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Open Content Guidelines

The Kaleidoscope Project commits to use only open educational resources (OER) in its course designs. OER will not only reduce the cost of textbooks, but will also create course designs that we can share, evaluate and continually improve. Our use of openly licensed content provides us with greater control and affords greater creativity in changing materials to match student needs and faculty preferences.

To my knowledge, the science, math and business faculty teams have all identified OER that support the learning outcomes of their courses.

We have encountered challenges in the area of humanities. This challenge is not surprising. In the sciences there is a base set of facts that are taught in the courses. This factual content is openly available. Many different authors have provided an expression of the content using a range of materials and licensing models. In the humanities the expression itself is the object that we seek rather than the facts or content behind the expression. We cannot identify an OER for a Ray Bradbury short story, or for the writings of Malcolm Gladwell. This creates a challenge where these expressions are a core element of the curriculum.

With this in mind I am proposing a set of guidelines. I have published this for immediate use, but also to generate discussion so that we can refine and improve this as we learn. Thank you to both Cable Green and David Wiley for providing significant input to this process. Our guidelines are very similar to those used by the Washington Open Library Project.

Category One – first preference

Whenever possible, we will use open educational resources with explicit open licenses. We have a strong preference to download the materials and bring them directly into the course rather than linking to them.  Where we cannot download the openly licensed content, we will link to it from within our course designs. We may also create a print solution for openly licensed content.

Creative Commons  (CC) provides a helpful guide for the attribution of CC licensed materials.

Faculty members have used several creative approaches to incorporate this type of content. Jaqui Cain, from College of the Redwoods, has developed materials by adapting a fictional work that is in the public domain. Daryl O’Hare, from Chadron State College, and Susan Hines, from Delta State University, have incorporated several of their own writings in their course.  Please share any additional ideas as well.

Category Two – second preference

We will link to content that is not explicitly marked with an open license if the materials have been posted by the owner/creator using a delivery mechanism with the express purpose of open sharing of the material. Specific examples include YouTube videos, TED videos, and public blogs. We will not download and embed this content in the course designs without explicit permission from the content owner. 

Please send a list of all materials that falls in category two to Kim Thanos. We will contact the owner and verify the license status, or seek permission for use.

Category Three – only when other options are exhausted

Where copyrighted material is required for the course we will seek copyright clearance from the content owner. If we cannot get clearance, we will purchase the items with a preference to permanently acquire the content rather than a time-based use.

It is important to note that this is a last resort. In every case we will first work with you to try to identify OER sources.

One Response to “Open Content Guidelines”

  1. Brandon Muramatsu says:

    Why didn’t you choose to include materials under the principles of fair use? Or the guidelines set forth in the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare by the Center for Social Media and with input from OpenCourseWares (

    To some extent you *are* doing this in Category 2, but why not push this further? Or give the adopter of the material that option? At some level all of this comes down to a level of risk tolerance.

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