Saturday, March 14, 2009

Open & Free Educational Tools: A micro pamphlet

What is Open Educational Resources?

"OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge." (The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

What is OpenCourseWare?

OCW is a term applied to course materials created by universities and shared freely with the world via the internet. (Wikipedia)

According to the website of the OCW Consortium, an OCW project (Wikipedia):

  • is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses.
  • is available for use and adaptation under an open license.
  • does not typically provide certification or access to instructors.
What is Open Source Software?

Generally it is a software that allows access to the source code. But according to the "Open Source Initiative" it also has criteria for distribution which can be found here:

What is Free Software?

Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”. (Free Software Foundation)

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. (Free Software Foundation)

What is Open Access Publishing

Open Access is relevant to accessing scholarly journals. Open access publishing is the publication of material in such a way that it is available to all potential users without financial or other barriers. (Wikipedia)

What is Open Instruction?

The term is not common, but the idea was tested in the Connectivism & Connective Knowledge course opened to the public by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The course can be found here

What is Copyright?

I am not a lawyer so the following is for information only. Each country has it's own copyright laws so see your lawyer for any real case.

Copyright has no definition. (Amador, p.2) Generally it includes five exclusive rights with respect to the copyrighted work (Amador, 367):
  1. reproduce
  2. distribute
  3. perform
  4. display
  5. prepare derivative works

What is a Copyright License?

A license is a written document, a contract assigning or transferring the above rights to others. These rights may be transferred separately or assigned individually (Amador, 368). There are two types of licenses, exclusive and non-exclusive.

In an exclusive license, the copyright holder permits the licensee to use the protected material for a specific use and further promises that the same permission will not be given to others. (Amador, p.371) It has to be granted in the form of writing.

A nonexclusive license permits the use of a copyrighted work in a particular manner but the same may also be granted to others. (Amador, 372)

Some popular licenses that give teachers and students access to free and open educational tools and resources include: GNU GPL, GNU GFDL, and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike.

The terms above are the fundamental principles underlying open educational tools that will be commented on in this blog.


Amador, V.B. (1998). Copyright under the Intellectual Property Code. Philippines: Rex.

Coar, K. (2006). The Open source definition. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from

Open access (publishing). (2009, March 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:04, March 14, 2009, from

Open educational resources (OER) - making high quality educational content and tools freely available on the web.
(2009). The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved March 14, 2009 from

OpenCourseWare. (2009, March 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:40, March 14, 2009, from

Free Software Foundation. (2009) The GNU operating system. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from

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