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Posts Tagged ‘commons

About a week ago, I received an email from the Public Lead of Creative Commons (CC) Singapore.

The email was in part a thank-you and a notification. I have been involved in CC-SG’s efforts by helping out in an event, promoting it in my former workplace, and creating edu-works shared under CC. So I appreciated the word of thanks.

However, there was some bad news. How else might you interpret “the current CC-SG team has been voluntarily dissolved”?

The email came with a longer explanation as to why the CC-SG team was going away. The details are in this blog entry, Invitation to Join CC Global Network; Notice of Termination of MOU or Affiliate Agreement.

The short version is that the overall restructuring of CC internationally necessitated the dissolution of the CC-SG team. There move seems aligned to a trend I noticed over the last few years — the removal of country-specific CC licenses.

This document points to a Creative Commons Global Network (CCGN), but I am not sure if this negates the need for country-specific teams.

The reorganisation of CC is in transition in 2018 and I do not know when the dust will settle. The six different CC licenses remain valid and operate as they always have.

I wonder (and worry) about who takes the lead locally and who interested parties here might connect with to learn more about CC. I do not think we have a critical mass or enough momentum in terms of CC here.

I recall being asked to provide advice for an event about open and CC licenses not too long ago. Back then I simply connected two groups of people.

There are two Cs in CC. For now, it seems odd that one C is missing with the dissolution of the local chapter.

Today I help facilitate a free seminar on Creative Commons (CC) in Singapore.

We do not have an ambitious plan and are starting simple to gauge interest and to create ownership of CC efforts.

I anticipate that a few attendees might have questions and experiences that relate to implementation issues. That is, there might be folks who are already sold on the idea and want to take action. So I share some of my limited experiences with rolling out change using my ABC framework (awareness, buy-in, commitment).

To create awareness, you can organize events like tomorrow’s free seminar. I mentioned yesterday how I also led an e-Fiesta and conducted talks with CC as content.

Some passive but complementary ways of creating awareness might include using media like posters and YouTube videos.

Such efforts can lead to stakeholder buy-in if you manage change well with follow ups like focused conversations and informal meetings.

The stakeholders you might target first for buy-in at institutes of higher education (IHLs) are key appointment holders and librarians.

Appointment holders can set policy around the creation and sharing of learning resources and research artefacts.

For example, most institutes lay claim to the copyright or intellectual property of any process or product created by its employees. Appointment holders might make some exceptions, say resources created under institute-sanctioned volunteer work, as belonging to their staff and/or open for sharing by default.

Appointment holders could require their institutes to be signatory to open licensing and publishing. The could mean promoting financial grants that have open requirements and then sharing data corpuses, reports, and other related material after a short embargo period.

If they are daring enough, such change leaders might add open efforts to staff appraisals and promotions either as core components or as distinctive X factors.

Institutional libraries are publication gatekeepers. They shape policies for the mode of sharing an institute’s research, books, white papers, monographs, posters, etc. For example, yesterday I shared how my alma mater shared dissertations under CC.

Libraries might consider at least two metrics when considering open or CC initiatives. First, open publications tend to draw more views because they are more accessible. Second, open resources are free or might cost considerably less than those hidden behind paywalls.

What of open initiatives in mainstream schools?

Media resources teachers and educators in charge of digital citizenship are in the best position to promote the use of open or CC-licensed resources. They can teach students how to use CC-enabled search engines more prudently and how to attribute what they use.

If good policies are put in place, instructors at mainstream schools and IHLs might also require learners to use and cite CC-licensed artefacts as part of curricular demands.

What I have described so far deals with creating awareness (I know) and buy-in (I believe in). What creates commitment (I own it)?

One of the best ways to create commitment to change is for teachers and students to walk the talk. They should give back or “pay it forward” by sharing what they create under open or CC licences. Creators can use this CC licence generator to label and share their work.

I do not recommend extrinsically rewarding such efforts because they should be rewards in themselves. However, there might be room for strategic efforts like contests on CC concepts or learner-led sharing of their CC efforts. These feed the awareness engine for the on-going and iterative efforts to push open learning forward.

Moving from awareness to commitment (ownership) transforms the good-to-know concept of sharing openly to one of better-to-practise. This is the bottom line if you want to share because you care: You cannot think about implementing CC; you must do CC.

I am facilitating a free Creative Commons Seminar this Friday at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic library.

I do this to push the open learning and open educational resources (OER) movement forward even though I am not part of any organization now.

Openness is a core educational value for me, so I invest time and effort into it. But I had to ask myself what I do to be associated with these movements. After all, there are more impactful and bigger players on the open front.

Street Creative Commons by Giuli-O, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Giuli-O 

I ruminate daily in this blog and use ImageCodr to embed CC-licensed images and their attributions to each blog entry.

