TAACCCT Standout Vignettes

 Posted by on March 11, 2015
Mar 112015

TAACCCTStandouts3[Paul Stacey, Creative Commons, Link (CC-BY)] Starting with the first round of grants in 2011 Creative Commons and a team of partners have been actively supporting US Department of Labor (DOL), Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grantees. This multi-year, nearly $2 billion grant program provides funds to US community colleges who in partnership with industry, employers, and public workforce systems create stackable/latticed credentials that can be completed in two years or less. The goal of TAACCCT is to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade and to move unemployed workers into high wage, high skill jobs in high growth industry sectors.

There are many unique aspects to the TAACCCT program. Creative Commons involvement stems from the DOL requirement that grantees allow broad access for others to use and enhance project products and offerings by licensing newly developed materials produced with grant funds with a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). DOL is the first US department to require this in such a large grant program. Its size makes TAACCCT the largest Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative in the world.

There is a high interest in seeing curricula and course materials coming out of TAACCCT. This is partly due to the high level of investment but also due to the high growth industry sectors for which curricula is being created including health, IT, energy, transportation, and advanced manufacturing – areas where little prior OER exists. However, grantees get 3-4 years for development so examples of work are only now emerging.


In Oct-2014 at the TAACCCT-ON convening in Topeka Kansas, Creative Commons hosted a round 1 TAACCCT grantee showcase fair. All round 1 grantees were invited to showcase, share, and describe some of the best work coming out of their projects.

Using a participatory process all the other grantees attending were invited to visit round 1 TAACCCT grantees at their showcase table to see and learn more about the work they are doing. To make it interactive and fun we asked grantees to put stickers on round 1 TAACCCT projects that were standouts for them. We sought standouts noteworthy for the way they fulfill TAACCCT grant priorities and standouts by industry sector.

TAACCCT Priorities

From that process, based on grantee selection, nine round one TAACCT grantee projects emerged as standouts. For each of the nine standouts we created a vignette with a video interview, a written story, and a graphic visualization of the project.

We’re pleased to share the results with all of you – see TAACCCT Standout Profiles. These nine round 1 TAACCCT vignettes are a small, early sampling of the work coming out of the TAACCCT program. All TAACCCT grant projects are standouts in their own way. We hope these early examples satisfy some of the interest around seeing TAACCCT work and wet your appetite for seeing even more.

Special thanks to all the grantees for agreeing to be interviewed and profiled in this way. Special thanks to Giulia Forsythe for the visuals she created to graphically illustrate each project, to Hal Plotkin for writing the stories, and to Billy Meinke for managing the whole production process. And most of all special thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for funding our support of TAACCCT grantees.

We hope to see similar vignettes for rounds 2, 3 and 4.

More information on the support Creative Commons and its team of partners provide to TAACCCT can be found at Open4us.org.


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/

Feb 262015

Photo: Glyn Lowe (CC-BY)

This week, the House Rules Committee agreed to allow the full House to consider an Open Education amendment proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).  The amendment would permit funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (H.R.5) to be used for “Awarding grants for the creation and distribution of open access textbooks and open educational resources.”

CCUSA Director Michael Carroll issued the following statement:

Representative Polis’s amendment is a welcome recognition of the power and impact of open educational resources, including textbooks, which are up-to-date, high quality materials, that improve educational outcomes and save school districts millions of dollars that are better spent on teachers and students. The amendment uses the language of “open access textbooks” and ‘open educational resources’, and it should be clear that Creative Commons licenses are the standard for making textbooks or other educational resources ‘open.’ 

For an example of how granting states the ability to invest federal funds in open educational resources to produce significant returns on investment, see the work done in Utah. The Polis amendment would also provide support for these state-initiated policy developments to improve educational outcomes while saving significant amounts in the materials budgets, see this report by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a copyright license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.  Creative Commons USA has more information on Open Educational Resources on our OER page.

CC Affiliates Mixtape Released

 Posted by on February 3, 2015
Feb 032015

Download album: Internet Archive / Free Music Archive / SoundCloud
Download album notes (PDF)
Download album art: Front / Back

Musicians who use CC licenses do so to allow others to share and promote their work. All of us who work for Creative Commons in any capacity do so in part because we value and enjoy creativity. Many of us are creators, and all of us are music lovers. So, it should come as no surprise that when Teresa Nobre, Creative Commons Portugal, put out the call to the Creative Commons Affiliate community to nominate CC-licensed tracks for a CC Affiliate mixtape, many of us stepped up.

Here’s Teresa’s blog post about the tape. http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/44712

And Creative Commons USA sends a shout out to Tamara Laurel, whose track “Sweet“, made the cut!


Feb 032015

Creative Commons USA applauds a new joint grant program, Humanities Open Book, by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that seeks to give a second life to outstanding out-of-print books in the humanities by turning them into freely accessible e-books.

Over the past 100 years, tens of thousands of academic books have been published in the humanities, including many remarkable works on history, literature, philosophy, art, music, law, and the history and philosophy of science. But the majority of these books are currently out of print and largely out of reach for teachers, students, and the public. The Humanities Open Book pilot grant program aims to “unlock” these books by republishing them as high-quality electronic books that anyone in the world can download and read on computers, tablets, or mobile phones at no charge.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation are the two largest funders of humanities research in the United States. Working together, NEH and Mellon will give grants to publishers to identify great humanities books, secure all appropriate rights, and make them available for free, forever, under a Creative Commons license.

The new Humanities Open Book grant program is part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ agency-wide initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role and significance of the humanities and humanities scholarship in public life.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will jointly provide $1 million to convert out-of-print books into EPUB e-books with a Creative Commons (CC) license, ensuring that the books are freely downloadable with searchable texts and in formats that are compatible with any e-reading device. Books proposed under the Humanities Open Book program must be of demonstrable intellectual significance and broad interest to current readers. 

