User talk:Leighblackall/Open educational resources and practices

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Good Resource

Hi...a very informative and compact resource on OER..I would like to link to your page for my OER for Engineering Courses.--Chinmayee Bhange 06:35, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

A few thoughts on your resource

Hey Leigh this is coming along rather nicely. I'm very pleased to see a resource of this nature that is designed to enlighten educators on some of issues relating to free (libre) content. A few thoughts and observations:

  • The concept of an OER is somewhat problematic. As you know too well <smile> not all OER's are open! The concept was coined by a UNESCO meeting in 2002 - somewhat later than the free content movement. David Wiley has a reasonable summary of the developments in this area: [1].
  • I find your treatment of copyleft within the range of "OER" initiatives unbalanced.
    • You have openly declared that copyright is the headache in free content - yet you advocate the use of a copyright license - CC-BY. I don't see any treatment of the public domain declaration which is not a copyright license. An open question - why doesn't OP advocate the use of PD assuming that there is an institutional aversion to copyright;
    • You have singled out the share-alike restriction yet you have no critique of the attribution restriction in your argument. Interestingly - the CC no longer allows attribution as an optional restriction, it comes standard with all CC licenses - however when CC started BY was an optional restriction.
    • You have not critiqued any of the more problematic CC restrictions, for example ND or NC in this resource. I feel that it is more productive to distinguish between free and non-free alternatives of the CC licenses.
    • In my view a balanced account of free content would include the phenomenal growth of Wikipedia -- a top ten website -- which uses a copyleft license. Why did this happen? Why is Wikipedia more popular than Flickr or the CC website itself?
    • In your references, I noted a citation referring to the OU OpenLearn project - but I see no critique against the NC restriction - yet you have singled out the share alike provision arguing that "copyleft mechanisms should be defined seperately in any definition of free cultural works". In my view - a more productive avenue would be to distinguish between the rights of the resource in comparison to the rights of future users - with a very clear delineation between free and non-free licenses. The problem is that a license is a manifestation of copyright. A copyleft license is also a manefestation of copyright - a smart hack using copyright law in ways that the lawyers never intended.

Leigh - I see your point that the sharealike provision is a restriction on future users. Similarly attribution is also a restriction on future users. The point is that both CC-BY and CC-BY-SA resource permit future users to freely adapt, modify and distribution the resource (the actual content.) However - if you're advocating user freedoms - then you should be on the bandwagon to promote PD - not a copyright license!

Hope this helps

Cheers, --Mackiwg 02:58, 7 May 2007 (CEST)

