I was contacted recently by 3C Media, who does the media work for the California Community Colleges at the Chancellor’s Office. They let me know that my presentation for the POT Certificate Class from last February, Control and Freedom in Online Classes, was being converted and uploaded to YouTube. They asked me to help them apply a description, attributions, etc. Two things struck me about this. The first was that I used their Collaborate system for the presentation, and although I have no problem with this presentation being posted in public, I have used their system before for meetings and office hours that I would not want public. I had no idea they even looked at our meetings.
But I find another aspect even more interesting. When I went to fill out their form to help out, the only option for Creative Commons was the BY (Attribution) restriction, with reuse allowed. Or I could use the YouTube Creative Commons license which is, guess what, only Attribution also, reuse allowed.
A little while back, the controversy over the design of Curtis Bonk’s class led to some interesting comments from those involved in Blackboard/Coursesite, including here on my blog. In response to that and to Audrey Watter’s commentary , Jarl Jonas wrote that:
“once the course concludes, we will publish the package as an OER as a Blackboard and Common Cartridge package with a CC-BY license”
The term OER (Open Educational Resource) is used to distinguish it from a course cartridge that you may use only if you force your students to buy a textbook, or one that only works in one LMS.
I am seeing this more and more: CC-BY as proof of openness, a passport to the world of the trendy edupunks and transparency in education. But it’s not that simple.
Basic Attribution (CC-BY) doesn’t do much for open learning, or even sharing. It’s the NC (non-commercial) and SA (share-alike) aspects of Creative Commons licensing that makes for openness. Attribution simply means anyone can use the work so long as they attribute it, as part a Cartridge package or inside a website, but with no obligation to openness at all. They can take the package, close it off in a system, and charge for access to that system.
This is likely a misunderstanding along the lines of knowing the difference between openness as in Open API and openness as in Open Source. Some people think Open API and Open Source are the same when they aren’t. For example, here Pearson OpenClass is referred to as open source, when it’s actually open API. Open API is like Playdoh. We can make things out of it, but we can’t have the secret formula.
So we are confusing my presentation as posted on YouTube, or a free LMS course cartridge of Bonk’s class, with free, open (attributed, non-commercial, shared back) use of our work.
So, CC-BY isn’t good enough. We can’t any longer suppose that our work will not be of financial gain to someone, someday, in a new publishing model. And we must recognize it’s no longer really about content (which many of us post freely on the web).
Much of the content of Yale’s and MIT’s open courses are Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, and they are very specific that you can’t package and resell their stuff . But the companies that used to be creators of software for holding “content” are now hosts of learning platforms and providers of services (witness Blackboard’s aquisition of vendor Moodlerooms). They lose nothing by freely distributing the work of other people. Without a Non-Commercial clause, they can profit from it directly. Without a ShareAilke clause, they need not create and share anything of their own.
And they can use other people’s stuff to sell “community”. Information can be collected on hundreds or thousands of students coming to take a free course. These are future “customers”, and the information gathered may help future customers signing up for services. These companies will handle all that tough technology stuff — you just hand over your content, all CC-BY licensed so they can use it later.
Doesn’t sound like a good deal, or a very open one, to me.
So the presentation’s at Vimeo (where they let you choose CC BY-NC-SA).