Application guidelines and a list of F.A.Q’s for the Humanities Open Book program are available online at www.NEH.gov. The application deadline for the first cycle of Humanities Open Book grants is June 10, 2015.

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

Nov 212014

gates-foundation-logoThe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced  an Open Access Policy to grant “unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.”  Under the policy, “all publications shall be published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic License (CC-BY 4.0) or an equivalent license.”  There will be a two year transition period during which publishers can apply a 12 month embargo on Gates Foundation-funded publications. Effective January 2017, the transition period ends, and all publications must be open.

CCUSA Director Michael Carroll issued the following statement:

The Gates Foundation deserves great credit for understanding how full open access provides the best return on its investment in research. By requiring the researchers it funds to make their results available under full open access terms, the Foundation has concluded that there are enough open access publishing options available to provide the public with immediate access while assuring that researchers will receive the credit they deserve for the advances in human understanding that their research makes.

For more on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Open Access Policy, see

Nov 212014

Photo: halplotkin.com (CC-BY-NC-ND)

For More Information Please Contact: Meredith Jacob

Creative Commons USA is pleased to announce that longtime open education advocate Hal Plotkin has accepted a position as our first Senior Open Policy Fellow. Plotkin served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Under Secretary, from 2009 to 2014.

Creative Commons USA is the United States’ national affiliate of the Creative Commons Affiliate Network, which works to inform and educate policymakers and the public about the benefits and uses of sharing content through open copyright licenses. In particular, the opportunities and benefits of sharing educational resources through Open Educational Resources in the United States are an area of focus. As Senior Open Policy Fellow, Hal Plotkin significantly increases the profile and capacity of Creative Commons USA to engage in these activities.

Hal Plotkin

During his five years of federal service, Plotkin was widely recognized as a principal architect of the Obama administration’s groundbreaking progress in the area of open education, TAACCCT. As a federal official, Plotkin helped develop and oversee the first major U.S. government job training and education grant programs that require the use of open licenses in order to ensure that members of the public have the right to freely use, reuse, improve, and customize learning materials developed with public funds.

“We are delighted to have Hal join our team as our first Senior Open Policy Fellow,” says Michael Carroll, Professor of Law and Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University School of Law, member of the Board of Directors of Creative Commons and the Public Lead of Creative Commons USA.  “For the past five years, Hal has been a leading voice in promoting open education within the federal government and internationally. Among other initiatives, Plotkin chaired the special session at UNESCO in 2012 that led to the adoption of the Paris-based organization’s Declaration on Open Educational Resources. He also helped initiate and guide the open educational resources research program currently underway under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). We are pleased to name someone with Hal Plotkin’s demonstrated ability to shape the national and international dialogue about how technology and open licenses can be used to create more accessible, cutting-edge, cost efficient educational opportunities.”

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Plotkin served as President of the Board of Trustees at the Silicon Valley-based Foothill-De Anza Community College District where, in 2003, he initiated the District’s innovative Policy on Public Domain Learning Materials, which was the first formal governance policy in the nation to mandate administrative support for faculty members who wish to create, maintain, share and improve free and open digital learning materials. He is also the author of Free to Learn: An Open Educational Resources Policy Development Guidebook for Higher Education Governance Officials.

Plotkin started his career as a talk show host on local FM radio in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970’s. He joined the public broadcasting family in 1987 as one of the founding editors of Marketplace, and later served as Silicon Valley Correspondent for CNBC.com and as the Tech Beat columnist for SFGate.com, the web site of the San Francisco Chronicle. Plotkin is the author of more than 600 publications for a wide variety of publishers including Harvard Business School Publishing, Inc. Magazine, International Business magazine and Forbes ASAP. Publications citing Plotkin’s work include Die Welt, Mac Week Japan, Brazil’s 80/20, The Taipei Times, The Industry Standard, Le Monde, ZDnet.com, MSNBC.com, Wired.com and The National Review. More recently he has been a contributor to the blogs at the U.S. Department of Education and the White House.

In his new role at Creative Commons USA, Plotkin will be responsible for promoting awareness of newly created federally funded open educational resources, help develop new tools that identify existing resources that can be used to fund and support the creation and continuous improvement of renewable open educational resources, and mentor new emerging leaders of the open education resources movement.

Creative Commons USA is the affiliate of Creative Commons, a global non-profit public benefit organization that provides open licenses and promotes their use to enable collaborative progress in science, education, technology and culture. Plotkin’s position is made possible thanks to generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.


Oct 022014

department_of_educationYesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced the awarding of $75 million in educational grants to 24 universities through its First in the World (FITW) program.  FITW provides “grants to institutions of higher education to spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes and make college more affordable for students and families, and to develop an evidence base of effective practices.”

The FITW program includes the requirement that any works created with its funds be made available under an open license.  The requirement reads:

To ensure that the Federal investment of these funds has as broad an impact as possible and to encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, FITW grantees will be required to license to the public all intellectual property … created with the support of grant funds, including both new content created with grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds. That license must be worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and grant the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use the intellectual property referenced above… for any purposes, conditioned only on the requirement that attribution be given to authors as designated.

The FITW grant announcement came right on the heels of the Department of Labor’s fourth round of grant awards through its Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program.  The TAACCCT grants are given to community colleges and other institutions to expand and create education and career training programs, and include a similar requirement for the open licensing of works created with government funding.

CCUSA is highly supportive of the licensing requirements in both FITW and TAACCCT, which will allow people to share and build upon the works created through federal funding.  We hope future federal funding programs will adopt similar licensing requirements.

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.