Podcast with Jamie Alexandre from Learning Equality

skjermbilde-2016-12-03-kl-18-24-22

In this podcast, I talk with Jamie Alexandre from Learning Equality. Learning Equality focuses on technology solutions which are optimized to work in areas where Internet access is lacking or costly. Their project KA Lite is an offline version of Khan Academy, used in over 170 countries. Based on feedback from KA Lite users, the Learning Equality team is actively developing Kolibri, their next generation platform which allows for curriculum alignment of a broader set of content.

Learning Equality builds educational technology solutions that leverage open-licensed content and low-cost hardware to enable a broad range of NGOs, schools, governments, and individuals to implement programs that improve educational outcomes in their communities.

 

Creative Commons explained in 3 minutes

There are many good resources about Creative Commons on the web. I have used a film from Creative Commons New Zealand whenever someone have asked me to explain CC Licences. The short video is a really good introduction with great drawings and examples.

To make it even more suitable to be used as part of my standard OER talk I have re-mixed it and made a version that is just over 3 minutes.

In this short version I have stripped it down and focus only on the core elements and the explanation of these.

European Commission lacks vision for copyright in the digital age

EU Flag with Creative Commons. Derivate from pic found on pixabay.com

The copyright reform proposal presented by the European Commission in september 2016 fails to meet the needs of citizens, educators, and researchers across Europe. Instead of strengthening the information economy, the proposal preserves a status quo defined in the analog age.

The Link Tax

This includes unprecedented new Link Tax powers for publishing giants, as well as requirements for websites to monitor and filter content. This will hurt your right to access and share content.

The European Commission has proposed, as part of the Copyright Directive on the Digital Single Market to allow news publishers to claim an additional copyright over the snippets of text which automatically appear alongside most links.

As a result linking to online news content would therefore require a license and explicit permission from the publisher.

It would give press publishers the right to charge fees for websites operating any form of business using snippets of text when they link to content from press publishers.

The European Commission promised to modernise copyright, but instead of creating a well-functioning legal framework addressing the concerns of creators and end-users it proposes to protect old business models by creating what it claims to be a “well-functioning marketplace”.

A disaster for educators, non-profits and individuals

The European Commission is also demanding that companies create or buy expensive new technologies to monitor and filter the content we create. This means every website or service that allows users to upload content will have to build expensive robot programs to spy for material that rightsholders want to block. What’s worse is that these bots won’t be able to make exceptions for parody, public interest, fair use, and many other legal forms of expression.

Because the draft of the Copyright Directive does not limit the implementation of this proposal to aggregators and search engines, it may also allow press publishers to charge non-profits, social media websites, or even individuals who communicate online using hyperlinks. The proposed educational exception, despite having some good elements, will overall worsen the legal environment for educators.

And it likely will introduce major costs for public educational systems around Europe.

Access to most audio-visual content will continue to be hampered by geo-blocking (which the Commission had earlier committed to end), and online platforms might be forced to collaborate with rights holders on censoring content that is shared by users on these platforms. The whole package lacks forward-looking, innovation-friendly measures that embrace digitization as an opportunity for users, creators, businesses, and public institutions in Europe.

We have to act now

Despite opposition from over 120,000 Internet users and dozens of civil society groups, the European Commission charged ahead with its wrong-headed plan. But now that it has reached the European Parliament, we have a real chance to stop it in its tracks. This will have the same impact in Norway as in any if we were full members of EU.

The European community is joining forces to send a clear message to the EU Parliament. We urge everyone that think the web is a wonderful thing to fill out this petition at OpenMedia.

Alek Tarkowsky, Director, Centrum Cyfrowe and Christer Gundersen are co-authors of this text.

Resources used in this text:

CC-BY is the ideal license for OER

cc-by

I believe that the CC-BY license is the ideal Creative Commons license for open textbooks and other open educational resources. If you are part of a project funded with money from a donor trying to get the most out of every invested dollar the more restricted licenses would create unwanted barriers.

The CC-BY license drives innovation and creativity – including commercial use. It also increases the overall goal of sharing, translation and re-contextualization of open textbooks and OER.

Sometimes there could be good reasons for adding restrictions but more often the not, CC-BY is the best way to go.

Why? Here are some of the most obvious reasons:

  • The CC-BY license drives innovation and creativity – including commercial use.
  • The CC-BY license increases the overall goal of sharing, translation and re-contextualization of open textbooks and OER.
  • The CC-BY license is easy to understand and follow, requiring simply that attribution be provided to an open textbook author(s).
  • Content with a CC-BY license can be remixed** with all non-ND CC licenses, making it easier to remix others’ OER into an open textbook.
  • I believe an ND (no-derivatives) licensed textbook is not an open textbook because ND licenses do not allow two of the five Rs: revising and remixing.
  • The NC license also reduces remix options.
  • The SA license reduces remix options.
  • The NC license often causes confusion and limits the spread, adoption and use of OER. Creators should consider carefully whether their reasons for using an NC license justify the limitations it will impose on users.
    • NC license has been used to claim that OER cannot be printed by a commercial print shop for use in classrooms.
    • Some Colleges have assumed that because they charge tuition, they can’t use NC-licensed OER. Others worry about printing and selling (cost recovery only) NC-licensed open textbooks.

This article is a derivative of “Open Textbook Community Advocates CC BY License for Open Textbooks” by Mary Burgess, David Ernst, Hugh McGuire, David Wiley used under CC-BY 4.0 International License. This article is licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International License by Christer Gundersen.

