Mike Palmedo

Aug 102015
CC-BY Matt Wade

CC-BY Matt Wade

Creative Commons USA and over 100 other groups have sent a letter to President Obama urging a policy to ensure that “educational materials created with federal funds… are made available to the public as Open Educational Resources to freely use, share, and build upon” through the use of open licenses. The letter further notes that “the global standard for public copyright licensing for copyrighted content is Creative Commons. Existing U.S. Government grant programs including the TAACCCT and First in the World Programs mentioned above, use the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Releasing materials under a standard license, such as CC-BY, allows for increased reuse and compatibility between materials produced by different institutions, including private charitable foundations and other national governments.”

The coalition notes that the federal government has spent billions of taxpayer dollars through various programs to create educational materials, but these materials “are generally not open to the members of the public who paid for them.”

Opening up access to federally funded educational materials would allow others to benefit from, build on, and improve these works. To do this, the coalition identifies five core principles to guide Administration policy:

  • Adopt a broad definition of educational materials;
  • Provide free access via the Internet;
  • Create conditions for resources that enable reuse;
  • Require prompt implementation; and
  • Regular reporting of progress and results.

The full letter is available here.

For more information on the coalition letter, see

  • SPARC press release. SPARC Calls on White House to Open Up Access to Federally Funded Educational Resources.
  • Creative Commons blog. Obama Administration Should Require Sharing of Federally Funded Educational Resources Under Creative Commons licenses.
Mar 112015

open ed week 2015-300 by 200Sara Trettin and Dipayan Ghosh from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have posted a blog for Open Education Week. It highlights administration efforts to increase the creation of open access learning materials, though initiatives such as U.S. Open Government Partnership National Action Plan and programs such as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Training Grant Program (TAACCCT).

Trettin and Ghosh note that “Open Educational Resources can deliver two great benefits for students: lower cost in obtaining the educational resources needed to succeed in school, so that students and schools can redirect funds for other instructional needs; and access to a universe of high-quality, updated content that can be tailored minute-by-minute by educators to reflect new developments and current events.”

Their blog on the White House OSTP website is here.

For more on Open Education Week, see http://www.openeducationweek.org/

Nov 252014

open edu 300-x-200px copyAt last week’s Open Education Conference, Lane Fischer presented the results of a study he conducted with Jared Robinson, John Hilton and David Wiley on “the impact of open textbook adaptation on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students.”

The authors analyzed data on 16727 community college students.  4,909 students were in the “treatment” group that used open textbooks, and 11,818 were in the control group. They found that the treatment group students were more likely to complete the courses they were enrolled in, and were more likely to receive a passing grade.  Students in the treatment group were able to take more credits both the semester they used open textbooks and the following semester. All of the results were highly statistically significant.

Fischer told the audience that the take-home point was “students are moving faster, with generally better grades, toward graduation.”

Click here for their full paper: http://edr.sagepub.com/content/43/7/341

Oct 012014

Labor300x200On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez jointly announced the most recent winners of grants through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. This initiative funds community colleges and other educational institutions to expand and create education and career training programs “and prepare program participants for employment in high-wage, high-skill occupations.”

All new resources created with TAACCCT funding are required to be made available under Creative Commons licenses (CC-BY).  With this grant requirement, TAACCCT has already created hundreds of  CC-licensed programs of study.  As the program grows, so will the supply of Open Educational Resources funded by it.

After the event, SPARC’s Director of Open Education Nicole Allen and I talked briefly to Labor Secretary Perez about TAACCCT’s open licensing requirement. Secretary Perez said that the license requirements are “indispensable” and said that open license requirements need to be scaled up.

We couldn’t agree more! The TAACCCT licensing provisions ensure that US taxpayers get the most out this important federal investment – including the ability to adapt, republish and reuse TAACCCT-funded works. We hope that the Administration will make the open license requirement in this program the model for all other grant programs that fund the creation of educational resources and training materials.

Jul 032014

open edu 300-x-200px copy[Post by Professor Barton Beebe]  I’ve posted online at http://www.bartonbeebe.com/TrademarkLawCasebook.html my new casebook, Trademark Law: An Open-Source Casebook.  The book, provided in .pdf and .doc formats, is and will always be available under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.  No price, no suggested price.  Feel free to adapt all or any of it (under the terms of the CC license).

