Straw Dog 3

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Questions to think about when reviewing the alternatives

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A few questions for Council members to consider:
  • Have the guidelines discussed and proposed by the WikiEducator Community List been adequately addressed / represented in the two alternatives below? Any improvements or refinements required?
  • Have the issues raised in the pre-motion discussions by Council members been addressed in the two alternatives below? Any improvements or refinements required? (You may find it easier to use a the print version of the pre motion discussions below useful when reviewing the alternatives.)
  • Has the feedback provided by members of the meeting on the respective alternatives below, been incorporated into the final drafts? Any improvements or refinements required?
  • Should the meeting consider drafting Alternative 4 as a means to achieve greater consensus?

Print version of pre motion discussions


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Clarifying procedure for calling the vote

The hold on the current motion has been lifted, and the following meeting procedure will apply:

  • The current motion reads: "I move that this Council appoint a Community Workgroup with appropriate terms of reference to prepare a proposal for integrating rich media. In preparing the proposal, the Workgroup will consider the draft guidelines, concerns and functionality outlined in the discussions at this meeting associated with the inclusion of rich media in WikiEducator OERs."
  • The current motion is a legitimate motion and can be voted on without changes.
  • The wording of the current motion can be changed (including substituting words, whole paragraphs or resolutions). The proposer can say: "I move to amend the motion by ..."
  • Any amendment tabled is also decided by normal resolution requiring a majority vote of Council.
  • Given the complexity of the motion, where possible, I encourage the meeting to achieve reasonable consensus on any amendment before tabling so as to avoid a complicated series of subsequent amendments. (WE are serving educators and have a commitment to respect diversity and freedom of choice. "Them versus us" amendments with reference to points on the value continuum are unlikely to serve education well).
  • This motion does not deal with ancillary web services as there is an approved agenda item on the table dealing with this topic separately. The motion relating to embedding 3rd party media is intended to focus on OER resources which are core to the teaching and/or learning materials. (For example, this motion does include 3rd party media like slide shows, video and audio but not, for instance, country flag counters or calendar services.)
  • Free cultural works licensing is a policy requirement for WikiEducator and we are not voting on the issues relating to free cultural works licensing. This means that any media file which is physically hosted on the WikiEducator servers must contain a link to a free and unencumbered version of the file.

Thank you for your patience and commitment to achieve the best possible outcome for WikiEducator and the learners we serve around the world. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:47, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Suggested Changes

I still like that original wording but think it should be extended to cover implementation. If we are to include the terms of reference (as Sanjaya suggested), the draft below needs a bit of work (help welcome :-) - Kim Tucker 23:51, 11 May 2010 (UTC)


The first alternative has now been "removed" from consideration by Valerie Taylor. The discussions are kept on this page for record purposes. --Wayne Mackintosh 01:04, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

First alternative

... DRAFT - I move that... I would like to say something along the lines of "WE would support implementing embedded 3rd party media now" and just get on with it. Kim suggested "go ahead in principle on pedagogical grounds and design an inclusive process for embedding rich multimedia experiences in WE." Peter suggests "go ahead in principle on pedagogical grounds, fair use and to serve as a real world challenge to test global copyrights and design an inclusive process for embedding rich multimedia experiences in WE." Please edit these words to make a motion that puts this idea forward as a motion in the acceptable form. --Valerie Taylor 22:47, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

Questions and discussion

Valerie, I think many of these points can be, or are already covered in the Third alternative.. Claims for Fair Use might need to be added to the existing copyright policy however - which is something I would strongly support, as it helps defend the many instances in Wikieducator where adherance to CC By or CC SA or PD have not been met. Leighblackall 04:02, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Hi Leigh, with reference to the fair use/dealing issues, I captured this a couple of days ago on the page for post-meeting action items --Wayne Mackintosh 06:34, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Looks like the discussions around the other alternatives have rendered this alternative unnecessary. Please consider it "removed" from consideration --Valerie Taylor 00:58, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Consensus Check

Please indicate whether or not you support the first alternative by indicating below:

Yes (Vote = +1), No (Vote = -1), unsure (Vote = 0).

  • Add your vote here

Second alternative

The following captures my understanding of where we are in the discussions, extends the on hold motion to actual implementation and specifies the terms of reference for the workgroup (Kim Tucker 23:41, 6 May 2010 (UTC)):

I move that:

The WikiEducator Community Council establish a Community Workgroup, with clear terms of reference, to formulate a proposal for the WCC to consider by special resolution on implementing a facility on WikiEducator which enables educators to embed multi-media on WikiEducator pages. Once the proposal is accepted by the Council (this may take a few iterations), the team will be required to implement the facility for testing during a trial period.
The process of embedding multi-media in pages must be simple for users, in accordance with WikiEducator valuesWE Main page, and minimise risks associated with streaming media from 3rd party repositories.
The proposal is to take account of all the discussions on the topic during the Third WikiEducator Community Council meeting.

