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Well, there are a lot of different definitions floating around out there, but most of them have a few key points in common. Basically, what distinguishes OER from plain old educational resources is that they are "freely available to use , remix , and redistribute ." So use, as in access; remix, as in combine different resources together, edit or customize the content, or translate the content; and redistribute, make copies of or republish, and with the internet that's very easy to do.
&#x2018;Learning materials' entail lots of things. It's a term that can be very widely construed; it includes things you're already familiar with, such as courseware--which are course materials, including video lectures, syllabi, exercises, assignments, textbooks--so that's all content, stuff that students normally access in a classroom setting in order to learn. But OER also includes tools, such as learning programs--software--learning management systems (LMS), such as Blackboard or Moodle, and online learning communities, such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites. What would distinguish such tools as OER is that, well, they're open---so the software is open source and the content is licensed openly for use, remix, and redistribution.
So how does CC factor in? Well, it seems pretty obvious. Since CC is in the business of offering free open licenses for content. Creators can use CC licenses to easily share the rights we&#x2019;re talking about-- the rights to use, remix, and redistribute content.
Basically, most CC licensed educational resources can be safely deemed OER because most CC licenses allow for use, remix and redistribution. But what exactly do CC licenses do for OER that makes it so unique, what does CC enable that normal educational resources just don&#x2019;t have?
To answer that question, we&#x2019;ve got to remember that teachers and learners already participate in a sharing culture. Teachers share lesson plans, tips on what works and what doesn't in the classroom, they mix and match different materials, adapting them to fit their needs. Learners draw from a variety of sources to research and write reports; when doing group work, they are teaching and learning from each other. And now with the internet, the ability to share is even greater with all the content and tools that are instantly accessible.
But there are still barriers to digitally enabled education that prevent teachers and learners from fully taking advantage of educational resources online.
These include language barriers, discovery barriers, technical barriers, and cultural barriers. Creative Commons helps in overcoming these barriers.
For instance, in overcoming the language barrier CC licenses that enable derivation pre-clear the rights to translate material. So the Complete Guide to Google Wave, originally available in English,
can be adapted for Korean speakers because of the BY-SA license.
In overcoming discovery barriers, CC licenses are machine-readable, so when properly attached to a work, teachers and learners can find OER via Google and Yahoo! search engines. CC is also working on a search prototype, DiscoverEd, which we hope will become a scalable search for educational resources online. For instance, in addition to metadata that includes the license, teachers and learners may be interested in searching by the education level of a resource, the languages it's available in, and the subject--whether it's math, science, or history. You can&#x2019;t really search by this type of metadata using general search engines like Google or Yahoo!
In overcoming technical barriers, CC licenses enable translation of materials into different formats--since just because OER exist, doesn't mean they are accessible to everyone around the world. For instance, some regions have poorer or scarcer internet connectivity, but mobile phones are popular among youth, such as in South Africa.
Other technical issues include access for the visually or hearing impaired. For instance, BookShare is the world's largest online library for people with print disabilities. Recently, the U.S. DOE granted $100,000 to BookShare to convert open textbooks to audio and braille formats. Since the CC license enables this conversion globally, there is no extra transaction cost to clear the legal rights.
In overcoming cultural barriers, CC licenses enable adaptation of resources to local contexts. Siyavula is a South African project funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation. Siyavula builds learning communities to help teachers share and implement new curriculum. Their materials are available under BY-SA, so that the materials can be adapted to include cultural and local references--thereby making it immediately useful to its audience.
So what is the current state of CC license use in education? CC doesn't keep a registry, so we can't possibly know all of the facts and figures around OER. However, we do have a community contributed database on our wiki called ODEPO, or the open database of educational projects and organizations.
Currently, people have submitted 1,168 educational sites, and of those 13% (or 161) sites use a CC license.
Of the 161 CC licensed sites, this is the break-down by license type. The most commonly used licenses are the CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY, and CC BY-SA---all of which allow derivation.
