recognized that quantitative research is fundamental to hard science disciplines, but there are few openly licensed training resources on these methods that can translate to Biology as well as other non-scientific fields.

Udemy Screenshot of Math-Bio Course
Screenshot from David’s Udemy course

Already a proponent of Open Access (OA) to research publications, David sums up his view on how principles of OA can be applied to education:

”Speaking loosely along the same lines of sentiment [of Open Access], it is likewise preferable to release, as free cultural works, both scientific literature and the instructional materials by virtue of which that literature becomes readable.”

As David explained, there is a gap between the highly-technical aspects of training future researchers and the practical resources available; one that he hopes to begin to fill by making his materials available online. He has developed more than ten learning modules ranging from fundamental mathematical concepts of algebra and geometry to more complex areas of spatially-resolved models and cellular automata, all described in ways that apply to the biological sciences. The slide decks and tutorial videos have all been released under a CC BY-SA license, which allows reuse and remixing the content, so long as any adapted content carries the same copyleft license. David’s content has been structured as a course, is available on the Udemy online learning platform and has had nearly one thousand participants use the material.

An advocate of many things Open for some time, our conversation shifted from OER to OA. David offered his take on Open Access and how scholarly communication has reached a point where tools like CC licenses are needed to maintain progress in a digital age.

“Ten years ago, when it came to negotiating legal matters around copyright and intellectual property, we would need to be able to do some serious Jiu-Jitsu, and likely involve a team of lawyers. Creative Commons [licenses] makes this communication so much easier.”

Fort Worth MMA and BJJ_5896 by inronsidemma
Fort Worth MMA and BJJ_5896 / ironsidemma / CC BY 2.0

By making his content available on the web and applying a CC license to his work, David has taken steps to not only make his educational media openly accessible, but also explicitly describe how others can reuse his work. A longstanding problem in defining the core characteristics of “open”, digital media that is freely accessible but does not allow for reuse or remixing is often confused with open content. David has been pleased to see learners using the materials in his course, as well as having had fellow college professors contact him about using his content to supplement their own teaching. When asked about his thoughts on others who likely will be remixing and building upon his learning content, David welcomed it fully, and is interested to have others to contact with links to derivative works.

A case study on the CC Wiki for A Mathematical Approach to Biology can be found here.

David’s course can be found on Udemy here, and his personal website is here.
You can also follow David on Twitter here.

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Free Culture Conference hits NYC April 20-21

Timothy Vollmer, April 5th, 2013

The Students for Free Culture conference will take place in New York City April 20-21. The conference–dubbed FCX 2013–will be held at New York Law School.

fcx13

The Students for Free Culture Conference is an annual gathering of student and non-student activists, thinkers, and innovators who are dedicated to advancing discussions on technology, law, and public policy. Through panels and keynote speakers, FCX 2013 will focus on current issues in intellectual property law, open access to educational resources, maker culture, and technology policy. Through workshops, the conference will revisit the core pillars of the free culture movement, examine the success stories from our movement, and identify new ways in which Students for Free Culture can advocate for a more free, open, and participatory digital environment.

Longtime SFC member Benjamin Mako Hill (who will be giving the opening keynote) says: “If previous years are any indication, the conference can serve as an incredible introduction to free culture, free software, wikis, remixing, copyright, patent and trademark reform, and participatory culture. For folks that are already deeply involved, FCX is among the best places I know to connect with other passionate, creative, people working on free culture issues.”

The event is open to all, with a suggested $15 donation to help defray costs. Registration is open, and some limited travel assistance may be available for students of active SFC chapters.

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