Tag Archives: Creative Commons

Creative Teaching


By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

A recent blog at the National Education Association website reported on a study concerning how K12 teachers can be creative in the classroom, in the face of standardized curricula and testing.

The authors of the study assert that the current high-stakes testing model in American education can impede the development of creativity in students. Yet as they point out, “creativity has always been and will continue to be a driving force in moving society forward”.

Drs. Danaah Henriksen and Punya Mishra co-authored the study. They are both professors of educational psychology and educational technology at Michigan State University. Their methodology involved lengthy interviews with eight recent winners or finalists for National Teacher of the Year awards.


Several  themes were common across the group:

  • An inter-disciplinary approach to subject matter
  • The use of multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic)
  • Learning that relates to the real worldSeveral  themes were common across the group:
  • Having confidence to try new ideas in the classroom
  • Creative teachers draw on their own creative abilities and interests (e.g. musical, artistic)

The study authors “recommend that teacher education programs devote more resources into interdisciplinary thinking and training.” And they add that introducing creativity does not need to involve “sweeping change”, that “more realistically it’s about an ongoing willingness to find the places to make small or interesting changes and watch these add up over time.”


Creative teaching is important for multiple reasons. One is that it provides more channels through which students can learn. Another is that it introduces children to the creative process, and helps them to become more creative themselves. And it allows teachers to remain more engaged with their students and the joy of teaching. Creative teaching is more rewarding for teachers.

Curriki applauds creativity in the classroom. We suggest you share ideas around enhancing classroom creativity with other educators by joining one or more Curriki groups. And we encourage you to look for ways to add cross-disciplinary and cross-learning content by taking advantage of some of the more than 62,000 free resource materials found at curriki.org.

The full study report can be found at: “We Teach Who  We Are: Creativity in the Lives and Practices of Accomplished Teachers”.

Help Protect the Internet

By Joshua Marks, Curriki chief technology officer

I’m asking that you please consider voicing your concerns to members of Congress to stop SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and the Protect IP act in the Senate.

As you know, Curriki encourages collaboration and the enhancement and redistribution of educational content so that a world-class education is within everyone’s reach.  If these bills are enacted, this practice could be considered an infringement.

Timothy Vollmer of Creative Commons points out several reasons why we need to get involved:

Why does SOPA matter to online education?

  • There is now a whole class of sites that encourage lawful distribution, remixing and redistribution of educational content (e.g. Curriki, Connexions, P2PU, YouTube, CK12). Should someone accidentally or purposefully upload copyrighted material, that service would generally be protected from liability by the DMCA. A content owner would issue a DMCA takedown to start that process for removal.
  • If these bills are enacted, sites that host or use user-generated content could be required to monitor their site for infringing material, and could potentially have their domain name disabled by the government if content owners thought that infringement was occurring on that site. This represents an entirely new legal power given to content owners to control the flow of content online and to shape the very foundation of the Internet.
  • This battle is not just about a material threat to existing sites, but fighting for future innovations and future services that have yet to be created.

I appreciate your time and hope that you consider joining us to stop SOPA and the Protect IP act.

Why Can’t I Find What I Need on the Internet?


When you consider that 140 million tweets, 1.6 million blog posts and 2 million YouTube videos are created each day, it’s no wonder we can’t find the exact resource we’re searching for on the Internet!

But there’s good news! The Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and Creative Commons (CC) are teaming up to improve search results through the creation of a metadata framework specifically for learning resources.  (Curriki is one of several partners supporting this effort.)

Underwritten by the Hewlett & Gates Foundations, this initiative will be discussed on a panel tomorrow, Tue, June 7, at 1:30pmET in Washington D.C. We encourage you to watch the streaming webcast http://www.contentincontext.org and share your thoughts here.

