Yesterday at the United Nations, President Barack Obama marked the Open Government Partnership‘s (OGP) third anniversary by announcing that in addition to the commitments outlined in the current U.S. OGP National Action Plan, “The United States will take additional steps to make our government more open, transparent, and accessible for all Americans.”
Among the multiple new commitments: “Promote open educational resources, to help teachers and students everywhere.”
The multi-pronged commitment to promote OER is described as the first item in the updated National Action Plan Commitments document (638 KB PDF):
Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement
- Open education is the open sharing of digital learning materials, tools, and practices that ensures free access to and legal adoption of learning resources. There is a growing body of evidence that the use of open education resources improves the quality of teaching and learning, including by accelerating student comprehension and by fostering more opportunities for affordable cross-border and cross-cultural educational experiences. The United States is committed to open education and will:
- Raise open education awareness and identify new partnerships. The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will jointly host a workshop on challenges and opportunities in open education internationally with stakeholders from academia, industry, and government. The session will foster collaboration among OGP members and other interested governments and will produce best practices to inform good policies in open education.
- Pilot new models for using open educational resources to support learning. The State Department will conduct three pilots overseas by December 2015 that use open educational resources to support learning in formal and informal learning contexts. The pilots’ results, including best practices, will be made publicly available for interested educators.
- Launch an online skills academy. The Department of Labor (DOL), with cooperation from the Department of Education, will award $25 million through competitive grants to launch an online skills academy in 2015 that will offer open online courses of study, using technology to create high-quality, free, or low-cost pathways to degrees, certificates, and other employer-recognized credentials. This academy will help students prepare for in-demand careers. Courses will be free for all to access on an open learning platform, although limited costs may be incurred for students seeking college credit that can be counted toward a degree. Leveraging emerging public and private models, the investments will help students earn credentials online through participating accredited institutions, and expand the open access to curriculum designed to speed the time to credit and completion. The online skills academy will also leverage the burgeoning marketplace of free and open-licensed learning resources, including content developed through DOL’s community college grant program, to ensure that workers can get the education and training they need to advance their careers, particularly in key areas of the economy.
Creative Commons licenses put the “open” in OER and we stand ready to work with governments everywhere who wish to update their OGP National Action Plans with commitments to support Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data and Open Policies that require publicly funded resources be openly licensed.Well done, President Obama!
This Friday, School of Open and Creative Commons affiliates in Colombia are throwing a celebration of the Web We Want that will highlight open licensing, copyright reform, and free culture. The event takes place as part of the Creative Commons Film Festival in Bogotá. Its purpose is three-fold:
- 1) To launch a campaign to promote fair use in copyright reform that is pending Colombia. This campaign is named, Liberen la cultura or Let’s set culture free.
- 2) To support the Colombian biologist Diego Gómez, who is facing a criminal case against him for copyright infringement. This campaign is named #CompartirNoEsDelito or #sharingisnotacrime.
- 3) To promote live music, books, magazines and films under CC licenses.
As part of both campaigns, affiliates will hold a Licenciatón, a day of awareness, learning and practice for open licensing and its relationship to free culture. This activity incorporates portions of the School of Open course, ABC del derecho de autor para bibliotecarios de América Latina (ABC of Copyright for Librarians in Latin America). Promotional material about the course will also be shared.
Colombian volunteer Maria Juliana says,
We are pleased to announce that as part of the Creative Commons Film Festival, the program will include a Celebration of the Internet, a space that seeks to unite all of us who are interested in an open web where we can contribute and share content freely — a space to celebrate the Web We Want!
We will be celebrating with our friends “Radio Pachone” and our special guests will be: “La Real Academia del Sonido” and “Radio Mixticius”.
The celebration takes place thanks to “A Year of Action” campaign of Web We Want, this campaign convocated organizations around the world to generate actions to celebrate 25 years of the web; we are one of the organizations which benefited.
Date: Friday, September 26, 2014
Time: 4pm-11pm (Bogotá, Colombia time)
Location: The Raid (Calle 17 No. 2-51 La Candelaria, Bogotá.) Free entrance.
Learn more about the event and its partners at http://karisma.org.co/?p=4609.About the School of Open
The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run courses, workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU.
Last week the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced that it is extending its open licensing policy to require that all content (such as reports, videos, white papers) resulting from project grant funds be licensed under the most recent Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. From the Foundation’s blog post: “We’re making this change because we believe that this kind of broad, open, and free sharing of ideas benefits not just the Hewlett Foundation, but also our grantees, and most important, the people their work is intended to help.” The change is explained in more detail on the foundation’s website.
The foundation had a long-standing policy requiring that recipients of its Open Educational Resources grants license the outputs of those grants; this was instrumental in the creation and growth of the OER field, which continues to flourish and spread. Earlier this year, the license requirement was extended to all Education Program grants, and as restated, the policy will now be rolled out to all project-based grants under any foundation program. The policy is straightforward: it requires that content produced pursuant to a grant be made easily available to the public, on the grantee’s website or otherwise, under the CC BY 4.0 license — unless there is some good reason to use a different license.
“When we began thinking about extending the policy from OER grants to the foundation as a whole, we wanted to be sure we would not be creating unforeseen problems,” said Elizabeth Peters, the general counsel of the Hewlett Foundation. “So we first broadened it to cover education grants that were not for OER — and have been pleased to find that there were very few issues, and those few easily resolved. CC BY for all grant-funded works will now be the default, but we are willing to accommodate grantees who have a persuasive reason to take a different path. The ultimate goal of this policy is to make the content we fund more openly available to everyone. We’re only just beginning to implement this change, and will continue to monitor how it’s working, but so far we have found most grantees are ready and willing to apply the license that makes their works fully open for re-use of all kinds.”
In practice, the new policy means that nearly all of the extensive content produced with Hewlett project-based grant funds–not only works specifically commissioned as Open Educational Resources, but scholarly research, multimedia materials, videos, white papers, and more, created by grantees on subjects of critical importance–will be widely available for downstream re-use with only the condition that the creator is attributed. Text will be openly available for translation into foreign languages, and high-quality photographs and videos will be able to be re-used on platforms such as Wikipedia. Releasing grant funded content under permissive open licenses like CC BY means that these materials can be more easily shared and re-used by the public. And they can be combined with other resources that are also published under an open license: this collection grows larger every day as governments and other publicly-facing institutions adopt open policies. Promoting this type of sharing can benefit both the original creator and the foundation, as it enables novel uses in situations not intended by the original grant funding.
For a long time Creative Commons has been interested in promoting open licensing policies within philanthropic grantmaking. We received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to survey the licensing policies of private foundations, and to work toward increasing the free availability of foundation-supported works. We wrote about the progress of the project in March, and we’ve been maintaining a spreadsheet of foundation IP policies, and a model IP policy.
We urge other foundations and funding bodies to emulate the outstanding leadership demonstrated by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and commit to making open licensing an essential component of their grantmaking strategy.