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Can the OER acronym make us open? Thoughts on the „Opening Up Curriculum” report

European Open EDU Policy Project -

Babson Survey Research Group has recently published the results of its survey study „Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014″. The study (funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and with support from Pearson) is unique in providing a statistically valid, quantitative view of the ways that American academic staff understands and uses OERs.

The study drew the attention of the OER community by providing an objective measure of the awareness of OER. 5% of respondents declare they are „very aware”, 15% that they are „aware” and 14% that they are „somewhat aware”. Is that a lot, or too little? Commentators have focused on whether this is good, or bad news for OER (see David Wiley here or Phil Hill here, for example). In my opinion. that’s not the key issued raised by the study.

The challenge of defining „open”
The study raises the fundamental issue of OER as a concept that is at one hand difficult and unknown to educators – and which at the same time has to be used, if we are to promote a proper understanding of „open”. The report describes in details the difficulties of properly defining OER, for the purpose of the questionnaire. Authors note that if the term „open educational resources” is provided without an explanation, educators understand it to mean a broad range of freely available resources, most of which don’t meet any of the accepted OER definitions. On the other hand, a definition that uses examples to become more precise „proved too leading for the respondents, and artificially boosted the proportion that could legitimately claim to be ‚aware’.” In the end, they chose the following statement:

„How aware are you of Open Educational Resources (OER)? OER is defined as „teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” Unlike traditionally copyrighted material, these resources are available for „open” use, which means users can edit, modify, customize, and share them.”

The respondents were then asked to provide some examples, and to confirm their understanding of OER by choosing statements that they would use „to describe the concept of OER to a colleague”. Over 70% would choose availability for free, over 50% the ability to remix or ease of combining with other materials. Creative Commons licensing is mentioned most rarely (by 28% of respondents). The last item should be troubling for OER advocates, as free licensing is considered a necessary element of open education.

I don’t think that this is the correct way of measuring OER awareness. Respondents report their understanding of OER definitions only after having been provided with the very definition – which must lead to a bias. This is a general problem with the survey (and even more generally with the survey method) – it assumes a level of clarity in understanding OER, which in real life is not present among the studied faculty. Taking aside a narrow group (5-20% of respondents) who are clearly aware of OERs (and who can be asked specific questions), for other respondents the survey at the same time measures and builds awareness.

Can we speak about OER without mentioning „OER”?
One of the stranger results of the study is that those who know and use OER chose specific statements about the OER definition as often as those who are not aware of such resources. Similarly, only 34% of respondents are aware of OER (including those 13% who are „somewhat aware, but not sure how to use them”), while 50% of faculty declare use of OERs. And finally, if open licensing is commonly described as a key element of the OER model, then why only 1/3 of those who use OER consider it important? All these mysteries have a simple possible solution: academics simply don’t know what they mean, when they answer questions about „OER”).

(There’s a chance – small one, in my opinion – that people recognise OER by specific „brands” instead of the licensing model. It would have been interesting to ask about awareness of most popular OER projects, such as Openstax).

This is ultimately not a problem with the survey itself, as care was clearly taken to create a proper survey methodology. It is a problem faced by all OER advocates – in most cases, we’re not only promoting an alternative intellectual property rights model for education; we have to make educators aware of the very issue of IPRs. It’s an issue that many educators don’t understand or don’t care about – they either ignore it, or expect that it will be solved by their institution (In Poland, we gathered research data on this – but I assume that the issue is more or less similar around the world).

Without making them aware about OER, we cannot achieve change. So we have to make people care and worry about the very issue that we’d like to see becoming insignificant. Because without a „strict” understanding of OERs, we face open washing (to use David Wiley’s term), a dilution of the open model. Low declared awareness of Creative Commons licenses, and of their significance as part of an explanation of what OER is, shows just how difficult this task is. And the risk of openwashing will grow, the more OER become mainstreamed.

What I would do differently (suggestions for the next year study)
I think that a study of OERs should not map awareness of the concept itself. Similarly, asking respondents to declare willingness to use OER in the future offers little predictive power with regard to their future actions. Instead, we should try to map and understand practices around the use of resources by educators – and then decide whether they fit a definition of what OER is. For example, educators could be asked to keep digital „resource use diaries”, which could then be analysed, with links checked for open content licensing.

We also need to go beyond quantitative, survey methods – these are great for mapping well understood concepts. But when facing issues that are still being constructed in the society, qualitative studies are much more important. Surveys provide us with general driving directions instead of precise maps. Interviews and ethnographies could help to define the „real life understanding of open”, and see whether it overlaps with the formal definitions of open.

