Today, the Knight Foundation announced the selected recipients of its latest Prototype Fund. We’re very proud to be among them, with a new project that probably sounds a bit outside of our normal work to those familiar with CC. Here’s why we’re doing it:
When I joined as CEO, I was tasked with imagining the next phase of Creative Commons. Now that we have the licenses, what do we want to do with them? How do we build a wide-reaching commons of creativity and knowledge, with easy contribution, use, and re-use? After talking with dozens of partners, funders, our global affiliate network, and our staff, I think it boils down to three areas: building a movement, driving content into the commons, and helping creators get content out.
Today’s announcement from Knight works in the first and second categories: pushing content into the commons, while engaging a new group of contributors. We will create a mobile app to encourage people to take photos and share them from a list of “most wanted” images. Organizations and individuals will put out the call, and users will be prompted to respond – including (eventually for those who want them) with geo-tagged notifications (“Ryan, we see you’re at the Mozilla Festival. Would you grab a photo of coders hacking the Web?”). All images will be uploaded to a public repository and licensed under CC BY, so anyone can use them. Creators will see their work used more widely, and maybe even “compete” to take the best photo. Internally, we’re calling it “The List, powered by Creative Commons.”
CC tech lead Matt Lee is working with the talented folks in Toronto’s Playground Inc. to create the prototype, and we will be testing our assumptions over the coming months. Everything will be done in the open – we’ll be at the Mozilla Festival in London, UK, later this month sharing our initial work and gathering ideas.
This is new ground for us, but we’re excited about the potential – for better stock photography, better photos on Wikipedia, better citizen journalism, and a wider pool of contributors who have helped to build the commons. Lots more to come, but we’re grateful for Knight’s support and guidance.
The following is a guest post by Ariel Diaz, Founder and CEO of Boundless, a platform for the creation of open textbooks that are community-built and CC BY-SA-licensed.
Boundless / CC BY-SA
By empowering a dedicated community of contributors in open resources, Creative Commons has given education a strong foundation for creating and sharing content. Beyond the broadly touted affordability and accessibility benefits of open resources, the flexibility these resources offer makes them practical for students and educators everywhere. Now, Boundless is leveraging the power of these open resources and the community to write the future of educational content — and we invite you to join us!
Universal access to education is a right
The wealth of Creative Commons licensed content is core to our efforts at Boundless to make access to high-quality educational content a universal right. All of our content is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license — which gives us a great combination of openness and flexibility, and assures that derivative works stay in the Commons so others can benefit.
Boundless offers content in more than 20 introductory-level college subjects for free on our website and mobile app. Using the CC BY-SA license on our content means an educator can use an article about Long-Term Memory, for example, as content in their classroom and adapt it for their syllabus. Students will save money by using open resources, and educators can share their customized version of that content with the greater Boundless community for further re-use.
Boundless / CC BY-SA
Open content succeeds because of a powerful community
We’re seeing a transition in educational publishing from physical to digital. This transition has been slowed by a conservative industry and lack of great products, but we’re now in a time where entrepreneurs, educators, and more are challenging the status quo to create better teaching and learning opportunities. This gives us an opportunity to create communities of learners, educators, and content creators to build a better, more effective learning experience powered by open content.
I believe that open content succeeds because of its powerful community. The educators, researchers, and more who are motivated to share their work with others keep the flow of education materials moving to benefit their teaching and learning communities. The power of this community means we can challenge the status quo in education — and no longer tolerate static, expensive resources.
Over the past three years, the team at Boundless has worked with an internal community of hundreds of subject matter experts to create and curate open resources for our library of 21 subjects. This foundational content has served more than 3 million students and educators.
We’re committed to not only providing universal access to this content, but also building a collaborative, powerful community to create more content. That’s why I’m proud to share that we’ve brought on one of community education’s biggest advocates as a new Boundless advisor: SJ Klein, a veteran Wikipedian. SJ says,
“Tapping the minds of the teaching community brings great power to educational content. I look forward to working with Boundless as its community grows, not just to create more freely-licensed material, but to provide greater access to it, and make it personalizable.”
SJ is helping us grow and hone our cloud-powered community — so Boundless can do to textbooks what Wikipedia did for encyclopedias.
Write the future of education
For the first time, Boundless is opening up our platform to empower a community of educators and open resource supporters to create, improve, and share educational content. And we’re inviting Creative Commons supporters to help us write the future of education.
The new Boundless cloud-powered community allows for collaboration across disciplines, so contributors can create, edit, and customize content. All content created or customized uses a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA) to ensure a greater distribution across platforms — making universal access to education a right, not a privilege.
Be part of the future of education by joining our community!