Image: graur razvan ionut

Q & A with Karen Fasimpaur on OER

We had a chance to talk with Karen Fasimpaur, who’s very active in the OER community. In fact, Curriki will be co-leading a Birds of a Feather session with Karen at ISTE 2011 (June 26-29 in Philadelphia) on open education and OER.  Meet us there!

Karen Fasimpaur

Learn more about Karen’s views on OER, its impact, and why more teachers aren’t using them.

What do you do and how did you get involved with OER?

I work with K-12 schools across the country to help them differentiate instruction by using rich content and engaging methods to get kids excited about learning. I got involved in OER through my work in developing content and trying to use and adapt existing content resources to use in digital environments. Prior to Creative Commons licenses, we often struggled with copyright restrictions and getting publishers to allow us to re-purpose materials, even those schools which had already paid to use. With OER, it is possible to adapt materials for use on different platforms and devices and also to allow students and teachers to use the materials in their own multimedia projects legally.

In what ways can OER impact education?

OER can improve education by allowing costs to be shifted away from expensive, proprietary resources to open, sharable ones. In particular, for publicly-funded projects, this is a logical step for the common good that allows funds to be shifted to other areas, like professional development and hardware. OER has the potential to increase equity of access to content and to improve learning by fostering more engaging and appropriate content resources.

What are the biggest advantages of OER? How do students benefit?

The biggest advantage of OER and also the benefit to students is in differentiating instruction. To differentiate effectively is a lot of work and requires a large number of resources and ones that can be adapted to different student needs. This might mean adapting the reading level, or including multimedia, or incorporating vocabulary support. Without OER, copyright restrictions often make it difficult and prohibitively expensive to do this. OER gives teachers and students the tools they need to facilitate effective learning.

Why aren’t more teachers using OER in the classroom?

In K-12, very few teachers know what OER is. If they were more aware of all the great OERs out there, they would definitely use them more. And if they were aware of Creative Commons licenses, they would share their own materials as OER as well.  [Note: check out Karen’s contributions to Curriki here.]

What’s the biggest myth about OER?

I think the biggest myth about OER is that being “free” is the best thing about them. The truth is that there is a lot of free content available now. There are several things that make OER different from all the other free tools available. First, OER will always be free, unlike many proprietary resources, which may be free today but not tomorrow. Secondly, OER gives schools more control, over how they use the materials, where they are housed, and even how student data is stored. Most importantly, OER facilitates sharing among schools and learners so that when one person creates a highly effective model for use, others can also benefit from that.

About Karen

Karen Fasimpaur has a keen interest in the area of open educational resources, particularly in elementary and secondary education (K-12). She currently runs a small educational technology company and has worked in education, including software and textbook publishing, for over 15 years. She has also taught overseas in Africa.

Policy Discussions at Communia: Open Education in the EU and Beyond

[tweetmeme]On April 19, 2010 academics, researchers, lawyers, members of the private sector, and students gathered in Istanbul, Turkey for the 8th Communia Workshop to discuss the topic of Open Education Resources.

What I loved about the event was that panelists and audience members had an opportunity to really dig into the challenges OERs present, as well as to come up with a body of policy recommendations that will be submitted to the European Union regarding OERs and the public domain. Topics discussed included:

  • Sustainability—OERs are free to the user, but they aren’t free to maintain. How do we encourage governments to invest in global open knowledge repositories? Or, how to we get entrepreneurs to develop revenue-generating applications on top of open content repositories?
  • CopyrightCreative Commons has done a tremendous job at making the issue of digital copyright transparent and easy-to-understand for both creators and users of digital content, but what happens in countries that don’t recognize/enforce the legality of CC licenses? How do we harmonize digital copyright licenses and laws across borders?
  • Search—Without proper metadata and content aggregation efforts, OERs can be hard to find. Add in the issue of language (searching for OERs in English versus Turkish versus Chinese) and it is no wonder search continues to confound even the best developers! Learn what one Communia member had to say about search here.
  • Culture—How do we encourage academics to “open up” their research and writing when time constraints and university policies encourage the opposite? In places where the media is censored, should policies be created to encourage culturally sensitive OERs? Who should set such policies?

