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

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.

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

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?

We value “Open” as a fundamental quality in education and in our learning resources.

“Open” produces better outcomes than “Closed”. This gives us a new responsibility. We must now prioritize our time and resources accordingly. The time has come to value “Open” as a fundamental quality in education and in our learning resources. – Head of NDLA, Øivind Høines

The Norwegian Digital Learning Arena (Nasjonal digital læringsarena) is a joint enterprise operating on behalf of the county councils in Norway. Our goal is to develop and publish high quality, internet-based open educational resources (OER) in subjects taught at upper secondary school level and make these freely available.

The term “open” is a cornerstone in all our projects and an important part of our strategy as we develop new subjects and open educational resources. From the beginning in 2007, head of NDLA Øivind Høines and his team started working on how NDLA could build the plattform, content and organization with “Open” as an important quality.

For NDLA as an organization this materializes in four focus areas:

  • Open standards
  • Open source
  • Open interfaces
  • Open methodology

Open standards

A major reason for us at NDLA to use open standards is that we would like our content to be reused and remixed by anyone. By using open standards we aim to make it easier for systems from different parties using different technologies to interoperate and communicate with our content and technology.

Another important aspect of open standards is to hinder confinement to a single vendor or proprietary technology, and to provide better conditions for free competition between all technology vendors and content creators. Open standards set out to prevent unfortunate interlocking, monopolization and competition bias.

An important area of focus is the use of standardized protocols and specifications where it is deemed relevant. This is pertinent both in between components internally in the NDLA solution, but also in NDLA’s communication with third-party services.

A few examples of such standards and specifications:

  • HTML5: a mark-up language intended for the formatting of webpages with links and other information that can be viewed in a browser|, and which is used to structure the information. HTML5 incorporate several new kinds of content (e.g. audio and video) than previous versions than the HTML standard.
  • CSS: Cascading Style Sheets is a mark-up language used to define the layout of files written in HTML or XML.
  • Tin Can: a standardized API for learning technology making it possible to gather data on user experiences. To a larger extent than today, NDLA will be built upon this notion of open standards and known specifications.

Open source

Open sources is an important part of all development at NDLA. We have based our plattform on Drupal and contributed significantly to the development of H5P as a platform for easier creation, sharing and reuse of the developed content and applications.

H5P is not a standard, but an implementation that supports HTML5. H5P is being used for the development of different kinds of interactivity in NDLA. H5P is an open source-based framework for the development of HTML5 based content (video, interactive presentations, multiple choice assignments, timelines, etc.). We are proud to say that more than 2400 websites all over the world now run H5P.

Why open source?

Open source software is software that is distributed with the assumption that the source code is being made readily available for reuse. The opposite is software that keeps the source code secret/closed or protected through legislation. The main strategy of NDLA has always been geared towards open source , but in certain contexts it has proven difficult to avoid using third-party products or components that follow other regimes of licencing. In the future, NDLA will go further and demand open source software in all vital parts of a solution.

Open Interfaces

We are interested in sharing our content in any way we can. In addition to developing our own website and servise we develop AAPI’s (i.e. application programming interfaces) or open interfaces to make it easier to reuse our content by any third-party.

By developing and using such open, well-documented API’s, NDLA will facilitate a modularity that deems the solution more service based and flexible to change. Additionally, both the data and the modules become easier to reuse by third-party.

What is an API?

API’s (i.e. application programming interfaces) are the interfaces between different software components. API’s link the components together in standardized ways. The API describes what will happen in different circumstances, e.g. finding or saving specific data in a database. An open API is an interface that is openly described, i.e. that is a known matter how it operates so anyone can develop a solution that can link to and benefit from it.

Open methodology – crowdsourcing

For us at NDLA, crowdsourcing is an methodology where the individual teacher and pupil can create, co-create and develop content themselves. The concept of crowdsourcing makes it possible for a larger group of people, e.g. teachers, to revise an academic plan, curriculum or the actual content in learning resources.

