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U.S. Department of Education Open Licensing Rule Now in Effect

Mar, 2017-06-06 19:54

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s new open licensing rule has gone into effect. Starting in FY 2018, education resources created with Department of Education discretionary competitive grants ($4.2 billion in FY 2016) must be openly licensed and shared with the public. Creative Commons (CC) congratulates the U.S. Department of Education for ensuring the public has access to the education resources it funds.

This announcement comes after years of work by Department of Education staff, multiple civil society organizations, and individual open education leaders.

CC’s involvement began in October 2015, when we joined the Department in calling for a new rule to require publicly funded education resources be openly licensed by default. A few months later, CC and other open education leaders submitted comments supporting the proposed rule. When the implementation of the rule was delayed, a coalition of open education organizations submitted additional comments in support of implementing the change.

This new Department of Education open licensing rule follows the example set by the Department of Labor agency-wide CC BY open licensing policy, the Department of State’s open licensing playbook for federal agencies, and multiple other open education licensing policies from around the world. While the rule does not specify the use of a CC license by name, it provides guidance on what attributes the open license needs to contain (see below).

Here is the text of the final rule published in the Federal Register and in the Government Publishing Office Code of Federal Regulations.

The key points in the new rule (summarized):

  • Grantees must openly license to the public any grant deliverable that is created wholly or in part with Department competitive grant funds.
  • Grantees must grant to the public a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable license to access, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute the copyrightable work provided that attribution is given to the copyright holder.
    • The open license also must contain a symbol or device that readily communicates to users the permissions granted concerning the use of the copyrightable work; machine-readable code for digital resources; readily accessed legal terms; and the statement of attribution.
    • Grantees may select any open licenses that comply with the requirements of this section, including, at the grantee’s discretion, a license that limits use to noncommercial purposes.
  • A grantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate the openly licensed copyrightable works created with grant funds.
  • The rule does not apply to:
    • funding for general operating expenses;
    • support to individuals (e.g., scholarships, fellowships);
    • grant deliverables that are jointly funded by the Department and another Federal agency if the other Federal agency does not require open licensing;
    • copyrightable works not created with Department grant funds;
    • peer-reviewed scholarly publications funded by the Department;
    • grantees under the Ready To Learn Television Program; or
    • a grantee that has received an exception from the Secretary of Education.

We celebrate this step forward and look forward to helping the Department implement this commitment to openness!

The post U.S. Department of Education Open Licensing Rule Now in Effect appeared first on Creative Commons.

Open Licensing and Open Education Licensing Policy

Lun, 2017-06-05 18:58

The new book Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science, edited by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener, features the work of open advocates around the world, including Cable Green, Director of Open Education at Creative Commons. This excerpt from his chapter, “Open Licensing and Open Education Licensing Policy,” provides a summary of open licensing for education, as well as delves into the philosophical and technical underpinnings of his work in “open.”

Read and download the entire book via Ubiquity Press and follow Cable on Twitter @cgreen.

Open Licensing

Long before the internet was conceived, copyright law regulated the very activities the internet, cheap disc space and cloud computing make essentially free (copying, storing, and distributing). Consequently, the internet was born at a severe disadvantage, as preexisting copyright laws discouraged the public from realizing the full potential of the network.

Since the invention of the internet, copyright law has been ‘strengthened’ to further restrict the public’s legal rights to copy and share on the internet. For example, in 2012 the US Supreme Court on upheld the US Congress’s right to extend copyright protection to millions of books, films, and musical compositions by foreign artists that once were free for public use. Lawrence Golan, a University of Denver music professor and conductor who challenged the law on behalf of fellow conductors, academics and film historians said ‘they could no long afford to play such works as Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” which once was in the public domain but received copyright protection that significantly increased its cost.’

While existing laws, old business models, and education content procurement practices make it difficult for teachers and learners to leverage the full power of the internet to access high-quality, affordable learning materials, OER can be freely retained (keep a copy), reused (use as is), revised (adapt, adjust, modify), remixed (mashup different content to create something new), and redistributed (share copies with others) without breaking copyright law. OER allow the full technical power of the internet to be brought to bear on education. OER allow exactly what the internet enables: free sharing of educational resources with the world.

What makes this legal sharing possible? Open licenses. The importance of open licensing in OER is simple. The key distinguishing characteristic of OER is its intellectual property license and the legal permissions the license grants the public to use, modify, and share it. If an educational resource is not clearly marked as being in the public domain or having an open license, it is not an OER. Some educators think sharing their digital resources online, for free, makes their content OER — it does not. Though it is OER if they go the extra step and add an open license to their work.