Thanks Mackiwg. I guess you are referring to the wider conversation on all this, as this article doesn't contain all the things you are critiquing yet? I'm still not sure where I'll take this. I need to finish all the reading on OER and free culture. I started reading the definition of free cultural works and jotted a note about my initial impression after reading only the summary and intro. Later I plan to look more closely at the signs of motivation for free licensing - such as the interesting comparison in the FlickrCC database comparing CC BY with CC BY SA.
As far as the attribution goes, I see this as far less of a restriction than SA and more as a moral right.. I need to read up on the status of moral rights these days, but I remember it was trotting along back in 2005. Public Domain is of course the most free, and perhaps OP might consider PD after a short period of time like 5 or 10 years... I have no idea. At the moment, attribution is a powerful motivator, and as I've said in other places - I think it is the real force behind free culture - compared to the SA mechanism at least
The good work of yourself and others has already done the critiquing of the other "non free" licenses. I don't plan to go very far into those accept to mention briefly that they are rightly considered "non free" and refer to your work. At the moment, the focus of the section I am working on at the moment is what OER are, and what free culture is according to the lead activists, and what it might be in reality - according to the mass participants. My contention at this point is whether what you say is true, that: "The point is that both CC-BY and CC-BY-SA resource permit future users to freely..." when I think SA overly restricts that freedom, while attribution does not. Of course PD is the most ideal - but by focusing on copyrights like this, I hope to argue that attribution is the thing growing free culture more than the legality of SA.
I also hope to find some stuff about pirate economies, states without copyrights, acts of civil disobedience and the like, but I think that, while an even more interesting topic to look at, is outside the zone of development I find myself working in at present...--Leighblackall 07:13, 7 May 2007 (CEST)
Leigh - I agree with your assertion that attribution is a motivating factor when encouraging teachers to participate in free content development. (Personally I prefer to use the concept of free or libre content rather than OERs. All free content are OERs but not all OERs are free :-) ) Check out this link by Derek Keats - perhaps a little more radical than my approach <smile>.
When dealing with stats - we must be careful of the lies, damned lies and statistics. The FlickrCC database does provide interesting stats - but I'd be weary in drawing conclusions. When I last looked the NC restriction was considerably more popular than CC-BY or CC-BY-SA. We know the that NC restriction is a red herring - but many individuals select this option - I suspect because they think that this is the right thing to do. You and I can have an informed discussion and deliberation because we are aware of the intricacies - however, the average user clicking on things that feel right may not know what they're choosing. Conversely - we have the history and success of the free software movement to draw data from. Yes - free content is not software, but the free cultural works definition is based on the essential freedoms derived from the experience of the free software movement. This is based on more than 22 years of real experience.
When we are dealing with freedom - there is a very fine line between the whether we are aiming to promote the freedom of future authors or respecting the freedoms of the creators of the resource. In a democractic society we need to respect "both" freedoms. I creator should be free to include or exclude the SA restriction. The point is with the free cultural works definition both instances result in resources that can be used, modified and distributed. Yes, share alike requires derivative works to be released under the same license - but it does not restrict the essential freedoms. I think that its reasonable for an author who wants to create a free content resource to include a mechanism to promote future freedom of the resource concerned. The intention is not to restrict future users, but rather to ensure the future freedom of the resource. Its a subtle difference - but as we are working to achieve similar aims - I feel that we should respect the freedoms of these folk who are also making a considerable contribution to the freedom culture. When you find states without copyright - please let me know!

Keep up the good work!

--Mackiwg 07:10, 8 May 2007 (CEST)

"successes of social-justice driven innovations such as the Wikimedia Foundation projects, Ourmedia and the Internet Archive initiatives;" .. Leigh, is "social-justice driven" the right word to explain these projects? Along with the difficulties in explaining terms like "freedom" and "openness", i'm not sure we need to throw another one into the mix :-). I'm less sure that these projects are driven by a sense of "justice" than they are of a psychology of mass participation and an abundance of leisure time available to highly networked individuals. This is an important angle (excess labour/leisure) that is rarely explored in more 'popular' discourses about these things (ie. freedom definitions, etc) but has been treated by Benkler most recently in the Wealth of Networks. While Benkler obviously agrees that there is an increased possibility of social justice in these movements, i don't think that this is the primary motivation behind them. brent 06:05, 18 May 2007 (CEST)

Statistics to compare CC BY and CC BY SA

True it is Mackiwg! The number of non free content is higher, and when I have more time (next few days) I will have a close look at all this. But the stats I have gathered just now quickly:

Some very interesting results, especially comparing CC BY to CC BY SA.

This one is the most up to date I could find:

Here's some stats for Feb 2005: And some for April 2006:

CC BY has moved from 8% - 9.7% CC BY SA from 11% - 13.72%

Which indicates more growth in SA... but of course! its viral I guess. So the growth in BY should be considered more impressive I think.

Over at Flickr - where I think it deals in mainly primary resources:

Oct 2004 (Way back machine: CC BY = 8168 photos CC BY SA = 6150 photos

May 2007 ( CC BY = 4,018,870 photos CC BY SA = 2,823,490 photos

Interesting isn't it? SA being "viral" would mean it should be growing much faster right? But on a site like flickr what I think it is particularly interesting is the result considering the free choice on what license to use. On sites like Wikipedia, wikieducator and even wikispaces the default is variations of copyleft.

If anyone else would like to help survey license use over time (such as Google's stats if you can find them) I'd really appreciate it.