Crowdsourcing is a work practice based on voluntary participation, where a large amount of contributors execute a task based on a sense of community, participation and self-organization, rather than managerial control. Numerous actors thus contribute to the improvement of quality on a specific product.

The word “Open” has for us a pedagogical foundation. Learning as an activity thrives in an open landscape where information is truly liberated and free. We learn better when we freely can participate, when we openly share what we make, when we are allowed to remix the work of others, and our own contributions becomes part a wider and connected society. – Head of NDLA, Øivind Høines.

 

GoOpen Talk with Meredith Jacob

In this GoOpen Talk I have a conversation with Meredith Jacob, Assistant Director at American University Washington College of Law. Meredith is a part of the legal team at Creative commons US and a leading expert on IP and Copy right issues. In this videoblogg she talks about the OER situation in American schools and the GoOpen campaign launched by the The U.S. Department of Education.

GoOpen talk with Meredith Jacob from GoOpen.no on Vimeo.

Digital delingskultur løser problemet for lag og foreninger som kreves for penger etter bilde-tabbe på 17. mai

Denne teksten ble også publisert på følgende nettaviser første uken i juni 2016: ItPro, Itromsø, Computerworld og Tidens krav.

Aftenposten skriver denne uken om Loddefjord idrettslag som brukte et bilde av det norske flagget i forbindelse med 17. mai uten å spørre fotografen om lov. Dette kostet dem dyrt, noe som er både trist og unødvendig ettersom det finns gode alternativer uten kostnad eller risiko for å havne i retten.

I en verden hvor det har blitt vanlig å dele bilder både på sosiale medier og egne nettsider er det viktig å være bevisst på konsekvensene av å bruke et bilde med copyright uten tillatelse fra opphavsmannen. Dette fikk Loddefjord idrettslag smertelig erfaring med i forbindelse med årets 17. mai-feiring. Etter at de brukte et bilde tatt av fotograf Martine Petra Hoel måtte de punge ut med 5.000 kroner. Fana IL gjorde samme tabben og fikk en regning på 10.000 kroner. Det er mange lag og foreninger over hele landet som har havnet i samme situasjon.

Personlig mener jeg fotografen i dette tilfellet utnytter en utdatert lov og krever en alt for høy sum basert på at noen har gjort en liten tabbe. Det er allikevel lag og foreninger selv som ansvaret her, selv om det er helt unødvendig av dem å sette seg i denne knipen. Det gledelige er nemlig at det finnes en veldig enkel løsningen på problemet. Den digitale delingskulturen er i dag godt utviklet. Denne delingskulturen bygger på at bilder og andre kilder blir underlagt det som kalles en fri lisens.

Den mest brukte av disse er Creative Commons. Denne lisensen gir alle som ønsker det lov til å gjenbruke bilder, film og tekst uten å spørre om lov, men under gitte forutsetninger. Tillatelsen for å gjenbruke har opphavsmannen gitt på forhånd ved å bruke denne lisensen. Denne globale delingskulturen drives frem av frivillige bidragsytere som nettopp ønsker at deres bilder, filmer eller tekster skal kunne gjenbrukes av andre. Nettsider som Wikipedia og Pixabay.com tilbyr i dag et stort antall bilder av høy kvalitet under forskjellige frie lisenser.

Ser man for eksempel etter et bilde av det norske flagget på Wikipedia vil man blant annet finne et bilde tatt av fotografen Hans-Petter Fjeld. Hans-Petter er en av mange frivillig som gjør en fantastisk jobb for å sørge for at den norske versjonen av Wikipedia har denne typen bilder.

Foto: Hans Petter Fjeld, CC BY-SA 2.5
Foto: Hans Petter Fjeld, CC BY-SA 2.5

Jeg jobber til daglig i Nasjonal Digital Læringsarena (NDLA) som er et fylkeskommunal samarbeid for å utvikle digitale læringsressurser for videregående opplæring. For oss er den digitale delingskulturen en del av vår strategi. Dette betyr i praksis at vi deler det vi selv utvikler av innhold under en fri lisens, samtidig som vi gjerne gjenbruker bilder som andre har delt.

