Redefining Open: MOOCs and Online Courseware in the Age of Creative Commons and Wikipedia

There is no doubt now that the video production community with new stakes in education is growing, as is the educational community with new stakes in video production.  Books will forever be important, and in-class, in-person instruction will forever be as essential to effective teaching as it is to parenting, but video has become the dominant communications medium of many of our lives, and screens – computer screens, cell phone screens, and tablets – the new, dominant form of information transmission.  

MOOCs and Open Educational Resources: A Handbook for Educators is available to university faculty, educators, and educational producers.  The guide is a step-by-step manual to how to produce and distribute educational video content under the freest of licenses, with an emphasis on Creative Commons. It is hoped that some utility may be found in its pages by all kinds of readers, whether one is a staff videographer or a chaired senior faculty member or a freelance video editor.

The structure of the Handbook follows the key stages of video course production, with analysis and support at its core dedicated to methods of keeping video content free through all the stages of course pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution.  The Handbook also provides some notes on the history of online course production and Open Courseware (OCW) and some thoughts about the future of educational video.

The Handbook situates educational video production in the context of more than 100 years of moving-image work at universities and beyond.  Indeed, the booklet draws on work of educational producers from the early 1900s – works such as Charles Urban, The Cinematograph in Science, Education, and Matters of State and the 1920s journal Visual Education.1

The impulse to share knowledge in a free environment also is not new.  In many ways MOOCs and Open Courseware and Wikipedia and Creative Commons and Google/YouTube are all part of the same project – envisioned by visionaries such as Richard Stallman, media producers behind the start of public broadcasting here and abroad, much earlier, even, by publishers active centuries ago in the Enlightenment, and even earlier, in ancient Alexandria under the Ptolemaic kings.  The vision?  A giant rich resource: a gigantic global encyclopedia, or Encyclopédie, or library or museum, contributing to universal access to human knowledge.2  With the Internet upon us now, we can help realize it.

1 Charles Urban, The Cinematograph in Science, Education, and Matters of State (London: The Charles Urban Trading Company, 1907), online at: and the journal Visual Education (Chicago: Society for Visual Education, 1920-1924).  

2 Peter B. Kaufman, The New Enlightenment: The Promise of Film and Video in the Digital Age (New York: Seven Stories Press, forthcoming); “The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert,” online in translation at:; and Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011).

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Assessing the Market: Audiovisual Archives & the Commercial Sector

​PrestoCentre has recently commissioned Intelligent Television to prepare a report about how cultural and educational institutions holding significant audiovisual collections could benefit from in new approaches to the market.

Around the world every hour, audiovisual archival materials are being used to enhance television programs, films, and media online.  In the same way that oil, pumped from the ground, is refined and then used to fuel transportation and industry, or iron, mined from the ground, is smelted into steel and used in construction, so audiovisual materials mined from the archives form part of the backbone of information, communication, and our creative knowledge economy, worldwide.

Open Education, Video, and Creative Commons


​Creative Commons (CC) requested Intelligent Television to help explain the CC BY license and open video best practices through video for community and career technical colleges grantees of the U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program (TAACCCT).  

TAACCCT is providing community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less, are suited for workers who are eligible for training under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program, and prepare program participants for employment in high-wage, high-skill occupations. The targeted population of this program is workers who have lost their jobs or are threatened with job loss as a result of foreign trade.  Online learning strategies can allow adults who are struggling to balance the competing demands of work and family to acquire new skills at a time, place, and pace that are convenient for them.

With the creation of new digital, openly licensed courses, textbooks and programs that can ultimately be shared and distributed nationwide, community colleges and other eligible institutions across the country can offer more classes without building more classrooms. New courses and programs can create new routes for workers and other students to gain knowledge, skills and credentials, and earn academic credit based upon achievement rather than class hours, all while providing continuous feedback to students and instructors.

