4.2 Remixing OER

Described image
Figure 4.1 ‘Remixing is tasty’ (Gideon Burton, https://www.flickr.com/ photos/ wakingtiger/ 3156791341 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , CC BY SA 2.0)

So far the course has looked at what characterises an open educational resource (OER) and how to find, identify and reuse open materials ‘as is’. Yet, as you have already seen in previous sections, some open licences also enable us to change, improve and develop OER to make them more appropriate for your own context and purposes (this is called ‘localisation’). You could, for example, build a new course out of existing tried-and-tested content, or make changes to open content and/or combine them to create a new resource. This is often described as ‘remixing’ content (see Section 1.6 on Wiley’s 5Rs and Creative Commons). In Free to Mix: An educator’s guide to reusing digital content, the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa summarises remixing as:

  • ‘Remix can refer to any sampling and overlaying of print, music, video and images 
  • Collage, photomontage and documentaries are early forms of remix
  • Remix requires similar skills to traditional literacy, only using multiple forms of media content 
  • Creating, quoting and referencing for multiple media content are similar to printed content. Both involve convention and law.’

How to remix materials

Some examples and ideas of how to remix materials include:

  • Adding text to a diagram or picture you are reusing.
  • Taking several different open resources and adding your own commentary or narrative to create a new resource.
  • Taking an existing textbook and remixing it or working with others to remix it. You could even make collaborative remixing a learning activity that helps demonstrate the fundamentals or a particular aspect of what you teach. For example, David Wiley’s students improved, rewrote and extended their existing open textbook on project management, as part of practically demonstrating their new project management skills. Read David’s blog post ‘The best OER revise/ remix ever?’ to find out more.
  • Swapping examples in a resource for ones that are more relevant to your own context.
  • Adding narrative and additional material to existing open video footage to make them more applicable to your own context and demonstrate differences in practice. Read Igor Lesko’s article on how videos were repurposed for different contexts in ‘Examples of OER in health remixes from the African Health OER Network’.
  • If you want more ideas or suggestions for how to remix, The Daring Librarian (aka Gwyneth Jones) reviews well-known popular culture remixes and spin-offs, how to remix and ways to use social media as part of ‘project based learning’ in ‘Secrets of the remix, mash-up, YouTube generation’.

Authoring tools

There is a range of user-friendly authoring tools that can assist with remixing content. Examples of OER remixing and authoring platforms include:

Choosing a licence

When remixing different OER it is important to pay attention both to the licence of the material you are going to reuse, as this may restrict how you can reuse it and how differently licensed materials affect what licence you are able to give the new resource you create. It is also important to keep track of what resources you are using. One method of noting the details of resources is to create an asset log, where you document the source URL, the resource’s licence information and the way the author wants to be attributed (see TASL in Section 3.4). You will need to include all this information as part of your new resource.

You might want to include material in your new resource that is licensed on a less ‘open’ licence than the rest of the content you are using. In these instances it is useful to remember that you can always link out to more restrictively licensed materials (e.g. by providing a link in your remix to the original resource rather than embedding it within your new creation). You can then summarise the resource so that it’s contextualised within your remix and the learner has sufficient information to know why the material is of relevance and how it fits with what precedes and follows it.

Let’s begin by looking at what kinds of materials you can adapt or remix. Creative Commons has provided some great resources to help you understand what you can and can’t do with differently licensed materials. Table 1 below tells you whether one CC or Public Domain resource can be remixed with another: ‘To use the chart, find a licence on the left column and on the top right row. If there is a check mark in the box where that row and column intersect, then the works can be remixed. If there is an ‘X’ in the box, then the works may not be remixed unless an exception or limitation applies.’

If you need reminding of the licence types, check out Creative Commons.

