Creative Commons Implications For The Mauritian Educational System Education Essay

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Abstract

Creative Commons is an extension to digital contents licensing. It has brought a different dimension to the way content producers share their data among other entities. It provides free, easy-to-use legal tools that give everyone from individual user generated content creators to major companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to pre-clear usage rights to creative work they own the copyright to. This has had serious business and social impacts. In this paper, the concept of Creative Commons licensing is introduced, followed by a description of the different types of licenses.

Introduction

Creative Commons was set up in the United States in 2001. It gives writers, filmmakers, photographers, and all authors of copyright-protected works the option of licensing their works - while retaining the copyright - for distribution and availability on the Internet and reuse by third parties.

There are currently some 130 million works on the Internet, from all over the world, that refer to a Creative Commons license. Since it was set up, Creative Commons has come to be seen as an alternative kind of copyright or a new copyright arrangement. This refers to the fact that the various licenses make it possible for the author to set certain conditions for the duplication and distribution of his or her work. It should be noted, however, that the Creative Commons licensing system remains explicitly within the existing copyright frameworks. The rights that are allocated to the licensor follow from the exploitation rights of the author pursuant to the Copyright Act.

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The licensing procedure is a simple one. The author goes to the Creative Commons website and, by answering two questions, selects one of the various licenses; he or she then confirms that choice. The website then offers an HTML code for integrating the license notification into websites. There are also links and instructions for referring to the license conditions for offline working in the metadata of media files. Each of the various Creative Commons licenses is available in three versions, a simplified version for non-lawyers, a legal version (the actual license agreement), and a computer-readable version.

In online environments, the license notification that appears with a licensed work refers to the simplified version on the Creative Commons server. The simplified version refers in turn to the actual license agreement.

Creative Commons has six free standard licenses that the author of a work - the "licensor" - can use to make the work available for reuse by third parties. Each of the six licenses is a combination of a basic provision supplemented by a total of three optional conditions.

The basis for the licenses - and this applies to all variants - is that users of the licensed work can reproduce it, include it in one or more collections, and reproduce it from such collections free of charge. Users can also distribute copies or audio recordings of the work, display the work publicly, present or perform it by means of a digital sound transfer, separately or as part of a collection, and call up and reuse databases. It is also provided that the license is irrevocable and that it is granted for the duration of the copyright. This basic provision is associated with the requirement to attribute the work; in other words, the user must give the name specified by the author or the licensor.

The three supplementary conditions involve whether the user or "licensee" may or may not use the work for commercial purposes; whether the user can produce adaptations of the work; and whether the user is obliged to provide adaptations to third parties under the same license conditions.

Licensing options and symbols used in Creative Commons (Source: Creative Commons) 

Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give credit the way you request.

Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for noncommercial purposes only.

No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

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Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

Creative Commons and other types of open content licenses provide the basis on which to share open educational resources - MIT Open Course Ware is a prime example: http://ocw.mit.edu Educational resources will in most instances involve copyright literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, films or sound recordings. To this extent permission of the copyright owner, a lawful exception such as fair use/dealing or a statutory license will be needed to authorise reuse through, for example, reproduction or communication. An open content or source code license represents a convenient method for sharing and reuse of copyright material by providing the necessary permission.

In sharing and reusing (by teachers or students) learning materials, research results, publications or broader materials for educational environments open content licensing will increasingly play a role. Knowledge management in schools and universities will need to be able to understand and harness the power of this new dynamic. Already Creative Commons has been embedded as a standard search function in major search engines and web browsers.

The rise of collaborative innovation (where people are encouraged to research as part of a team, Grid computing is but one example) and serendipitous innovation where people enhance knowledge through stumbling on to someone else's work (for example, via the Internet) will demand that we understand how to share knowledge and to do it legally.

Publicly funded research and government owned copyright material - as democratic principle - will also be under tremendous pressure to be freed up for reuse for educational purposes.

So long as publication, consumption and distribution of texts were mediated through physical media, academics remained for the most part unaware of the licensing that underpinned the exploitation of copyright. The Internet and other digital media have changed this. Because they have access to publishing and production tools and through licensing access to a digital, ephemeral product rather than a physical object such as a book or print, researchers as well as teachers now engage with licensing as never before. Yet, they are, for the most part, either unprepared or unwilling to engage in cumbersome licensing procedures.

Although many academics are willing to share their work, they often hesitate to do so in this new environment for fear of losing their rights to their work. The opposite of retaining copyright is to release work into the public domain, in which case the author retains no rights and anyone can use the material in any way and for any purpose. Even if this might be acceptable to some people some of the time, it is not unusual for an author to wish to retain some rights over his work, e.g. to stop third parties from making commercial use of the material without his/her consent.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

What are open educational resources?

The definition of OER currently most often used is "digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research". OER includes learning content, software tools to develop, use and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licenses.

OER represent a further blurring of the borders between formal and informal learning. As user statistics show, many users of OER are self learners and informal learning using OER can be expected to grow as the supply of resources increases. From a national policy perspective, this is an opportunity to further promote lifelong learning.

So far most higher education systems have been slow to adjust to this challenge. It is recommended that countries study closely the OER projects which are set up to widen participation in higher education, bridge the gap between non-formal, informal and formal learning and promote lifelong learning. Using existing resources or content which needs smaller adjustments rather than creating resources from scratch may prove to be a cost-effective way to meet some of the need for increased lifelong learning.