Some nuggets from the study (if you are still reading)
Cost is among the least important criteria used by academics for choosing resources. 3% worry about cost, while 20% care about ease of use, 50% about quality and 60% about efficacy. Obviously, these costs are not covered by instructors, who rationally do not worry about them. But the data suggests that the typical OER argument – „it’s free” – will not be convincing for educators.

Only 35% of educators are „very aware” about copyright (even fewer about Public Domain and Creative Commons). This is an extremely low value for a knowledge-intensive sector in a knowledge-based society. The survey asks about „licensing models” – but this is also, and more importantly, an issue of user rights.

Asked about deterrents to OER adoption, 1/3 of respondents mention lack of knowledge about permissions to use – which is the most shocking number for a study on resources with an explicit permission to use.

When asked about what types of resources they use, faculty members that declare OER use mentioned: images (89%), videos (88%), followed by video lectures and tutorials (60%). Ebooks and textbooks are relatively often used, but below the 50% mark. This suggests that some of the most often used OERs are incidental (images). It might also be a measure of a shift in American higher education away from traditional, printed resources. (It would be useful to collect similar data for non-open resources).

SciDataCon 2014 Recap

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Photo by Puneet Kishor published under CC0 Public Domain Dedication

Earlier this month, CODATA and World Data System, both interdisciplinary committees of the International Council for Science, jointly organized SciDataCon, an international conference on data sharing for global sustainability. The conference was held Nov 2-5, 2014, on the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Creative Commons Science had a busy schedule at the conference attended by 170+ delegates from all over the world, many from the global south.


Photo by Puneet Kishor published under CC0 Public Domain Dedication

We started early with a full day workshop on text and data mining (TDM) in cooperation with Content Mine. The workshop was attended by a mix of PhD students and researchers from the fields of immunology and plant genomics research. It was really rewarding to see the participants get a handle on the software and go through the exercises. Finally, the conversation about legal uncertainty around TDM appraised them about the challenges, but bottom-up support for TDM can be a strong ally in ensuring that this practice remains out of the reach of legal restrictions.

During the main conference we joined panel discussions on data citation with Bonnie Carroll (Iia), Brian Hole (Ubiquity Press), Paul Uhlir (NAS) and Jan Brase (DataCite) and international data sharing with Chaitanya Baru (NSF), Rama Hampapuram (NASA) and Ross Wilkinson (ANDS). We also participated in a daily roundup of the state of data sharing as presented at the conference organized by Elizabeth Griffin (CNRC).

SciDataCon, which used to be called CODATA, is held every two years, and is an important showcase of open science around the world. It is an important gathering for it brings together many scientists from the global south. A lot remains to be done to make real-time, pervasive data sharing and reuse a reality in much of the world, but there are heartening signs. At a national level, India’s data portal holds promise, but making data licensing information more explicit and data easily searchable by license would make it more useful. Citizen science projects in the Netherlands, India and Taiwan demonstrated how crowds can be involved in experiments while ensuring the user-generated content is made available for reuse, and SNEHA’s work on understanding perspectives on data sharing for public health research was particularly insightful of the value of listening to the feedback from participants.

We look forward to continue working with CODATA and WDS promoting and supporting open science and data initiatives around the world, and particularly in the global south, and hope for more success stories in the next SciDataCon.

Finnish translation of 4.0 published

Planet CC -

We are thrilled to announce our first official translation of 4.0, into Finnish. Congratulations to the CC Finland team, who have done an outstanding job. The translation team consisted of Maria Rehbinder of Aalto University, legal counsel and license translation coordinator of CC Finland; Martin von Willebrand, Attorney-at-Law and Partner, HH Partners, Attorneys-at-law Ltd: for […]

Finnish translation of 4.0 published

Creativecommons.org -

We are thrilled to announce our first official translation of 4.0, into Finnish. Congratulations to the CC Finland team, who have done an outstanding job. The translation team consisted of Maria Rehbinder of Aalto University, legal counsel and license translation coordinator of CC Finland; Martin von Willebrand, Attorney-at-Law and Partner, HH Partners, Attorneys-at-law Ltd: for translation supervision; Tarmo Toikkanen, Aalto University, general coordinator of CC Finland; Henri Tanskanen, Associate, HH Partners, Attorneys-at-law Ltd: main translator, and Liisa Laakso-Tammisto, translator. Particular thanks go to Aalto University, HH Partners, and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture for their support.

