Finding Instructional Resources with Open Licensing

By: Giulio Zannol

This week in Intro to Openness in Education we looked at the issue of open licensing. Open licensing is something that I became familiar with a few years ago as part of my job as a faculty member.  I found myself continually frustrated that there wasn’t an easy way for faculty like me to share the curriculum I developed with other faculty (actually, I was probably more frustrated that I wasn’t able to find curriculum that other faculty had developed — I really hate duplication of effort, and I wanted to be able to piggy back on someone else’s work).  While Open Educational Resources weren’t the easiest to come by when working in video production classes, I was able to find a few resources that helped me in the classroom.

What became more valuable to me in my curriculum was the ability to use openly licensed music, text, and video to assist my students in producing creative projects.  Previous to coming across Creative Commons resources, my students would frequently use copyrighted music and video in their projects.  While this use could be justified in terms of “fair use”, I found that the use of these types of works significantly limited what students could do with these projects later on.  I decided to instill a better habit in my students by teaching them about Creative Commons resources and requiring them to only use original content or content for which they had the license in their projects.  The uptake on this transition has been fairly seamless, and my students have become well adept at finding content for their projects using the Creative Commons search engine.

For this week’s assignment in the class, I wanted to search for resources surrounding digital storytelling, which is a class that I am currently teaching in my program.  I used Google’s advanced search feature (which incidentally is difficult to find these days) and I was able to find several resources regarding digital storytelling with the appropriate license.  One common theme that I found from the search results is that a majority of them are actually wikis of the Wikispace variety.  I’m assuming that this is mostly because of Wikispaces option to license wiki materials with a Creative Commons license.  The top results, however, were quite helpful as they tended to aggregate a bunch of content surrounding the topic of digital storytelling.  Here are the top sites that I found:

Since each of these resources is a collection of other (mostly) openly licensed materials, it would be extremely easy to remix and reuse these into my content.  In the instance of my own digital storytelling class, I was extremely grateful to be able to use Allan Levine’s work to be able to demonstrate to my students the many possible paths that their stories could take.

One downside that activity has shown is that this resource space seems to be fairly fragmented.  Many of the results that I came across had similar link listings on each of the wikis.  I think it would be helpful to have some more definitive resources to which many people are contributing to rather than having these disparate sites with a lot of duplicate information.  What are your thoughts on this?  Would the centralization of resources defeat the whole purpose of this openly licensed environment?  Or would it further decrease the duplication of effort that we face in the sphere of curriculum development?