iCommons Summit 2007

This is a very late blog post about the conference that I participated 3 weeks ago. I see that people are still blogging about the conference so maybe it is not too late to post my own thoughts.

iCommons is the organization that is grown out of the Creative Commons. This year iCommons Summit brought together more than 300 people with very diverse backgrounds such as law, art, media, education, software development and business. The second iCommons Summit took place between June 15th and 17th in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

On the evening of the pre-meetings day there was a welcoming drink and film screenings. The most impressing movie was “Good Copy Bad Copy“. This documentary about remix culture and copyright is made with a good sense of humor and gives a lot of food for thought.

The of the four parallel tracks in the summit was the open education track. “There is a place where Powerpoint presentations are against the law, where conversation is the order of the day and where peer learning is gained.” This sentence from the trailer of open education track pretty much sums up the activities we had during three days.

On the first day the most interesting session in the open education track was the open education project showcase. We had 10 projects and the audience was divided to ten small groups. Each project had ten short presentations that lasted for 5 minutes. I haven’t experienced this presentation format before but it worked quite well because people really had a possibility to ask questions. The only drawback was that people who were presenting did not have a chance to see the other projects. It was nice to see that some people already knew LeMill and had quite specific questions for me.

On the second day the most interesting session was open education project clinic. Four projects formed a small groups to discuss problems that are important for them at the moment. I decided not to propose LeMill as one of the projects and joined the OERCommons discussion group. I think that we are facing quite similar problems although our focus is a little bit different. OERCommons is targeted for people who want to find open educational resources. LeMill has its focus on creating, remixing and sharing open educational resources. One of the interesting ideas that came out from the discussion is the idea to have OERCommons widgets that can be placed on other websites. This means that we could have OERCommons widget in LeMill for annotating the learning resources. It is not realistic in near future, but in a similar way LeMill could offer learning resource authoring widget that can be embedded to other websites.

The most interesting keynotes came from Lawrence Lessig, Jimmy Wales, James Boyle, Jonathan Zittrain and Yochai Benkler. It seems that their presentation slides are not published online but you can download the video recordings from all keynote sessions:

One of the things that I was expecting from the conference was a common understanding about the most suitable Creative Commons license for educational content. Currently we have three different pools of open educational resources that cannot be remixed with each other: CC BY-NC-SA (used by MIT OpenCourseWare), CC BY-SA (used by LeMill and Wikieducator) and GNU FDL (used by Wikipedia). The statistics show that people tend to prefer restrictive licenses — about 70% of Creative Commons licenses include NonCommercial restriction.

Creative Commons has recently started a new initiative CCLearn that will focus on open education. James Boyle from CCLearn emphasized in his speech that we must build interoperability between existing licenses and we should not create a new license for educational content. His opinion about the use of non-commercial licenses for educational resources was quite critical: “You got to stop thinking about education as a classroom with a teacher and a rows of desks. Because that is not the future of education and if you have a license premised on it then you are really messing it up right from the beginning.”

On the last day of the conference we made a boat trip to the isle of Lopud. I really liked that island because it was not overcrowded with tourists. After the conference I had one extra day in Dubrovnik and took a lot of photos. All my photos from that trip are organized into two sets:

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