A few notes on the style of the casebook:

  1. The paragraphs of all opinions are numbered (for students who want to take the .doc version and reformat it for their preferred device; for professors who want to be able to use last year’s notes while teaching from a revised version of the casebook).
  2. The book emphasizes survey evidence a bit more than other trademark law casebooks, and on certain topics in trademark law, it tries to give lots of examples, typically in the form of brief summaries of related cases including quotes from the heart of the relevant opinion.
  3. As compared to casebooks generally, it’s sometimes relatively light on notes and comments following opinions.  It’s also relatively direct in its presentation.  It frequently tries to explain to the reader why we’re bothering reading some particular opinion and may give the holding of the opinion in advance.  It often proposes questions before the opinion that the student should consider while reading the opinion (rather than offering these questions after the opinion).  I’d like to think the book doesn’t offer much of an ideological slant.  It leaves that for the classroom – and your own edits and additions.
  4. The book is up-to-date.  It contains a brief description of the Uniform Rapid Suspension System and includes the first opinion issued under the URS.  It contains an edited version of Blackhorse.  It also includes the May 2014 TTAB opinion Chanel v. Makarczyk (which provides a very straightforward example of blurring facts and blurring analysis).
  5. The book is written for a 4-credit trademark law class, which is what I teach here at NYU (I used a draft of the book last fall).  This means that if anyone wants to adopt the book for a 3-credit course, they should consider taking an afternoon to work through the .doc versions of the parts and deleting out what they don’t want to assign.  Certain parts tend to have an extra opinion that can easily be deleted.  (For example, it includes both In re Heeb Media and a lengthy version of the Blackhorse opinion; on descriptive fair use, both Dessert Beauty and Kelly-Brown v Winfrey; on Rogers, both E.S.S. and Brown v. EA).  Contact me for a few professors who I know are already planning to prepare a 3-credit version for use in the fall.
  6. The book contains a short part on false advertising and a short part on right of celebrity.
  7. I’ll happily send you the powerpoint slides I used while teaching from the book last fall, including the videos related to certain opinions.
  8. Beware, anyone who adopts the book becomes, if they’re willing, an “advisory board” member.  If enough professors actually adopt the book (and I think we may already be there), we can think about a discussion forum and central repository for teaching resources.

Please feel free to write me with any questions.

Mar 102014

Tidewater Community College LogoToday, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition organized a Congressional briefing on Open Educational Resources (OER) for Open Education Week. One speaker, Daniel DeMarte, described the experience that Tidewater Community College has had in rolling out it’s “Z-Degree” – an associate degree in business administration that uses a curriculum composed of entirely of OER.

Tidewater identified 21 courses and signed up faculty members to design the curriculum.  They started with the desired outcomes for each of the courses, and then built the curriculum with OER materials that would meet those outcomes. Developing the curriculum took about 12 months. One year into the program, the early results are highly positive.

The OER degree program had two goals – to eliminate cost as a barrier, and to improve teaching impacts. The textbooks for an associate’s degree in business administration normally cost $3679, which is about a third of the cost of the degree from Tidewater.  Adoption of OER reduces these costs to zero. Students and instructors alike are happy with the quality of the OER materials used in the classes. 96% of the students enrolled in the courses have rated the quality of the OER content as equal to or better in quality to the textbooks used in other classes.

DeMarte would like to see other schools follow their lead.  Tidewater intentionally developed a model that can be reproduced.  All of their curriculum materials are openly available under a Creative Commons Attribution License, and there is a wealth of additional open resources available.  Tidewater staff and faculty have made at least 12 presentations to others in the last month promoting these types of programs.

He said there are a number of key things that are necessary to make an open OER degree program work:

  • Commitment from the organization to provide the necessary resources to build the curriculum.
  • Engagement from the faculty, who must be willing to venture into unfamiliar territory. At Tidewater, Prof. Linda Williams played a key role in making the degree a reality.
  • Engagement with the larger OER community.  Tidewater worked with Lumen Learning to set up this degree program
  • A key role for librarians to work with the staff and faculty
  • Continuous effort to fine tune and improve the program

After the panel, Michael Carroll and I talked briefly to DeMarte, who discussed how he wants others to adopt OER.  He told us “I don’t want to hear any more about students who didn’t take a course because they couldn’t buy the book.”  Down the road he would like to see a repository of Open Educational Resources that evaluates what exists based on student outcomes, and that identifies gaps in OER offerings for others to fill.


Jun 042012

The California Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill (SB 1053) that would create an digital library of openly available textbooks, and would allow students to buy hard copies for $20.  The textbooks will be published under creative commons licenses, allowing faculty to update them as necessary, and to tailor them to fit their courses. A companion bill, (SB 1052) creates guidelines for the creation of the texts as open educational resources. The textbooks will be published under creative commons licenses, allowing faculty to update them as necessary, and to tailor them to fit their courses.

The legislation was introduced by state Senator Darrell Steinberg, who noted that the cost of textbooks from publishers have become “exorbitant” – over $1,000 a year, on average.  The bill now moves to the full legislature.

Sen. Steinberg said in a statement that “As college students and their families struggle with college costs in this difficult time, let’s do what we can with the tools that we have. Through open educational resources, we can use technology to provide high quality college textbooks at a fraction of today’s costs,” said Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “Faculty, publishers and others can unleash their entrepreneurial spirit through the competitive bidding process in creating these materials. Our students and California’s economy will reap the benefits.”


For further info: