What is free content?

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Preknowledge

Have you ever wondered about the following issues:
  • Sharing content for educational purposes is a good idea, but how can I protect my work against commercial exploitation?
  • There are so many "free" licenses -- what do all these licenses mean? Which one should I choose for an open education resource (OER) project?
  • What content resources can I legally use in WikiEducator?



These are examples of the kinds of questions we receive at WikiEducator on a regular basis. While there are no simple answers to all these questions, this tutorial will shed some light on these issues from the perspective of the values which underpin our community.



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Activity
In your view, what does the "free" mean in the concept "free content"?



Sign designating the Free Speech Area at the Los Angeles Valley College. Photo courtesy of dogwelder
When thinking about the free in free content, many people associate it with content without cost. However, the alternative meaning of free refers to personal liberty -- the ability to act without restriction.

The WikiEducator community believes that education is a common good, and that all educators should have the freedom to teach with the technologies and contents of their choice.

Consequently, for WikiEducators - free refers to the liberty to adapt, modify and use content without restriction. The fact that no royalties or licensing costs are associated with use of WikiEducator materials, is an incidental advantage and not the reason for our existence.

Distinguishing between free and non-free content is riddled with complexity and often leads to passionate and emotive debate. In this tutorial we will unpack what free content means for this community.



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Discussion

Take a look at the photograph of the Free Speech Area at the Los Angeles Valley College.
  • What are your thoughts about designating free speech areas at educational institutions?
  • What does this mean for free speech?
  • What is the relationship between free speech and democracy?
  • What is the relationship between free speech, education and educational resources?

In a face-to-face seminar you may want to discuss this in small groups, alternatively use the discussion forum specified by your facilitators for the online version of the course.