Saturday, October 20, 2018

OER Intent and Purpose


I agree wholeheartedly with the statement that Steel Wagstaff made on his blog recently- "we need openly-licensed formative assessments, learning objectives, etc. AND we need well-integrated, interoperable open-source platforms composed of open-source tools that allow educators to build openly-licensed (and thus free) alternatives to the partially-proprietary remixes that have been built upon the open content that we’ve already released into the world." Notice that I didn't include the first part of Steel's statement about the need for CC BY content. When we put CC BY content into remixes in well-integrated, interoperable open-source platforms and then put a CC BY NC license on those remixes we will be ensuring that subsequent remixes and revisions of the original content will be free.

For me this is an issue of intent and purpose. If our intent and purpose is to make more learning content free, we are true to that intent and purpose by declaring that all subsequent remixes of this content should also be free. I don't want LearnZillion, for example, to take the 3rd Grade Science textbook that I created/curated for the Minnesota Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum and put it into their proprietary platform and put an all rights reserved copyright on it. The MPCC doesn't either and that's why the 3rd Grade Science content has a CC BY NC license on it. That is precisely what LearnZillion did with the CC By licensed Creative Commons Illustrative Mathematics middle school math curriculum that was largely funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

Taking CC BY licensed content and putting it into a proprietary platform and then putting an all rights reserved copyright on it is not activity I want to encourage; it is not consistent with my purpose. Another remix of the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum has been put into Microsoft's OneNote platform. Microsoft makes OneNote available to school district's at Microsoft's discretion. Microsoft doesn't make OneNote available to nonprofits that provide professional development for public schools. It is more than a little odd,I think, that a foundation funded by the Hewlett family is funding a 'freemium' for Microsoft.

I understand why companies that have proprietary platforms that provide content that is a value add-on to CC BY content want to promote CC BY, but the purpose of for-profit companies providing the added value is not necessarily beneficial in the long term for our public institutions. Eventually, our public institutions will begin exercising their ability to create publicly owned creative commons licensed alternatives to the current proprietary 'added value.' CC BY NC is consistent with that intent and purpose. It is also the purpose of SABIER, the Stone Arch Bridge Initiative for Education Resources.

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