Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

My involvement with CC

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is still me pre-reading on the Creative Commons for Educators course beginning in January.

I am really attracted to the personal reflections and this one particularly resonates strongly for a couple reasons I will explain shortly.

When you think about Creative Commons, do you think about the licenses? Activists seeking copyright reform? A useful tool for sharing? Symbols in circles? Something else?

Are you involved with Creative Commons as a creator, a reuser, and/or an advocate? Would you like to be?

The reason this resonates v strongly with me is

  1. Advocate: I am a strong open advocate and CC to me is one way of expressing this, but not the only way. Licenses are not all that openness is. And I sometimes think resisting unjust copyright law should be worked on at a higher level than CC, which is good for smaller endeavors but does not challenge copyright itself. Do you know what I mean? It allows some people an alternative, so that people who want open can take that route, and those who fear open but want to approach it have different routes and levels of protection (like NC and ND). But the copyright ecosystem mostly continues. Just like open access journals are a small challenge to larger more established subscription-based journals…but if authors, editors and libraries stopped dealing with non OA journals and academic departments valued openness in their professor’s work…it would help. The rules in some European countries that govt funded research be published OA unfortunately seems to feed publisher greed as subscription-based journals just charge gold OA APCs and double-dip as Peter Suber says.
  2. As user: I make sure that any images I use are CC licensed. I use lots of CC and openly available material in my courses. Some is copyrighted but openly available for free online and sometimes that’s just good enough. I don’t think I ever want to personally create an open textbook for my class because I want my students to go find the stuff where it is hosted rather than make it all in one place (links on course website or Bb should be enough).
  3. Creator: I create most of my material in some openly licensed way. I don’t use the same license for each thing. More importantly, my practice is about openness as an attitude and world view and about equity and social justice rather than celebrating openness as a universal good

I’ve really got an internal struggle here that is multidimensional, really

  1. I am one of the big open advocates on campus. I co-organize OA day, I encourage people to consider open licenses, I started relationship with Edraak to do MOOCs and continue to support them… I led the project on first open textbook at AUC. But none of this is systematic
  2. I have keynoted several open edu events. I still don’t know if I know open in certain ways… I invited several open educators to an upcoming event where I hope they will help us institutionalize open (my point of weakness)
  3. I am a bigger advocate and researcher of open pedagogy and open educational practices and a critical perspective on openness. It is a difficult but important position to support an idea but still be hyperaware of its limitations in both theory and practice. My context makes me very sensitive to those limitations for marginalized groups.
  4. I was asked to co-found the Egypt CC Chapter and I agreed and almost did it (but my 2 partners had to cancel last minute so we postponed). But you know what? I am completely unsure what would happen beyond that one chapter meeting. I can imagine giving workshops on CC after I finish this course and facilitator training and I absolutely want to do that. But what else???
  5. Where is the place of things like Virtually Connecting and Equity Unbound and such in CC? I don’t see it. But I sometimes think of CC as an organization that supports and advocates for open, hopefully beyond licenses.

I am working with Rajiv Jhangiani, Robin DeRosa, Catherine Cronin, Laur Czerniewicz to create a space to highlight the diverse and critical perspectives on open…working on this on our own time…hoping we get somewhere soon so we can share it.

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