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2011
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intergovernmental organizations
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The Commonwealth of Learning has incorporated CC BY-SA as part of its open educational resources (OER) policy.

Those organizations interested in adopting an open policy should start small, and work their way through the problems as they go. If you try to make your entire back catalog available, you’ll be lost. — Sir John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning

Overview

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organization comprised of 54 member states. The overarching focus area for COL is “learning for development.” It aims to help its member nations—especially developing countries—use technology and develop new approaches to expand and approve learning at all levels.

In its policy for open educational resources (OER), COL recognizes the importance of OER for teaching, learning, and collaboration among institutions and governments. COL states that it will “encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER.” The policy further specifies that COL will “release its own materials under the most feasible open licenses including the Creative Commons CC BY-SA license.”

COL has also developed guidelines for open educational resources (OER) in higher education.

License Usage

COL's OER policy specifically states that it will,

"release its own materials under the most feasible open licenses including the Creative Commons CC BY-SA license."

Motivations

In an interview with Creative Commons, Sir John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, states,

"We’re in the open business, so it made sense to communicate a formal open policy prominently on our website. It really wasn’t a problem, and there were few hurdles inside COL. We drafted the policy, it went through a few iterations within our staff, and then we adopted it. That said, we should be clear that we didn’t take this policy to the member states for review. We’re a small organization, and we do not have a general assembly of our membership. So, we didn’t have to wade through the politics of getting all the states to sign on. However, we didn’t develop the OER policy just pat ourselves on our back. We want to show the world that supporting open education is how we all should behave these days."

In response to why COL chose the CC BY-SA license specifically, Sir John Daniel says,

"Well, our policy simply says COL will release its own materials under the most feasible open license, which includes the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. We understand why MIT OCW adopted a noncommercial license for its materials—they were the first to do it and didn’t know what was going to happen. But now, we encourage people to not use noncommercial if they can avoid it, and we follow our own recommendation. It wasn’t until Dr. Balaji arrived that we were able to sort through the legal and technical challenges that COL, as an intergovernmental organization, faced in adopting an open license."

Impact

COL hopes to set an example for other IGOs who are considering the use of CC licenses and tools for its open policies. Sir John Daniel says,

"We hope that our small organization, which seems to have an influence larger than its size, will be the grain of sand in the oyster for other IGOs. UNESCO is working to get on the right page; given their name it would seem peculiar if they are not more in the ‘open’ business. But I understand the problem with large organizations. When you look at UNESCO, you’ve got general assemblies with lots of people that don’t like things unless they’re invented there. For example, everyone in the world wants for there to be standardization in electrical sockets, as long as the standard that is adopted is the one they use. Those organizations interested in adopting an open policy should start small, and work their way through the problems as they go. If you try to make your entire back catalog available, you’ll be lost. Those big intergovernmental organizations should say, “from now on, we’re going to be as open as we can be.” An important thing is to adopt the philosophy of openness."

Technical Details

Provide any technical details of the implementation here

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