Earlier this year, Blackboard announced xpLor — a new cloud-based learning object repository that will work across the various learning management systems (LMS) in use at educational institutions: e.g., Blackboard, Moodle, ANGEL, and Sakai. xpLor’s goal, as stated by Product Manager Brent Mundy, is to dissolve content boundaries between LMS’s and institutions so that instructors can more easily share, discover, and reuse course content. While the LMS is good at administering courses, LMSs are not particularly good at large-scale content management. For example, you can only manage content within an individual course, and you can’t easily share course content with other instructors using a different LMS or even with instructors using the same LMS at different institutions.
Now, with xpLor, which is currently in beta at more than 70 institutions, you can. Since xpLor is cloud-based and built using IMS standards (such as Common Cartridge and Learning Tools Interoperability), any LMS employing IMS standards can work with it. And now, xpLor has added Creative Commons license options, which means that instructors and institutions can create, share, and even build on each other’s CC-licensed content all through the same interface.
The default license for adding content is Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY),
but instructors can opt for a different CC license or their own custom terms. Here’s an example of what a CC-licensed resource via xpLor looks like:
xpLor also integrates CC-licensed content from existing open education projects, like the Khan Academy and Blackboard CourseSites’ CC BY licensed courses.
Instructors can find resources from these projects in addition to content added by their colleagues via xpLor’s search interface. As shown below, the CC license mark is clearly displayed next to each resource. In the future, instructors will be able to filter their searches by the CC license they desire.
In addition, xpLor offers instructors the ability to directly copy, edit and remix CC-licensed content in its system, as long as the resource is one of the basic common content types found in all LMS’s, according to common cartridge standards. As instructors pull from various sources to create content, the resource’s attribution and license will automatically be retained and carried into the new, derivative work, thanks to xpLor’s built-in support for authoring and versioning. In future iterations, content will also be exportable according to the same standards, with the license metadata attached.
For those interested in learning more, Blackboard has produced an infographic site on how it all works, where you can also sign up to receive additional info. If you want the back story on how xpLor originated, including the technical details of how the different systems will operate, we recommend reading project consultant Professor Chuck Severance’s post on xpLor.4 Comments »
As a teenager, Aaron Swartz helped start Creative Commons. Join us in remembering a friend, ally, and inspiration.
Longtime CC volunteer Bassel Khartabil has been detained in Syria since March. Thanks to an international community of supporters, he now has family visitation rights. Join the campaign to free Bassel.
This month, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent article about the rise of open educational resources.
In other news:
- Every year on January 1st, copyright protection expires for millions of creative works. Celebrate Public Domain Day and find out what’s new to public domain this year.
- Open Education Week is coming up, and School of Open is planning something big. Find out how to get involved.
- Not one, but five #cc10 mixtapes.
- Boundless has released 18 new textbooks under CC BY-SA.
- CC Korea has launched a new iPhone app celebrating ten years of Creative Commons music.
- In case you missed it: #cc10 Antarctica.
Dear Friends, please join us as we gather to remember Aaron Swartz on the evening of Thursday, January 24th.
Reception at 7:00pm
Memorial at 8:00pm
at the Internet Archive
300 Funston Avenue
San Francisco 94118
Speakers will include Danny O’Brien, Lisa Rein, Peter Eckersly, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Cindy Cohn, Brewster Kahle, Tim O’Reilly, Elliot Peters, Alex Stamos, and Carl Malamud; there will be an opportunity for brief remembrances.
From Aaron’s friends at: Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Noisebridge, Internet Archive, Wikimedia Foundation, Stanford Center for Internet and Society, O’Reilly and Blurryedge.1 Comment »
Boundless, the company that builds on existing open educational resources to provide free alternatives to traditionally costly college textbooks, has released 18 open textbooks under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), the same license used by Wikipedia. Schools, students and the general public are free to share and remix these textbooks under this license. The 18 textbooks cover timeless college subjects, such as accounting, biology, chemistry, sociology, and economics. Boundless reports that students at more than half of US colleges have used its resources, and that they expect its number of users to grow.
