Open Educational Resources and Creative Commons: some background information
The ambition of every teacher is to reach the widest audience possible, i.e. the maximum number of those who are interested and who are prepared to spend time and energy in mastering the subject. The wider the audience, the larger the teacher's impact. For this reason, it is in the teacher's interest to remove any impediment that a potential student of the subject may experience. An important one is financial cost. The lower the cost, the better, so that, obviously, the optimum is: no cost at all.
Copyright restrictions are largely based on financial considerations. In a time that the costs of online distribution of content have dwindled, payment of licence dues based on copyright restrictions, are the source of income of those who trade in it, such as publishers. In order to avoid such costs, copyright needs to be avoided altogether. Accordingly, I have decided to collect new materials, derived from my consultation files, and make them available, not as a book or a website that requires some form of payment, but as a freely usable website that is open to all professionals who take an interest in this subject, surgical pathology of melanocytic neoplasms. I hope that in this way, those students and pathologists who have limited funds, will be fully able to access, use and reuse all materials of this website.
Since licensing and copyright regulations are complex and vary form country to country, and since owners of content may vary in the degree of freedom they allow their materials to be accessed and used by others, there is a need to have a standardised system of licensing, so that all parties are in the clear regarding what is, and what is not, allowed. The world-wide Creative Commons initiative (hyperlinks: see below) admirably makes this possible and thus plays an indispensible role in this global movement towards free, limitless distribtion of scientific content, and away from restrictions based on commercial interest of third parties.
If you are interested in the idease of Open Educational Resources, Open Course Ware, MOOCs (massive online open courses), I suggest you visit one of the websites and webpages listed below. The Wikipedia pages listed contain numerous links to intitutions and initiatives that are of key importance in this respect.
- Wikipedia: overview of Open Educational Resources: click here.
- Wikipedia on OpenCourseWare: click here.
- Wikipedia on copyright: click here.
- Lists of current MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses): click here.
- Creative Commons: click here.