Terms of Reference

The Workgroup's tasks will include:

  1. Refine and extend the guidelines and use cases by reviewing all submissions made during the meeting
  2. Determine investment implications for WikiEducator including partnerships, software development, bandwidth and on-going support.
  3. Start early iterations of key technical resources (e.g. batch file conversion, metadata import, ...)
  4. Formulate a proposal for the WikiEducator Community Council to consider by special resolution. [Month 3 - for all of the above]
  5. Once the proposal is approved [Month 4], and required resources are available [Month 4], release a working implementation of the required facility on WikiEducator for testing during a trial period which will end in Month 6.
    • Success indicators include (please expand on these - any ideas?):
      • The systems work, are stable, scalable, ...
      • User acceptance is high: ...
        • Usage levels are growing: ...
      • Sufficient partnerships established for the volume of media being served
      • WikiEducator servers are free of files in encumbered formats
      • No WikiEducator pages contain encumbered components
      • Community engagement with the process (file conversion, documentation, testing, UI design,...)
      • help ...?
  6. Maintain a blog of key activities which will serve as on-going reporting.

The workgroup(s) will consist of a team of educators and technical people working in close collaboration.

The WikiEducator Community Council will facilitate this process by

  • liaising with potential partners or collaborators (e.g. organisations working on similar issues such as the Wikimedia Foundation)
  • sourcing funds and other resources which may be required to implement the solution
  • supporting the workgroup in terms of reviewing early versions and approving the final proposal [Month 4] and
  • assisting in any way possible as required by the workgroup.

Guidelines and requirements

When embedding media on a WikiEducator page ensure that all of the following apply irrespective of the source:

  1. The content is a "free cultural work" (e.g. in the public domain, licensed CC-0, CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, GNU FDL, ...)
  2. Use of the content on the page constitutes a reasonable claim of Fair Use or Dealings
    • include guidelines for discretion e.g. incorporating full course with all rights reserved via RSS (see [#RSS.3F|Wayne's comment below under RSS in alternative 3): e.g. intent of the feed, contextually relevant, remixability, ...
  3. The resource is correctly attributed
  4. ... please add ...

If you have composed the resource yourself, upload the file and complete the required meta-data (e.g. attribution, license, ...). The system will directly accept free file formats, automatically convert to free file formats where this is possible, and otherwise direct the user to free software or services for file manipulation and conversion if required.

If the resource is obtained from an on-line 3rd party source, the system will incorporate existing meta-data (such as its license and attribution) automatically if possible or prompt the user, automatically convert it to a free file format, transfer the file to a trusted host and link to it. A trusted host is one with which WikiEducator has an agreement on storing and sharing media files. Such agreements will only be made with services running on GNU Affero (or other acceptably) licensed software and with providers whose privacy and other relevant policies are consistent with those of WikiEducator.

The resource may be deleted if its meta-data cannot be verified. The verification process will include:

  1. On upload, an e-mail will be sent to the person who uploaded it indicating that the file has been received and is subject to moderation for obvious violations of copyright, fair use, offensiveness, ....
  2. If any shortcomings are found, the file will be hidden from public view and the user who uploaded the file notified to update the metadata or remove the file within 5 days.
    • If no action is taken, the file will be removed.
  3. WikiEducators may report a media file if deemed inappropriate, offensive or short on meta-data, etc.. Action will be taken depending on the particular problem:
    • inappropriate, or offensive material will be deleted
    • misattributions and other meta-data shortcomings will be corrected if possible, or the file will be deleted
    • other actions depending on the particular case.

See also

Post meeting actions

  • Assuming the motion is approved, establish one or more work groups to execute the terms of reference above.
  • Support the workgroup.
  • Possible resourcing activities - people, funds, ....
  • Review the proposal
  • Approve proposal when implementation of the proposed solution is feasible and meets all criteria.

Questions and Discussion

Leigh has pointed out that WE already supports non-free formats (mp3 and flash). I suggest we use this process to correct that. In addition to automating file conversion while embedding links to multi-media, the same conversion software can automatically convert existing non-free format files on the system. - Kim Tucker 22:35, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

In due course the WE policy which allows these formats may be amended. - Kim Tucker 22:37, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

I would recommend that all alternatives on the table include a directive to convert encumbered file formats residing on the WikiEducator servers to also include a link to a free file format version of the resource. We are currently contravening our own policy and this must be fixed at the earliest possible time. The free cultural works definition specifies that: "While non-free formats may sometimes be used for practical reasons, a free format copy must be available for the work to be considered free." This applies to files hosted on the WikiEducator servers -- 3rd party media is a little different in the sense that we are not hosting the file -- but I believe as an OER project we should make a concerted effort to widen the worlds access to unencumbered versions of OER hosted on other sites in the spirit of helping your neighbour (Copy also posted on Alternative 3). --Wayne Mackintosh 00:27, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Does this only apply to "embedded" content - where the play window appears on the WE page? Is linking to non-free content going to be permitted? --Valerie Taylor 23:08, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Hi Valerie, that's an excellent question and alludes to the complexity of this decision. There is no requirement for links to external sites to adhere to the requirements of free cultural works -- this is done extensively in WikiEducator. However, where a video requires playing within a WikiEducator page for educational reasons the presumption is that this constitutes an integral component of the OER learning materials. As on open source project aiming to create learning materials freely licensed, this spirit of our project includes a moral obligation to help our neighbours by providing a link to a version of the file in open formats so that we can better serve the attainment of the 4Rs for all users. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:39, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
I think Valerie's question highlights the the problem with the arguments against embedding 3rd party media. This same point was argued back in 2007. Essentially, an embedded 3rd party media item is just a link. The file is not on Wikieducator. Just as a link is graphically enhanced as blue and clickable, an embedded item of media from Youtube is simply a preview of that file, drawn from Youtube itself. In this regard it does free software people a favour. They don't have to click a link to then discover they can't play the media. They will know - right there in the WE page. Another motivational cue for getting a free format version up. Leighblackall 09:38, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Indeed the problems, challenges and opportunities associated with embedding links to 3rd party media are about as clear as mud. At one level it is just a link -- at another level it is an integral component of the OER resource which the user may want to adapt and modify. I think we can solve the playing issue for most users by auto-detecting the OS and browser of the user and then rendering the appropriate player so that the media plays seamlessly in the user's browser. This may take a little time and is dependent on funding -- but at least is achievable from a technical point of view. I think we all recognise that its not a trivial matter to resolve the balance between the values of freedom versus the reality of the Internet. You know what they say, you can lead a horse to water but if you can make it float on its back you've achieved something :-). Regarding embedded links to 3rd party media and free cultural works licensing -- lets show the world that this can be done and why its important to do so! --Wayne Mackintosh 10:38, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Additional questions