Boundless has an entire section explaining open educational resources (OER) and how they use them. However, you can easily see how it works for yourself by browsing one of their textbooks directly. For example, see their textbook on Biology. At the end of each chapter, sources are cited as a list of links where you can find the original material:
This chapter on Organismal Interactions references a Wikipedia article and several articles in The Encyclopedia of Earth. If you follow these links, you will find that the original articles are OER governed by the same CC BY-SA license.
From Boundless’ FAQ,
Is it really free? How does Boundless make money?
Absolutely. Boundless books are 100% free with no expiration dates like textbook rentals or buybacks at the bookstore. It starts with Open Educational Resources. In the future, Boundless will implement some awesome optional premium features on top of this free content to help students study faster and smarter.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Boundless is already rolling out some of those premium features, including flashcards, study guides, and quizzes. To access these features Boundless requires a free user account. The textbooks themselves are completely open, without registration required, and are accessible at boundless.com/textbooks/.
For further reading, we recommend Slate’s article entitled, “Never Pay Sticker Price for a Textbook Again – The open educational resources movement that’s terrifying publishers.” It does a fantastic job of placing the company’s aims in the context of the current publishing ecosystem.3 Comments »
This week, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent story about the rise of openly-licensed educational materials. Simon Owens’ article touches on many of the open education landmarks we’ve been celebrating over the past year, including the Department of Labor’s TAA-CCCT grant program and open textbook legislation in British Columbia and California. Owens interviewed CC director of global learning Cable Green as well as David Wiley, the Twenty Million Minds Foundation‘s Dean Florez, and several other experts in the space.
Upon its launch a decade ago, Creative Commons was embraced by the artist and literary community, and its iconic logo began appearing on the sidebars of thousands of blogs, web pages, and Flickr photos. By 2005, the nonprofit estimated there were 20 million works that utilized the license, and by 2009 that number had climbed to 350 million. But while the organization has always embraced its grassroots enthusiasm, it continually sought recognition and adoption from larger, more traditional institutions.
The philosophy behind this goal is simple. “The public should have access to what it paid for,” says [Cable Green]. “Free access and legal access to what it bought. The tagline is ‘buy one get one.’ If you buy something, you should get access to it.” And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Creative Commons activists have identified education materials as a prime target for their view. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had surpassed auto loans and credit debt, coming in at an estimated $1 trillion. And a not-insignificant contribution to this burden has been the rising cost of textbooks.
4 Comments »
David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham University in Utah, has been immersed in the OER community predating the creation of the Creative Commons license. He was inspired by a group of technologists who met in 1998 to rebrand the free software movement as “open source,” and he later worked to develop an “open content” license that would allow content creators to share and distribute their content easily. “The only difference was that all of us who were initially involved weren’t lawyers,” he recalls. “We were just making stuff up. It was scary, because there were hundreds of thousands of people who were using these licenses, and if any of them actually went to court, who knows what would have happened?” Imagine his relief then when the Creative Commons license was formed. “I put a big notice on our website saying, ‘please everyone, run away from our licenses as fast as you can. Here are real lawyers that have done something similar but way better.'”
This is sound public policy; taxpayers should have free and legal access to publicly funded educational content.
This is an excerpt from comments we submitted last week to the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed requirements for the Investing in Innovation Fund (I3 program). Creative Commons, along with the Open CourseWare Consortium, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, believe that insofar as the I3 program will use public funds to support the creation of educational materials, those educational materials ought to be made freely and openly available to the public. We urge the U.S. Department of Education to adopt a policy identical to that of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT). That initiative requires that educational content created with DOL grant funds be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY).
The DOL open policy states (pdf):
In order 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 (not including the Federal Government) all work created with the support of the grant (Work) under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) license. Work that must be licensed under the CC BY 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.
The $2 billion DOL program’s CC BY open licensing requirement will help maximize the impact of those grant funds, and the $100+ million I3 Program can realize similar benefits by adopting the same policy.
