Mary Burgess: “There is still some concern about intellectual property for faculty and how all would work”

Mary Burgess

Mary Burgess (BCcampus)

Second full interview from Canadians using CC licensesThe re-launched Creative Commons Canada has BCcampus as the main institution representing Creative Commons in the British Columbia area. In a conversation by Skype with Mary Burgess, the Director of Curriculum Services and Applied Research, introduces to the organization and its involvement on the Creative Commons mission and her particular involvement in open education.

 – What is BCcampus and when did you started working in this organization?

BCcampus is a group that is funded by the BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education, to provide collaborative services and resourcing, an advocacy for education technology, online learning and open education initiatives. This is where the Creative Commons comes in, for us. I started this job in October. Previously, I’ve been in Royal Roads University working for ten years as an instructional designer and as Director of the Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies (CTET).

– When did you first hear about Creative Commons?

The first time was when I was doing a Master of Educational Technology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). I finished it six or seven years ago. One of my courses was thought by the Executive director of BCcampus, David Porter, with content in around the development of educational resources. That was really my first exposure to Creative Commons licensing and lend me doing a project for my institution in which we share different resources using Creative Commons licences.

– What happened with the first launch of Creative Commons?

I think for the first launch of Creative Commons Canada there was not a lot of momentum and resources, initially. Now it became more of a priority. Fundamentally it was about momentum, resources and being the right time to prioritize it.

– What is your involvement in Creative Commons?

My role is only on the Advisory Board and that’s fairly new. The person who was in my current job before, Paul Stacey, is now working with the main Creative Commons staff as a Senior Project Manager working for a number of different initiatives for Creative Commons and we have a lot of work, back and forth, between he and me. I also work close with Cable Green, Director of Global Learning in Creative Commons.

Everything we do at BCcampus, every learning resource we create or training opportunity we provide for faculty, we license it with Creative Commons licences. We are committed to “open” and that means we license everything, normally CC-BY (Attribution) sometimes CC-BY-SA (Attribution-Share Alike), and we are a group that does a lot of advocacy work around the use of Creative Commons licensing for, as an example, consulting for a number of different Ministries to work towards them, releasing works, that are being developed using public funds, with a Commons license instead of being propriety.

– How did you select the Creative Commons Canada Advisory Board?

We did a selection process and came up with six members. The way we did was that we had a number of people who nominate themselves and we were looking to have broad representation, both across the country and certain fields. We wanted somebody in education, someone from arts, etc. We made those selections. But Kent Mewhort coordinates us.

– How can Creative Commons licences be more widely known across Canada?

For those of us who work in education, particularly Education Technology, the Creative Commons is not a newer concept but this is where the proliferation of knowledge ends. However, that starts not being the case anymore. There is a number of initiatives that are helping on that. One of which is the Salons that Creative Commons Canada had being doing: they did one in Vancouver (Oct. 15, 2012) and Montreal (Dec. 21, 2010). In these Salons, people who are working in different fields come and talk about licensing their work under Creative Commons and it is a way of informing people,  it’s a social gathering to build awareness.

I think that because of what happened with Access Copyright – a body that works with institutions, help them get access to publish materials that are under regular copyright licenses and had issues in the last couple of years because Access Copyright wants the institutions to pay more and the institutions are saying no, a lot of them, and there are opting out – leads to people looking for resources that are licensed in another way. Librarians and others are beginning to become knowledgeable about things that are licensed openly and faculty can used these sources. Again, that’s another piece that is going to help promoting Creative Commons.

– Specifically, how do you promote Creative Commons in BCcampus?

We have a project,  Opening Education, that is going to raise awareness. We also did workshops, one in Thompson Rivers University in November 27,  where we talk the faculty about the adoption of open education resources, specifically open textbooks but open resources in general that are under Creative Commons licenses.

Again, the building of awareness gets people into space where they want to know more, people gets familiar with the concept of open software and that knowledge is bleeding into other areas. I think it’s a matter of necessity that people is starting to learn about Creative Commons.

– Why there is so many people still not aware of Creative Commons?

There is still some concern about intellectual property for faculty and how all would work, but I think the knowledge about is growing. Creative Commons is being around only for ten years, it’s not a huge surprise that is not widely known at this point. It is a non-profit, so having not the resources to drive bigger initiatives is difficult.

The provincial government here in British Columbia is doing advocacy work in the ministries and that’s beginning raise awareness within different pockets of governments. There is also an initiative happening out a federal level to run a federal position on Open Education resources and open licensing. All this initiatives will be moving towards greater awareness.

– About the Creative Commons Canada’s proposal on Open Government Licence Agreement, do you find possible to get federal information released under Creative Commons soon?

I don’t know about the near future, it’s hard to get it out a federal level but there is a commitment from British Columbia’s politicians to make that happen and so I think in time, don’t know how soon but there is a will to make that happen.

– Finally, there’s a Creative Commons licensed do you want to highlight?

In terms of open learning resources, there is lots of interesting projects under Creative Commons. Opening Education is one that is occupying 90% of my time, right now. We’ll be providing 40 textbooks that will all be licensed CC-BY (Attribution).

In addition, the government of California have announced a similar initiatives for 50 open textbooks and there’s a lot of back and forth with them. It’s becoming bigger for people to look for that, particularly from the perspective that is about students money, books are ridiculously expensive and we need to find another way to fund that.

In BCcampus, we also had the Online Program Development Fund.

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