Hi Kim, drawing on the sentiments of the lazy consensus poll and discussions here, there is an expressed desire to implement the capabilities of embedding 3rd party media now. Clearly in the medium term, WE must focus on making the conversion to free file formats in ways which are easy for the user (and there are promising open source software solutions to achieve this goal). What ideas or suggestions do you recommend so that we can address the need now -- while not compromising our values for the future? --Wayne Mackintosh 00:52, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Hi Wayne and all,
For the future (which starts in just a moment ;-), we need to start cleaning up after the technically successful media embedding experiments and work towards a "production implementation" which needs to accord with our values and policies, provide tools to help users get it right, and a process which involves users in the UI design process.
I do not think we should invite users to just "go for it" and "embed 3rd party media now". First we must at least be able to automatically convert media files which are [and to be] stored on our own servers (and adjust links to those files).
What we can do after this meeting is announce something like:
  • After a series of experiments and tests <... links to examples ...>, and intense discussion <link>, the Council has in principle agreed to enable facilities to embed media streamed from selected 3rd party sites.
  • The Council has also agreed that all media stored on WikiEducator servers will be in a free/open file format and efforts to convert media in non-free/restricted formats have begun. You can help <link>
  • Guidelines for embeding media in WikiEducator pages are in preparation <link to draft> (comments welcome)
  • In the coming weeks a workgroup will be refining the guidelines and implementing a first version of a user interface for embedding media.
  • We will then enter a community test phase during which you may try out and participate in refining the user interface.
  • Note that existing functionality to embed media in non-free/restricted file formats will be phased out the files will be converted and moved to an appropriate service.
Kim Tucker 23:33, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Hi Kim, I've read through your detailed proposal again -- and do not see any specific mention of a trail period? Is that right? If this proposal were to implement a trial period, what would be the measures for evaluating success so as to remove the beta-trial status of the motion? --Wayne Mackintosh 21:59, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
It does mention a trial period - in the first paragraph of the motion and in the terms of reference. I will elaborate .... Kim Tucker 22:11, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Elaborated under Terms of Reference - help welcome :-). - Kim Tucker 23:42, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Consensus Check

Please indicate whether or not you support the second alternative motion above for tabling and agree in principle with the proposed process.

i.e. Starting from "The WikiEducator Community Council establish a Community Workgroup, with clear terms of reference, ...".

Yes (Vote = +1), No (Vote = -1), unsure (Vote = 0). If not, indicate whether you prefer the first alternative, third alternative or neither. Discuss further under "Questions and Discussion" (above) if undecided. Thanks - Kim Tucker 01:16, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Third alternative

Wikieducator currently supports embedded 3rd party media through RSS and Kaltura. Wikieducator also supports the use of proprietary media in the form of MP3, Flash, PDF and others. Support like this is a significant point of difference for Wikieducator over Wikiversity and the Wikimedia Foundation, and so it will further this support by fully installing the Widgets extension and allowing users the full functionality of that extension.

All media being embedded will be governed by the existing copyright policy. Free and proprietary format copies will made by a volunteer working party who will list those formats as options for download along side the embedded media. Wikieducator will set up a working group to investigate the development of software that automates the creation of free and proprietary format copies. Copyright, attribution, progress notes on format copies and similar meta data will be managed by category and/or media pages.

Questions and discussion

I've lost all the links.. nor have I seen a good argument against this proposal.. someone else can do it..

  • A few open questions for us to think about ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Wayne, your questions are in a bulleted list, as apposed to a single paragraph, so I'm supposing responses in order of the list are appropriate.Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
No worries, I should have thought about layout and responses. Thanks for fixing a more user-friendly response format --Wayne Mackintosh 10:04, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Stand up for Fair Use/Dealings

