In my last post, I said that I thought Blackboard's announcement of making it easy to add a Creative Commons license to a Common Cartridge export is significant. One day later, we have some evidence of just how significant. e-Literate featured blogger Audrey Watters has a post up on her own blog about a big announcement out of Washington state:
With help from matching funds from the Gates Foundation, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has built a Open Course Library (OCL), which launches today. The idea behind the library is to address the increasing cost of textbooks by making openly licensed course materials available for 81 of the state’s most enrolled classes. Some of the materials in the OCL are free, but some aren’t. The only stipulation: no required material or textbook can cost a student more than $30.
The first phase of the project, which is available today, features materials for 42 of these classes, including Introduction to Literature, Introduction to Chemistry, Calculus I, and Microeconomics. (The other 39 should come online in the Spring of 2013)....
As the materials in the OCL are licensed CC-BY, instructors will be able to adopt the course modules or adapt the materials to suit their own classes’ needs. The materials are available via Google Docs and Google Sites so that they can be shared between faculty and institutions, but there are also options to import the content into standard LMSes.
By "options to import the content into standard LMSes," she means that the content will be available as IMS Common Cartridges. How are they being produced? It turns out that the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has a state-wide license for ANGEL, which happens to export to Common Cartridge. So this initiative, which could turn out to be a big deal in terms of community college affordability, is partly enabled by a for-profit LMS vendor's decision implement Common Cartridge export. Who was the guy in charge at ANGEL at the time that technology decision was made? Ray Henderson, the same guy who announced Common Cartridge export for Blackboard.
By the way, there's plenty of room for Pearson to play here too. Production of OERs is only part of the problem. You still need to drive adoption. If OpenClass made it very easy for faculty to find and import OCL content, either through Google Apps integration or through Common Cartridge import, that would be a significant step forward in at least one kind of Openness.