--Leighblackall 11:10, 8 May 2007 (CEST)

One of the most interesting stats on flicker is the rate of growth of free content licenses (i.e. CC-BY & CC-BY-SA) against non-free licenses over time. The growth in free content has been phenomenal. Its a very exciting development. A potential halo effect in this analysis refers to the differences between a photo (as a raw digital object) and learning materials (eg free content course like the CCNC). I suspect that this would have an impact on the decision making process of an individual teacher. In the case of photos - I'm not sure whether we can measure the viral effect. Typically most folk don't develop derivative works from a digital image (present company excluded <smile> ). Folk would typically include a photo within another web resource and its difficult to track the licenses of derivative works.
I'm thinking - shouldn't we think about designing a perception questionnaire where we encourage teachers to provide us feedback on the kinds of licenses they would use under different circumstances. We could run this on survey monkey -- would you be interesting in working on something like this. Pretty important research in my view.

--Mackiwg 19:21, 8 May 2007 (CEST)

Sure! good idea. Awareness building activity too.. could we use the quiz tools in Wikieducator? Do they record data at all?
But one thing we will miss in such a asurvey will be the results over time. Many people we engage in the survey will be encountering CC for the first time, and based on their copyright thinking passed down to them by the likes of U2, Metallica and all the DVD opening screens they've ever watched, I'd say they would instinctively choose a non free and most restrictive license. Over time however, after they have had time to see the free world that opens up, they may relax that a bit. How do we measure that otgher than relying on the statistics we've glanced at here? --Leighblackall 00:01, 9 May 2007 (CEST)
Technically - it will be difficult to set up a survey and track results using Mediawiki - I was thinking that we might develop the content of the survey questions on the wiki and then convert these for a service like Survey Monkey. Measuring perception is not easy - but with smart survey design we could make some progress. This could turn out to be a very interesting and relevant bit of research! --Mackiwg 00:10, 9 May 2007 (CEST)
I agree.. where to start? Do you have skills in developing survey questions? Or do you have access to someone who could start us off? We have a staff member who's job it is to develop surveys, but focusing on student feedback. I'm sure that if we developed up a sketch that she would review it for us. Especially if I can relate it to the development of our IP policy. --Leighblackall 00:19, 9 May 2007 (CEST)
Yip - I do have skills in designing surveys - time is always a challenge for me, but am willing to put in some time. The beauty of the wiki is that we can start drafting and refine as we go along. Survey experts from around the world could help us refine the survey. Start a page with a wish-list (bullet points) of the things you would like to find out from prospective users. This could include hypothesis that you're wanting to test. It would be great if you could link this to the copyright policy work at the OP. --Mackiwg 00:27, 9 May 2007 (CEST)


Made a start Wayne: Survey --Leighblackall 03:03, 9 May 2007 (CEST)

Leigh - made a few minor changes to Survey - see if you are comfortable with my changes. Running a survey like this is a great idea and I feel that it should be shifted into the research area of WikiEducator. This way we can widen participation & I can tap into our network to get wide international involvement. I'll get COL to support the costs of running the research on survey monkey - all results to be available as free content. --Mackiwg 05:25, 9 May 2007 (CEST)

Hi Leigh,

I just heard your presentation on the Webheads in Action Convergence Online. Thanks so much for your keynote. You've given me a lot to think about.

I made some minor linking/editing/spelling changes to your document. I was reading for content notfor the purpose of editing, but decided to make those changes along the way. I learned quite a bit from your article. It flows well and provided what for me was a lot of new information. The only analogy that wasn't clear to me was the brick wall one. Maybe that could be explained a little differently. I couldn't grasp what the brick in the wall waas being compared to. I also had trouble following the meaning in two sentences. One was under the heading Socially Networked and began,"For many..." The other was under Participatory Culture and began, "People like ..."

Thanks again for sharing.

Maryanne Burgos

A few thoughts on your paper

Leigh your paper is developing nicely. You have clearly put in a lot of research and thought into this work.

I'm offering a few thoughts - these aren't rebuttals <smile> but suggestions to add value to the research quality of your paper.

