Ethics and Law in New Media/Why Wikiversity
NOTEː The course is INACTIVE since August 2014 - this page is left here for reference only.
Why do we use Wikiversity?
For example, WebCT/Blackboard is a closed environment, both in technical (source code) and regulatory (needs registration and logging in to access the content) sense. Moodle and IVA are open-source projects and as such much more customisable, but the content is typically still locked up behind the passwords - random visitors cannot access it.
Wikiversity represents a new paradigm of distributed learning environments that makes use of many opportunities of Web 2.0 and is totally open to anyone interested. Wikiversity course are in a sense similar to the concept of shareware used in software distribution - before purchase, it's possible to try it out, the main functionality is free and only complentary services (in this case, a certificate) may need to be paid for.
The content of Wikiversity is (just as Wikipedia) licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA license. To say it simply, these materials can be freely distributed and used (also for commercial purposes) when you
- point to the author (Attribution), and
- new materials that are derived from this one will share the same license (ShareAlike).
Thus, it is not permitted (without the explicit content of the author) to include them in a "closed" book which can only be purchased from stores and which is not freely available. Fair use in limited amounts is still possible (as in proprietary materials) without asking, provided that proper credit is given. Also, the author is still in full control of the material and may provide parallel licensing schemes (i.e. for publishing a "closed" book), but these must be negotiated and agreed upon separately.