Many here have called for Wikieducator to do more for fair use/dealings. Here's a video on youtube showing what Youtube does to support Fair Use claims <flash>file=AVPLAYER.swf|width=425|height=355|scale=noscale|salign=lt|flashvars=?posterframe=../../images/c/ce/MVI_4848.jpg&showvolume=1&showprogress=1&showplay=1&autoplay=0&fullscreen=0&dur=179&medianame=</flash> PS. to get videos from Youtube in, paste the URL into the code here, but replace the "watch?v=" with "v/" Leighblackall 05:49, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Had a good chuckle with this post and demo :-). Fair use/dealing is an important issue, and we have flagged this as a post meeting action item -- I think if we try and address fair use/dealing within this motion, we'll get bogged down in a set of issues that will delay progress and consensus on embedding 3rd party media. Also, using the FLV player does create problems for free software users who run unencumbered systems -- they won't be able to see the video. Let's agree to leave the real challenges (opportunities) for later. A good starting point is developing a code of practice for fair use/fair dealing, but we will need good legal counsel to tackle the international dimensions. This is in the too hard box for now -- but on the action items for the future. In jest what is the license of the video ;-) --Wayne Mackintosh 06:13, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Trial period

    • Some members have suggested a trial period --- Does this motion need to specify a trial period, i.e. a safety net if things go wrong or in case WE need time to get stuff sorted ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I think so. Open the extension for a trail period of 12 months. This would give WE enough time to consider the impact the extension has on the user base and innovations as a result. Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps its better to specify shorter monitoring points (eg each quarter) with the option to extend the trial period. In addition defining the measures and parameters of success would be useful. Eg number of embedded links ==> work party convertions, progress on automated solutions, some measure of identified problems etc. In this way it will be possible to remove the trial period earlier, while being able to address any problems before they get to big to deal with?--Wayne Mackintosh 10:07, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Hi Leigh, with reference to the trial period, what are the measures for evaluating success with regard to removing the trial status? --Wayne Mackintosh 22:01, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Generic guidelines vs naming specific extensions

Reading the current motion, it refers specifically to the Extensions widget. What happens if a better extension is developed in the next few months and released under a different name? I think the intent of the motion is to enable the embedding of 3rd party rich media -- not specifically the actual technologies used to achieve this. The trouble with naming the actual technology means we will need to convene a Council meeting to consider any changes at an operational level which may be something as simple as using an alternative for improved security. Having clear guidelines and/or principles means we will be better prepared for rapid changing technologies. --Wayne Mackintosh 22:16, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Thinking practically

Another thought -- with reference to thinking about the practicalities of implementation. During the interim phase between the "manual work-party" phase to automated software conversions, I'm thinking about the reality of workload and capacity challenges. The more we can automate on the WE server side -- the less work required by the work party. Clearly, from a practical point of view we would prefer hosting sites where we can automate the audit trail for licensing. It's not always easy to search for copyrights where these are not clearly identifiable on the site. At the moment, from what I can see, Youtube would be an example. While not ideal -- we do have a workaround to legitimately harvest a Youtube video in the mean time where the licensing is clearly posted, as in the case of the Kahn video example copied over to the Commons (incidentally, in this case the license is not posted on the Youtube site). Sites which support CC licensing like BlipTV and Slideshare makes life a lot easier for the folk who must validate and verify the license. During the startup phase -- shouldn't we consider restricting the extension to sites where we minimise the workload and administration until we get the automated conversions sorted? --Wayne Mackintosh 22:40, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

OER vs ancillary services

    • The Widget extension includes features for things like google calendar. Should the motion consider a distinction between OER which is core (eg SlideShare) versus ancillary services like Google Calendar where a requirement for free file formats is potentially less of an issue? ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
No I don't think so. This highlights the problems with the free formats only argument. For a lot of media, there simply isn't a free format, and we would be silly to limit an individual's use media on the basis of a free format option not being available. Certainly - where or when a free format option becomes available, we should work to include that.Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
mmm not sure if I agree on this one. The old adage of distinguishing between urgent versus important may help us think about this. From a risk management point of view, regarding core OER materials required for learning, placing a higher importance on a free file format version available for remix scenarios seems sensible. For example, a google calender insert for a local course schedule seems less important for OER remix than a slide show on slideshare if you see what I mean. The widget potentially opens up a can of worms in sofar as free cultural works is concerned. Managing our risk as we test the waters seems to be a reasonable compromise. What do you think? --Wayne Mackintosh 10:13, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
"Guidelines for ancillary web services" (a separate item on the agenda) and the widget option do indeed open a can of worms (such as privacy issues - raised in the privacy policy discussion). The second alternative motion includes consideration of which partner sites WE would approve. This would be useful input for policy on ancillary web services. I suggest we separate the concerns but recognise the interactions (between 3rd party media links, ancillary web services and privacy) (and keep communicating across the relevant workgroups). - Kim Tucker 12:35, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Hi Leigh, been sleeping over the OER vs ancillary web services thing. In terms of our agenda there was an intention to separate these discussions as two items on the agenda. From procedural perspective, I'm wondering whether we should keep to the approved agenda on this item? I think there are notable differences between an Ancillary web services vs OER -- for example providing the ability for a user to exercise a personal choice to activate a Google search bar (which relies on non-free software), is different from core OER learning materials. In the former, we could think about guidelines which enable user choice -- eg a little custom Javascript on user preferences which then doesn't force a decision on a user who feels strongly about the free software issues -- this is easier to achieve with ancillary services than core OER. Similarly, something like a flag counter may be less of an issue than GoogleMaps which is non-free learning content. As I mentioned -- this is about as clear as mud, particularly with open APIs to all rights reserved content -- but having some generic guidelines which express our intents as an OER project would be useful for the future when new technolgies and extensions are released. Thoughts? --Wayne Mackintosh 22:10, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Grace periods