OER can make an important contribution to a diversified supply of learning resources. A wealth of digital learning resources supports methodological diversity, which is a prerequisite for promoting the individualisation of the learning process, a pedagogical philosophy that most countries embrace. From the national point of view, the most natural perspective might very well be not to have a particular policy regarding OER in higher education, but to take a holistic approach to all kinds of digital learning resources and to all parts of the education system. In addition to OER, such a policy might embrace commercial digital learning materials and the national cultural heritage in digital format. National policy could include a general aspiration to ensure a profusion of digital resources for learning. A review of the existing copyright regime as it affects OER might be needed as would the build up of a better knowledge base on the production and use of digital learning resources in general, including OER.

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Countries wanting to take a neutral stand towards open or commercial educational resources should be aware that in most countries today's copyright regime is out of line with digital technologies and sometimes shows partiality towards commercial players. Taking a neutral stand might imply altering the balance in the copyright legislation towards a more generous way of looking at educational use of digital materials.

OER can be expected to affect curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. With thousands of

(opencourseware) courses from internationally well reputed higher education institutions available for free, teachers will need to consider that students compare their curriculum with others. Concerning pedagogy, the role of the teacher is already changing from being the "sage on the stage to the guide at the side". OER is likely to accelerate this process since the role of the teacher as a supplier of teaching material and the only guide to knowledge is also diminishing.

Intellectual Property Issues

Intellectual property issues are at the heart of OER. The majority of existing educational content is protected under traditional copyright with terms and conditions that must be honored within the "open" paradigm. Educators, and students generally have access to site licensed digital materials through their library and have access to most of the literature that would be cited in course material.

Impact on the Mauritian education

The Mauritian society demands competencies and skills that require innovative educational practices based on open sharing and the evaluation of ideas, fostering creativity and teamwork among the learners. Collaborative creation and sharing among learning communities of OER is regarded as an important catalyst of such educational innovations. For achieving this goal it is crucial to promote innovation and change in educational practices.

In particular, delivering OER to the still dominant model of teacher-centred knowledge transfer will have little effect on equipping teachers, students and workers with the competences, knowledge and skills to participate successfully in the knowledge economy and society. Therefore focus has to be made on open educational practices that are based on a competency-focused, constructivist paradigm of learning and promote a creative and collaborative engagement of learners with digital content, tools and services in the learning process.

Policy implications and recommendations

In this connection it would be appreciated if educational policy makers and funding bodies:

Promote open educational practices that allow for acquiring competences and skills that are necessary to participate successfully in the knowledge society

Foster the development of OER, e.g. through creating a favourable environment for Open Access to educational content

Demand public-private partnerships to concentrate on ventures for innovating

educational practices and resources.

In particular, teachers should change their role from dispensers of knowledge to facilitators of open educational practices that emphasise learners' own activities in developing competences, knowledge and skills. Hence, teachers should favour learning designs that make use of novel, low-barrier tools and services (e.g. Weblogs, Wikis, etc.) for collaborative learning and sharing of ideas, experiences and study results.

Students, on their part, should demand educational approaches that ensure that learning experiences are real, rich and relevant, for example through addressing real world problems, working collaboratively, using new tools and information services, and critically discussing content and study results. Students will also benefit from an own e-portfolio for documenting and reflecting the progress and results of their study work, and to make results they are proud of accessible through an open access repository under an open content license.

Where to find OERs ?

UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning is possibly the most authoritative and comprehensive source of information and resources:

OER Portals and Gateways

OER Repositories

OER development and publishing initiatives

OER Tools

OER Commons is one of the largest guides to OER, with over 10,000 resources catalogued, drawn from many other OER sites. OER Commons is managed by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education and financially supported by the Hewlett Foundation, a major benefactor to OER projects.

Wikiversity's own list of open educational resources at other sites

Personal Opinion

In my opinion, at present there seems to be a considerable gap between developers of e-learning tools and teachers and students. Developers should actively seek to involve teachers and students in collaborative development, which could help greatly in making tools more usable in educational contexts. In fact, for the adoption of a tool it will be important that the users develop a sense of ownership and take an interest in its further development.

Summary

Creative Commons and other types of open content licenses provide the basis on which to share open educational resources - MIT Open Course Ware is a prime example: http://ocw.mit.edu Educational resources will in most instances involve copyright literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, films or sound recordings. To this extent permission of the copyright owner, a lawful exception such as fair use/dealing or a statutory license will be needed to authorise reuse through, for example, reproduction or communication. An open content or source code license represents a convenient method for sharing and reuse of copyright material by providing the necessary permission.

Open Educational Resources (OER) can be an important element of policies that want to leverage education and lifelong learning for the knowledge society and economy.

Besides offering OER it is crucial to also promote innovation and change in educational practices.

Because delivering OER to the still dominant model of teacher-centred knowledge transfer will have little effect on equipping teachers, students and workers with the competences and skills to participate successfully in the knowledge society and economy. Teachers should change their role from dispensers of knowledge to facilitators of open educational practices that foster learners' own activities in developing competences and skills.

Today the digital environment offers many opportunities for a creative and collaborative engagement of learners with digital content, tools and services in the learning process. One such opportunity is the collaborative creation, evaluation and sharing of open content and learning experiences. A new generation of easy-touse Web-based tools and services, e.g. Wikis, Weblogs, platforms for content sharing, makes this easier then ever before.

Title of Source

http://www.olcosa.org

http://www.gogle.mu

http://www.wikieducator.org

http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources

↑ Atkins, D., Seely Brown, J., Hammond, A. (2007) A review of the the Open Educational Resources movement: Achievements, challenges and new opportunities. http://www.oerderves.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/a-review-of-the-open-educational-resources-oer-movement_final.pdf

Kumar (0918971)