Final Thoughts

In this final blog post for the course, I have been asked to reflect on four questions:

1. What have I studied?

The course has presented a convincing argument for the benefit of creating open resources that others can share. Whilst the discussion has been strongly biased towards the pro- camp (it would have been interesting to hear a counter-argument from publishers for example) it is a difficult thing to argue against – who could not see the value in a learning commons? One of the things I wasn’t aware about before the course was how the licenses interact, and how the licensing choices others make may constrain your own sharing choices.  The course has also changed my perspective on the CC NC option (see this is something I won’t be using again by choice.

2. How does the theory relate to practice?

I think participation in this course has made me think a lot harder about the way I use content in my work and how I cite it.  Whilst I have used CC content in the past, often I just included a link back to the source URL without adding details of the license. That’s something I’ll change going forwards.

3. Outstanding Questions

There has been some interesting discussion by participants about what happens if in good faith you include external content which another user has released under a CC license (or equivalent) but it turns out is actually in breach of the license – e.g. it is actually a copy of another’s work where the author has asserted their copyright, or may be a resource that the user didn’t have the right to make – e.g. a picture of a painting in a gallery. In such a case how would I know, unless I carried out an exhaustive search? The CC license is clear – it cannot normally be revoked, but in the case of copyright breach then I think it should. The problem is there is no way a downstream consumer can know of this. I wonder if we can learn from Mozilla’s openbadge movement and ‘bake-in’ license details to each assertion, which could contain a unique license id whose continued legality can be checked by clicking on it. The challenge is designing a system that is still lightweight enough that it does not discourage people from releasing content under the license. I’m not sure my suggestion would quite fit the bill.

4. What have I yet to learn?

This is probably the hardest question to answer, as in some ways it begs the question ‘what do I not yet know?’ I think I need to understand more about any UK-specific legislation and to begin a dialogue with my employer to see if they can develop an institutional policy on OERs. That would be a great outcome from this course.

Thanks to everyone involved – those who contributed materials, those who put the course together and responded to our questions and all the participants on the course who really brought the issues to life.

Featured Image Source: shared under a CC-BY license – this image was also included in some of the OCL4Ed materials.


©oke: the real thing?

Our fourth OCL4Ed challenge is to construct a blog post containing a range of sources. You are encouraged to blog “off-topic”. As such I’ve decided to have a think about coke.

The Coke script logo is interesting. I expected it to be copyright but found out that this is not the case:

“This image only consists of simple geometric shapes and/or text. It does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain.”
This quote is shared under a CC-BY-SA license

Note that it can still be a Registered Trade Mark even if it is not copyright.

Coca Cola
The Spencerian Script logo
 Personalised bottle
Your name(?) on the bottle.
Image Source: GeoBlogs shared under a CC-BY-NC license.

In the summer of 2013 Coke ran their Share a Coke campaign –  replacing the product name (‘Coke’) with a first name (such as the example ‘Alan’ in this image).  The full list of 250 names used in the UK market was carefully chosen:

“For Share a Coke, we worked closely with Experian, an independent expert and the nation’s leading data insight and analysis company, to identify 250 of Great Britain’s most popular names. This data reflects both the gender and ethnic make-up of the population.”

Accessed 15 Feb 2014

This suggests that the iconic ‘contour bottle’ shape and the red and white artwork is now enough to identify the brand. The question is, would seeing your name encourage you to buy a bottle? Conversely, if your name’s not available does that damage your relationship with the Coke brand?

Football-themed coke
This football-shaped bottle shows a counter example where the bottle shape is lost but the colours and logo are retained. It seems you need two out of three…
Source: FicusDesk shared under a CC-BY-SA license.

If imitation is a sign of success then we should conclude that this promotion worked for Coke. HP and the Famous Grouse are just two brands who have subsequently launched similar de-branding ad campaigns (Howley, 2014).

