Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Open Ed Conference: "Which License for OER?"

OpenImage by kool_skatkat via FlickrSpeakers: Ahrash Bissell, Gary Lopez, Philipp Schmidt

Tired of the never-ending debate about "Which license for OER?" We agree! Perhaps we should talk about "Which assets" instead.

For too many projects, and for too long, the OER community has grappled with the proper interpretation of open-content licenses, their use, and possible sustainability strategies built around them. The Creative Commons licensing suite has emerged as the global standard for OER licensing, yet it has not lessened, let alone solved, this debate. The problem can be distilled to three key issues: 1) there is more than one CC license, 2) interpretation of some licensing terms (such as the non-commercial term) is subjective, and 3) the license chosen is widely perceived to be a key factor in determining workable sustainability models for OER use and production.

In this session, we will examine each of these issues, paying particular attention to their effects on people's perceptions of OER, the different ways in which licenses are justified and used, and the overall impact on the progress (or lack thereof) of the field.

We will also discuss whether it could be helpful to shift the frame of the debate, from "Which license?" to "Which assets?" In brief, the contention here is that the persistent focus on licensing has stifled the emergence of creative new production, use, and delivery models and reduced the impact of OER accordingly. One option is to embrace hybrid production models, where all "OER" are released with as few restrictions possible (e.g., under CC BY), but not all resources (from a given producer) need be released as OER. We are hoping that the discussion will reveal other options as well.

We are anticipating that we will be able to integrate the insights gained from this discussion into helpful resources for both existing practitioners and newcomers to the OER field.

Notes: There was no presentation here but this was a question and answer session. How do we produce OERs in a way that schools can use them. The speaker claims that copyright issues are not really an issue in the classroom. He is a proponent of the "CC by" license. He discussed the OER decision tree for organizations seeking to be involved in OER production. He thinks that a dual publication model might be a good idea. If you have some materials that are aligned by standards or that they were put together with scaffolded learning in mind. Can we publish a restricted version for the purposes of standards AND then break that up into open modules.

What do you do with faculty who want to release their materials for free but then they get picked up by someone who wants to put a license on it that will allow them to make money?

Two reasons licenses are important is that they can protect the author and to foster more reuse. There is now no "blessed sources" for texts in the open environment. We do not know enough about the sustainability issues around the licenses to know what the effects will be - we need more research.

Jaroslav made the point that BSD used to be an open source operating system that was made commercial. We e need more consensus on licenses.
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