Read the complete comments we submitted at the CC wiki.Comments Off on OER advocates recommend open licensing for $100+ million Investing in Innovation fund
2013 starts off fresh with Dan Mills joining the Creative Commons team as our director of product strategy. We are delighted to have Dan onboard and look forward to engaging his leadership. In his new role, Dan will head the Technology Team in the creation of software products to propel the Creative Commons mission forward and enable the growth of the community.
Dan brings a spot on range of skills and experience to his new position. Before Creative Commons, Dan was Product Manager for Identity at Mozilla, responsible for creating Persona, a decentralized Web sign-in solution. He has worked with partners to integrate sign-in and payments into the Firefox Marketplace and upcoming Firefox OS. Dan has served as a spokesperson for Mozilla in many international venues, including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Kuala Lumpur. He led efforts to engage and grow the open source communities for Mozilla in various countries.
Dan grew up in sunny Venezuela. He has lived in the US since going to Duke University, where he graduated with a BS in computer science and minors in economics and Italian. He loves to cook and experiment with his sous vide machine. We look forward to Dan sharing his culinary delights and product vision with all of us at CC!2 Comments »
Friends and Commoners,
It is with incredible sadness that I write to tell you that yesterday, Aaron Swartz took his life. Aaron was one of the early architects of Creative Commons. As a teenager, he helped design the code layer to our licenses, and helped build the movement that has carried us so far. Before Creative Commons, he had coauthored RSS. After Creative Commons, he co-founded Reddit, liberated tons of government data, helped build a free public library at Archive.org, and has done incredibly important work to reform and make good our political system. (DemandProgress.org, his most recent org, was instrumental in blocking the SOPA/PIPA legislation one year ago.)
More than all that, Aaron was a dear friend to all of us, and an inspiration to me and many of you. Our prayers are with his parents and those who knew his love. But everything we build will forever know the product of his genius.54 Comments »
This year Open Education Week takes place on March 11-15 and features a series of events, workshops, project showcases, and webinars from around the world. If you care about sharing knowledge, reducing barriers to educational access, and helping to grow the amount of free and open educational resources (OER) available on the web — join Creative Commons and many other organizations and institutions by answering the Call for Participation.
Simply submit your proposed activity by January 18. Activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Provide a Project Showcase highlighting some aspect of open education in your project, organization, region or country
- Offer a webinar or virtual Question and Answer session on a topic of interest
- Create or share basic resources about the open education movement
- Host a local event during Open Education Week
- Form a Working Group to address a common problem or opportunity
- Propose another activity—we invite you to be creative!
- Contribute your skills to creating, organizing, coordinating or spreading the word about Open Education Week
As part of Open Education Week, Creative Commons and its affiliates are hosting and participating in local events and webinars on OER, Version 4.0 of the CC licenses, the Open Policy Network, School of Open, and more. In addition, the School of Open will officially launch its first set of courses that week, including courses on copyright and Creative Commons for educators. Courses will be free to take and free to reuse and remix under P2PU’s default CC BY-SA licensing policy.
To participate in Open Education Week, visit http://www.openeducationweek.org.2 Comments »
Today in the Wall Street Journal, Creative Commons co-founder Lawrence Lessig has a thoughtful piece about Bassel Khartabil, the longtime CC volunteer who has been detained by Syrian authorities since March.
In late 2012, Foreign Policy named Mr. Khartabil one of this year’s top 100 thinkers. The magazine singled him out for “fostering an open-source community in a country long on the margins of the Internet’s youth culture.”
But Mr. Khartabil wasn’t able to accept that honor. He was arrested in March by Syrian authorities because of his work and has been held — at times in utter isolation — ever since. His family fears the very worst.
Mr. Khartabil isn’t a partisan, aligned with one Syrian faction against another. He represents a future, aligned against a totalitarian past. The Syrian government is fearful of the potential threat to the totalizing control that defines the modern Syrian state. The government thus wants to shut the free-software, free-culture movement down, in a way that only a totalitarian regime can.
Please join us in urging Syrian authorities to release Bassel. Sign the letter of support and follow the most recent updates at freebassel.org.
- Call for the Release of Bassel Khartabil
- Please help us Free Bassel, open source developer and CC volunteer
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