Of course we have to keep in mind that one educational site may have millions or thousands of resources, so the figures are really not indicative of the entire landscape of educational resources. For instance, the English Wikipedia has 3.2 million articles under BY-SA, and the Open Courseware Consortium member sites have more than 13,000 courses combined, most of which carry the CC BY-NC-SA license. And Connexions, a repository and platform for OER, has 16,000 modules under CC BY.
The bottom line is, that OER are poised to really make a difference in education, but this requires more institutions, policy makers, and teachers to use and recommend CC licenses.
So I'm going to talk about a few innovative OER initiatives that have emerged, including the Peer 2 Peer University and a new business model around open textbooks.
The Peer 2 Peer University, known as P2PU, is an online community of volunteers from around the world who run university level courses online. Anyone can run a course, and anyone can take a course. It&#x2019;s a project that started with a group of five people in the thick of the open education movement a couple years ago. They were sitting at dinner together talking about the growing amount of information out there---all these Open Educational Resources that were available, but that no one was really taking advantage of. Sure a person could watch a Physics lecture from MIT for free--but how much could they really learn about Physics on their own? And to actually obtain an official MIT education is very expensive.
According to them what was missing was the social aspect, or the "social wrapper" around OER. So if you take Joi's argument for CC as infrastructure, there's the internet, the web or content, the CC licenses that enable that content to become shareable, and then on top of that there's the social layer. The social layer is what universities and institutions do---one of the values of a university education is that it organizes learning and it puts people in a social environment where peers can learn from each other.
That's what P2PU is all about---except that P2PU moves this learning outside of institutional walls online, so that it's accessible for free by anyone, anywhere. Basically, it&#x2019;s building on open and free content---OER---that already exists, and organizing those OER and providing the social environment so people can learn from it. Think of it as online book clubs for short, university level courses. The courses are designed, organized, and facilitated by volunteers all around the world, but it's up to the participants in the course, or the "peers" to really learn from each other.
Currently, P2PU has already run two pilot phases, each consisting of 6 week courses. The course topics are diverse; there have been courses on Poker strategy to Behavioral Economics to Kitchen Science to creative nonfiction writing. Joi is actually running the online component of his Digital Journalism class at Keio University on the P2PU platform, which starts on Monday. And in addition to building on existing OER, P2PU produced content is CC BY-SA.
Open textbooks are an entirely different matter, since they are a bit more traditional. Basically, the cost of textbooks, at least in the United States, is very expensive for the average student. What's more, traditional physical textbooks are heavy, students shoulders get weighed down, and they are in print, which means students can't really make notes, teachers can't switch the order or customize the content, and it gets outdated fast. Open textbooks are digital and online, and they are under a license that enables customization. Students can access them for free online via a CC license, or they can print them out.
- That's what the CK-12 Foundation is doing--it's a nonprofit that makes available textbooks under BY-SA that are aligned to U.S. state standards. But what about existing for-profit publishing companies that want to make a profit off of open textbooks?
Flat World Knowledge is a commercial textbook publishing company that is doing that. Basically, their business model is that they offer the textbook online for free and charge for print versions and supplemental materials.
They built an open source platform where the student or teacher can customize the textbook. But if the student or teacher wants to download the PDF version of their customization, or print out chapters of it, then they pay a small fee. But instead of $100, they pay $30, or $1.99 per chapter because the content is already free under a CC license. Because the content is already free, the textbook publishing company can afford to sell the print versions and supplemental materials at lower costs.
Of course this slide deck is CC licensed.
CC Asia Pacific Conference - OER
Open Educational Resources
(OER) are learning materials that
are freely available to use, remix,
content/learning management systems
content development tools
on-line learning communities
161 CC licensed sites
14% CC BY
3.2 million articles
100 million visits
The OER movement is poised to greatly further
global access to and participation in education,
but only if a critical mass of educational
institutions and communities interoperate legally
and technically via Creative Commons.
Attribute to c with a link to
Creative Commons and the double C in a circle are registered trademarks of Creative
Commons in the United States and other countries. Third party marks and brands are the
property of their respective holders.