The most common way to openly license copyrighted education materials — making them OER − is to add a Creative Commons license to the educational resource. CC licenses are standardized, free-to-use, open copyright licenses that have already been applied to more than 1.2 billion copyrighted works across 9 million websites.

Collectively, CC licensed works constitute a class of educational works that are explicitly meant to be legally shared and reused with few restrictions. David Bollier writes:

‘Like free software, the CC licenses paradoxically rely upon copyright law to legally protect the commons. The licenses use the rights of ownership granted by copyright law not to exclude others, but to invite them to share. The licenses recognize authors’ interests in owning and controlling their work — but they also recognize that new creativity owes many social and intergenerational debts. Creativity is not something that emanates solely from the mind of the “romantic author,” as copyright mythology has it; it also derives from artistic communities and previous generations of authors and artists. The CC licenses provide a legal means to allow works to circulate so that people can create something new. Share, reuse, and remix, legally, as Creative Commons puts it.’

While custom copyright licenses can be developed to facilitate the development and use of OER, it may be easier to apply free-to-use, global standardized licenses developed specifically for that purpose, such as those developed by Creative Commons.

 

Fig. 1: Annual Growth of CC licensed works.

Open Education Licensing Policy

This section explores how public policymakers can leverage open licensing policies, and by extension OER, as a solution to high textbook costs, out-of-date educational resources and disappearing access to expensive, DRM protected e-books. Education policy is about solving education problems for the public. If one of the roles of government is to ensure all of its citizens have access to effective, high-quality educational resources, then governments ought to employ current, proven legal, technical, and policy tools to ensure the most efficient and impactful use of public education funding.

Open education policies are laws, rules, and courses of action that facilitate the creation, use or improvement of OER. While this chapter only deals with open education licensing policies, there has also been significant open education resource-based (allocate resources directly to support OER), inducement (call for or incentivize actions to support OER), and framework (create pathways or remove barriers for action to support OER) open education policy work.

Open education licensing policies insert open licensing requirements into existing funding systems (e.g., grants, contracts, or other agreements) that create educational resources, thereby making the content OER, and shifting the default on publicly funded educational resources from ‘closed’ to ‘open.’ This is a particularly strong education policy argument: if the public pays for education resources, the public should have the right to access and use those resources at no additional cost and with the full spectrum of legal rights necessary to engage in 5R activities.

My friend David Wiley likes to say ‘if you buy one, you should get one.’ David, like most of us, believes that when you buy something, you should actually get the thing you paid for. Provincial/state and national governments frequently fund the development of education and research resources through grants funded with taxpayer dollars. In other words, when a government gives a grant to a university to produce a water security degree program, you and I have already paid for it. Unfortunately, it is almost always the case that these publicly funded educational resources are commercialized in such a way that access is restricted to those who are willing to pay for them a second time. Why should we be required to pay a second time for the thing we’ve already paid for?

Governments and other funding entities that wish to maximize the impacts of their education investments are moving toward open education licensing policies. National, provincial/state governments, and education systems all play a critical role in setting policies that drive education investments and have an interest in ensuring that public funding of education makes a meaningful, cost-effective contribution to socioeconomic development. Given this role, these policy-making entities are ideally positioned to require recipients of public funding to produce educational resources under an open license.

Let us be specific. Governments, foundations, and education systems/institutions can and should implement open education licensing policies by requiring open licenses on the educational resources produced with their funding. Strong open licensing policies make open licensing mandatory and apply a clear definition for open license, ideally using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license that grants full reuse rights provided the original author is attributed. The good news is open education policies are happening! In June 2012, UNESCO convened a World OER Congress and released a 2012 Paris OER Declaration, which included a call for governments to ‘encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.’ UNESCO will be convening a second World OER Congress in Slovenia in 2017 to establish a ‘normative instrument on OER.’ OECD recently released its 2015 report: ‘Open Educational Resources: A Catalyst for Innovation’ provides policy options to governments such as: ‘Regulate that all publicly funded materials should be OER by default. Alternatively, the regulation could state that new educational resources should be based on existing OER, where possible (“reuse first” principle).’

As governments and foundations move to require the products of their grants and/or contracts be openly licensed, the implementation stage of these policies critical; open licensing policies should have systems in place to ensure that grantees comply with the policy, properly apply an open license to their work, and share an editable, accessible version of the OER in a public OER repository.

A good example of an open education licensing policy done well is the US Department of Labor’s 2010 Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT) which committed US$2 billion in federal grant funding over four years to ‘expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs’ (p.1). The intellectual property section of the grant program description requires that all educational materials created with grant funding be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license, and the Department required its grantees to deposit editable copies of the CC BY OER into skillscommons.org — a public open education repository.