Når vi i redaksjonen hos NDLA trengte et bilde av et flagg til en av våre artikler brukte vi det tidligere nevnte bildet fra Wikipedia som Hans-Petter har delt. For Loddefjord idrettslag eller Fana IL ville det vært helt gratis og fritt å bruke det samme bildet – helt uten risiko for å havne i retten eller motta en stor faktura i posten.

How to access more then 500.000 public domain pictures directly from your CMS or blogg

When developing open educational resources, or just writing a blogg, most of us like to add pictures and illustrations. In the old paradigme this was both difficult and expensive. Over the last few years services offering pictures under a free license have been popping up to compete with commercial stock photo alternatives. Pixabay.com is one of these services.

The project is an international website for sharing high quality public domain photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and film footage. In January 2016, Pixabay offered about 550,000 free photos, illustrations, and vectors and almost 1,300 films. They also offer a public Application Programming Interface (API) allowing third party users and website developers to search Pixabay’s image database.

In the demo at det bottom of this blogpost I will show you how I connect to the Pixabay API from WordPress without doing any programming of my own.

Pixabay is not the only provider of pictures and it is important to be aware of the differens between Royalty free and a free license, some of the free license ones that I have used are:

Royalty-free is not the same as a free license

When images are offered royalty-free, this simply means that the purchaser pays a fee and can then use the image without paying additional royalties or licensing fees. This also means the purchaser doesn’t have to give attribution. This is the model used by paid stock photo sites. The problem with this model is that every provider has their own rules and licenses and limitations.

Within the range of Creative commons licenses that require attribution the CC BY license is the most flexible and the CC BY-NC-ND is the most restricted and the part that says Non Commercial is in fact a bit problematic on its own.

Creative Commons Zero (CC0) is the most flexible: CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright- or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.

Pixaby that i use in my blogg license most of their pictures under CC0. In this demo I will show you how easy it is to connect directly to the API at Pixabay without writing any code. It takes about 2 minutes if you are using WordPress.

How to combine the Hollywood blockbuster The Hobbit and creative commons content in the same OER

Can you combine Copyright and Creative Commons? Yes you can!

After a meeting at the EU parlament on Copyright and IP related issues in October 2015 I have received several questions regarding copyright versus creative commons and more specifically how we at Norwegian digital learning arena(NDLA) combine the use of Copyright and CC license.

The main strategy at NDLA is to release content under Creative Commons BY SA but we also use NC on pictures and Copyright in some cases.

To explain this it is best to show an example from NDLA where we do this with a combination of text from our own staff, a picture from NTB Scanpix and the Hollywood blockbuster film made by Peter Jackson called The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug.

Skjermbilde 2016-01-09 kl. 11.40.45

 

These different parts all are released under different licenses:

  1. The text by Tina Andersson Jensen is released under Creative Commons BY SA
  2. The picture of Peter Jackson(top right) by Hannibal Hanschke is released under Creative Commons BY SA NC
  3. The full length movie is released with Copyright and with the limitation that it can only be accessed from IP adresses in Norway.

When combining resources like this it is important to be accurate in marking the different parts with the correct license. In the screenshot under the three different licenses are defined. When a user puts the cursor over the icon the license and relevant information shows in the black frame. (Norwegian text)

Skjermbilde 2016-01-09 kl. 11.48.41

What license to chose?

My personal opinion is that it is best to use Creative Commons BY or BY SA. When using NC(non-commercial) there are some problems in terms of “what is non-commercial” and how this term is to be interpreted.

New Zealand director Peter Jackson arrives for the European premiere of the adventure film 'The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug' in Berlin, Germany, 09 December 2013. The film will start screening in cinemas across Germany on 12 December 2013. Photo: HANNIBAL/dpa Creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0
Photo: NTB Scanpix, HANNIBAL/dpa – Creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0

 

 

This post will come in a new version soon. The Hobbit has be replaced with The King’s Speech on ndla.no

 

What is the status on the free culture movement over a decade after the Lawrence Lessig book «free culture»?

