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Message from mlforward@ocwconsortium.org

Dear All,

 

I’d like to add a couple of perspectives to the ongoing OER licensing discussion for clarity and consideration.  First, for clarity, the OCW Consortium is an association of OER users and producers who have significantly contributed to the development of the open education movement. The license choice for its OER is up to each member of the Consortium – there is no standard OCW or OCWC license. Institutions and projects have different considerations when selecting the license for content they create, and among members of the OCW Consortium, these licenses vary from those with an NC-SA restriction to those licensed CC-BY.  For example, I’ve been fortunate to spend this week in Nairobi with the planning group for the second phase of the African Virtual University’s multinational project on creating joint STEM curricula. The first phase produced 72 modules, developed by 12 participating universities from across the African continent, available in French, English and Portuguese, licensed CC-BY (see http://oer.avu.org). The second phase has 27 participating universities and will produce content for use by these universities and beyond using the same license.

 

While understanding the remix issues, it’s a mistake to categorize OER as “usable” or “not usable”; rather, OER is usable under the conditions of the license ascribed to it. It would be a blow to the open movement if high quality content carrying different licenses were categorically excluded from open educational endeavors, particularly if that would require the re-creation of the same or similar content. Building on others’ work is central to the spirit of the movement, and we should seek ways to do that whenever possible. Creating learning pathways that call on resources with different open licenses, for example, would be a way to make good use of already available material while allowing the pathway itself, descriptions of intended learning outcomes, additional context, etc. to be licensed under the preferred license of the pathway’s developer.

 

It’s a mis-statement to say that universities that have licensed their content with NC would not allow cost recovery for assessments. There are many existing examples of value-added services that include a fee for the additional educational services provided to open content. The NC licensed content cannot be commercially distributed, but using it for educational purposes and providing additional services that the content itself does not provide is already being done (with the blessing of providers). We would be very happy to work with OERu or other groups to further clarify these issues with any of our members for content that you would like to use. 

 

Best regards,

Mary Lou



--
Mary Lou Forward
Executive Director
OpenCourseWare Consortium
www.ocwconsortium.org


********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Hi Mary Lou,

Thank you so much for providing this information. This is extremely helpful!

And thank you for sharing about the wonderful work that continues to be done by the Consortium.


Ellen

Ellen Marie Murphy
Director of Online Curriculum
SUNY Empire State College
113 West Ave
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-2100 Ext: 2961
twitter: ellen_marie

-----The EDUCAUSE OPENNESS Constituent Group Listserv <OPENNESS@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU> wrote: -----
To: OPENNESS@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
From: Mary Lou Forward
Sent by: The EDUCAUSE OPENNESS Constituent Group Listserv
Date: 07/13/2012 05:38AM
Subject: [OPENNESS] OER licensing discussion

Dear All,

 

I’d like to add a couple of perspectives to the ongoing OER licensing discussion for clarity and consideration.  First, for clarity, the OCW Consortium is an association of OER users and producers who have significantly contributed to the development of the open education movement. The license choice for its OER is up to each member of the Consortium – there is no standard OCW or OCWC license. Institutions and projects have different considerations when selecting the license for content they create, and among members of the OCW Consortium, these licenses vary from those with an NC-SA restriction to those licensed CC-BY.  For example, I’ve been fortunate to spend this week in Nairobi with the planning group for the second phase of the African Virtual University’s multinational project on creating joint STEM curricula. The first phase produced 72 modules, developed by 12 participating universities from across the African continent, available in French, English and Portuguese, licensed CC-BY (see http://oer.avu.org). The second phase has 27 participating universities and will produce content for use by these universities and beyond using the same license.