To see what Communia participants had to say about the issues above, as well as others, visit the Communia websiteFacebook, and Twitter search feed. To read more about past Communia discussions regarding the digital domain, click here.

To the global digital commons!

An update from Curriki abroad,

Anna Batchelder

Curriki International Consultant


Note: The image of Istanbul above is by Oberazzi and is available under the CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Digital Copyrights: How to Share your Teaching Genius with the World

[tweetmeme]The Internet and digital technologies have transformed how people learn. Educational resources are no longer static and scarce, but adaptable and widely available, allowing educational institutions, teachers, and learners to actively participate in a global exchange of knowledge via Open Educational Resources (OER). Creative Commons provides the legal and technical infrastructure essential to the long-term success of OER, making it possible for educational resources to bewidely accessible, adaptable, interoperable, and discoverable (Creative Commons).

Dear Teachers, Students and Creators of digital education content,

Thank you for sharing your teaching genius and personal passions with the world by posting your lessons and learning objects on sites such as Curriki.

One small request… When you create educational resources to share via the web, please tell the world how you’d like others to use them. For example:

  • Will you allow other people to commercialize your work?
  • Will you allow modifications of your work?
  • Will you request that future modifications of your work be shared?

By licensing your work via an organization called Creative Commons (i.e., by answering the questions above here) you will help broaden the impact of your work by explicitly enabling others to use and translate it around the world and by making it easier to find in places like Google, Yahoo! and DiscoverED—i.e. the places many teachers and learners go to look for educational content.

To learn more about how educators and educational institutions are taking advantage of Creative Commons licenses and to learn how you can too, click here.

Because your work is too good to keep behind inflexible “old school” copyright laws…

Anna Batchelder

Curriki International Consultant




OER Friday: 5 Ways to Keep on Top of OER News

[tweetmeme]As an addendum to 10 Ways to Support OERs via Social Media, I thought it would be nice to write a follow-up post on how to keep up with open education news. If you are a fan of OER or OER curious, here are a few ways to stay “in the know”:

  1. Google alerts – Set Google alerts for terms like “open education,” “open education resources,” and “OER” to have the latest and greatest OER news delivered to your inbox as-it-happens, daily, or weekly.
  2. Twitter search – Search for #OER to see what people are saying about OER now!
  3. Trusted tweeters – Follow OER tweeters like:
    1. @Curriki
    2. @OpenEdNews
    3. @creativecommons
    4. @MITOCW
    5. @OERCommons
    6. @opencontent.
  4. OER bloggers – Add OER blogs to your RSS reader! Here are a few to start with:
    1. Curriki’s blog – FYI we blog about OER content on Mondays and OER news on Fridays!
    2. Open Education News – For an up-to-the minute play-by-play on all things OER, this blog is a must-read!
    3. OpenSource.com – Read our review of the site here.
  5. OER Conferences – Digital discussions are great, but what about meeting the people behind the alerts, tweets, and blog posts?! Here are a few upcoming conferences in which OERs will be discussed!
    1. The Global Forum on Technology and Innovation in Teaching and Leading (Dubai, UAE, April 15-17, 2010)
    2. The 8th COMMUNIA Workshop – Education and the Public Domain: The Emergence of a Shared Educational Commons (Istanbul, Turkey, April 19-20, 2010)
    3. University Leadership: Bringing Technology-Enabled Education to Learners of All Ages (Massachusetts (MIT), USA, May 23-26, 2010)
    4. ISTE 2010 (Colorado, USA, Jun 27-30, 2010) – Make sure to check out the Open Source Lab!
    5. Open Ed 2010 –  (Barcelona, Spain, November 2-4, 2010)

Gotta love OER Fridays!

Anna Batchelder

Curriki International Consultant