Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Taking @creativecommons Course: A Pre-Reflection

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I am taking the Creative Commons online course starting January inshallah and I am so impressed by the simple, elegant syllabus that is detailed just enough.

I am taking this course for many reasons. I am really knowledge imho on CC licenses and open education in general BUT I have difficulty changing the culture of faculty and students at my institution. I have also been invited by CC to co-lead the creation of an Egypt CC Chapter and I want to see if I can know more about CC so when the chapter is created I could get CC facilitator certification and facilitate sessions for an Egyptian/Arab audience. I would be happy to facilitate online or f2f in future.

So I thought I could start reading the material ahead of time. And one of the first points for reflection in the course was this one:

When did you first learn about Creative Commons? Think about how you would articulate what CC is to someone who has never heard of it. To fully understand the organization, it helps to start with a bit of history.

– From: Creative Commons Certificate for Educators and Librarians. Epub file.

So this is kind of an interesting story. I was always hyperaware of copyright and fair use and getting uncomfortable with how it disadvantaged people in my part of the world who could not afford to pay for knowledge or software or such. I attended once a presentation by a computer science faculty member on CopyLeft and CC and got hooked on this. Since then, I have learned a lot about Open Access (for peer-reviewed journal articles) and CC and have thought about the various CC licenses a lot. One MOOC that helped me a lot was called Why Open and i remember Christina Hendricks as being one of the facilitators and thinking through a lot with her and other learners.

The trickiest thing with explaining stuff to people about CC is when they don’t have Copyright as their baseline in the first place. When people don’t know enough about copyright, they mistakenly think everything on the internet is public domain, i.e. that they can reuse it without permission or attribution. To them, CC seems restrictive because they don’t know that the default is Copyright which is way more restrictive…

So you gotta take a step back. You actually gotta teach copyright and citation first. Get them on board with that. Then explain that there are less restrictive possibilities to make your own work easier to share – and to find material by others that is shared with open permissions. I don’t know how long it would take to explain this because it depends on where someone is on the spectrum.

The key things I guess would be that people

  1. Understand that most stuff online is actually copyrighted and know about fair use and STOP using copyrighted stuff in their own material (e.g. too many copyrighted images in a closed system or any copyrighted images in an open system). Even if it seems like an unjust system (it helps if they think so coz it makes CC more attractive)
  2. Reach their own conclusion about attribution as essential as an ethical approach to building on other people’s work. Different people reach this conclusion for different reasons and through different paths. Then start using attribution regularly.
  3. Understand the affordances of CC licenses and how to find CC licensed works and start using them in their own work
  4. Assess which license makes most sense for various works they create themselves. And how to add a license on their work.

I am thinking I would love to develop a module that takes students over 2 class sessions and some online work through a process of learning about this and creating sample blogposts…then getting feedback on whether they have achieved #3, especially in the sense of using CC licensed images and attributing them. #4 may or may not come up. Needs more time I think and case studies of “how would you feel if…?”. But perhaps this stuff already exists? In some CC Licensed form which I can adapt? Or not 🙂 I mean for it to be a teachable module not just informational. If you know some good ones please share. I have seen some not good or not complete ones. I used to make my own “how would you feel if..?” As an exercise on NearPod in class.

I wonder if either or both of the above (module or case studies) already exist or could be my final project. You know, “Creative Commons for the Arab Learner” or something, taking into account existing cultures of misattribution plagiarism or drawing on existing culture of attribution in Islamic scholarship for example.

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