GoOpen talk with Jöran Muuß-Merholz

Jöran Muuß-Merholz is a OER-activist that runs www.open-educational-resources.de promoting OER in Germany. Jöran joined us in Oslo this week to participate in a book sprint. This gave me the chance to sitt down with him for a GoOpen talk.

In this videoblogg Jöran talks about the situation for OER i Germany just know, and how OER has gained momentum both in politics and as a grass root movement.

Jöran Muuß-Merholz from GoOpen.no on Vimeo.

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

 

Crowdsourcing and OER to help solve the educational crises among refugees in Europe

Many of the refugees that are entering Europa right now are stranded in a situation without any access to  normal education. This is a large problem that is getting more urgent every day. The high number of new people will make it impossible to solve this educational crisis by thinking «teacher and students in a classroom» as would be the normal way of solving this in the old «Gutenberg paradigm». In this situation there are noe available teacher, there are no available learning resources and no way of closing the gap without using new methods.

I attended a conference in Berlin this week and one of the speakers at the conference talked about how it would be impossible for Germany to meet the needs of the large number of refugees in terms of education. He talked about how the government in Germany have made predictions that they need another 25.000 teachers to meet the increase in refugees and this is of course a demand that is impossible to meet.

Germany needs another 25.000 teachers to meet the increasing number of refugees

The Norwegian government and several international partners are launching an innovation competition to develop a mobile-based learning application for Syrian children. This is a great initiative but in general the problem for European public sector is that they are not built to move fast and during the first part of this crises right now they are all just working to meet the basic needs like housing and food.

At the same time we have thousands of highly skilled teachers that if given the opportunity would be a tremendous resource for these refugees. Highly educated refugees from countries like Syria are also an untapped resource that should be able to play a role in bridging this gap.

I have no quick fix to end this crises but I have som thoughts on where to start. I truly belive that a strong community of teacher across Europe working to crowdsource learning resources would make a big difference in this situation. Every singel teacher would not have to put up many ours with quality time to make this into a movement that really could make a contribution.

To organize this we would have to focus on:

  • local communities with bout teachers and refugees
  • develop learning resources that is made for learning without a teacher
  • global learning resources in a locally setting
  • reuse an re-contextualization
  • reuse across European countries
  • Work in booksprints and hackathons instead of setting op large projects

We have to make a community of communities, not another EU-funded project moving at glacial speed

I am thinking that this should NOT be ONE project with ONE plattform trying to gather all the good stuff in one place but rather a community of communities with one common goal and that is to create simple and light weight learning resources to be used in an «out of school setting».

This is one of those times when it is better to do something than nothing, and I am simply saying that starting a movement based on crowdsourcing and open educational resources would be something.

Copyright and OER in the same debate is not a good mix

Yesterday I attended a «policy breakfast» on OER at the EU parlament in Brussels. The event was be held in the European Parlament, with introductory speeches from OECD experts and with the presence of EP members.

The event focused on the European level of policymaking, with the goal of discussing possibilities of strengthening European policies and programs that support open education. These kinds of events provide an excellent opportunity to compare experiences and discuss recommendations about policies, and at the same time try to influence parlament members. The event is part of the important work of the Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt:Polska, their mission is to work towards social change and enhancing citizens’ participation through the use of digital technologies and open, cooperative models based on sharing knowledge and other resources.

When trying to bring the issues on Open education to the attention of policymakers it is hard to keep the message simple as there is a rather complex forrest of different problems and issues to be solved.

Copyright and OER in the same debate

The «policy breakfast» tried to combine two discussions, the first is on OER and the second one is copyright reform. These to issues are closely linked as they both affect what kind of content the teacher can use in the classroom and to me this seemed like a good idea when I read it in the invitation. After the meeting my conclusion is that it might have been a bit confusing for those not well wandered in this mace of legal matters and open licenses. While copyright is all about harmonizing the laws across european countries and all the legal and technical issues that comes with it, on the the discussion around Copyright the «devil is most definitely in the details».

The discussion around OER on the other hand is is much more focused on how to promote a policy that increases the development of freely licensed content and all the benefits that comes with sharing and reusing digital learning resources. For those focused on solving issues of copyright and faire use in different European countries the OER movement is only part of the solution.

My advice is to avoid mixing these to issues like we did yesterday. It would have been hard nought to get EU parlament members in the room to understand one of these issues over the course of 90 minutes. So I think it is a lesson to be learned for us OER advocates.

Creative Commons License
This work by Christer Gundersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Timeline – the history of open educational resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. For anyone that wants to understand why Open educational resources in so many ways are changing global education today, I think it is crucial to understand the history of OER.

During the last weeks I have been setting up a list of projects that I feel has had an impact on this open educational movement, and at one point I decided to make a timeline.  As many of you might be aware of the OER movement was inspired by the free software movement and open source. I have chosen to start my timeline in 1985 when Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation.

Although OER is the leading trend in distance education as a consequence of the openness movement, many OERs are not truly open. When listing these OER projects I have been very liberal in terms of witch projects to include. So this is by no means a list of OERs but rather a list of projects that have influenced the development of OERs.

Do you know about any projects that should be in the timeline? All feedback is appreciate!

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