    • What do we do in the interim phase (before the automated software is developed) where for example the volunteer working party is unable to convert all the links to embedded third party media into open file formats. This is a capacity/workload issue. One option might be to say, give a grace period of say 6 days for the volunteer working party to do the conversion, If not completed by this time, send an email to the original author saying our community does not currently have enough volunteers to convert the file -- and asking the user whether they would mind doing this in the spirit of helping your neighbour? No harm in growing our volunteer community and educating our user base about open standards and free file formats :-) ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Something like that, but I would suggest a template that is added over a page that states that the page contains embedded media that does not yet have free format download options. This message prompts the reader to help. 6 days is far too short.. a grace period should be more like months, and a volunteer group gets together periodically to go through the pages listed by the template, and to prioritise pages for conversion. I think with the right design, the graphic can be quite motivational (and educational) for getting more people to use free formats.Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Yip I like the idea of a compelling graphic to urge action -- (I hope Sunshine may consider a gift to WE in this regard :-)). I also see that 6 day's may be a little tight. Perhaps we need to stage the reminders. After a week, a gentle request. After two weeks a reminder, after a month a 2nd reminder, and then a final "warning" after 3 months. I also like the idea of finding some mechanism to prioritise pages for conversion. Good suggestion. --Wayne Mackintosh 10:19, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Using Alt2 guidelines

    • Are there any guideline suggestions contained in Alternative 2 that would be appropriate for Alternative 3? Some members of council suggested that we should have clear guidelines for the workgroup. ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I think many can be used for the workgroup, but extend the guidelines so that both a common proprietary AND free format is available for download. I also think that workgroup should consider bandwidth issues, and preference the storage of those files on and Wikimedia Commons (although WMC will not take proprietary format options)Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
In the case of third party media, the proprietary format is generically available for download from the host site. The issue from WE's perspective is to find ways to promote a free file format version in addition to the proprietary formats that can be downloaded from the host site. This is not a trivial issue from from a licensing perspective, As you know a CC license is irrevocable -- once published, the author cannot retract the license. However, many sites like Flikr, BlipTV, Slideshare etc -- allow the users to change the license (which technically is not aligned with CC licensing) and this opens up litigation risks for downstream users of the resource. I think that its better for the OER world to capture a free format version of the artifact and host this on a reliable and trusted site. In this way we ensure that there will always be a free version available for society. Sure one way to mitigate this risk is to load the resource onto multiple repositories -- but not all users do this. --Wayne Mackintosh 00:43, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

It would be helpful if you could indicate which of the guideline suggestions are useful -- or specify a requirement in the draft motion for the workgroup to consider these in their deliberations. --Wayne Mackintosh 10:28, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Is PDF comparable to FLV?

    • PDF is international standard which is openly published enabling free software developers to code to the specification (Hence the ability for OO to export to PDF). While a proprietary format, it is openly published and falls into a different category in the sense that its an openly published standard. Do you think PDF should be listed in the same context of FLV and MP3 examples in the motion? ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC) use a truly free and open format, DJVu. I'm not suggesting that we use that instead of PDF, but its just to highlight that it is silly to restrict ourselves on format. We should aim to support as many as possible, and leave it to the individual user to decide what they will list and what they will access. Given the copyrights, nothing stops someone making another version if they want pure free formats or whatever. Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Sure, good point. Though pdf is a good example to test the case, because most folk are familiar with the format and the issues relating to how editable pdf formats are in reality. If we have a source that's free and open it makes remix easier. For example, the book collection give the user the option to download pdf or odt (although the current odt download sucks and need tweaking to get an improved 1:1 representation). Also II'm very keen for the OERF to progress better collaboration among all the players in this space including WMF, OSI, the Archive, Mozilla, Open Video Alliance etc in getting solutions on the table --Wayne Mackintosh 10:22, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Offering files in the "common" format and the "open" format will really help users to understand that there are multiple format choices and allow/encourage users to at least consider the open format option. I didn't even know about FLV until this discussion - just not something that comes up in conversation, although this is obviously important. This is also WE educational opportunity. :o) --Valerie Taylor 13:39, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
The other format on the horizon which I think is going to become increasingly important for WE is the ePub format used for e-books (also an open format). Technically, at least from an export perspective we can start thinking about building this capability using the Collection extension. Open textbooks are a significant area in the OER world which we need to solve as well :-) --Wayne Mackintosh 23:00, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

What formats does WE support now?

    • Which other encumbered file formats are "supported" in WikiEducator other than MP3 and FLV? We need to get this right so we know what files to provide in free format alternatives in addition to the proprietary format ----Wayne Mackintosh 06:42, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
A task for the working group to discover... Leighblackall 09:32, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Sure, was just wanting to check if you were aware of any other formats -- to the best of my knowledge, MP3, FLV and now that I think of it SWF are the only "offending" culprits. Relatively easy to resolve -- a few smart scripts and bot work can solve this problem. --Wayne Mackintosh 10:26, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
I also posted this comment @ Alternative 2. I would recommend that all alternatives on the table include a directive to convert encumbered file formats residing on the WikiEducator servers to also include a link to a free file format version of the resource. We are currently contravening our own policy and this must be fixed at the earliest possible time. The free cultural works definition specifies that: "While non-free formats may sometimes be used for practical reasons, a free format copy must be available for the work to be considered free." This applies to files hosted on the WikiEducator servers -- 3rd party media is a little different in the sense that we are not hosting the file -- but I believe as an OER project we should make a concerted effort to widen the worlds access to unencumbered versions of OER hosted on other sites in the spirit of helping your neighbour. --Wayne Mackintosh 00:28, 11 May 2010 (UTC)