OpenMedia.ca just released Our Digital Future: A Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression. OpenMedia developed the publication through consultations and surveys with many organizations that care about free expression on the internet. It’s organized around three principles: Respect Creators, Prioritize Free Expression, and Embrace Democratic Processes.
OpenMedia’s report makes a clear and compelling case for a better copyright framework – one that is authored by all of us, developed in the open, and for the benefit of everyone. Too often, monied interests and secret negotiations work against the commons, and we all lose out as a result. We look forward to working alongside OpenMedia to make its thoughtful recommendations a reality, and we hope that this report inspires many more to join us.
At the very beginning of October, Creative Commons’ OER policy project organised a two-day workshop in Porto, gathering 15 Open Education enthusiasts, educators, advisors, lawyers and experts on Creative Commons licensing. Apart from representatives from CC Sweden, CC Spain, CC Poland, CC Netherlands and of course CC Portugal, we were very happy to be able to reach out to other communities and have Rob from OER Research Hub present, as well as Ana and Ricardo from Journalism++, Eduardo who is conducting a PhD on OER, and last but not least from Heitor Alvelos, creator of the Future Places festival. The event was the first official event organised by the “rebooted” CC Portugal, at the wonderful lab space of the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC).
Proud participants: John (CC Germany, Lisette (CC Netherlands), Alek (CC Poland), Gwen (CC), Eduardo (U. of Porto), Kamil (CC Poland); bottom row: Fatima (CC Portugal), Rob (OER Research Hub), Teresa (CC Portugal), Ricardo (Journalism++/Manufactura Independente), Ignasi (CC Spain). Photo: Kristina Alexanderson (CC Sweden), CC BY
The workshop was organized at the end of the initial “OER Policy for Europe” project, with the goal of creating a basis for the continuation of our work. To this end, we decided to create a toolkit that can be used to organize a self-learning workshop on Open Educational Resources and policies that support them. With the help of the toolkit, we would like to ask OER enthusiasts to organize such workshops around the world, during the Open Education Week in 2015.
The toolkit, as we imagine it, should consist of following materials:
- Workshop materials:
- Concept of a modular workshop scenario, with each module addressing one of key aspects and issues around OER
- Guidebook with a step-by-step explanation of the scenario and with background materials for each module
- Concept of workshop activities: what good is a workshop without games and active elements that make learning fun?
- Background materials. There is a lot of content that can be reused but two additional items are required:
- FAQ file: there are many FAQs about OER, but this one will be tailored to the specific workshop modules
- Infographics: OER can be made easier to understand by visualizing information
- Promotional materials:
- Poster and invitation – that can be printed by workshop organizers
- Webpage design – for the Web hub through which we will coordinate the workshops
We’ve spent the first half-day on defining the concept of such a toolkit and the content needed for self-taught OER workshops to take place. As in every situation when over a dozen OER activists meet, we talked about definitions of open, avoiding flamewars on licensing choices, value- and benefit-based language. We imagined representatives of our target groups (having settled on academic librarians and school teachers), asked ourselves: why so few “do it”, if so many know about CC? and discussed policies as both barriers and enablers to sharing content.
Having settled the ideological debates, the participants quickly divided themselves into three groups, who continued to work on three specific pieces of content. One group worked on a leaflet explaining OER from the practitioners’ perspective, the second on policies – from the perspective of the barriers to openness that they remove, and the last on a scenario for a modular workshop on OER .Group One: What is there for me (in Open Education)?
After a profound discussion on identifying stakeholders, the group decided to focus on three perspectives: of consumers, creators who don’t share, and creators who do share. After brainstorming pros and cons of sharing, we created the first version of a leaflet for educators. You can download it here (PDF).
This working group created a scenario for a workshop about OER. It was quickly decided to make the workshop modular, allowing for individual modifications based on particular wishes and experiences. The workshop would rely on existing resources as background material. We produced a model slidedeck with an outline of the workshop, together with an accompanying guidesheet for the persons leading the workshopGroup Three: policy solutions
The last group tackled the challenge of finding a relatively simple way of describing OER policies. The general consensus among participants is that these are challenging issues to understand, and not necessarily important from a practicioner’s perspective. We nevertheless assumed that it is crucial to provide simple explanations for policies. To this end, we started with a list of barriers to the sharing and use of OERs; and defined policies (with examples) that help to remove them.Next steps
While our toolkit is still in an alpha version, we managed to come up with a concept of the workshop, produce part of the content needed and discuss two crucial issues for promoting OER: practical benefits that can be used to convince people to adopt OER; and ways of explaining difficult policy matters in an easy way.
With half a year to go before the next Open Education Week, we’re planning to finish the toolkit by the end of the year, and then build momentum for a series of local workshops around the world. Let us know if you’re interested in helping out with this project!