From the editor: As the Open Education Week online event continues around the world (March 11-15), we’re giving you this quick tutorial on open licensing.
The goal of Creative Commons licensing is to facilitate a wide distribution of work online. The creator retains some rights, but understands that letting go of his/her work and ideas is the best way to let them grow. (See Set Them Free: How to Share Your Materials by Georges Detiveaux.)
All Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow non-commercial educators to use the materials for free as long as they credit the licensor. Most also allow for the remixing and modification of these resources. In addition to providing educators a legal way of finding media for their lessons, students can benefit by producing their own digital projects for credit and then sharing their work online under a CC license.
For those new to creative commons, start at www.creativecommons.org. If you’re looking for ways to share your work online, check out the Licenses drop-down menu at the top to learn about and choose the right license for you. If you’re looking for resources, go to the Explore box and click Find CC-licensed works to access a metasearch utility. You can search some of the largest sites for different types of media, and you can restrict search results to those available under a Creative Commons license.
In addition to the Creative Commons website, you can also search for resources on the internet by specific media. Most of the sites I list below allow you to narrow the results to those with CC licenses. Some of these sites are part of the Creative Commons metasearch mentioned above, although I have found that searching for resources on the individual sites lets you search with greater granularity.
- ccMixter – Music collection, great for podcast introductions and video backgrounds.
- freeSound – Sounds, especially background sounds for digital productions. For example, a digital story about Spain can include the sounds of the subway in Madrid.
- Youtube – It isn’t obvious how to narrow your selection to Creative Commons videos. Do a general search first, and then choose Creative Commons by clicking on the Filters tool under the search field.
- Vimeo – Similar to YouTube, you have to do a general search first, and then click the Show Advanced Filters button to select a Creative Commons license.
- Flickr – This photo sharing site was one of the original driving engines for the popularity of creative commons resources. Many government agencies and museums host their collections there, which makes it odd that you have to do a general search first then click the Advanced Search link before you can select the Creative Commons checkbox at the bottom.
- 500px – A rival photo sharing site. You search by specific Creative Commons licenses, which may be a positive or negative.
- Realia Project – Their image collection is much smaller, but if you’re not looking for something specific it can be a good place for ideas. They don’t have a specific license, but allow non-commercial use to educators.
In addition, there are many public domain resources that are freely available for use, usually because the works were created by the government or their copyright has expired. Many public domain resources can be found at the Internet Archive. (Even if you aren’t looking for anything specific, the Wayback Machine is worth a look.)
If you have other resources, please include them in the comments below.
Todd Bryant (@MixxerSite or @bryantt) is a liaison to the foreign language departments for the Academic Technology group at Dickinson College and an adjunct German instructor. He created The Mixxer to help connect language students with native speakers. His interests include the immersive effect of games in service of foreign language learning, such as the use of World of Warcraft to teach German.
For more information on searching Creative Commons, see COERLL’s infographic How to Search for Openly Licensed Educational Resources.