Podcast with Purvi Shah talking about Storyweaver

DariuszSankowski / Pixabay

StoryWeaver is an open source platform by Pratham Books for multilingual children’s stories. It addresses all the issues around the lack of content by using an open access framework and technology as force multipliers combined with a platform that supports translation and re-mixing av stories.

I had the great pleasure of co-organizing a workshop at the mEducation Alliance Symposium in Washington on Oct 18–20 with Jennryn Wetzler as the main organizer. After the workshop I sat down with Purvi Shah for a talk about Pratham Books and their latest project StoryWeaver.

Bonus track

Jennryn Wetzler is the Senior Program Designer at U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Collaboratory. She organised a great workshop at the mEducation Alliance Symposium on OER and in this short podcast she talks about why education is important.

Free culture is winning

Illustration by Creative Commons, CC BY 4.0

The idea behind Creative Commons is to make it easy to distinguish between the different licenses, and the license selector also makes it easy for those who are completely inexperienced users of CC to determine the correct license. Some licences are more open, also called free culture licenses, others are more restrictive. Statistics from 2015 shows that most of us choose the free culture licenses, and that is great news for all that love to re-use and re-mix.

I get many questions on how many limitations you should choose to associate with a picture, video or text. There is an axis between more open licenses with few limitations and the most restrictive ones that have limitation on derivatives and commercial use.

The License CC-BY and CC-BY-SA (includes CC0) is often defined in a separate category licenses that support the “free culture.” This is a good thing because it provides even greater freedom for those who want to reuse, even for those who engaged in commercial activities.

My advice is that you should use free culture licenses as often as you can. The anual statistics from Creative Commons shows a clear trend that these “free culture” licenses are the most popular ones.

The most popular license is CC Attribution-Share Alike (BY-SA).  37% of all work published are released under this license. By comparison, only 14% have chosen to use CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No processing (CC BY-NC-ND). One of the most restrictive licenses.

 

More than 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand

6555466069_5d373bf1cc_o

Quality education should be delivered in the language spoken at home. However, this minimum standard is not met for hundreds of millions, limiting their ability to develop foundations for learning. By one estimate, as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand (Walter and Benson, 2012).

A great part of the world’s learning content is written in English or in major languages in the industrial world. We don’t know the exact shares for the most-used languages when it comes to learning related content in particular, but it’s reasonable to assume this to be proximately equal to the most-used languages on the Internet as a whole.

As of 2015, 55.5 percent of all web content was in English, followed by the next four most-used world languages Russian, German, Japanese and Spanish, adding up to an additional 21.5 percent. Compared to this, the lack of digital resources is striking for languages like Swahili, Bangla or Hindi which are mother tongue or commonly spoken languages for an estimated 60+, 200+ and 500+ million respectively.

The simple magic of reuse, sharing and collaboration

Collaboration

Two weeks ago I posted a blogg with a timeline of OER. After reading this, my friends in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia picked up the timeline and translated it into Amharic. This involved a different language, different plattform and context. The common thread is H5P, a tool I have blogged about many times before, that allows anyone to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content in their browser.

 

The important thing to notice here is that the team in Addis could reuse all the effort that I put in the timeline and at the same time just by translating it the timeline was available in a new language, something that would be impossible for me to do simply because I don´t know Amharic.

There is a growing edTech and OER community in Addis and this last weekend they organized a workshop where they also made their own timeline describing important events in Ethiopian history(see it at the end of the bloggpost). As a part of the same workshop they made an interactive test where you can test your skills on the most common Amharic words.

 

This put me up to the idea that I could make a new resource based on what they have made, and in fact make an OER in Amharic, a languages that I do not master. How? I made all the «cards» in the object below based on text from the team in Addis. Our common ground is that we all understand English.

 

When advocating for Open education resources, open source and open standards the message sometimes is lost in the complexity of all the technical issues. I myself have on more then one occasion struggled to explained the «magic of OER». In this case working with a small usecase like this just seams like a great way to demonstrate the magic of open educational resources.a

Check out this timeline on Ethiopian history:

What can the «anti OER lobby» learn from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?

stack-of-books-1001655_1280

Occasionally I bump in to representatives from the «anti OER lobby» and they often start of by talking about how open educational resources ruins the marked, and if the OER is financed with public money they go on about how the government is using their position to compete in the marketplace handing out «free content».

The problem with this claim is of course that it belongs in another paradigm, a paradigm without what we now call «the internet». This is a global issue but we could use Norway as an example. The idea that the Norwegian government, municipalities  and counties should not be able to let teachers(with a public paycheck) share content on the web under a free license is just ridiculous.

Last week I met a guy from an organization that lobbies hard against OER and while talking to him I came to think about Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft. It was sort of a deja vu moment and it took me back to 2001.

During an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on June 1, 2001 Ballmer said that «Linux is cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches»

15 years later Microsoft has shifted their stands completely and invest substantially in open source and even Balmer himself is quoted saying «We now considers that the threat from Linux is over». Current chief at Microsoft Satya Nadella took it even further and went public 2 years ago saying that Microsoft loves Linux.

In the 15 years that has past Microsoft has lost its position in many markets and is now overtaken by Google and Android in the mobile market while Linux dominates everything from the server market to devices running in cars or in the kitchen.

For anyone that has been a part of both the open source movement and the OER movement its obvious that they share principles,  philosophy and methodology.

So my simple question is: What can the «anti-OER lobby» learn from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?