Paying it Forward with Creative Commons

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the Starbucks drive thru and you pull up to the window only to find out the person in front of you has paid for your order? What exactly did they get from this transaction? Certainly, they were not paid or rewarded with anything tangible, but they probably did receive a feeling of happiness that comes along with paying it forward. What if that same feeling of paying it forward could be applied to OERs and creative commons?

This week, in the edX MOOC: Introduction to Open Education, there is a focus on Copyright, the Public Domain, and the Commons. While reviewing this module’s videos a concept really stood out to me: the concept of different types of transactions earned from OERs and creative commons, other than monetary transactions. In the third video presented this week, George Siemens (2017) asks, “shouldn’t someone who creates content earn money from it?”

Siemens (2017) then begins discussing the concept of different types of transactional entities such as recognition or exposure received from a published work. As an individual that is trying to build their career in higher education, specifically educational technology, I find that this type of transactional entity is exactly why I take no issue in producing content or artifacts for “free.” Siemens (2017) also talks about another form of transactional entity which is just fueling the thing you are passionate about, for example, volunteering at an animal shelter – you aren’t being paid with money but you are paying yourself with the satisfaction and internal fulfillment by offering your time and effort. Creating and distributing OER’s is just another form of volunteerism, specifically for the educational community – you create it because you are passionate about sharing knowledge and building on the current foundations of ideas.

So with all of this in mind, why is it that so many academics are still hung-up on the need to have their work copyrighted without offering creative commons? As an academic myself, I can understand the desire to share ideas with my fellow academics, as well as earning some coin in the process. However, I understand that by not allowing my work to float along in the world of creative commons I am stifling my ideas as well as the ideas of others who may use them as building blocks in the future.

While I understand the need to put food on the table and provide your family/self with a sense of financial stability, does only creating content for the sake of monetary transactional entities go against everything academics stand for? Is there a happy middle where content can be created and more than one type of transactional entity can be obtained?



Wiley, D., & Siemens, G. (2017). Copyright, The Public Domain, and the Commons (part 3). Retrieved from https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:UTArlingtonX+LINK.OEx+3T2017/courseware/92ac80880b244befbb4ebc69391a7755/937f64e5eb774acab948d2090e9e558a/?child=last

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