The iconic nature of the bottle can be seen in these two examples below:

blue bottle

Jean Paul Gaultier was recently paid by Coca Cola to look at the Diet Coke brand and add a bit of high-fashion to the cans and bottles. The result is a series of limited edition bottles bedecked in Breton stripes and corsets inspired by Madonna. The print advert features two models wearing outfits that themselves resemble the newly styled Diet Coke bottles [taking things one step further than having your name on the bottle – they  now have the bottle on them]. These Gaultier designs are available in Europe but not the US. Photos from the ad campaign can be found at

Source: The information about  Gaultier’s involvement is adapted from an article on shared under a CC-BY license.


Howley, Mark (2014) “Why did Coke put your names on its bottles? De-branding is the new branding” London Loves Business 5th January 2014. Accessed 15 Feb 2014.


Ironically, the most difficult type of work I found to obtain was the first task: Text you can legally copy and modify, about 300 words.
Where can you get that? I only managed somewhere around 70 words, quickly exhausting my knowledge of high fashion 🙂

This blog posts contains material covered by five different licenses:

  • PD – it seems that the Coca-Cola image I used is considered to be in the Public Domain.
  • CC-BY – The discussion of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Diet Coke campaign
  • CC-BY-SA – The photo of the football shaped Coke bottle from flickr
  • CC-BY-NC – The photo of the named Coke bottle on flickr
  • Copyright  – I have taken short quotes or referenced the findings of two articles published on the web where the owner/publisher is retaining copyright. These are the information from Coke about the selection of names for their Share a Coke campaign, and the analysis of the effect of this campaign  y the journalist Mark Howley. I  linked but did not include the images of the Gaultier campaign on my blog. The pictures are on the fashionetc website but seem to have been originally posted on Facebook. I expect they are covered by copyright and so opted not to include them here.

So after considering the CC remix matrix I think I can combine these items and have one license choice for this post under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

That might have been a license that I would have selected before I started this course, but isn’t what I would have liked to use here, had I a free hand.  During #OCL4Ed we were shown some articles that made a convincing argument against using the NC option, so I would rather have used a less restrictive license such as CC-BY or CC-SA that unlike this one would be a free cultural works approved license. To achieve this I’d have to remove the coke bottle images or find alternatives.

Background image by HPDeutschland shared under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

Learning by Doing: OER MCQs

Day 3’s task is to design a couple of multiple choice questions to demonstrate our new knowledge of open educational resources.  This is a great example of learning by doing (John Biggs would like it) but alas not the easiest thing to elegantly post on a blog. Here are my attempts (shared here under a Creative Commons (Attribution) licence).

Image Credits: (Public Domain)

Case 1: Still legal?

Context: education; Country: any
You are a lecturer and find a great video resource that you want to use in your teaching. Happily it is available under a Creative Commons (Attribution) licence. You opt to post it on your institution’s learning environment (or website) to support your class’s learning. To brighten the page up you place an image above it that you create by capturing a still from the video.

Is your use of this image within the license?

  • Yes
  • Yes, but only if the screenshot is the same as the opening frame of the video
  • No – you cannot change the format of an OER under a Creative Commons license.

Case 2: Read My Words

Context: education; Country: any
An early years researcher you are delighted to have your first single author paper published. You plan to use the article in your teaching this year to expose your students access to the latest research (it won’t do your reputation any harm either) and already have a PDF version of the article supplied by the publisher.

Can you distribute the PDF to your students?

  • Yes, as you have exerted the moral right to be recognised as the author of this work
  • Yes, but only if the distribution method is private, e.g. by email, rather than posting the document on a website
  • No

The answers are available below

Continue reading Learning by Doing: OER MCQs

Why Open Still Matters: Reflections on Day 2

I have spent most of this afternoon mulling over tweets, google+ postings, personal blogs and web pages, trying to make my own way through  the “Why Open Matters” materials. I have found the twitter stream really useful – I’ve used it to see where other people are up to, follow fellow OCL4Ed participants and share thoughts. Google+ has just annoyed me – too much of the conversation is hidden behind “More…” buttons and profiles of the poster keep popping up. Everything is tagged so that you can track it. It is clear that some people are using OCL4Ed and others #OCL4Ed. I’m not sure if it matters everywhere, but as you’ll have noticed from this blog, I decided to use both just to be on the safe side 🙂

