These are my notes from Karen Fasimpaur’s NCCE 2008 presentation “Free Content + Open Tools + Massive Collaboration = Learning for All.” I am recording this session and Karen has given me permission to share it here as a podcast. My comments / thoughts are in ALL CAPS below.

All resources for this preso are available on this wiki:

My real job is working with schools on 1:1 projects, handheld projects, curriculum projects
– I have gotten passionate about this area in the past few years
– my background is more on the content side: I started in the textbook publishing industry (almost 10 years)
– what I’ve come to realize in the past few years is how INACCESSIBLE so many of the traditional educational materials are to students
– so many districts spending over 1 million dollars on a particular content area textbook adoption, and they just sit on the shelves and are not used by students

Need for this content project comes from:
– everyone has the right to education
– learners everywhere need better tools for learning
– fundamental right laid out by the United Nations
– despite this right, many children in the world (esp in Africa, Middle East, parts of Asia) this is true
– I taught school for 2 years in Africa
– in many countries enrollment in school for school-age children is < 50% - this is one way to address that even in countries like ours with universal education, lots of opportunities - we all see a need for learners to have better tools - technology hasn't revolutionized education the way we all (or at least many of us do) believe it can DOE study "effectiveness of math and reading software" - controversial study - said technology is not an effective tool for raising performance in math and reading lack of content, process and tools is a big reason for this - ways to differentiate instruction - lots of us are doing presos on differnetiated instruction - as budgets are cut, class sizes are going up - with one teacher and 30+ kids, it gets very hard to differentiate - you need lots of tool my view: a textbook is not a good tool for differentiation - we need more engaging resources, resources suitable for a variety of student needs - a path to that is some kind of reallocation of resources - the vast majority of educational materials funds go into textbooks now open educational resources movement - OER is the short name (open educational resources) - primarily digital, but not necessarily free and open are two different things - lots of free tools out there that are NOT open - by open I mean licensed under some sort of open license (could be Creative Commons, that's one lots of people know about) key to differentiating: you have to be able to take content and mold it to your learners - with great content and web 2 stuff: google tools, blogger, etc. - lots of that is NOT open - for things that are free and not open: you often don't have the ability to remix and mold it - other thing is: it may not always be free - with open tools: you know they will always be available free, because of the license terms that cover the code base OER can be tools, content, or implementation resources - can be for teachers, students, and lifelong learners - lots of OER out there now is focused on teachers, I'm working on projects now that are more student focused now people all over the world are tapping into these resources, including audiences that we might not traditionally expect mass collaboration has resulted in the creation of: - the most widely used web server software (Apache) - the most popular web-based encyclopedia (WikiPedia) - sequencing of the human genome What could this do for education? - the incredible work of knowledge which IS wikipedia is amazing - goal of wikipedia: universal access to the sum of human knowledge - there are very interesting studies out there on accuracy of traditional encyclopedias (commercial) vs WikiPedia - working with students: they ALL need the media resources to look at multiple sources - getting kids engaged in that dialog is what is interesting - if you haven't edited wikipedia yet, pick an article (your hometown, a hobby, etc) Don Tapscott's book "Wikinomics" is a great book to delve into the issues here and the viable economic models / structures that can work and ARE working love the idea of distributed collaboration and work The legal stuff: - most work is under a traditional copyright arrangement: All rights reserved - anything you create is automatically copyrighted in the United States works created after 1978: US copyright law gives protection for 70 years after the author's death - legislative trend is toward extending copyright - a lot of people are concerned about that having serious, detrimental effects on our culture so if someone wants to use material that is copyrighted now, they must contact the owner and get permission - that covers all content on the Internet now I am going to gloss over fair use - lots of people in the educational community have a very "large view" of fair use that may not be actually true public domain: you can do whatever you want with the content - you don't even legally have to attribute the source a lot of us create things to be shared - for a long time there was not a way to share if you license something under creative commons, you still have copyright continuum of copyright options:

continuum of copyright

All rights reserved – some rights reserved copyright – public domain

often non-commercial sharing ends up being much more restrictive that people think
– if I am tutoring after school for money, then I can’t use non-commercial works
– some have argued that universities can’t use non-commerical
– there is NO agreed-on definition for “non-commercial”
– Creative Commons has their definition of non-commercial, MIT for their OpenCourseWare content has a different license

non-commercial is probably too restrictive of a license

share-alike license can accomplish many of those goals
– this is also called “copyleft”

are issues with license compatibility
– certain types of licenses are NOT compatible
– the simpler the license is, the better
– as I’ve gotten into this stuff, I’ve seen that people are not going to make a fortune off my stuff, and when you see the things people do with your content, it is amazing
– example: a openly shared wikibook made into a movie on TeacherTube

The more open the license, the more people can do with it

sometimes I’l even license things under public domain licensing

The recommendations for educational content licensing: CC BY and CC BY SA

continuum of copyright

MediaWiki software: will look familiar because of WikiPedia
– great for presentations, PD, etc

WordPress is great
– if you have your own server:
– no server: use
– if you can host it yourself do it, there are lots more options

Moodle: great for distance learning
– link to an open source software class

Productivity tools
CamStudio (Windows only now)



SchoolForge has open source software for schools specifically, including student information system software

When I hear a teacher tell students “go to Google images and get whatever you want” I get pretty upset and concerned
– republishing on the Internet goes beyond Fair Use
– a few years ago there were few alternatives for students
– now there are great choices

