Podcast with Purvi Shah talking about Storyweaver

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

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.

 

Plateselskapene eier ikke SKAM!

De internasjonale plateselskapene eier ikke NRK serien SKAM men de styrer rettighetene til musikken som brukes i serien. Dette gjør at de nå kan tvinge frem geoblokkering av serien slik at den bare kan vises i Norge.

Skam er en nettbasert dramaserie som handler om livet til en rekke ungdommer på Hartvig Nissens skole i Oslo. Det har hittil kommet ut tre sesonger i serien som nå også har økende popularitet i utlandet. Den første episoden av Skam er en av de mest sette enkeltepisodene på NRK TV (nett-tv) noensinne og i gjennomsnitt har nettsiden 1,2 millioner unike brukere per uke og mer enn en million personer strømmer de ukentlige episodene.

Serien bruker musikk fra flere norske artister med den konsekvens at disse artistene får en helt unik profilering – også i utlandet. Et eksempel er låten «5 fine frøkner» som gjorde et voldsomt byks på Youtube etter den ble brukt i serien, låten passert også 10 millioner avspillinger på Spotify i desember 2016. Artisten Gabrielle Leithaug jublet selvsagt og hennes manager, Lars Kåre Hustoft, omtalte dette som hyggelig julegave i så sent som desember 2016. IFPI Norge og plateselskapene på sin side klarer ikke helt å se fordelen med at deres artister får denne typen gratis reklame.

Musikkrettigheter skaper problemer

Det første tegnet til problemer kom allerede i november 2016 da NRK ble tvunget til å nekte teksting av serien til engelsk på grunn av musikkrettigheter. Dette skapte en storm på Twitter som endte i et opprop som fikk 2500 underskrifter. Serien kunne altså vises i utlandet via nettet, men ikke tekstes.

Sist uke tok saken en ny vending når NRK mottok krav fra IFPI Norge om umiddelbar geoblokkering av serien slik at den bare kan vises i Norge. IFPI er foreningen for de internasjonale plateselskapene og deres datterselskap i Norge. IFPI skal jobbe på vegne av artistene, men man kan virkelig spørre seg om de gjør det i denne saken.

Dette har selvsagt skapt engasjement hos mange som elsker serien og som mener det er viktig at den vises utenfor Norge. Med den enorme oppslutningen SKAM har fått i utlandet er det vanskelig å unngå å tenke på serien som en god eksportartikkel. Jeg synes denne Facebook kommentaren til Anne Siri Koksrud Bekkelund oppsummerer dette fortreffelig.

Skam er jo vår beste eksportartikkel siden trelast, og bygger relasjoner med Kina bedre enn offentlig pisking av Dalai Lama ville gjort. Samtidig sprer serien solide norske verdier som likestilling, girl power, homo-rettigheter og ungdomsfylla! Noen. Må. Gjøre. Noe. Nå. – Anne Siri Koksrud Bekkelund

Creative Commons løser problemet

Den gode nyheten er at det finnes en løsning på dette problemet når NRK nå jobber med en ny sesong av SKAM. Den digitale delingskulturen er i dag godt utviklet. Denne delingskulturen bygger på at musikk 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 musikk, 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. Flere av de mest brukte CC lisensene tillater også kommersiell gjenbruk.  

Creative Commons lisens på Urørt?

NRK P3, som produserer SKAM, driver også nettstedet Urørt.no. Urørt er et nettsted hvor uetablerte norske artister og band kan promotere musikken sin, de beste blir også spilt på NRK radio. Ved å gi artistene mulighet til å lisensiere musikken med Creative Commons på Urørt.no kan NRK skape en unik mulighet for de artistene som ønsker å bidra til den globale delingskulturen. Samtidig vil NRK på sin side få mulighet til å bruke musikken med den forutsetning at opphavsmannen blir kreditert. Artister som ønsker det burde selvsagt få lov å legge ut musikk på en lukket lisens.

NRK som tross alt er finansiert med lisenspenger fra fellesskapet burde her tørre å tenke nytt. Målet må være at SKAM skal nå så mange som mulig og når musikkrettigheter står i veien for dette må man ganske enkelt komme opp med en løsning som gir maksimal eksponering av serier som produseres med midler fra fellesskapet.

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.

The simple magic of reuse, sharing and 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.

[h5p id=”13″]

 

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.

[h5p id=”10″]

 

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.

[h5p id=”11″]

 

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:

[h5p id=”14″]

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.

 

OER Global Search – makes it easy for you to find open educational resources

The last couple of weeks I have been working on a project that I have called OER Global Search. The idea behind OER Global Search is to make it easy for you to find educational resources that allows reuse, re-contextualization and translation.

It can be very difficult for users to distinguish between what is called Open educational resources and other services that simply provide content for free. Even some websites that use the term Open in their name are not always offering content with a free license. For individuals or projects that plan to change, re-mix or translate content it is important to find OER, not free as in gratis.

OER Global search solves this by using what is called Google Custom Search targeting 15 to 20 of the most widely used websites that are not only free, but actually offer content with free license.

The most well known OERs are MIT OpenCourseWare, Khan Academy and CK-12.org. Here is a complete list of the service that are included in the search. http://searchoer.com/list-of- oer.html

We are seeing a dramatic increase open educational resources covering different subjects at all levels. At the launch of our service a keyword such as “Algebra” returns 387.000 results. The technical development of the service is fairly simple so the main focus will be to develop the search further by identifying good services in different languages.

The main language on the web is English but we also included some resources languages Hindi, Spanish, Norwegian, Portuguese and French.

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.