TechDirt published an article which discusses the increasing restrictions of copyright done with law changes, which in some cases are putting works already in the public domain, back under copyright restrictions.

To contrast that, the article pointed out the work of others, notably Wikimedia Commons and Flickr which have made created the conditions for and promoted Creative Commons licensing of images.

I’m in the middle of a P2PU course examining the methods of using and remixing Open Education Resources (OER). OER depends on the availability of liberally licensed materials. Making a lesson targeted at a particular grade level involves rewriting text, accumulating images, finding audio and video resources, etc. Teachers do this kind of thing naturally. Teachers are professionals at sharing. Sharing is the primary job of a teacher. What OER provides is a way to go beyond the stale textbooks that the district purchased which are often many years old. OER gives the creative teacher a legal way to make activity packets and worksheets which incorporate up-to-date materials.

OER isn’t on most educators’ radar screens, though.

Maybe some have heard about all the open courseware like the college level courses offered online by MIT, Stanford, and others. But these materials aren’t geared toward third graders or middle school students, maybe not even advanced high school children.

Maybe a few have had students read current events from newspapers or have appropriated materials from YouTube to show in class, but to date, not many have actually participated in the creation of OER materials.

Why should OER for K-12 happen?

Teachers know how to share. OER makes it legal. By contrast, if a teacher takes that current events news story and makes copies of it, the best they can hope for is a “fair use” exception to copyright. Educators can make timely use of such material. The problem happens when the teacher decides to include the same stuff in a second semester, or the next year. That set of copies distributed to a new, later set of students has a far less clear fair use exception to the copyright rules.

What will make teachers, particularly at the K-12 level, embrace OER?