Maria Rehbinder, Martin von Willebrand, Tarmo Toikkanen, Henri Tanskanen, and Liisa Laakso-Tammisto; photo Mikko Säteri, CC BY

Internationalization was one of the 5 main goals of the 4.0 licenses, so this is an important milestone for the CC community. Our translation policy was written to reinforce that goal: if the licenses work everywhere, everyone should be able to use them in their own language without needing to worry about what the original English version says. The official translations are accessible to anyone, anywhere wishing to have access to the official legal text of the 4.0 licenses in Finnish.

Particular kudos go out to this team for their detailed work: producing linguistic translations is difficult! Many words don’t have exact equivalents between languages, especially where you’re bringing in specialized language from countries with different legal systems. Teams working on translations go through a detailed review of their work with CC to ensure that the meaning of the documents lines up. This often involves many detailed questions about exact meanings of words and the legal concepts they refer to, especially when no one on the CC legal team speaks the language. (If you’re particularly curious, you can look at some of the notes in the translators’ guide.) The Finnish team anticipated most of the questions we might have asked, providing a detailed explanation that will be useful as an example to others, and their thorough work has paid off.

Keep your eyes out: several more translations are in the final stages of review and will be published in the coming months! In the meantime, we join CC Finland in celebrating the launch of the first official 4.0 translation.

Read CC Finland’s announcement.

Representing the Public Domain at the EU Observatory on Infringements of IPR

Planet CC -

Last week Communia joined the “European Observatory on Infringements of IPR” which is hosted by the European Union’s Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). The Observatory’s task is to provide the EU Commission with insights on every aspect of IPR infringement. It does so primarily by conducting surveys and studies on how, where […]

CCANZ November newsletter

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Creative Commons NZ news The University of Canterbury has instituted mandatory deposit of academic research. Lincoln University has passed a wide-ranging Open Access policy. Kiwi author Thomasin Sleigh has published her novel Ad Lib under CC. Latest from NZCommons There are heaps of new articles over at NZCommons.org.nz! Learn about the Open Government Partnership, CC and the courts, and why Open Access is […]

Przegląd linków CC #156

Planet CC -

Otwarta edukacja 1. David Willey analizuje wyniki świetnego raportu z badań Babson na temat otwartych zasobów edukacyjnych na uczelniach wyższych w USA. Jeśli nie macie czasu na cały raport zajrzyjcie chociaż do jego wpisu, w którym pokazuje jak te wyniki pokazują jak otwarte zasoby edukacyjne muszą się rozwijać (ogromna ilość osób zaintresowanych korzystaniem z nich) i jak będą zapewne nadal […]

Te Papa’s openly licensed images

Planet CC -

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has now made nearly forty thousand images freely downloadable from its Collections Online digital database, giving the public access to the highest-resolution images it can and opening the way for creative reuse. Around twenty thousand of these images are ‘No Known Copyright’ but upwards of seventeen thousand […]

The Voyager Golden Record

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“Voyager Golden Record Cover Explanation” by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons The Voyager Spacecrafts are carrying with them sounds of the earth, of our civilization, recorded on a 12″ gold plated copper disc, a golden record, along with instructions for how to play them. […]

The Voyager Golden Record

Creativecommons.org -

“Voyager Golden Record Cover Explanation” by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Voyager Spacecrafts are carrying with them sounds of the earth, of our civilization, recorded on a 12″ gold plated copper disc, a golden record, along with instructions for how to play them.

Lily Bui, a graduate student in the MIT Comparative Media Studies program built a lovely web site that allows everyone to enjoy the sounds and music from the golden record via an attractive, easy to use web interface. In a serial burst of inspiration, Lily has also dedicated her web site to the public domain via a CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

In her words, “To be perfectly frank — I mostly designed this mostly for myself so that I wouldn’t have to access the archival audio through the Library of Congress portal.” Well, turns out a lot of people share Lily’s point-of-view. Ever the academic, she was taking a course at MIT that “examined the ‘migration of cultural materials’ into the digital space, combining traditional humanities with computational methods.” She is convinced her work is grounded in theory. Perhaps, for we love the sounds and music so much that we have yet to read Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display by Johanna Drucker.

Join Lily and all of us at Creative Commons and give the Voyager Golden Record a listen.

Apple Updates — A Comic

Planet CC -

Ever been utterly frustrated, made furious, by an Apple upgrade that made things worse?  This post is for you.  (With apologies to Randall Munroe.)        

CC in a world of worthy causes

Planet CC -

Creative Commons wasn’t done after we created our first license suite, or even after hundreds of millions of licensed works were shared. The web is changing — and so are the ways we get, share, and use content — so we’re trying new things. One new idea is our mobile app, The List, supported by a prototype […]

Europe’s cultural heritage institutions deserve better

Planet CC -

For those of us looking forward to copyright rules that enable European cultural heritage institutions to provide online access to their collections, two important things happened last week: on Wednesday 29th October, the Orphan Works directive (OW directive) came into force and on Saturday 1st November, the new European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker assumed office. The first event […]

CC Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting Held in Seoul

Planet CC -

CCKorea / CC BY Representatives from CC affiliates in Asia and the Pacific were once again hosted by CC Korea for the CC Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting this year. Asia-Pacific CC affiliates have a regular face-to-face meeting every two years to share their experience and know-how, to discuss common issues, and to seek opportunities for collaboration. […]

Announcing the editorial board for NZCommons

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Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ is delighted to announce the founding members of the editorial board of NZCommons: Andy Neale — DigitalNZRichard White — University of OtagoTim McNamara — Science communicationAnton Angelo — University of CanterburyPhilothea Flynn — Heritage and rightsShane Cummings — APNNigel Robertson — University of WaikatoJo Wheway — Maraetai Beach SchoolKaraitiana Taiuru — […]

CC in a world of worthy causes

Creativecommons.org -

Creative Commons wasn’t done after we created our first license suite, or even after hundreds of millions of licensed works were shared. The web is changing — and so are the ways we get, share, and use content — so we’re trying new things.

One new idea is our mobile app, The List, supported by a prototype grant from the Knight Foundation. The List app will allow users to make lists of wanted images, or submit requested photos to a global archive of images, all licensed CC BY. We’ll release a public beta in the next few months.

We’re also still active in areas where we can make a huge difference, like open educational resources (OER). We’ve been helping foundations and governments adopt open policies and exploring new ways of licensing scientific data. Teachers and learners everywhere — from Kenya to Canada — are reaping rewards of shared information and knowledge, with huge savings.

All of that work, old and new, is supported by a small team, and a lot of inspired supporters and volunteer advocates, including more than 100 affiliate teams in 75 countries. Our licenses have become the global standard for legal sharing, and they underpin many of the most well-known media platforms on the web.

If Creative Commons plays a role in how you use the internet or share your work, please consider making a gift to support the organization. Our licenses are (and will remain) free, so developing a stable funding stream to support sharing has always been a challenge. A generous — but small — group of individual donors has always supported us. Let’s grow that number and work together to build a better internet and world.

As you’re considering which charities to support this year, please take a moment to reflect on what we’ve built together these past 12 years, and the challenges we face in copyright reform, open access, and building an open web for everyone to learn and create.

In a world of worthy causes, it’s our job to demonstrate the value of CC to individuals, governments, institutions, and corporations. And especially to you.

Please support us and help us spread the word.

Sincerely,
Ryan

PS: In a few weeks, we’ll be releasing information about the state of the commons — our most accurate assessment to date. Watch for it.

 

CC Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting Held in Seoul

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CCKorea / CC BY

Representatives from CC affiliates in Asia and the Pacific were once again hosted by CC Korea for the CC Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting this year. Asia-Pacific CC affiliates have a regular face-to-face meeting every two years to share their experience and know-how, to discuss common issues, and to seek opportunities for collaboration. Last September, 13 representatives from CC affiliate teams in China Mainland, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mongolia, and South Korea came all the way to Seoul for this rare opportunity to get inspired by each other and meet Ryan Merkley, new CEO of Creative Commons, whom many of them met in person for the first time.

CCKorea / CC BY

This year’s regional meeting was held in conjunction with the 3rd CC Korea Conference, “Share Everything, Connect Everything.” Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, opened the event with an inspiring keynote speech on sharing and the commons attended by more than 200 people from various fields including government, business and academia. Around the three main themes of Creativity, Sharing City, and Civic Hacking, insightful presentations were given by various local and international speakers including Todd Porter, Co-founder of FabCafe and Hal Seki from Code for Japan. As the closing session, Won-soon Park, Mayor of Seoul City, and Jay Yoon, Project Lead of CC Korea, discussed how we could shape our future with sharing and cooperation.

Following the successful conference on the first day, the CC affiliate representatives sat down together for a full-day meeting dedicated to the discussion of internal issues, from individual activities to regional and global cooperation. After a round of warm greetings to each other, each presented not only their success stories but also exchanged experiences in projects that did not turn out as they had expected, focusing on what they could improve and how they could do better in the future. Challenges faced by teams varied from fundraising to support and sustain their activities to restructuring their volunteer community. Discussion revolved around how to address these by facilitating regional collaboration both among individual affiliates and with CC headquarters in California.

CCKorea / CC BY

After a lunchtime walk along the Cheonggye stream, Ryan Merkley joined the group to share CC’s new vision and strategies and solicit feedback from the participants. Generally participants were glad for his willingness to share and to engage more closely with affiliates, welcoming opportunities to contribute and work more closely on various fronts. A theme of the day was ways that CC could collaborate and engage more actively with global affiliates on specific projects such as conducting research, developing tools to improve usability of CC licenses and reuse of CC-licensed content, etc. Some representatives also pointed out that more practical support from CC such as toolkits and resource repositories would be useful, especially for teams who are new or restructuring. Regional activities, such as the creation of a regional website and combining efforts in popular areas such as education, were also important part of the day’s agendas.

The meeting was followed by a CC Salon, held as a wrap-up event of the whole program at a cozy book cafe down an alleyway, away from the noise and bustle of the Hongdae area. Conference speakers, CC Asia-Pacific representatives, and members and friends of CC Korea were all invited to meet old and new friends, try different traditional beverages brought by the participating CC representatives, and get inspired by interesting ignite talks ranging from a fantastic dance performance by Muid Latif from CC Malaysia to Ryan’s “20 things I love from the commons” and a 3rd-grader girl’s talk about her coding projects.

CC Korea would like to once again thank all representatives who participated and hopes that this could lead to more cooperation in the region and beyond.

For more details, see post-conference resources, including videos, all available under CC licenses. You can also read about the previous regional meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2012.


bssmile / CC BY 3.0

The thoughts below are from Muid Latif, Project Lead of CC Malaysia:

Seoul, Korea Trip / Muid Latif / CC BY-NC-SA

Visiting Seoul is life-changing experience. As a creative person, each turn you take around the city gives a perfect visual story-telling of its culture and economic progress. Since I was very familiar to the design community in Korea through Behance Network and Creative City project curated by Jackson Tan (Singapore) this year in conjunction of Kaohsiung Design Festival, I was introduced to amazing designers like Yoon Hyup and the talented Na Kim who I had the privilege to meet in September this year in Penang, Malaysia.

I was blown away by the amount of art galleries located in each district. I could easily be overwhelmed by so much talent. It shows how organised and cultured Koreans are in accepting creativity as a part of their daily routine.

While I was in Seoul, attending the CC Korea International Conference provided me with such an insightful experience to know how enthusiastic creators are in ensuring citizen could access better, organised public information and allowing transparency of the government, through projects like CodeNamu. And Randomwalks, for example, amplified various media and data and turned it into phenomenal info-graphics, as shown in Sey Min’s presentation and demonstration. An aspiring young girl named Hannah enlightened us about the best creative way to have fun by creating DIY ear-folding rabbit and a fun wrist-band. I also had the chance to do a contemporary dance performance during the CC Salon featuring music of DD.85’s ‘Adaptation’.

It’s more extraordinary to learn that Koreans take seriously into sharing culture thus seeing Creative Commons as a medium to empower their creations. From sharing innovation of technology through open source, mobile apps and web-based programmes are easily accessible to all. It facilitates greater alternative in cost-saving, and yet at the same time, some generous users would donate through PayPal as part of their appreciation. This is what CC is catered for its content users, the power to appreciate and attribute. The support does not only stop there, a local renowned KPOP artist expresses interest in offering to become an ambassador of CC Korea to increase more awareness. This is indeed admirable and I see that other CC affiliates could adapt and follow the same strategy to advance CC movement into the next level. If people would ask me, what’s the next big thing for CC? Well, this is it.

WordNet

Planet CC -

We can use NLTK’s support for WordNet to help generate and classify text. from nltk.corpus import wordnet as wn from nltk.corpus import sentiwordnet as swn def make_synset(word, category='n', number='01'): """Conveniently make a synset""" number = int(number) return wn.synset('%s.%s.%02i' % (word,…Read more ›

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