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Europeana and Open Metadata

​Europeana contracted Intelligent Television to provide research services to highlight how cultural and educational institutions are embracing “the power of open” in their approaches to metadata, bibliographic data, and their online assets. The resulting white paper, “The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid,” after the Johannes Vermeer painting, highlights business cases where libraries, museums, archives and commercial enterprises are providing new forms of access to their data to improve discoverability, relevance, and use of the underlying collections.

iCommons and the Open Video Alliance


​iCommons and the Open Video Alliance asked Intelligent Television to prepare a white paper describing the legal, policy, business, and technical procedures involved in bringing educational video from universities, libraries, museums, and archives into Wikipedia.  This white paper focuses on policy and legal issues as well as on the technical issues involved in providing video for Wikipedia. Version 1.0 is now posted here:

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OER and Children’s Media

Joan Ganz Cooney

​The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop asked Intelligent Television to study the potential impact of open educational resources on the learning and digital media practices of young children. The project probed the potential costs and benefits associated with a new approach to opening up educational media content, documented some of the most promising efforts to expand access to children’s educational media, and offered recommendations to industry, policymakers, and the philanthropic sector.

Media Content, Policy, Infrastructure


​Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media asked Intelligent Television to complete a survey and analysis of funders and nonprofit organizations to determine the amounts and kinds of philanthropic resources being devoted to media content, policy, and infrastructure in the United States. The project interviewed a broad range of grantmakers in media, distilled extensive survey results, and issued a detailed report available at

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Video Use in Higher Education

Copyright in the dictionary

​Intelligent Television worked with the nonprofit Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and New York University to develop an in-depth investigation into the many ways students, faculty, and staff at American universities use video and multimedia, how this media can be best delivered to them, what companies/institutions are currently providing products and services along these lines, and what business models CCC can develop to service and stimulate this demand.

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Sponsorship Models for Educational and Cultural Assets Online

​Interest has grown among members of the cultural heritage community in investigating new sponsorship, advertising, and branding models and studying how to apply those models in support of their efforts mounting and maintaining digital content online.

The U.K. agency JISC commissioned Intelligent Television to conduct a series of conversations, write case studies, and organize workshops with institutions active in the field of sponsored and branded content and with their current and potential sponsors. Conducted for JISC’s Strategic Content Alliance, this work explores how it might be possible to create sponsorship offerings that can help sustain cultural and educational institutions that are now putting their valuable assets online.

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Business Planning for a New Audiovisual Archive


​The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Scholarly Communications Program granted Intelligent Television an award to develop a business plan for an online service designed to provide greater educational access to digital archival moving image content. The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) served as fiscal sponsor of the grant. The business plan investigated possible business models for creating a service that will provide solutions for the primary challenges facing the use of audiovisual content in educational environments today.

The Economics of Film and Video Distribution in the Digital Age

Tribeca Film Institute

​With the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Tribeca Film Institute commissioned Intelligent Television to investigate the current economics of independent film and video distribution in the United States. The “Economics of Distribution” study investigated current financing models for independent educational media; revenues that such film and video productions have realized from sales and licensing and other distribution; and the potential for new, alternative models of video and film distribution in the digital age.  This investigation was designed to inform a new distribution solution for independent producers and creators.

Building a New Form of Production Studio

Channel Thirteen studio

​Intelligent Television (with Channel Thirteen/WNET as its fiscal sponsor) received seed support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to explore establishing a new kind of video production studio to catalyze and coordinate video production for the open education resource movement. The Studio’s Production unit would cost-effectively produce educational video for university needs and make it broadly available, catalyzing new open production initiatives at educational institutions and through educational consortia. The Studio’s Research and Development unit would evaluate the use of such video in teaching and learning and build new tools—editing, annotation, search, summarization—for more cost-efficient video production and distribution worldwide.

The Studio also would host meetings for educators, technologists, video producers, and other stakeholders who together will help to articulate a sustainability plan for the studio’s productions and research and development projects; organize new multi-institutional collaborations into a distributed educational video production network, and establish a new educational video commons to define best practices in video preservation and access.

