A Practical (and Real) Question About CC-NC

The oer-community list is still buzzing about whether CC-NC is a good thing for openness or not. I thought I might ask a question that gives the conversation context and actually is a question that I am truly considering at this moment.


I’ve been interested in hybrid MOOC/F2F designs for a long while. Initially I thought I’d use Coursera courses, wrap some face to face instruction and project-based learning around them, and see how students liked it.

It turned out that you’re not not allowed to do that with Coursera courses. And while other MOOC providers may be marginally better on this front, on the whole current corporate xMOOCs are what Wiley used to call anti-BOGO — when you Buy One (even when you buy it by selling Coursera your eyeballs), you don’t *really* Get One. You’re not free to make the modifications you need to make to make it useful to your institution, or even your personal context.

The reason these rights (for example, the right to base a face-to-face class around a MOOC, or the students right to use an xMOOC as part of a class) are not granted by Coursera is likely that Coursera wants to charge non-profit institutions for these rights. So Coursera, in this model, becomes sort of like a textbook publisher, selling services to universities. And we get the same BOGO problem we had with textbooks, except now it’s embedded even deeper into our model.


Ultimately, though, this is a solvable problem. The same way we have a OpenCourseWare Consortium today, we could form an OpenCourse Consortium — a group of universities and colleges committed to making our own damn xMOOCs. Ones that obey BOGO principles, and allow other institutions to build and innovate on them at no charge. Thus we avoid the meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss silliness that we seem to be headed toward where we replace a destructive dependence on textbook publishers with a destructive dependence on Coursera, and this opens up a new age of online course innovation, one that happens not just in for-profit companies, but on every campus that decides to remix an open xMOOC architecture and make something brilliant.

The way I am seeing these are as course architectures – a Common Cartridge export of videos, questions, assessments, activities and discussions that anyone can import into an LMS and run an xMOOC.

Great. Now, question: What license do we put on these Open xMOOC things (isn’t it sad we need that redundancy? “Open” xMOOC?).

So, should they be CC-BY-SA? Or CC-NC-SA?

My initial thoughts

I was going to write my initial thoughts here, but in thinking about it, I realize how fast it gets complex. So let me just say that I gravitate to the NC for one main reason.

Say Coursera is offering 300 courses. And let’s say my tiny band of rabble-rousers puts together 50 courses.

Here’s what I’d do if I was Coursera — I’d say thanks very much, we’ll add those 50 courses to our collection, and now we have everything you have, plus 300 more courses of our own. What’s more, I’d say (again, as Coursera) we’re licensing these under the same anti-BOGO terms.

So the more successful we are at developing truly open xMOOCs, the bigger Coursera’s catalog gets. And when institutions decide whether they are going to use truly open materials or go with Coursera — they are going to go with Coursera purely on breadth of offering.

Eventually my consortium crumbles, because people notice that none of our stuff is getting used except through Coursera, so why the heck are we not getting a cut of the Coursera money? And people fold up their Open xMOOC projects, and sign contracts with Coursera. And the free option dies.

OK, so tell me — why am I wrong here?

via Hapgood http://hapgood.us/2012/11/30/a-practical-and-real-question-about-cc-nc/

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