04 September 2007

Note to SELF: Free Educational Material

Hot off tomorrow's press - the launch of Science, Education and Learning in Freedom (SELF):

SELF is an international project aiming to provide a platform for the collaborative sharing and creation of free educational and training materials on Free Software and Open Standards.

Of course this begs the question, What is free education material? To which SELF's answer is:

There are few existing definitions on what is Free Documentation, and almost no discussion of what is Free Educational Material, both of which have comparable roles in the SELF project. The most significant contribution to this debate has probably been made by the Open Access movement, in particular the Berlin Declaration but also by the Creative Commons project, which has initiated a debate about various levels of freedom in the field.

Based on their work and the principle of erring on the side of freedom, for the scope of SELF, Free Educational Material and Documentation are defined as follows:


Unlimited use for any purpose

Similar to the first freedom defining Free Software, there must be no limitation on the use of the material. In order to qualify as Free, it must in particular permit use in commercial training activities.



It must be possible to change the material so it can be translated, improved and kept up-to-date, as well as to enable collaboration and creation of new, combined materials.



It must be possible to distribute the materials in original, modified, and combined forms. It must be at the choice of the individual distributor to do this with or without a fee.

This definition should be strong enough as to not exclude SELF from the future Free Educational Material community, regardless of the details and outcome of its constituting definition.

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