There is a potential "error of logic" in your reasoning. I think that you are conflating two concepts into one argument - namely usage and intent. A license should not be misread as a mechanism to regulate intent of the creators or future users.

In your paper you state:

However, licenses such as Share Alike (SA) and GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) are included in this definition and they both contain restrictions that do not allow someone to freely modify and redistribute a modified work without agreeing to utilise the same or compatible license on the derivative.

In this statement you have singled out copyleft licenses without due reference to highlighting issues in other licenses.

  1. The requirement to utilise the same or compatible license is a requirement of all the licenses. CC-BY requires that derivative works are also licensed under a creative commons license. Isn't this also a restriction of freedom? The attribution requirement - which incidentally was introduced later as a default restriction also limits freedom to use the resource without attribution - unlike PD (which is not a license). Legally - a derivative work from a CC-BY license cannot be licensed under the FDL - its crazy, but that's the law. So the criticism against CC-BY-SA in terms of using a compatible license is also true for CC-BY.
  2. CC-BY-SA is a free content license which in terms of use permits the user to freely modify and redistribute the work. It is incorrect to state that the CC-BY-SA license does not allow these freedoms. In your statement you are conflating intent of the creator with usage of the resource. This is an error of logic in your argument.

A few other points:

  • You need to check your dates - I have MIT's OCW launching in 2001 and not 2002. See David's work on the early history of OERs - (
  • To understand the growth of Wikipedia - you should refer to the earlier Nupedia project - which, while a free content project, only managed to produce 24 articles.
  • Wikipedia - as you point out is a top-ten website and the largest encyclopaedia created in the history of human kind - they use a copyleft license so in your arguments you will need to think carefully about how they got this right with a license you are arguing restricts freedoms.
The problem with this is that it's not because of the license that Wikipedia "got it right". That's privileging the power of that text, ie. the GFDL (which is really all it is, having at the time little legal ground to stand on) to a far greater extent that it should. What gets Wikipedia actually going is the extent to which the software allows individuals in highly networked societies to utilize their excess labour (or leisure time) to participate. The license is a part of this, but it is by no means the sole driving force that the "freedom" movement would make out; (See my note below about "freedom"), the true force still lies in He Tangata, he Tangata, he Tangata. (The People, the People, the People. -- apologies to other readers for the Maori, it's just a phrase that resonates strongly with those of us in these islands.) brent 02:43, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Brent - I agree entirely - its not the license that "got it right" - it was the software that enabled anyone, anywhere to contribute to a compelling vision - "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment. And we need your help." . The license is like an insurance policy - it doesn't contribute to the enjoyment of your property - but in the event that something goes wrong - its nice to have the coverage. Wikipedia is a phenomenal project - its the best example we have of the power of social software. I'm sure that the majority of contributors don't care much about the license. But there are many folk who would love to shut down projects like this for commercial gain. Thank goodness for the insurance pplicy of the license. We live in a world which is reach in examples of the abuse of freedom. for example Slavery, Colonisation or Apartheid. Freedom is easily lost - that's why its important to protect it. That's why I get nervous when Copyleft is criticised - I've been on the receiving end when freedoms get restricted. --Mackiwg 04:18, 20 May 2007 (CEST)

Leigh - this is a good paper that is highlighting important issues. However, you are treading dangerous ground suggesting that copyleft does not meet the essential freedoms. I see no discussion of the essential freedoms and how they relate to free content. Its not wise to conflate intent with usage of the resource.

