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Education-specific CC resources


For education-specific resources, JISC has a handy infokit which explores some of the Open Educational Resources (OERs) that are increasingly being made available by Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) institutions. The blurb on the wiki advises that these OERs are "licensed in a way such that they can be re-used, re-purposed, re-mixed and re-distributed".


If you would like to read more about the reasons for sharing learning materials, this JISC funded report - "Good intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials" makes interesting reading.

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Wayne Mackintosh, a leading light in OER and Creative Commons, advises (by email) that "An excellent example of an open format is Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) which is an open format used for the markup of web pages. This means that both proprietary and open source web browsers can display web content. Unfortunately some proprietary vendors have a history of incorporating markup which is specific to their web browsers which is unfortunate because it restricts the free flow and access to information on the web.


A few examples of open file formats

  • Some open formats started as proprietary formats, but were later approved as international standards (like ISO). As an open standard they are fully documented and publicly available. Examples of proprietary formats which are now international standards include Portable Document Format (PDF), PostScript (used for printing).
  • Open source software file formats are by their very nature open file formats (but not necessarily international ISO standards) because anyone can read and study the format and they are not encumbered by patents, or other restrictions on their use. So for example, the Mediawiki file formats are open.

Consult Wikipedia for a list of open file formats".

Multimedia formats

Wayne mentions that "multimedia formats are a little more complex. For example, the popular MP3 format widely used for audio is encumbered by patents. "Many organizations have claimed ownership of patents related to MP3 decoding or encoding. These claims have led to a number of legal threats and actions from a variety of sources, resulting in uncertainty about which patents must be licensed in order to create MP3 products without committing patent infringement in countries that allow software patents" (Wikipedia)".


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Issues with browser support

Sadly, open video file formats are not consistently supported by closed software browsers. Flash (a proprietary format) is widely used as a container for displaying video on the web. This is a closed file format and we encourage OER developers to ensure that an open file video format like Ogg Theora is made available for remix and playback by users who do not wish to sacrifice their freedoms or can't access the videos. There is native browser support for playing back Ogg Theora in a number of browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera (since version 10.5). However, Internet Explorer does not provide native support for Ogg Theora playback. As there are free software browser downloads available for all educators worldwide, we advocate open file video formats above patented and closed video codecs." (Wayne Mackintosh, by email, March 2011).

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