Open Access: Making Use of the Creative Commons License

Last week my colleague Emily Gover co-hosted a webinar with Creative Commons’ Director of Global Learning, Dr. Cable Green.  I had the privilege of listening to Cable make his case for Open Educational Resources (OER) as a business model and, of course, for the benefit of education.

If you’d like to receive a recording of this webinar, you can e-mail me here.

Cable also gave a wonderful shout-out to librarians and the work that they do bringing information to users and supporting resource-based learning. But he also asked what can librarians do to promote and use open access, or Open Educational Resources.

Well the answer is… a lot!  Cable mentioned a couple of easy ways you can find open access materials to use in your research, classroom, and with your students.

  • Flickr has a section where you can search for images that are shared under Creative Commons licenses.  The cool thing about this page is that it teaches you a little bit about the different kinds of licenses, so you can easily find out how you can use these images.
  • Use Google’s advanced search option to search for sources by their usage license. If you like, you can limit your results to free sources that you can modify and share.  This is really an incredible searching option that I didn’t know existed until this webinar!
  • Use proudly borrowed content in your classroom (you’ll notice that all of our student guides, lesson plans and popular handouts are listed under a Creative Commons license) and use and adapt it!  Your colleagues may have shared their classroom exercises and put them under a Creative Commons license, as well. Use your networks to find quality material that you can adapt for your students.

But Open Access is a two-way street! If you are a librarian or educator, content you create might be of use to others as well. Put a Creative Commons license on guides, lesson plans, etc. that you’ve created for your students. Other teachers might be interested in using and adapting what you’ve created. We’re all in this together after all!

If you are interested in learning more about using and contributing to open access in education, the Creative Commons School of Open is launching its first set of courses during Open Education Week (March 11-15, 2013). You can sign up for courses for that week, or anytime after.  The School of Open is a community volunteers who run and create online courses teaching you how to use and contribute to “openness” of digital materials as an educator or any other creator and user of information.

To learn more about the School of Open, visit:

Caity Selleck is an in-house librarian and content developer for EasyBib and ResearchReady. This is her very first blog post! You can find her on Twitter, @Caity_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

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