Table 1 Table showing which licence types can be remixed with each other from Frequently Asked Questions by Creative Commons and licensed CC BY 4.0
Public domain ‘no known copyright’Public domain ‘no rights reserved’CC BYCC BY-SACC BY-NCCC BY-NDCC BY-NC-SACC BY-NC-ND
Public domain ‘no known copyright’
Public domain ‘no rights reserved’

Let’s take a closer look at a few examples. As seen in Section 2.5, one of the most restrictive Creative Commons licences you can apply contains the ‘no derivatives’ (ND) instruction: CC-BY-ND or CC-BY-NC-ND. Look at Table 1 above; as you can see all the rows that contain a licence that includes a ‘no derivatives’ instruction cannot be combined or remixed with other licences. These licences are not considered to be OER (see Section 2.2), although you can use the resource ‘as is’ with attribution and in the instance of a resource labelled CC-BY-ND, for commercial purposes.

Licence combinations

But what about the other licence combinations? Let’s look at a CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-SA combination. Why can you not remix material that is for non-commercial use with another resource that is Share-alike (SA)? This is because adding a non-commercial condition conflicts with the Share-alike (SA) instruction of the CC-BY-SA licence. The Share-alike requires you to share a remix of the resource on the same licence (in this instance as CC-BY-SA) or a licence where the terms do not conflict with the Share-alike restriction (e.g. if the other material is Public Domain or CC-BY licensed). Share-alike also enables some non-Creative Commons openly licensed materials to be remixed with CC licensed works.

Now that you are able to identify what types of material can be licensed with other differently licensed types of materials, it is important to ensure that you license any new material correctly. Table 2 below comes from a brief guide to remixing differently licensed content from Creative Commons and gives a quick overview of different licences, in addition to explaining why and how you can remix different types of Creative Commons licensed materials.

Reading the table from the left-hand column, those marked green/with a tick can be licensed using the adapter's licence indicated across the top row. Those marked yellow/'not recommended' are technically permitted, but not recommended by Creative Commons. Those marked grey/with a cross are not permitted.

Table 2 ‘Adapter’s licence chart’ by Creative Commons and licensed CC BY 4.0.
Adapter’s licence chartAdapter’s licence
Status of original workPD
BYNot recommended but technically possible
BY-NCNot recommended but technically possibleNot recommended but technically possibleNot recommended but technically possibleNot recommended but technically possible

Abbreviation key

  • BY = Attribution only
  • BY-ND = Attribution – NoDerivatives
  • BY-NC-ND = Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivatives
  • BY-NC = Attribution – NonCommercial
  • BY-NC-SA = Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike
  • BY-SA = Attribution – ShareAlike
  • PD = dedicated to or marked as being in the public domain via one of our public domain tools, or other public domain material; adaptations of materials in the public domain may be built upon and licensed by the creator under any license terms desired.

As emphasised in the CC document, and seen in the overview above, you cannot give a less restrictive licence to material that was originally licensed more restrictively, for example you cannot give a new resource a CC-BY licence if the material you are incorporating was originally licensed CC-BY-SA.

Both tables 1 and 2 clearly show the impact of licensing your own material CC-BY: this gives the biggest potential for the resource to be reused in different contexts. As seen earlier, licensing material with the ND licence means that no one can create a new version of your work or remix it. This has implications for practice: if someone wanted to change some of your examples, to make them more pertinent to their own context, this would not be allowed under the ND licence.

Activity 4A

Read these two posts from the Open Learning Network (OLnet) on 20 different reasons why you might want to remix OER and on ‘What are the barriers to reusing/ remixing OERs?’

It’s useful to reflect on potential challenges and issues when remixing or reusing OER. These might help clarify what considerations need to be taken into account when creating an OER.

Use your reflective log to write down your responses to the following questions:

  • Which of these motivations and ‘barriers’, if any, resonate with your experiences and thoughts about remixing OER?
  • What might motivate you to share material you have created?
  • What challenges might you, or have you, faced?
  • How could you, or did you, overcome these?
  • Who could you ask for help or advice?
  • Could these challenges be addressed at the time of creating the resource?

4.3 What do I need to consider when creating or remixing an OER?