Thanks for sticking in here Wayne. I am still finding it hard to see the error in logic you are referring to? Usage and intent... is the copyleft mechanisms the intent? and the usage is the problem I'm pointing out? If so aren't they linked - in that the intent affects the usage, and aren't I clear that (in the terms of ye old learning object objectives) reusability, not intent are the most important consideration in educational resources..? --Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Leigh - See for example the following clause in the CC-BY license: "Each time You Distribute or Publicly Perform an Adaptation, Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the original Work on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License". It gets complicated with derivative works - the bits that a new author adds can be licensed under more restrictive CC licenses - however only those bits that the author adds. The original CC license is irrevocable. You cannot take a CC-BY license, modify and apply a FDL license to the work - I'm not a lawyer but to the best of my knowledge this is the situation unless a dual license is used. --Mackiwg 03:58, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Yes, I see it - but it does apply only to the original. So in the derivative, one must attribute the origins and ensure that the copyright on that original remains in tact. That is still different to SA demanding that the derivative by licensed SA isn't it? --Leighblackall 05:32, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
I'm singling out the copylefts and ignoring the non free licenses mainly because this has already been covered in other work. Perhaps I need a sentence or two in there to say that critiques of other licenses has already been done.. but I thought I already had by refering to criticism of MITs license and then the "definition of free cultural works". Until I realise the error in logic you are trying to get me to see, I find that copyleft (while being a 'good' intention) is very similar to non commercial - in that it is a restriction on reuse.--Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Usage refers to the rights to use, modify and redistribute the resource. Under CC-BY-SA - a user can use, modify and redistribute the resource. Yes there is a SA restriction but this does not limit the fundamentals of usage and reuse of the actual content. Under CC-BY the user can use, modify and redistribute the resource. Yes there is a restriction to Attribute. The point is under both licenses usage and reuse is not restricted. Intent refers to the freedom of how the creator of a resource attempts to "regulate" future use of the resource. Herein lies the difference between CC-BY and copyleft licenses. It its wrong to argue that CC-BY-SA at the usage level restricts users to use, modify and adapt the resource. It is right at the intent level that creators using copy-left licenses intend future users to contribute back to the community. I think you would be wise to reference some of the critique against non-free licenses. While you an I may be well versed in these problems - the average educational audience is not. --Mackiwg 03:58, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
But the SA does prevent reuse in many situations. It is not a problem when the items within a resource are discrete and can be easily dual licensed, but when a derivative is made on an original (such as the collaging I do with images, or a soundtrack sampled and remixed, or a translation on a text.. the original restricts this reuse to only being allowed if the derivative adopts SA as well. That is a bigger restriction than simply requiring Attribution to the original, and noting the license of the original. If SA is required on the derivative, then the reusability of the origiginal is compromised because a reusage that involves modification may require the derivative to be restricted (or even moved to CC BY or even PD!). If the original was CC BY then all one need do it attribute the original and note the license of the original. There is no obligation to use CC BY on the derivative. As for referencing critique on non free... I've referenced Elloquence's article about NC, as well as the Definition of Free Cultural Works. So you think it needs more references.. that wouldn't hurt the arguement at all.. what do your recomend? Is there an article that does it all rather nicely?--Leighblackall 05:45, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
  1. CC BY does not require derivatives to also use CC BY. I surprised you say this and makes me even more nervous about the stance I am taking here. Am I just miles off the mark? Reading the license through - I think I am right with this at least: this would permit restricted derivatives so long as attribution was given and that clear indication of the license on the original was included in the derivative. SA takes this further in that it has to have this attribution and that the derivative be SA. So I don't think the criticism of CC BY SA also applies to CC BY. As for Public Domain, while I like the idea - I wonder if CoL resources should be an equivalent to that - "Property of the Crown"... but a rewording so it didn't read in like that - perhaps "common wealth".--Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
The point here is that you cannot revoke the orginal license. Again you are confusing use with intent. That's an unfair comment against COL. We did not author the CC license not is it our intention to impose any license on a content creator. We have merely exercised an informed judgement on what we believe is most practical at this phase of the OER development world wide. There is an inherent fear among the academy pertaining to commercial exploitation of free content resrouces - and it is our opinion that SA is an effective mechanism to deal with this concern . That said, we respect authors who are comfortable with a more open license. --Mackiwg 03:58, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Sorry Wayne, it wasn't a comment honestly. It was a suggestion for CoL to write a new license that aligns more with Public Domain - but instead of being US centric like PD is, or England Centric like Crown is.. the suggestion is for "Common Wealth" that is essentially Public Domain and Crown rolled into one. But you rightly point out that some people are nervous about freeloaders making money on free works.. and SA is certainly a better choice than NC to deal with those fears.. but I don't think it would be difficult to encourage CC BY instead. All of this debate arose from my suggestion that Wikieducator use CC BY as a default, and permit people to use SA if they prefer. This would accomodate the fears of some, but ensure maximum reusability for others. But I think the use of SA is about more than soothing the fears of "not quite free" thinkers. From what I read into the free cultural works, and the aparent mindset of proponents of that, it is not just about a hapy medium, its about pressuring the growth of free content under the terms of SA. And that's where my critique attempts to hone in on... and suggesting that attribution is enough of a motivation to participate and contribute free culture without the SA mechanism--Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
  1. As for the second main point you make, again until I realise the error I don't think it is incorrect.. you've taken great efforts to help me see this, but as yet I don't see it. Perhaps we are almost there now that it is down to intent and usage. I am primarily concerned with usage - or reusability to be more precise. The intentions of the creator only interest me if they are concerned with reusability. I think this is an important goal for educational resources.
Leigh if you're concerned about usage - I don't think that you have grounds to discount the CC-BY-SA. If you're concerned about the author's freedom to include restrictions that attempt to intend to ensure future freedom of the resource - then you can make the argument.
I am concerned about reusability, and I think I have pointed out the situations for an educational institution where SA prevents reuse. If we can agree that CC BY does not require a derivative to also be licensed CC BY, then the grounds for my arguement are sound. If it does turn out that CC BY requires derivatives to also be licensed CC BY (more than simply attributing the original) then my arguement is not quite shot, but simply moves to PD being the only license that enables maximum reusability. But I'm not happy with PD either, and I don't think CC BY has that copyleft mechanism that you say it does...--Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)