SchoolForge specific open source tools for schools

LOTS of open content: these are the resources to give to students

on CCMixter, go to BROWSE TAGS to find music
– some universities are trying to help with tagging for sounds, it can be hard to browse for sounds right now

there are labels “not appropriate for work” for some content here
– some of this you will NOT want in a student environment
– you can repackage this since it is student content

I am working on a project now for educational open content CDs
– filtering thing is so out of control

MuseOpen is also a good source, this is more classical

WikiMedia Commons music
wikimedia commons is a great place that has organized LOTS of openly licensed content in a more easily searchable format than the Library of Congress has now, for example
– have pictures of the day, and other featured pictures– that is the best of the best
– same for media of the day

WikiMedia foundation is militantly open in their culture
– one of the ways to enforce this is with open file formats
– mp3 and jpg are NOT open formats
– so all audio content is in OGG
– Audacity will import OGG files


Zamsar is an online web option for converting formats

most of the stuff you download for file conversion now has spyware in it

open photo project
– all open
– pretty much no people photos

– you can setup an open license on your Flickr photos
Flickr Creative Commons

Last time I checked, over 70 million openly licensed images on flickr


– if you are concerned about content issues, look at WikiPedia For Schools
– is a UN project
– have taken best content from WikiPedia and FROZEN it

downside: if I’ve gone down to a frozen version, I’ve lost my collaboration potential


Libravox is a project for audio books (spelling on this?)

Wikibooks project
Wikijunior wikibooks project
– lots of people working on wikibooks now are NOT educators, and they are passionate people who want to make a difference, but they MAY NOT get the developmental appropriateness issue
– that’s why we need educators in here!
– you can do a class project in here as a Wikijr book!
– incredible learning experience for the kids
– kids will have another level of motivation to work on the project knowing

K-8 Math Collaborative Project is something I set up on curriki is something I started recently
– example assignment: write 3 word problems for 3rd graders


Free Reading site is THE most exciting project we’ve seen for early literacy
– the wireless generation folks started this, really good literacy folks who know the research, did this as an open site

recently the state of Florida adopted this (Free Reading site) as a reading intervention source
– they still have concerns for this, generally things that are dynamic and change are NOT the model that state textbook review people are looking for

the textbook industry is a massively political system
– lots of momentum to maintain the status quo
– I think we need to find ways to “go around the mountain” rather than going through it

NextVista is great for sharing videos

TeacherTube is NOT openly licensed

there is LOTS of stuff at the higher ed level

ALL these links are available on

this is how you get the million tools in your toolbox that you need for differentiation!

Invitations to contribute
– set an open license for your Flickr photos
– if you see a mistake on WikiPedia, FIX IT!
– every little thing that people do makes this commons project better
– add something to a topic in wikipedia
– license your content (website, lesson plans, photos, PPTs, etc) with a CC license
– contribute to OER sites like Wikibooks
– tell your friends and students about OER

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6 Responses to Free Content + Open Tools + Massive Collaboration = Learning for All

  1. SteveED205 says:

    Thanks for the informative post on open source and its usage. I’ve never edited anything on Wikipedia, and wondered what exactly the process entails. Do you have to have particular credentials to make changes or can anybody add or delete whatever they like? If you were to write a post on this I would be grateful. Your attention to the needs of teachers and students is great, I will be sure to check out all the links you provided in this post. Just curious, but do you think the programs like icloud, or Cloudo will change the way schools and students use computers?

  2. […] since it’s right here in Seattle. But as a subscriber to Wesley Fryer’s excellent blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity, I was able to read about a great workshop he was recording and blogging about and glean some music […]

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Steve: Anyone can edit WikiPedia, but articles are pretty closely scrutinized by the editors, so vandalism (in my experience) has been dealt with very quickly. The discussion tabs on each article are where contributors hash out issues and disagreements. I’m not familiar with icloud or Cloudo, so I don’t think I can answer your latter question at this point.

  4. Nate Stearns says:


    I saw you at NCCE yesterday for the Global Voices presentations and I wanted to say that the most impressive part was before you even spoke and dropped down your Skype address book. There were 40-50 names for you to choose from. You grabbed Scott McCloud’s (who I thought was the cartoonist from Understanding Comics for the longest time) name and you had an impromptu teleconference. I am jealous beyond words. As a teacher and a hermit, I find it very hard to cobble together a network of likeminded teachers to play with. The time I have in the school day to chat is limited to before/after school and in the planning period. I wish there was a simple way to link in to a network of teachers who already have the skills to make something like an online annotated text or a blog comment party work.

    Have you found Classroom 2.0 to work for that? Or the Apple Learning Network?

    I think maybe I need a class in interacting with adults.

  5. Nate: Have you joined twitter? Classroom 2.0 at Ning? EdTechLive? Subscribe to network links? Do you subscribe to EdTech blogs? I don’t use all of these tools everyday but I do make it a priority to touch base with my edtech friendly folks daily. I am always picking up new ideas and sites to check out and it’s fun when I finally get to meet them f2f at a conference. I was at NCCE too! Follow me at twitter: ccassinelli

  6. […] looking to learn more about this area and to come onboard with the sharing of their own resources. Wes Fryer’s very comprehensive notes of the session are also fantastic for quick links based on Karen’s presentation as well as […]

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