The “Good Terms” Project

Inside OCLC

​OCLC/RLG Programs asked Intelligent Television to study public-private partnerships for mass digitization and develop recommendations for libraries, museums, and archives, and their commercial partners. The “Good Terms” project examined in detail publicly-available agreements concerning the digitization of American cultural heritage materials in all media, including video. These recommendations are now available as: “Good Terms—Improving Commercial-Noncommercial Partnerships for Mass Digitization; A Report Prepared by Intelligent Television for RLG Programs, OCLC Programs and Research.” D-Lib Magazine, 13,11/12 (November/December), online at

Our objective was also to develop a rich resource of publicly available agreements and commentary and also useful model terms for future agreements. This resource is now available online at:

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The Open Education Video Project

Columbia University

​Intelligent Television and Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning embarked on a new project with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to increase the understanding of educators, technologists, video producers, and other stakeholders in how video and open education can work together for the public good. The project sponsored a survey of university uses of video nationwide; prepared detailed case studies of the use of video at two universities; consulted with the Hewlett Foundation on the production of video-recorded lectures; prepared a white paper recommending new approaches to sustain open educational video; and conducted a review meeting on open education and video where these stakeholders in the future of open educational video can better plan for its future.


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The Economics of Open Content

Hewlett Foundation

​With the support of the Hewlett Foundation in 2005 and 2006, Intelligent Television brought together business and industry leaders and culture and education stewards to explore new business collaborations between libraries, museums, archives, universities and commercial media and technology enterprises.

The proceedings of these meetings on the economics of open content (available in audio and video online at: highlight emerging economic relationships in media and describe new models for commercial-noncommercial media collaborations involving cultural heritage and educational materials.  The Hewlett Foundation’s support for this project was administered by the New America Foundation, a leading independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy institute based in Washington, DC.

“Open Production Initiatives” and Moving-Image Repositories

Library and Archives Canada

​With the maturation of newer trends in technology, education, culture, and television especially, there is a profound opportunity to develop and produce new types of valuable educational television projects. Digital technology has rendered the production and distribution of media less expensive, more able to be multi-purposed, more durable, and more portable, so that it can be watched and heard and read on almost every device with a screen or a speaker. University, high-school, and grade-school students and teachers have become accustomed to deploying video and audio assets in the classroom and in homework. Libraries and museums are moving to push parts of their holdings online and on-screen, often converting or even producing rich media to do so. And television producers and distributors are searching for what they call new models of broadcasting in the digital age.

With the generous support of Library and Archives Canada and JISC, Intelligent Television developed new models of “Open Production Initiatives” in association with cultural and educational institutions. The subject of one of these models—the Suez Canal crisis of 1956—drew upon many international collections of materials on the history of the 1956 invasion, the peacekeeping effort that followed, and the history of the Middle East and foreign involvement there. The collections of video, audio, books, newspapers, films, journals, documents, manuscripts, images, and online resources consulted include those at the BBC Archive; the ITN Archive: the U.K. Public Records Office; the U.S. Library of Congress; the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration; Library and Archives Canada; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Egypt’s Library of Alexandria; Israel’s Ben-Gurion Archives; and materials at other universities, archives, and research collections around the world.

Marketing Culture in the Digital Age

Ithaka research report

​With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Ithaka, Intelligent Television conducted a study of the evolving relationships between commercial and noncommercial organizations in the digitization and publication, broadly defined, of educational and cultural heritage materials.  The project canvassed custodians of commercial-noncommercial relationships at libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, and universities about their business and commercial relationships. The project also interviewed executives in commercial businesses—publishing companies; licensing and merchandising groups; law firms; accounting firms; investment banks; venture capital firms—who have been or may soon be developing roles as stakeholders in public-private partnerships. The project also established a preliminary database of transaction information.

In August 2005, the project completed a preliminary report about these conversations, available from Intelligent Television and Ithaka.