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Category: Creative Commons

Many hands make light work: USDOL adopts CC-BY licensing

OER advocates scored a major victory on Monday with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) announcement that it has adopted a department-wide Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license requirement for all intellectual property developed with funds under a competitive Federal award process. Requiring a CC BY license on DOL-funded resources has a number of advantages: The DOL increases the impact, reach and scalability of […]

USDOE Hires Open Educator

open_book_neonYesterday during a bus tour stop at the Williamsfield Unified School District in Illinois, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. I know, I know–this is K12 news, you say–but it is a significant development for all educational institutions that are leveraging OER to improve educational access, opportunity, affordability, and degree completion. Why Williamsfield? Over the past two years, Williamsfield has worked to replace a set of traditional textbooks by adapting and localizing OER, creating a more engaging classroom experience for students and generating savings that the schools reinvested to develop a cutting edge STEM program. Read the full announcement below posted to the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) blog:

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. This announcement marks a critical step for ED and the Obama Administration toward leveraging OER as a solution at a time when improving educational access, opportunity and affordability is at the forefront of the nation’s mind.The new open education advisor will work with K-12 schools across the country to transition from traditional textbooks to OER, enabling states and districts to adapt and modify materials to meet student needs, and also free up funding to invest in other innovative ways.

Secretary Duncan announced the position during a bus tour stop at the Williamsfield Unified School District in Illinois, which offers a perfect illustration of how schools can leverage OER to improve teaching and learning. Over the past two years, Williamsfield worked to replace a set of traditional textbooks by adapting and localizing OER, creating a more engaging classroom experience for students and generating savings that the schools reinvested to develop a cutting edge STEM program that would have otherwise been impossible with traditional materials.

While the focus of the position is K-12, the impact of this work will also extend to higher education by enabling schools to better prepare students for college and support momentum for the OER movement as a whole.

This exciting announcement is part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and public access to publicly funded resources. Last month SPARC and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are released to the public as OER. SPARC expects to work closely with the new Open Education Advisor and continue advocating with our coalition partners to advance open policy at the Federal level. Join the conversation on social media with @SPARC_NA using hashtags #ReadyforSuccess and #GoOpen.

The video below is about the Williamsfield initiative that accompanied the announcement from USDOE.

ICE ICE, baby: Innovation Community Exchange

Innovation Community ExchangeOne of the first Reengineering efforts I was part of at the VCCS was serving on the Innovation Through Technology Task force. The stated goal of this group was to “support the creation of high performance systems that utilize fully the talent and potential of our people, leverage the power of technology, enhance productivity, and produce better outcomes for students.”  The ITTF group quickly agreed that one major barrier to reaching this goal was, broadly, communication. On the one hand, there was too little communication among faculty and staff across the VCCS, leading to the age old problem of reinventing the wheel.

On the other hand, there was also too much communication. Throughout the VCCS faculty and staff communicate with email, discussion lists (d-lists), listservs, and online forums. We have an intranet, Buzz, and our various college and system websites. We have Blackboard announcements, RSS feeds, and digital newsletters. There is Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, and Google+. We can connect via videoconference with Collaborate, WebEx, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and Skype. I could go on and on. The information is out there, but on which channel? Overall, whether too much or too little, communication across the VCCS has been ineffective.

You could say that this problem is endemic to our information age: the belief that more communication is inherently better. Blast out your announcement on every platform you can in order to reach the most eyeballs. I am guilty of this. But I am also guilty of ignoring a large amount of information I receive. My Twitter feed speeds by unread.  One third of my emails are vendor spam or electronic newsletters. Probably like you, I receive way too much information that I can realistically absorb and have few tools to sort the more important stuff (email request from my boss requesting materials for next week’s meeting) from the trivial (50% off Groupon for a hot air balloon ride).

That brings us to ICE. The Innovation Community Exchange (ICE) is an online system developed by the folks at New River Community College as an outcome of the Innovation Through Technology Task Force. The intent of ICE is to help solve the ineffective communication I described by linking people, technology, and information in order to promote college innovations. ICE is an online innovation space where VCCS “makers” can to share ideas, promote products, and search for collaborative partners. Users can use the platform to search for an idea, an individual, a software package, or a learning opportunity. Users can also participate in discussion threads or training sessions, or download available products to try for themselves. RSS feeds and email notifications allow users to track developments.

A system like ICE could be a powerful tool for the VCCS to effectively share innovative ideas, services and artifacts, allowing colleges to accomplish things together that may not be able to individually.

That said, I wonder if ICE is going to be yet another communication platform to add to my list above, or if it will be perceived as useful enough to get some significant use across the VCCS? We built it–will they come? And if they don’t, what will we have learned?

Perhaps the Rambling Professor can convince you to give ICE a try.

Open Education Week: Monday Events

A_Discussion_on_Open_Pedagogy___Open_Education_WeekMonday March 9, 2015

A Discussion on Open Pedagogy

2:00 PM

Sustainability Strategies For Open Educational Resources

3:00 PM

Recursos Educacionais Abertos no Brasil

6:30 PM

Stop Believing in Magic: Business Models for Open Education

7:00 PM

The Digital Revolution Will Be Livestreamed

The Textbook Costs and Digital Learning Resources (TCDLR) Committee released this final report a few weeks ago at the last meeting of the Reengineering Task Force. I co-chaired the committee with the wonderful Dr. Mark Estepp, President of Southwest Virginia Community College. The committee was charged with the following tasks:

  1. examine VCCS administrative practices and policies that unnecessarily add to the cost of academic textbooks,
  2. explore how networked digital technology can best be leveraged to lower the overall cost of textbooks, including using open educational resources,
  3. investigate ways which currently licensed electronic resources can be used in electronic “course packs,” as a substitute for textbooks, or for the supplementary material often required for a course of study,
  4. identify opportunities for interested VCCS faculty to explore using openly licensed resources in their courses,
  5. examine the current relevance of printed textbooks in an age of interactive, web-based content, digital publishing, and
  6. recommend strategies and policies for creating an institutional culture that embraces and practices openness, transparency, collaboration, and sharing.

The report contains a number of recommendations for lowering the cost of course materials across the VCCS. I am really proud of what this group accomplished, much of it before the release of this report, including the 17 college VCCS Collaborative Bookstore contract with Follett to textbook reduction metrics in the annual evaluations of VCCS presidents. In fact, in many ways the final report is a bit anti-climactic.

Still, you should red it. You can read or download a copy of the report below:

Autodesk OER Bonanza


Autodesk, the maker of a number of popular 3D design software titles, just announced that the company has adopted Creative Commons licensing for its learning materials, opening up over 20,000 pages of documentation, 70 videos, and 140 asset files for reuse, redistribution, revision, and remixing. The newly licensed materials include online help documentation for many Autodesk products, including embedded images and movies, a range of video-based learning content, such as the video tutorials on the Autodesk YouTube Learning Channels and associated iTunes podcasts,  and downloadable 3D assets, digital footage, and other files. Autodesk also announced on the AREA site that more openly licensed resources will be released in the future.

Autodesk® takes great pride in offering high-quality resources that support the pursuit of lifelong learning, supplement classroom materials, and contribute to digital community development. Many of these great resources are now licensed to you under Creative Commons because we believe that learning should be free, open, and shared widely around the world! Look for the Creative Commons tags in our online help, learning channel movies, podcasts, support articles and downloadable materials. More content to come soon…

You can find out more at

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