Whereas Day 1 used some pretty inspirational speakers in the video clips, Day 2 has deployed some more controversial ones, some of whom I didn’t really take to personally. I have struggled at times to separate their personality from their point of view – something I didn’t expect to be doing on a MOOC! The perspectives were heavily weighted towards US examples and terminology – a bit of a shame given the international spread of the particpants (only 16% of the respondents to the course Fair & Reasonable Practice Survey are from North America).

One of the key take-away points for me has been the two facets to the word “open” used in the sense of OERs. (As an aside some would rather have us use “libre” but I’m not going there today – you can if you want to). The first sense is open as in free (no cost). That bit I was already pretty happy with. The second bit was open as in free to create with, to re-use, re-mix, revise, redistribute. That takes a bit more thinking about and opens up all sorts of other issues – e.g. what software was the OER created with (is it free/open too?), is the source distributed or just the final product, etc., etc.

Keen to get us adopting OERs in our institutions we were then asked to think about the barriers we face. One of the tasks was to retweet our favourite example from this open textbook. That made me realise that I didn’t know much about open textbooks – time to chat to someone in the Library I think.

Image source:

Who owns ideas?

In my second real day of activity on this μOOC, things are hotting up. We asked to watch a video containing edits from presentations by two Law professors  Eben Moglem (Columbia University, also founder of the Software Freedom Law Center) and Lawrence Lessig (Harvard, founder of Creative Commons). These were harder to watch.

If you view Moglem’s transcript you will quickly get a taste for his style of delivery. Whilst agreeing with the sentiments of at least some of what he said, I found it hard to connect with him and his pencil-twirling antics. In his provocative delivery there is no room for doubt:

This of course is the beginning of the revolution. That is, the application of the word ‘theft’ to what previously had been known as ‘learning.’


So those of us who know the answer to the question are beginning to implement the necessary step. We are making it impossible to continue with the system of the ownership of ideas. We will be finished with that work within our lifetimes, and the system of ownership of ideas will have been relegated to that very important, but almost forgotten location, the dust heap of history.

Hmmm. He made a very interesting point about the impact of society deciding upon the need for ownership of ideas, and through the acts of distributors creating channels for revenue.  When, however, he was in full swing:

The law of Intellectual Property was the law of rights of distributors, who oppressed producers by the alienation of the production from those who made and used it. We reverse that process and eliminate the law of Intellectual Property by eliminating distributors.

We eliminate distributors, because the technology of human society at the beginning of the twenty first century makes distribution child’s play. And therefore, we ask children to be the distributors. And they succeed very well.

I began to disagree.  He talked of 21st century poets being able to publish their work (presumably on a blog) for nothing, but isn’t he being a bit naive here? Do blogs eliminate distributors, or just replace one with another? Aren’t we just replacing the explicit financial transactions associated with physical publishing with the hidden revenue of click-through adverts, surrendering more of our personal browsing habits and data as we go? How will the good poets eat? Not such an open and shut case.

The use of the word theft also chimes with my experiences discussing plagiarism with staff.  Acknowledgement of sources is surely the key here.

In some respects Lawrence Lessig’s posts were easier to watch, although the frequent references to US politics left me cold.

Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.
Joseph de Maistre, 1811

He spoke of the need to protect a space for creativity through “fair-use” to promote an ecology of sharing, en route hitting out at big names in the media world such as Walt Disney and George Lucas. He stressed the need to respect the author (not the distributor) and felt that in the past obtaining explicit permission to re-use the work of others was often to difficult. That I presume is one of the reasons he created the Creative Commons.

I liked the fact that he recognised the role of community in this process. The challenge is to nurture this, beginning in our educational institutions…

Image credit:

Why Open Matters – thoughts from activity 1

This has been an interesting start to the course.