A number of other nations, provinces and states have also adopted or announced open education policies relating to the creation, review, remix and/or adoption of OER. The Open Policy Registry lists over 130 national, state, province, and institutional policies relating to OER, including policies like a national open licensing framework and a policy explicitly permitting public school teachers to share materials they create in the course of their employment under a CC license.

New open policy projects like the Open Policy Network and the Institute for Open Leadership are well positioned to foster the creation, adoption, and implementation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting open policy advocates, organizations, and policy makers, connecting open policy opportunities with assistance, and sharing open policy information. Because the bulk of education and research funding comes from taxpayer dollars, it is essential to create, adopt and implement open education licensing policies. The traditional model of academic research publishing borders on scandalous. Every year, hundreds of billions in research and data are funded by the public through government grants, and then acquired at no cost by publishers who do not compensate a single author or peer reviewer, acquire all copyright rights, and then sell access to the publicly funded research back to the University and Colleges. In the US, the combined value of government, non-profit, and university-funded research in 2013 was over US$158 billion — about a third of all the R&D in the United States that year.

As governments move to require open licensing policies, hundreds of billions of dollars of education and research resources will be freely and legally available to the public that paid for them. Every taxpayer − in every country − has a reasonable expectation of access to educational materials and research products whose creation tax dollars supported.

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Mainstreaming OER in Latin America and The Caribbean

Mar, 2017-05-09 00:13
Participants at the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Consultation on Open Educational Resources. Photo by the Commonwealth of Learning, CC BY 4.0

The fifth Regional OER Consultation for the Latin America and Caribbean region was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 3rd-4th April. The event was in preparation for the 2nd OER World Congress that will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia in September of this year. The meeting was organized by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), alongside partners UNESCO, University of Campinas, the Government of Slovenia, and made possible by the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The event brought together 31 government officials and key education stakeholders from 18 countries to discuss concerns and issues for mainstreaming OER to support inclusive and equitable quality education.

The opening session was launched by President and CEO of COL, Prof. Asha Kanwar, and Joe Hironaka, OER Programme Specialist from UNESCO Paris. There were also remarks made by Brazilian officers demonstrating why Brazil is the most vanguard country on OER policy in the region. The Brazilian Ministry of Education announced that it will soon discuss a federal bill where all educational resources would be made available under open licenses. Meanwhile, the Secretary of Education of the São Paulo local government talked about the 2012 state bill that required all educational resources funded by the public to be openly licensed and outlined the challenges to promote innovation and a new education culture of sharing and knowledge building.

The technical sessions began with the presentation of Prof. Kanwar, who emphasized that COL believes that learning must lead to sustainable development as outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). It was argued that early reports revealed that many countries would fall behind the 2030 target to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, innovative approaches are instrumental to achieve both speed and scale. In addition, she stated that OER has a tremendous potential for increasing access and mitigating the cost of quality education.

Prof. Kanwar presented an overview of the surveys to governments and educational stakeholders currently in progress to provide a context for detailed deliberation. These surveys show a significant interest for developing national OER policies throughout publicly-funded programmes and projects that promote flexible learning that increases access, efficiency, and quality of educational resources. Alongside the potential benefits, the barriers to mainstreaming OER relate to insufficient access to quality content, lack of users’ capacity, lack of appropriate policies, changing business models, and language and cultural barriers.

OER UNESCO Chair and local host from the University of Campinas, Tel Amiel, followed with remarks that Latin America and the Caribbean is at an early stage regarding the adoption of OER. Although many of the countries in the region do show high use and practices of digital resources like remixing and open licensing, he pointed to two main reasons why there is delayed uptake: lack of visibility, and a lack of mobilization/articulation. There is a challenge to expose more and better OER initiatives within the region like the higher education open textbook initiative LATin, funded by the European Commission that gathered 12 countries, 9 from Latin America, or TEMOA, a knowledge hub and multilingual catalog of OER for Mobile Learning. EducAR, the national repositories of digital resources for K-12 education in Argentina, is the first repository to include an institutional OER policy (adopting the CC BY-NC-SA license) for most of the resources. This should be an example for other Latin American countries, specially being a member of Latin American Network of Educational Portals RELPE and the Iberoamerican Network for Educational Repository Usability RIURE.

Regarding mobilization/articulation, the OER initiatives of the region need to be better identified, for example through a project that maps OER activities as the OER Worldmap, where only two countries (Chile and Brazil) have “champions” to upload OER data. Again, Brazil leads the way with the recently launched Iniciativa Educaçao Aberta, kickstarted by the UNESCO Chair at UNICAMP, and the Educadigital Institute, which brings together productions, academic research, publications, repositories, distance-learning, and other projects in Brazil.