My understanding is that embedding an (open standard) RSS feed into a WE page would show linked headings with abbreviated summary text indicating what you will find if you click on the external link. So, I don't think it would be a problem for alternative 2 and its free file formats. It might be necessary to check if there are any conditions associated with using (embedding) a particular feed, but an external link with a short description seems like a "fair use". Can anyone confirm this or clarify if there any relevant problems with RSS? - Kim Tucker 13:17, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

I don't know much about this but I understand that some people are looking to use RSS for a number of functions within the sphere of OERs. I would very much like to see RSS feeds or something similar being part of the WE solution. --Valerie Taylor 13:51, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
WE supports RSS feeds (essentially an XML structured data feed). There are many examples in WE, for example this blog feed or the Discussion list feed, on the OERNZ page which pulls the latest posts and links back to the discussion groups. As Kim says fair use/dealing would cover most uses -- but it can potentially move into grey areas where for example a whole lesson licensed under all rights reserved is pulled into WE via RSS. The issue for us is the right to remix the learning materials without the need to purchase a software license or give up user freedoms to participate. I think in these grey areas we should use discretion, for instance: What is the intent of the feed? Does is consistent an integral component of the OER that another educator would want to remix? etc. Perhaps we should work on a code of practice to provide some direction on how we can exercise discretion on these issues. RSS itself is an open standard in that it is an XML -- so not a problem from a free software perspective. --Wayne Mackintosh 20:38, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
I was also thinking about outbound RSS feeds - so WE pages could be tagged for discovery / harvesting / inclusion in catalogs and directories of open objects as well as OERs. --Valerie Taylor 22:30, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Some people have been using the RSS function to embed media from Leighblackall 04:20, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
I have used the RSS feature to embed BlipTv. --Nellie Deutsch 04:35, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

Compromising Values for Convenience

The following addresses some of the points above in terms of values (alternative 2 addresses all these concerns):Kim Tucker 00:16, 11 May 2010 (UTC):

Motion 3: ... "Support like this [that WE embeds media in non-free formats] is a significant point of difference for Wikieducator over Wikiversity and the Wikimedia Foundation":

The fact that WE already distributes media in proprietary formats does not make it right. IMO only free file format media should appear embedded in a WE page.
Compromising values for convenience will not endear us to those true to our shared values (such as the Wikimedia Foundation) - barrier to collaboration. IMO, it is also not the message we want to give our learners and educators [that it is ok to compromise values for convenience].

Motion 3: Regarding the Widgets extension:

Rather focus on values-based principles for ancillary web services, then decide if any particular widget and which of its services are appropriate.

Trial periods:

The required trial periods, required by both alternatives (2 and 3), are enough time to "hook" thousands (perhaps millions) of users. Let's have our users engaging in free culture practices in a way that is consistent with our stated values at all levels, rather than practices which seem consistent but compromise those values at a subtle level - playing into the hands of those who oppose the free culture movement.
"The balance of convenience and freedom is a slippery fish".
Rather, take this opportunity to clean up (convert all non-free format files and adjust affected links). The second alternative makes the conversion completely seamless and transparent to the user and includes a clean-up activity - see use cases.
Why then, don't Wikieducators simply use Wikiversity and be done with it? Strict adherence to free formats is what the Wikimedia Foundation does. Wikieducator prides itself on working with the education sector specifically. This means acknowledging many of the barriers and issues and working with them. Meeting people halfway, keeping teaching and learning in the fore in terms of priorities, and encouraging people to adopt free formats is in line with Wikieductor's work with people in the education sector. Putting free formats up as a value above all else, contradicts that work, and leaves Wikieducator with no obvious point of difference from Wikiversity. Leighblackall 04:27, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Personal reflection

