I was in a series of policy meetings on OER this week. One of the big discussion areas was on definitions and language.

I have written already about my concern with the confusion between digital, free, and open that I seem to see everywhere lately (with OPEN being the key factor in my mind). In other discussions, I have heard “open” and “open source” used to describe materials that are not open under even the most broad definitions.

Creative Commons and a team of others are working on a “consensus” definition of open educational resources, and I think this is important work. But whatever they come up with, it is likely to be a bit complex for some and thereby may be misinterpreted, miscommunicated, and misunderstood by those who are casually interested parties.

My advice for policy makers, legislators, and others who want to promote openness but are struggling with language: require CC BY (especially for materials developed with public funds). This is simple and guarantees that materials that are intended to be open and shared will be so.


Four letters: CC BY

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