The OER UNESCO/ICDE/COL Chair, Rory McGreal, highlighted one of the biggest educational challenges for all countries: by 2025 there will be an increased demand for learning from 98 million new students. To meet this demand there would be a need to establish 4 traditional universities per week, an impossible task, so it’s urgent to develop and deploy new forms of teaching and learning to meet this tremendous future demand.

Even as we begin to address this incredible challenge, we face tremendous opposition from the traditional copyright industries. Mr. McGreal gave a brief history that copyright (or similar notions of it) going as far back as the 6th Century have attempted to restrict access to information and knowledge. But he advocated that copyright should be a tool to build the right balance between the “encouragement of learning” to society and the rights of authors and creators. OER, understood as technology-enabled, open provision of educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users, clashes against the currently-unbalanced copyright rules. Copyright law frustrates potential new educational uses of copyrighted works, such as remixing to create a new resources, adaptation to varied learning contexts, extraction to remove assets, localization and translation to other languages or reuse/repurpose of the resources. Copyright is an obstacle to assemble or “deboning” OER in courses, especially for e-learning settings, further complicated by digital rights management (DRM) and restrictive digital licenses.

I work at the Library of National Congress of Chile, and followed with the challenges related to designing and implementing an OER policy. Presenting two real cases from Chile, a frustrated experience with personalized web-based platforms and the corrupted/poor quality public textbook market, I highlighted the first challenge for OER policy is to approach today’s educational challenges with specific, pragmatic, sustainable solutions at different levels guided by the OER principles and open practices. The necessary condition to shape OER as a response to educational challenges is OER capacity building for all education stakeholders.

Regarding capacity building, a major initial task is to advocate for the benefits and potential—and also address risks and barriers—of openness in educational processes for teaching and learning. This focus on the outcomes of the educational process is part of a maturity of the process of how openness impacts education, where as 5 or 10 years ago the focus was on infrastructure, licensing, and creating a volume of resources. There is a growing body called “Open Educational Practices” and “Open Pedagogies” emerging through the use of digital technology, a true reflection on how openness catalyses innovation. As we advocate for the massive potential of OER, we also have the opportunity to correct partial or misleading notions about “openness”, as there is still much confusion related on what openness is and how it relates to education.

Another issue around capacity building for stakeholders is to support them with resources and tools for OER Policies, such as COL’s Guidelines for Open Educational Resources for Higher Education, the Institutional OER Policy Template, the OER Policy Development Tool, the OER Policy Registry, and other excellent resources for college and university governance officials. UNESCO’s OER Country Policy Template is a tool that articulates the goals of the policy, outlines the purpose and rationale of the policy, and provides information on why the policy is necessary and what it will accomplish. Another venue for information sharing and action is the Open Policy Network (OPN), whose mission is to foster the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies and practices by supporting advocates, organizations and policy makers. The OPN is responsible for the Global Open Policy report that tracks the spread of open policies around the world with a systematic overview of open policy development, as well as the Institute for Open Leadership that trains new leaders on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices.

Research is also today an important asset for OER advocacy and policy-making. There is a growing body of evidence and recommendations on the process of adoption and impact of the use of OER in educational settings, with initiatives like the PhD student GOGN network, the OER Research Hub from the UK Open University, the Open Education Group in the U.S. Increasingly pertinent to developing and emerging countries is the Research on Open Educational Resources for Development ROER4D, a evidence-based research project from 26 countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle Asia and Southeast Asia, with the objective to improve educational policy, practice, and research in developing countries by better understanding the use and impact of OER.

The final issue around capacity building for all education stakeholders is the need to build a compelling and encouraging narrative about the benefits and potential of OER. A good example is the Open Washington OER Network that features videos of grassroots reports from the field, end-user practices in the use and impact of OER, and policy videos with interviews with experts in various areas of OER. These are woven into a series of multimedia presentations on Open Education policy strategy, implementation, and vision.

I closed by exploring the Open Government Partnership as a platform to advocate for OER policy, especially as countries begin to include education in their action plans. I highlighted initiatives from Chile and Brazil working to do this.

These presentation were followed by exciting and thoughtful group discussions with all the participants to focus on concrete action, such as strategies for mainstreaming OER and exploring national OER practices to tackle SDG4. Also drafted was a list of commitments that will to added to and synthesized for the global report leading up to the World OER Congress.

Read the full report from COL here.

View video presentations here.

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