Allow me for a moment to remove my hat as chair for this comment. I present this reflection in my personal capacity which has no bearing on my official role as an elected officer of Council. As many of you know, I serve on the International Advisory Group of the WMF, and I have the utmost respect for the WMF and all its projects and I continue to offer my services and expertise to the WMF projects in helping them achieve greater success as an active partner in the free culture movement. I have never viewed WikiEducator as a project in competition with Wikiversity, Wikibooks, or Wikipedia. I see WikiEducator as a node contributing to the global success of the OER ecosystem. WikiEducator is different in that we serve a more formal (and conservative) professional education audience as attested by our site statistics. The structure of our project is different in the sense that we are organised around a community of educators rather than the objects we produce (eg Learning materials, Books, Encyclopeadia articles etc.). You'll find more info on this "product differentiation" in the OER Foundation's strategic plan. Just a short personal note to say that I'm uncomfortable with the formulation of a WE motion on the basis of providing a point of difference "for Wikieducator over Wikiversity and the Wikimedia Foundation", I believe we should be working together as collaborative partners in the OER ecosystem. Speaking candidly we will need 100 plus Wikiversities and 100 plus WIkieducator projects if we are serious about providing free alternatives to the world's inventory of clolsed education materials. We rely heavily on the innovations of the Mediawiki software platform and the experience of the WMF projects. You know what they say -- ideas want to be free -- they don't care where they're hosted ;-) Just a personal reflection which I want to state for the record. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:28, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Point of difference doesn't have to be read as a competative thing. It has more to do with how a user chooses where they will invest their energies. Myself as an example, I have directed more of my energies into Wikiversity this past year. I work on Wikiversity because there are a greater number of people there who understand the MediaWiki software, are able to think outside the education square more, and because it has a closer link to Wikipedia. Unless Wikieducator does find a point of difference, then it leaves users like me wondering what and why.. ultimately dilutting the impact of both efforts. If Wikiversity had the numbers that Wikieducator has recruited, it might not be subject to the criticism it gets from Wikimedia folk. If Wikieducator had the skill base that Wikiversity had, it might be further down the line with its development of "free elearning content" as its says here in the top left. Wikieducator has the opportunity - given its intimacy with formal education sector practitioners, to take the reality of media use on, and play the role of slowly transitioning more people to free formats. Wikieducator might even do more in delivering experienced users into Wikiversity and the Wikimedia projects.. Leighblackall 04:37, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
I realise that you don't mean point of difference as a "competitive" notion -- but some readers of our deliberations in search for a solution might read that this is a competitive issue (Which is why this is a personal comment and not a statement from the Chair to change the wording) -- As you know over the years there have been assertions in the Wikiversity community that WE is trying to take the "rightful" place of Wikiveristy. Some folk have questioned what I might say on a vote to close Wikiversity ;-) and for the record, I would not vote on the closure of any open education project -- So just wanted to have clear public statement upfront that this motion is about serving education and OER in the sense there are multiple paths and approaches to widening access to free content materials. This is potentially a win-win for both projects - resources this initiative and motion "creates" and converts into free file formats (and potentially mirrored and hosted on the Commons) are for the benefit of both communities. That's gotta be good for education. On a lighter vein -- the "free" in "free elearning content" assumes access to free file formats :-) --Wayne Mackintosh 05:40, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
(to Leigh and all - Kim Tucker 23:11, 12 May 2010 (UTC))
Reasons for choosing between WE and WV vary. On one occasion, I chose WikiVersity on account of a cool template which I could not get working easily on WikiEducator. On another occasion, I was drawn to the community of educators growing around a specific topic. I have also worked on both platforms concurrently on the same topic. For me, the decision was never about file formats, as both platforms respected my learners' freedom.
We are not "Putting free formats up as a value above all else". This discussion is about embedding media in WikiEducator pages. The second alternative is simply insisting that we do this in a principled way that accords with our values. - Kim Tucker 23:11, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
Reflecting on "While non-free formats may sometimes be used for practical reasons, a free format copy must be available for the work to be considered free." (from the free cultural works definition):
That would be a minimum requirement.
Embedding non-free file formats and requiring users of free software (who value freedom by that choice or who cannot afford proprietary software options) to go the extra mile is making them second class citizens.
Does WE stand for freedom? Or, does WikiEducator just comply with this minimum requirement of the free cultural works definition and then serve up non-free formats (in-/directly) as the primary option for the benefit of those who don't (i.e. indirectly, owners of software patents and proprietary codecs, elements of the media industry who gain by enclosing the commons, ...)?
IMO, WikiEducator should make a stand, embed only free file formats in pages and direct users of non-free software to easily installable free software plugins and tools for viewing and editing media.
The values being upheld in this way, which have impact on a broader social level, include freedom, equality, inclusivity, and self-determination.
If you are still wondering where I am coming from in all this, please read "Say Libre" if you have not already done so, and follow some of the links therein. I hope that the underlying principles will be embraced in this decision. Thanks - Kim Tucker 23:11, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Consensus Check

Please indicate whether or not you support the Third alternative by indicating below:

Yes (Vote = +1), No (Vote = -1), unsure (Vote = 0).

  • +1 Leighblackall 03:53, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
  • -1 Kim Tucker 13:04, 10 May 2010 (UTC) - in my view, unlike the 2nd, this alternative conflicts with our values, raises privacy and other issues associated with ancillary web services, and carries higher legal risk
  • Yes Valerie Taylor 13:53, 10 May 2010 (UTC) It seems to me that WE are coming together here. I don't think WE should prevent well meaning educators from doing everything they can in creating and promoting open education. But WE do have an opportunity to educate everyone (including ourselves) about free and open media. WE need to do everything WE can to support the use of and conversion to open media without dampening creativity and enthusiasm.
  • +1 * Christine Geith 17:12, 10 May 2010 (UTC) With media, I think we are at risk of turning our WE values into a barrier - given the practicalities of the options today. I like the clarity of Straw Dog 2 and see it as a potential future state, but #3 accomodates the needs of today. As long as we use this incongruence to educate, inform, and move towards #2, I support it for a trial period long enough to have test cases, long enough to address potential privacy issues with the Privacy Policy Working Group, and long enough for any other issues, including potential legal issues, to surface. A year, proposed by Leigh may be too long, but a quarter, proposed by Wayne may be too short. I would suggest, six months, or until the next general Council Meeteing, whichever is longer.
  • +1 Rob Kruhlak 05:21, 11 May 2010 (UTC) I am in favor but leaning towards a restriction of the widget to sites that support CC licenses for the trial period (or until an automated procedure can be worked out) to make administration easier. I prefer a 6 month trial over 3 months or 1 year.
As Chair I won't be casting a lazy consensus poll vote --- but want to note your suggestion for restricting the widget to sites that support CC licenses as this appeared to be the feeling coming from the community in February 2010 when WE asked the community for their thoughts and inputs. It would be good to see the tentative guidelines that have emerged from this community discussion incorporated into the motion being prepared for tabling at the meeting. -- Wayne Mackintosh 06:04, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Fourth alternative -- a possible "consensus" ammendment?