I enjoyed Stephen Downes scene-setting video, given his significant inputs into the theory of connectivism, I was not surprised to see him evangelising about the importance of sharing. As I blogged earlier (The classroom…) I am still unsure whether everyone is as willing or able to embrace the online as the sole, or even primary arena for learning. I think it is important to differentiate between the consumption of knowledge (which can be a very private thing) and the contribution of knowledge as you struggle with concepts online.  For many, making the latter anything but private may be a step too far. Steve Wheeler’s (@timbuckteeth) earlier words of encouragement to go public have spurred me on to write this posting. He lauded the process of blogging as helping to refine his thinking. That may be true, and helpful for the individual, but I still wonder how transferable that journey is to another learner – are all the twists and turns really more informative than the final lucid prose?

The next big star rolled out was Desmond Tutu. Another evangelist, this time we were treated to his warm voice encouraging us to adopt open source software and worldwide sharing to overcome inequality.  He poured scorn on patents and I was unsure whether there was a subtext that some laws should be ignored if they get in the way of learning. This theme was also picked up in the course’s Fair and Reasonable Practice survey. I like things for free and have contributed my time and skills to several open source projects, but I don’t see them as the only solution.  Unless institutions that benefit from open source software get better at contributing regularly to their maintenance, then there is a risk that the coders and testers will founder as “the day job” gets in the way.

That said, it is not all doom and gloom. It has been very useful to see the course practice what it preaches and make use a range of content made available under creative commons licences – such as the excellent guide to reflective writing from UNSW, Australia. I think there is a lot of scope for sharing at the individual level, helping individuals avoid re-inventing wheels. If money is a barrier to that and openness can at least sometimes help reduce that, then who can argue against that?

Image credit: opensource.com

Reflections on Digital Freedom – Desmond Tutu

It is hard to disagree with such a charismatic speaker as Archbishop Demond Tutu. Luckily, much of what he said makes sense to me. He rightly chastizes the patent companies that try to claim the ‘patently obvious’ without doing anything useful with it and then sue anyone who later comes along and actually tries to use the concept.  To me this is even worse than the foolish lawyer-advised protectionism that it seemed Blackboard adopted when it tried to patent an “Internet-based education support system and methods” (see Wikipedia).

I am not so sure that we should be placing all our eggs in the open-source software basket (which may come as a surprise to those of you who know of my work as one of the directors of Oscelot). There are just too many examples of well-meaning initiatives that founder because the lead developers eventually move on, or the product takes a turn that moves away from the original direction and no longer meets your particular needs. Whilst this is true of commercial products too, sometimes the possibility of a revenue stream may reduce the risk (though I hear you shouting “Remember Flipcam?”). Also, reliance on open source software may require institutions to contribute regularly to its upkeep – either in code or wages – how different is that from paying a company to do this?

A minor quibble in an otherwise enjoyable and rousing opening ceremony.

The classroom, …

The classroom, where we share our learning, has moved online, and we need to be able to move our stuff there too

Stephen Downes

From his intro on the Open Content Licensing for Educators course.
An interesting position – I agree that some of the process has gone online, but for me at least I feel I still operate in a hybrid position, with some of my content shared (like this) but others sitting “locked” away on my laptop.

The question is why – is some stuff not worth sharing? Does repetition of opinion online advance our knowledge, or just help drown out any dissent? Something to ponder as the course progresses

On your marks…

I will be using this blogto record my thoughts and experiences of the #OCL4Ed WikiEducator Open Content Licensing for Educators mOOC which you can find at:

I know from past experience that MOOCs can quickly get the better of you so I am going to try hard and stay up to date.

To that end I have completed the pre-course survey and shared my blog details. From the survey results to date, it looks like there is a good geographical spread of people:

Regular Location of Participants
Regular Location of Participants

The orange CC image above is used on the course and was originally uploaded by Yamashita Yohei here:

This blog records one learner's journey through #OCL4Ed – Open Content Licensing for Educators