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Coalition summer congress – a follow up
9 September 2016

The Coalition for Open Education’s agenda has been set for 7 years nowduring the summer congress. Each year, we meet in different places in Poland to get to know new institutions and make an annual plan. This year’s summit was beaconed by strategic objectives. Institutions and organisations have planned their activities by the end of 2016 and worked out a program   WIĘCEJ  

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Changes to the Act on the School Education System and school textbooks – Our Recommendations
8 September 2014

The Coalition for Open Education would like to comment on the planned changes to the Act on the School Education System, presented by the Ministry of Education for public consultations on February 19, 2014.

The Coalition fully supports the efforts of the Ministry of Education aimed at improving the availability of educational materials and reducing the cost of textbooks and educational resources for parents. In our opinion, maximum effectiveness of this policy can be achieved through intervening into current copyright conditions of their distribution model.

We would like to stress that real availability of educational materials depends not only on the possibility to freely access them, but also on the possibility to freely use, copy, distribute and process them – this applies to all users: teachers, parents, pupils, students, as well as authors and publishers. This freedom should be ensured by implementing open licenses and guaranteeing that all educational materials financed by the Ministry of Education and other public sector bodies (including local government) will be distributed on terms which guarantee full freedom of use and reuse. That freedom may also be guarded for all subsequent content based on materials prepared, published or commissioned by the Ministry of Education through applying open licenses.

We would also like to draw attention to the fact that instead of creating new textbooks inside the Ministry of Education, or ordering new ones from external sources, it is also possible to purchase copyright to already existing titles and subsequently make them available with the application of open licenses.

The Coalition would like to restate its recommendations for the Digital School program. We believe that new regulations should include a requirement to apply standards of openness in cases when the Ministry commissions new schoolbooks or their parts. We cannot achieve better availability of educational materials without guaranteeing appropriate freedom to use, distribute, copy or modify them. Social interest dictates that schoolbooks and other school materials be public property, not the property of publishers, the Ministry of Education or schools. The question of ownership can only be applied to single printed copies, not their content.

The regulations included in the new amendment, equalling the print and digital forms of schoolbooks, are a step towards the standards of the present day. We are also glad that the new regulations prohibit corrupt practices associated with distributing textbooks in schools.

Letter to Members of Parliament regarding Open Education
8 September 2014

The new amendment to the Act on the School Education System is aimed at ensuring common access to educational resources, particularly school textbooks. This constitutes an important step towards carrying out the constitutional principle of education for all. At present, school textbooks are expensive and additionally publishers often force parents to make yearly purchases by joining textbooks and exercise books in one publication.

New regulations enable the creation of educational resources which can be freely accessible both in digital and printed form; they allow for the modernisation of the school textbook system which had been initiated by the “Digital School” program. The success of this solution, however, depends on proper openness, that is: accessibility of all the relevant materials for free and the application of an open license. This ensures that the public has the right to freely reuse the educational content in accordance with the Open Educational Resources standard.

The Coalition for Open Education, which groups 27 public institutions and non-profit organisations promoting open educational resources, strongly supports the initiative of the Ministry of Education. At the same time we would like to point out additional solutions which should be, in our opinion, included in the projected amendment – solutions guaranteeing the stability and quality of the open education system:

  1. A regulation stating that all educational resources generated with public funds should be free from restrictions concerning copying, distributing and processing (this rule should also be applied to printed reusable textbooks). Protecting free access to content as well as the citizens’ rights to use that content is vital for the standard of open education as promoted by UNESCO, the European Union, and implemented by countries such as the Netherlands, the United States, Brazil or Slovenia.
  2. Regulations enabling the Ministry of Education to run grant competitions for the creation of open textbooks and other educational resources to be released as open publications with appropriate open licenses. A public competition will ensure a diversity of publicly funded educational resources.
  3. An obligation to make publicly funded educational resources available with open licenses. Current regulations guarantee educators the freedom to use various types of content for educational purposes at school – they do not, however, permit to teach with the help of the Internet. Open licenses eliminate those restrictions and allow to fully use the potential of the Web.

Download the full text pdf or full text odt (in Polish).


Our Recommendations for the review of EU copyright rules
8 September 2014

The Coalition for Open Education participated in the European Commission’s public consultations for the review of current EU copyright regulations. The public consultations have concluded on the 5th of March 2014. In our recommendations we have supported far-reaching changes: shortening the copyright protection period from 70 to – initially – 50 years (in accordance with the Berne Convention) and widening and clarifying the rules of fair use, both for personal and educational purposes. The ultimate aim is reaching a stage, at which every non-commercial, educational use and distribution of a creative work is permitted.

The public consultations appear to have been a breakthrough, with approximately 11,000 people and organisations participating (typical EU regulation consultations gather several hundred participants). According to the Modern Poland Foundation’s data, the Polish had been visited by over 6800 users, 291 of which have completed the consultation questionnaire. 543 of those have gone forward to the website in order to fill in the full 80-question survey. The Coalition for Open Education is looking forward to a summary of the consultation results.

Click for full text version.

Wiki loves e-textbooks
8 September 2014  

The Coalition for Open Education is a partner of the annual “Wiki loves e-textbooks” contest organised by Wikimedia Polska and the Centre for Education Development (a subsidiary of Polish Ministry of Education). Two contests have been organised and completed to date.

The Centre for Education Development coordinates a governmental project “epodręczniki” (e-textbooks) for writing officially approved textbooks for primary and secondary schools in Poland. The textbooks are about to be released under CC-BY license and available for free on the special website in order to replace existing,very expensive paper textbooks printed by commercial publishers. The textbooks are written by teams of professional experts from several Polish universities. However, there are not enough high quality multimedia (photos, vector illustrations, animations, sound recordings, short films) for them, which can be released under free licenses.

The idea of “Wiki loves e-textbooks” contest is to encourage Polish Wikipedians to adopt existing multimedia or create original ones for the needs of the textbooks. Teams of experts are creating tables with needed media, which are published in Wikipedia; then the contest participants can upload them to Wikimedia Commons. The experts then select the most useful files and score the uploaders. While the uploader with the highest score wins the contest, all the uploaded multimedia stay on Commons after the contest. The Wikimedia projects will thus be enriched with files thematically connected with needs of schoolchildren, as well as the “epodreczniki” project and general educational audience in Poland. The contest is financially supported by “Human Capital” program maintained by European Social Fund and Polish government.

[Find the original project description here; project website here].