A sub-section created for Council should the meeting decide to work on an "improved" alternative combining the strengths of both proposals (Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 above) in moving forward with a consensus proposal. --Wayne Mackintosh 21:48, 11 May 2010 (UTC) Possibly starting with rewording, expansions, clarifications of the existing motion on the table ....

I move that this Council appoint a Community Workgroup with appropriate terms of reference to prepare a proposal for integrating rich media. In preparing the proposal, the Workgroup will consider the draft guidelines, concerns and functionality outlined in the discussions at this meeting associated with the inclusion of rich media in WikiEducator OERs.

Drawing on the original motion and discussions, I've been thinking about what a possible consensus amendment would look like to enable ensure that embedding of 3rd party media moves forward in a way that creates a win-win scenario for all involved. Not easy. Here is my attempt:

A first draft for a "consensus" amendment ...

I move that Council implement the ability to embed third party media by installing appropriate extension(s) (for example the Widgets extension ) in the near future. Council shall also appoint a Community Workgroup with appropriate terms of reference to prepare a proposal for integrating rich media in the medium term without delaying the interim ability for embedding links to 3rd party media. In preparing the proposal, the Workgroup must consider the draft guidelines, concerns and functionality outlined in the discussions at this meeting associated with the inclusion of rich media in WikiEducator OERs in accordance with the following terms of reference:

  • A working prototype within 6 - 8 weeks which allows embedding to rich media sites which support Creative Commons licensing and down loadable versions of the source file (proprietary or free format files).
  • An interim "working party" strategy to assist with the conversion of files into free formats within 6 -8 weeks.
  • A trial period of 6 months which can be extended to a year with reports to Council half yearly.
  • The development of a detailed proposal for automated solutions of file conversions in accordance with WikiEducator values
  • The development of procedures and resources to support and educate users about free file formats.
  • ...--Wayne Mackintosh 04:42, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Questions and discussion

Does this improve on the current amendment on the table?

  • This removes technical implementation problems (getting templates, metadata etc sorted) without restricting a solution to embed links to 3rd party media. It also restricts the implementation to 3rd party sites where copyright is clear and can be audited. The ability to download files will ensure that we have a path to create an automated process for converting files into free file formats. It also addresses the procedural problem we have regarding ancillary web services in that we don't delay the ability to embed links to core OER materials until we've had the chance to debate ancillary web services --Wayne Mackintosh 06:55, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Hi Wayne and all,
Yes, this is an improvement, though I still stand by the comment with my last vote which I think indicates a cleaner more direct route to what I believe will emerge as the policy-supported goal:
"... IMO WikiEducator should continue to improve the user experience (including media rich experiences) in accordance with existing policies, taking into account these concerns. Carefully formulated policies on privacy and ancillary web services (two separate items on the agenda) are pre-requisites for approval of the amended motion as currently worded."
The implication being that WikiEducator go ahead (with urgency, in accordance with existing policy) and make it easy for users to embed free format media, with links to free software plugins for those who need them for viewing/listening/etc., and develop the tools to clean up our servers (convert files and adjust links to them). The learning in this process will make it easy to implement the on-the-fly conversions for users during embedding 3rd party free cultural works media which start off in a non-free format.
In the meantime, work on harmonised policies on embedding 3rd party links, privacy and ancillary web services.
I believe this can be done in 6 months (or less as indicated in alternative 2), assuming we have the resources (for software development and volunteers to drive the workgroups). Then we will be in a position to embed ancillary web services etc. in accordance with the new policies.
This approach might also pre-empt other issues (depending on which way the policies are formulated). For example, telling users to go ahead and embed non-free format media and later telling them it is against WE policy to host them might be confusing; and some users might enthusiastically produce many great learning resources in non-free formats and be disappointed when they find WE automatically converting them. Better to clarify our intentions as soon as possible. (can anyone improve the above further with this in mind?) - Kim Tucker 08:33, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

I agree with the way Wayne has drafted it!! Savithri Singh 17:12, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes it is better and seems to be a reasonable compromise. Rob Kruhlak 03:07, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

See Also

(iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Google, Nokia, Xandros, and others - not included.. nor does it solve problems of educators and students who have no options to install software on school computers). (Point added by Leigh)
Excellent point, which is why I think WE needs to be smart in finding ways to ensure that both free formats (as well as other closed formats) are available for download. Starting we free file formats (in the case of rich media) -- makes it easier for us to build community and provide the funding necessary for conversions into other formats in the case of rich media. Think of the equivalent OOconvertor service WE have for docs for rich media linked to 3rd party sites. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:28, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
The reality is that millions of people have mobile phones and similar devices. While they are not the target audience for WE content, we should keep them in mind as we move forward. We may need to reconsider the web/computer focus/mandate at some time down the road. Let's be sure we watch these platforms as the balance of relevance may shift. --Valerie Taylor 14:02, 10 May 2010 (UTC)