Other points..
  • The wikipedia article for MIT OCW had it at 2001. I checked the Internet Archive's WayBack Macine and could only find a website for OCW in 2002. I'll read through that link and see if I can find a true date. Thanks.
These dates are important - particularly with reference to the origins of the CC and related free content projects. For example - had CC pre-dated Wikipedia - there is a strong likelihood that the project would have adopted one of the CC license. For example Wikinews uses a CC-BY license. --Mackiwg 04:02, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
  • The Nupedia and Wikipedia are different projects I think. It is an enjoyable story and one that should be more widely known, luckily it is referenced in the Wikipedia article of Wikipedia.
Nupedia is not simply an enjoyable story - it has significant lessons for us in education to learn from. Namely that by opening up the editing process using Web 2.0 technologies - you can achieve rapid and sustainable growth. The traditional peer-review process doesn't work. Jimbo Wales was involved with both projects. There is an obsession in the educational community for peer review - we must learn from experience. --Mackiwg 03:58, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Yes, agreed. It is significant and there is so much education needs to reflect on. I just don't think this article needs to go into that detail and instead relies on interested parties to find the story for themselves if they look further. A bit like the decision not to extensively reference other critiques of non free. Kind of take it for granted. But I agree there are plently of people who simply aren't aware enough of these things...--Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
  • Lastely, I think there is a significant difference between Wikipedia being a reference resource, and educational resources being wider in scope. Namely the reusabiity into a wider range of contexts for educational resources that then lead to a need for different licenses. Wikipedia exists well enough in its own right... rushing now to catch a bus, so I'll cut it short at this and see how we go at another try at explaining the error in my logic..
You're absolutely right - the development of educational materials is an order of magnitude more complex than developing an encyclopaedia article. I don't agree with your notion that Wikipedia is merely a reference resouce - it is also a dynamic authoring and development community. Similarly Flickr is a collection of photos - How does a collection of folk uploading photos compare to the complexities of collaborative design and development of educational materials? You're developing an outstanding paper - just trying to help with filling some of the gaps that are open to substantive - yet justifiable criticism. --Mackiwg 03:58, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
Thanks Wayne. I really appreciate your help. There certainly are gaps, as with all my attempts to write like this. And the comments here, help to fill them :) Did you get a chance to listen to the recording of me talking through the slides? The audio is linked from the flickr image set, that is now linked at the top of the article...--Leighblackall 06:07, 20 May 2007 (CEST)
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