When reading the book «free culture» for the second time(now in Norwegian) I started to reflect on how and if the situation on copyright, IP and free culture has changed since Lawrence Lessig publishes his book in 2004. Lessig was one of the early visionaries that pushed for a reform of our copyright laws and the way we practice law as the world around us is changing.  Lawrence Lessig was also one of the co-founders of Creative Commons that sparked a community sharing text, videos, pictures, learning resources and other works.

My thoughts on this is that in terms of the debate on copyright and IP one could argue that somethings haven’t changed at all, while if you look at the digital commons and the amount of digital content that is released the picture is totally different. We still read and hear stories on a weekly basis on how new laws and trade agreements effect our daily lives in terms of how we need to handle copyright. On the other hand over the last years we have seen the commons of resources growing exponentially making it easer to reuse free content.

The landscape around copyright, fair use and IP is still not easy to navigate

To elaborate I am going to start with a story that an Indian lawyer told me this week at a conference in New Delhi. In 2012 at one of the larger universities in Delhi they did as many others, they copied books and parts of books into learningresources that where used in classes.  This was based on a thought of «fair use» but still the publishers(Oxford university and others) decided to hammer on with a lawsuit. BUT……they did not go after the university, they went after the contracted photocopy shop with an 100.000 dollar lawsuit.  This was in 2012 and they got the courts to issue and «induction» ordering the activity to stop. The case is still unsolved.

This is an example that is very similar to some of the stories from Lessigs book from 2004, and the «tactics» of the copyright lobby seems to be the same, attacking the weakest link, in this case they attacked the pohotocopyer instead of the university. This is just one of many stories that shows that the landscape around copyright, fair use and IP is still not easy to navigate.

The commons is growing exponentially

«State of the Commons report» is an effort to measure the immeasurable scope of the commons by looking at the CC licensed content, along with content marked as public domain, that comprise the slice of the commons powered by CC tools. The report for 2015 was published on December 8th, 2015, and it is showing a very promising development for public domain and CC licensed content.

The number of  of CC licensed works have nearly tripled over the last 5 years

CC1

Picture from Creative Commons.

The number of public domain works have doubled over the last year

CC2

Picture from Creative Commons.

It might seem to me that the «producing part» of free culture community has moved passed that discussion and that we are in the middle of something that looks like a paradigme shift in terms of content released under a free license.

I am writing this post while attending the The Fourth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest in New Delhi and my conclusion is that we need to secure that the lawyers and activist that work to secure the free culture aspects of the copyright battle need our support, as the discussion on these problems are not at all solved.

Lawrence Lessigs book «free culture» has been crowdsourced into Norwegian

«Free Culture» is a book by law professor Lawrence Lessig that he released under a Creative Commons license. Both the book and and his work with Creative Commons puts Lawrence Lessig in a group of visionary thinker that early on understood how important it would be to have a free license also for content and how law and regulation on copyright has been moving in the wrong direction.

In november 2015 the «free culture» book was launched in Norwegian, and the cool thing about this projects is that it has been a crowdsourcing effort lead by my friend Petter Reinholdtsen. The book is now printed in a professional format and Petter has given one copy to every parlament member in Norway.

I have known Petter for a longe time as a free software activist and I know him as one of the most dedicated believers of free culture and the free and open internet in Norway. As many of the smart and skilled programmers in the free software movement he is also very focused one the implications that technology has on our every day lives. His work on this project shows ones again how dedicated Petter is to this cause.

So what is the book about?

The book documents how copyright power has expanded substantially sins the 70´s and even though the original book was released in March 2004 it is still relevant as the problem with our copyright laws being a relic from the «Gutenberg paradigme» still is not solved.

The inspiration for the title and for much of the argument of this book comes from the work of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation, and Lessig himself writes that one could argue that the book is «merely a derivative».

If you have not read the book you can find it in a PDF version her.

For more info on the project itself goto Petters blogg.