 

While understanding the remix issues, it’s a mistake to categorize OER as “usable” or “not usable”; rather, OER is usable under the conditions of the license ascribed to it. It would be a blow to the open movement if high quality content carrying different licenses were categorically excluded from open educational endeavors, particularly if that would require the re-creation of the same or similar content. Building on others’ work is central to the spirit of the movement, and we should seek ways to do that whenever possible. Creating learning pathways that call on resources with different open licenses, for example, would be a way to make good use of already available material while allowing the pathway itself, descriptions of intended learning outcomes, additional context, etc. to be licensed under the preferred license of the pathway’s developer.

 

It’s a mis-statement to say that universities that have licensed their content with NC would not allow cost recovery for assessments. There are many existing examples of value-added services that include a fee for the additional educational services provided to open content. The NC licensed content cannot be commercially distributed, but using it for educational purposes and providing additional services that the content itself does not provide is already being done (with the blessing of providers). We would be very happy to work with OERu or other groups to further clarify these issues with any of our members for content that you would like to use. 

 

Best regards,

Mary Lou



--
Mary Lou Forward
Executive Director
OpenCourseWare Consortium
www.ocwconsortium.org


********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Message from mackintosh.wayne@gmail.com

Hi Mary Lou,

There is no question that OCWC has done more than any global consortium in advocating the adoption and implementation of OER.  Also, thank you for your very kind offer to work with the OER Foundation and the OERu network to clarify licensing issues.  We really appreciate that,. Working together we can build a more sustainable OER ecosystem  :-). 

The NC restriction does not contribute to the future fiscal sustainability of OER because the remix potential is curtailed by an order of magnitude. The remix is the most effective way in reducing the capital cost associated with course design and development. This is not rocket science, it is far cheaper for 10 institutions to collaborate and reuse existing OER than for one institution to do this alone. 

Mary Lou says:

It would be a blow to the open movement if high quality content carrying different licenses were categorically excluded from open educational endeavors, particularly if that would require the re-creation of the same or similar content. Building on others’ work is central to the spirit of the movement, and we should seek ways to do that whenever possible.

I couldn't agree more -- the reality is that the majority of the institutions participating in OER categorically exclude their content from remix potential with free cultural works approved content in the commons. Derek Keats raises a significant concern, namely that when the choice of the NC restriction is "driven by fear of misuse, you will make decisions that prevent legitimate and good use" (particularly when the copyleft provision is more than adequate to protect against commercial "exploitation" for those who fear commercial activity to build a sustainable OER ecosystem.).  

Let's take a look at what is happening in practice.  I did a very quick survey of the licenses adopted by the sustaining members of the OCWC. 80% of the sustaining member websites do not use free cultural works approved licenses for their courses -- the majority include the NC restriction. 

Bear in mind that many of the sustaining members are regional consortia and the number of participating institutions is significantly higher than the number of sustaining members.  There are one or two OCWC institutions / regional consortia sites that apply a CC-BY license "unless stated otherwise" but when you visit the actual courses, you will find the use of non-free licenses.

Based on this mini survey, this suggests that the majority of OCWC course materials CANNOT be legally remixed and integrated into OERu courses because of the legal incompatibility between licenses. (The OER Foundation subscribes to free cultural works approved licenses as a matter of policy.) 

The tragedy of the open education commons is that after spending millions of dollars, philanthropic collaborations like the OERu network, in the absence of re-licensing of this original investment, will be stalled in widening access to free learning opportunities for millions of learners who will not have the privilege of a tertiary education.  

The good news is that we don't need a bucket full of money to fix the problem -- all that is needed is for OCWC partners to re-license the courses under a free cultural works approved license in so far as their courses are not encumbered by thirty-party licensing arrangements.

The OER Foundation does not want to use "OER" as a vehicle to sacrifice the human right to earn a living.  It doesn't seem right to say "we believe in freedom of speech and modern democracy as long as you don't make money". 

Fortunately, the economic fundamentals are on our side because we will retain competitive advantage above institutions who choose to use the NC restriction for OER.  Watch this space :-).

Let's work together in re-licensing our existing investment in OER so we can build a sustainable OER ecosystem.

Wayne