FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | February 5, 2013

Nearly every time we talk about open content, we are asked about licensing, reuse, and the possible risks of reuse. It's a complicated issue, but it is definitely worth noting that using Creative Commons licensed material is significantly less complex than traditional copyright. With authoring events coming up in Portland and San Francisco, we wanted to look at the resources that already existed to explain licensing, and come up with as simple a guide to licensing and reuse as possible.

This post is not intended to be a comprehensive review of either Creative Commons or traditional copyright. The purpose of this post is to provide people writing open content with some sound guidelines for using and remixing content.

Creative Commons Licensing: An Overview

Every one of the six Creative Commons license requires attribution of the original source, and we...

Bill Fitzgerald | February 5, 2013

As discussed in Open Content: Licensing, Attribution, and Reuse, the licenses of our source material can affect the licenses we can use when we release our remixed work. At times, there will be potential conflicts that need to be addressed. Unlike traditional copyright, where our options are limited by the whims and decisions of the copyright holder, Creative Commons licensing provides authors with more flexibility and choice.

With some thought and planning, licensing issues can be relegated to just another step in the process of authoring open content.

Resolving Potential Conflicts

If you come across a situation where you are looking at a licensing conflict that appears insurmountable, you have a few other options:

  • Contact the license holder and ask permission; or...
Bill Fitzgerald | February 4, 2013

As we work on open content, I try and separate my notions of the textbook from my notions of the textbook industry.

At its most basic, a textbook provides a starting point for the processes of learning. Textbooks can be used well, or used poorly, but this is an implementation issue. In the same way, some textbooks are better than others. But, the right text in the right hands can do a world of good.

However, the textbook industry gets into political, economic, and public policy issues. The means by which the Common Core standards came into being, and came to be adopted by 48 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia illustrates the issue.

On July 1, 2009, the working groups charged with "determining and...

Bill Fitzgerald | January 30, 2013

Last week, we put out a guide to creating openly licensed content prior to our first open content authoring event in Philadelphia, and our session at EduCon on open content. During these events, several people asked about the easiest way to find openly licensed content. Sites like OER Commons can be useful, but for us, the easiest way we have found is using Google's advanced search feature.

The screencast below gives a quick overview on how to find content. If you are doing this as part of research, you will want to use one of several methods to sort and organize the useful information you discover. We will cover how to...

Bill Fitzgerald | January 27, 2013

Last week, a group of people released a document with the ambitious title of "A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age."

The work was posted in several places (and I'm probably leaving a few out):

  • Hack Education, from Audrey Watters;
  • The Udacity blog; interestingly, the Udacity blog is the only announcement that makes the claim that the "Bill of Rights" was originally posted on EdSurge;
  • Cathy Davidson, on the HASTAC blog;
  • edSurge, from Betsy Corcoran;
  • ...
Bill Fitzgerald | January 23, 2013

Tomorrow, on January 24th, at Science Leadership Academy, from 10 to 4:30, we are having the first of several participant-led work days focused on authoring and sharing open content.

As we have discussed before, our goal is to create a framework that can be used by anyone, anywhere to hold similar community-led events for the purpose of authoring open content. Toward that end, here is a general schedule that we will use to structure the workday. We will likely adjust this as needed, but this general structure will get us started:

  • 10 to 10:30 - Introductions - if people have specific goals for the day, we'll use the intros to help set priorities and, where appropriate, set people up in teams;
  • 10:30 to 12:...
Bill Fitzgerald | January 17, 2013

With all the buzz about iPad integration, I figured I should share some tips that I have found on the web that appeared particularly salient.

Suggestion 1

For all of the people who are concerned about breakage and cost:

But iPads are so liable to be broken it will be said as to render it expensive to parents to keep their children supplied with them. There would be weight in this objection were it not that this liability to injury can be for the most part prevented. 1st, by care on the part of the teacher to withhold the iPads whenever the pupils are not sufficiently careful of them. 2, by having protective cases supplied by the school. Such preparation may seem a little costly at first but if it were left to my choice to furnish a school with books or iPads as a means of employment I should not hesitate on account of the expense to furnish the latter.

Suggestion 2

On how frequently learners should have screen time...

Bill Fitzgerald | January 16, 2013

Some follow up thoughts on this earlier post on open content.

As we talk about open content, one of the refrains we hear pretty regularly goes something like this:

Creating a high quality textbook requires skills in marketing, sales, web design, [fill-in-skill-here], and that is too much to expect from people who aren't professionals.

A similar, related objection to open content is that the resources created and released under an open license don't come with any test banks or evaluations.


I generally nod politely when I hear these objections because they have nothing to do with the process and value of creating open content, and everything to do with the business model of selling access to content. These are two different things....

Bill Fitzgerald | January 16, 2013

This summary is pulled from the longer post on the process of creating open content. We're all busy, and most of us just don't have the time (or have better things to do with that time) to sit and read the long version. So here we go.

The process of creating open content is pretty identical to creating any other type of content.

  • Plan what you want to write;
  • Research the topic;
  • Curate what you can, and write what you have to; and then
  • Publish your work under an open license.

There are really only two differences about creating openly licensed content and how most of us prepare and use resources, and they are more philosophical shifts than things that take time: first, open content needs to be released under a license that allows...

Bill Fitzgerald | January 16, 2013

In our experience working with people and communities around open content, one of the misconceptions we see regularly is that the process of creating open content differs from creating content that is not openly licensed. Fortunately, content is content; and if you have ever created a resource for use in your class, a piece of documentation, a video, a podcast, a blog post, shared a picture online, etc, then you have done the same type of work you will need to do to release openly licensed content.

A primary difference between openly licensed content and content that is encumbered under restrictive copyright is how we view the potential of that content over time. Content that is encumbered under a restrictive license is essentially fixed in time, where openly licensed content can evolve over time through use and reuse. The longer life of open content can shape how we release open content (for example, a polished video could be released with a link to the unedited source...


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