Category Archives: Open

Notes from the #ccsummit

This past weekend (April 28- April 30, 2017), Creative Commons held their global summit in Toronto.  There was a packed program of sessions, workshops, keynotes, etc. over the three days. Here are a few of my highlights from the Summit.

3D Surprise

The first day of the Summit got off to a spectacular start with Ryan Merkley’s (CEO of Creative Commons) announcement of the 3D printing of a column from the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.  This tetrapylon is a copy of one that was destroyed in 2016.  More information about this project  can be found on the #NewPalmyra website.

This story was featured on the CBC National on Wednesday May 3 (at the 36:45 minute mark)

 

Can you Plant That Seed?

Tom Michaels (University of Minnesota, Dept of Horticultural Science) asked this question when talking about preparing a bright red pepper for eating.  When you have trimmed, cored and sliced the pepper, can you go ahead and plant the seed?  Fifty years ago the answer to this question would be “Yes”.  Today the answer is “Maybe” as many large plant breeders have placed limitations on what you can do with seeds.  Thirty years from now we do not want the answer to be “No”, so we need an alternative to patent-protected seeds sold by large agricultural companies.  Enter the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) which aims to create open source varieties of crop seeds.

Since seeds do not lend themselves well to software licenses, other options were considered to ensure that at least some seeds are always available for sharing and are not locked by intellectual property rights.  The following simple pledge was developed to provide an alternative to the legal restrictions on many seeds:

“You have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.”

If you are looking for seeds that preserve the farmer’s and gardener’s rights to save, replant, share, breed, and sell seed, look for seeds marked with the logo on the left.

 

Open Syllabus Project

I caught the latter part of this presentation about the Open Syllabus Project software that mines the syllabi from millions of courses, primarily in the United States but also with representation from Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, to surface the texts being taught in these courses.

Top ten titles in Canadian Syllabi (May 2017)

From the OER perspective, the data surfaced via the Open Syllabus Explorer, software that mines the data collected by the project, gives a clear picture of which public domain works are heavily used across the college and university curriculum and would be good candidates for including in open text projects.

The list to the left was generated by the Explorer and shows the top ten titles appearing in Canadian syllabi as of early May, 2017.

Future versions of the project will include a syllabi map, bar charts, ability to see changes over time, metadata improvements and more.

Creative Commons Certificates

“CC Certificates Logo” by Creative Commons licensed under CC-BY

This session introduced a new and exciting certification initiative from Creative Commons.  This is not going to be a read some text, complete some disposable assignments and answer a few questions course, but rather a big questions, applied practice, reflection, creating and sharing learning experience.  The bank of assignments being developed for the program borrows many positive characteristics from the popular DS106 (Digital Storytelling) course which challenges participants to take their learning to a higher level.

Currently there are four certificates planned:  a Core Certificate and three sector-based (Library, Education and Government) Certificates.

The Creative Commons Certificates aren’t quite ready for prime time yet, but you can check them out, start thinking about how you might complete the assignment, or provide feedback on the project.

Sharing Photos

CC0 licensed image by Tim Wright

CC0 licensed image by Scott Webb

Unsplash

The Capturing the Community of Photographers session highlighted two recent photo sharing projects.   Unsplash, based in Montreal, has created a collection of high-resolution public domain photographs that you can use as you wish.  All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.  Attribution would be a great way of thanking the photographer and Unsplash for making the images freely available.

Capture.Canada

This photography app is Government of Canada project which received funding as part of the Canada 150 celebrations. The app is designed to let Canadians take pictures of the country and upload them to a living archive.  Coming soon to a phone near you.

 

 

 

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Some Notes from OpenCon 2016 Toronto

This past Saturday a group of enthusiastic Open Access advocates met to attend OpenCon 2016 Toronto held at TWG (The Working Group) on Adelaide St. in Toronto.  Lorraine Chuen, Co-Founder of OOO Canada Research Network hosted the event.

Open Access and Social Justice: Aligning Open Access with the Mission of the Public University

The first speaker of the day was Leslie Chan, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media and the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.  His talk discussed shifting the narrative of Open Access from showcasing an institution’s research output to using it for public good.  Chan pointed out that changing this narrative is difficult in an era of metrics, marketing and recruitment as there is a disconnect between the stated mission of public good and the tendency to favour rankings as a yardstick.

The second part of his talk focused on the tyranny of journal articles, their format – a relatively recent development perpetuated by the major journal publishers to facilitate sales, the insidious nature of impact factors, and the focus on the discovery aspect of research.

Chan also discussed new models of access that can help address the inequity not just of access but also of knowledge dissemination. This interesting map used in the presentation graphically illustrates the imbalance in contributions to scientific research:

Contributions to Science Research

Map that shows size of countries based on the amount of science research

Map created and copyrighted by SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan) and licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license and is available at: http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=205. Based on data from the World Bank’s 2005 World Development Indicators.

Beyond Free: Harnessing the Resonant Value in Open and Collaborative Practices for Public Good

David Porter, the new CEO of eCampus Ontario, gave a talk that highlighted many existing Open Educational Resource (OER) initiatives and outlined plans for developing an OER textbook  platform in Ontario (by reviewing and importing the BCcampus Open Textbooks) and engaging faculty here.

Beyond the economic benefits to students of free textbooks, Porter outlined five other benefits:

  • Teachers have full legal control to customize and contextualize learning resources for their students
  • Access to customized resources improves learning (by providing choices for students)
  • Opportunities for authentic learning activities (student contributions to learning)
  • Collegial collaboration
  • Demonstration of the service mission of the institution

For those interested in attending more Open events, Porter mentioned the following:

Porter’s slides and notes are available on SlideShare:

Lightning Sessions

After lunch there were several lightning sessions highlighting various open initiatives:

Dr. Rachel Harding talked about making her research into Huntington’s disease open by blogging about her findings on Lab Scribbles where she reports on her research in real time and by posting and licensing her data under Creative Commons on zenodo. She has found that this practice has led to other researchers sharing their work with her reducing the amount of time required for her research.

Wes Kerfoot, a recent philosophy graduate from McMaster, talked about and demoed his software, Textbook Commons,  that he built to help students find public domain copies of course readings and texts.

Karen Young, recently graduated from the University of Toronto, spoke about Student Participation in the Open Access Movement and it Applications for Mental Health and how in this sphere Open Access not only benefits the researcher but also those facing mental health challenges while pursuing higher education.

University of Toronto Culture and New Media Professor, Alessandro Delfanti talked about academic social media sites, Academia.edu and ResearchGate, that faculty members use to disseminate their research.  He mentioned both the positive and negative aspects of these sites.  While using these sites to post research does make it more accessible there are issues such as the opaque algorithms that generate scores, the proprietary nature of the software, and the danger of publishers purchasing the sites and their content.

Open Access in the Creative Disciplines

The final formal conference session was given by Chris Landry, Scholarly Communications Librarian at OCADU. His talk, Open Access in the Creative Disciplines, focused on some of the challenges of Open Access in the arts.  He also talked about the difficulties of making content available through institutional repositories as most institutions only encourage contribution to these repositories and it is a rare few such as Harvard that require faculty members to opt out of participation.

The day wrapped up with a one-hour unconference focusing on the following topics:

Building a Open Education Movement for Student Leaders in Ontario
Facilitator: Chris Fernlund (eCampus Ontario)

Open Access and Social Justice
Facilitator:  Dr. Leslie Chan
Open Access and Social Justice Session Notes

Reproducible Research & Open Science Tools
Facilitators:  Mike Galang & Rachel Harding