When preparing resources for workshops, talks, seminars, or other events, I make sure to share them under a CC-licence whenever possible. In fact, my operating principle has been to not ask for permission to do this first, but to ask for forgiveness later. So far I have not had to do the latter!

When I was a faculty member at NIE, I received notification in 2010 from my alma mater for permission to share my dissertation under CC. I said yes.

As Head of the Centre for e-Learning, I led a series of e-Fiesta events. In 2013, one e-Fiesta focused on open learning and CC.

When NIE first launched its e-portfolio initiative, I convinced higher-ups to use the free and open platform, Google Sites, for hosting information, portfolios, and templates. As part of this initiative, I gave introductory lectures on CC to cohorts of preservice teachers in 2012 and 2013 before handing the reigns to someone else.

The great thing about being part of the open learning and OER movements is that we can contribute in ways big or small, international or local. The scale does not matter. The learners who benefit do.

It began with a tweeted request.

I responded by seeing if my dissertation on reflecting with blogs was still online. It was.

I wondered out loud if other universities and libraries took the same initiative to unlock information with Creative Commons (CC).

When I viewed the usage statistics, I discovered that my dissertation had been downloaded 505 times to date.

That is not a huge number or life-changing, but even if my dissertation helped someone do something right (or avoid doing something wrong), I am happy.

That is 505 people that have been helped so far who might have been on the wrong side of a firewall or did not have access to the wonderful library system in my alma mater.

And people still wonder why they should share using a CC licence…

Recently I read a kiwi teacher’s blog entry, Teachers Don’t Own Their Own Content!

This reminded me that most teachers do not seem to know that the copyright of whatever they create as employees of a school (on in Singapore’s case, the Ministry of Education) belongs to the school (or MOE).

In 2012, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) created a handy infosheet on Copyright for Educators.

Part 16 spells this out clearly:

The copyright to works created in the course of employment belongs to the employer. Hence, while a Government school teacher may be the creator of resources in the cluster repository, MOE is actually the copyright owner. Likewise, an independent school which directly employs its own teachers owns the copyright to works created by them in the course of employment.

When the resource creator leaves, the copyright is still owned by the employer (whether MOE or the independent school in this scenario). The school can continue to use the resources, as well as control how others use it.

Our kiwi counterparts have the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) which “seeks to standardise the licensing of government copyright works for re-use using Creative Commons“.

I could not find a similar umbrella body or policy for Singapore. But I know of or have found local university resources that are shared under open access, e.g., NUS, NTU, SMU.

UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal neatly summarizes Singapore’s progress in being part of the movement that offers openly accessible resources. At the moment, our contributions seem to centre around Institutional Repositories (like the ones I linked to earlier) and a vague reference to a National Library Board (NLB) initiative.

There is so much more that we can do and there is no need to wait. As individuals, we can create and share under Creative Commons (CC) licences. Creative Commons Singapore seems up to date with version 4.0 licensing as of this entry.

Presentation source

Here is something I shared a few years ago on CC with preservice teachers in NIE. It is shared under CC BY NC SA license, of course.

As a teacher or educator, you do not have the copyright to items you created. But that does not mean that you cannot take ownership of your work. With CC, you do that by specifying how others can use your work when you share preemptively.

Giving away so that you have stronger ownership might seem counterintuitive. However, all CC licenses include Attribution. You are tied to what you create even if the copyright of that artefact belongs to your employer.

The open and sharing-is-caring nature of CC is also aligned to the broader purpose of education. To free, and ideally, to offer what you have for free.

Let us say that you would like to offer video-based courses online. You propose this to someone at the highest level of management or to someone who is in charge of technology infrastructure. You are likely to be asked this question: How will you protect our copyright or intellectual property?

That question is built on at least two old premises. First, copyright is the golden standard of practice. Second, that sharing something online somehow puts us at a disadvantage.

There are other standards of practice that have already started challenging the notion of copyright. For example, there are the open resources movement and Creative Commons licensing.

Sharing resources can actually give an institute the upper hand.

If a resource is good, it helps build reputational capital. Putting a resource online time-stamps it so you can claim “who’s-on-first” ownership.

Time-stamping is not the only protection. If you create a video and share it on YouTube for example, that system will detect similarities between your video and those belong to other parties.

CeL has experienced this in two ways. After e-Fiesta 2013, we uploaded our videos to YouTube a keynote presentation by a speaker from Google. The YouTube system informed us it was similar to another video. Of course it was! The speaker had been recorded in other videos using similar slides and words.

When we put our own videos online, we often include soundtracks from stock music that we have purchased. We get the same notification from YouTube and we simply ask the company we purchased the music from to create an exception.

In both cases, we have not infringed on copyright. The videos were ours, the content can be linked or attributed to others if needed, and there was a policing system in place. Where there is an apparent copyright violation, it can be quickly contested, clarified, or resolved.

Long story short: Attempts to copy or modify work and pass these off as your own can be easier to detect when you put them online. The standards are changing and so must the practice.


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