Open Educational Resource Providers End Fight Over Attribution

Managing Editor

A group of open educational resource providers have resolved a dispute over the proper sourcing and credit for the curriculum materials they’re creating for schools around the country.

Open Up Resources had accused another organization, Illustrative Mathematics, and its partners of not adequately crediting it as the original creator of math curriculum the latter company offers to schools.

In addition, Open Up Resources had argued that the other curriculum providers should be doing more to direct educators to its curriculum, which was created on an open license and can be downloaded for free at openupresources.com. Open Up holds the license to the middle school math curriculum used by IM.

Neither IM nor Open Up Resources would describe the terms of the agreement in detail.

But Illustrative Mathematics’ CEO Lisa O’Masta said in an interview this week that the organizations had reached a deal that is consistent with the terms of the open license—known as a Creative Commons license—on which the materials are based, she said.

The organizations “can put this behind us, and move on to focus on what’s important,” which is providing schools with high-quality academic materials, O’Masta said in an interview.

O’Masta said that a revised attribution to Open Up Resources, which includes a link to its curriculum, would be included on materials produced by IM and its partners on their copyright pages, as part of the agreement.

She declined to comment on whether financial compensation was included as part of the accord.

An Open Up Resources official said the organizations “came to an agreement that everyone feels good about,” but declined to describe the arrangement further.

He referred EdWeek Market Brief to a statement on Open Up Resources’ website that says the two organizations “share a common vision for an open ecosystem for K-12 education.”

Earlier this year, IM struck a deal with one of the biggest companies in the K-12 industry, McGraw-Hill Education, which agreed to build upon and sell a commercial version of IM’s open materials. In a different agreement, Illustrative Mathematics also formed a partnership with the publisher Kendall Hunt, which agreed to host a free version of IM’s middle and high school curriculum, and sell a print version and professional development.

As part of its arrangements with McGraw-Hill Education and Kendall Hunt, Illustrative Mathematics designates them “IM certified” providers of IM’s curriculum. That means each can make enhancements to the original content only if Illustrative Mathematics approves them and believes they met the curriculum’s goals.

Another curriculum provider, LearnZillion, also has been been recognized as an IM-certified provider.

License for Commercial Use

The agreement with Open Up Resources applies to IM and those three partners, O’Masta said.

Open educational resources are materials established on licenses that typically allow them to be freely shared and altered by teachers and other users—and even commercial entities, under some conditions.

Open Up Resources had released its materials on a Creative Commons license known as CC-BY, which allows any individuals or entities to share and transform them, even for profit, as long as there is attribution to the source and some other licensing terms are met.

The attribution piece was where Open Up Resources had argued IM and the other curriculum providers were falling short.

Even with the agreement, O’Masta said she believes the relatively broad language of Creative Commons open licenses could allow for similar disagreements.

“There’s a lot of gray area in the attribution rules, and I don’t think this has changed that,” she said. “There’s a lot of room for interpretation.”

This post has been updated to clarify the status of IM’s certified partners.

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2 thoughts on “Open Educational Resource Providers End Fight Over Attribution

  1. My understanding was that IM was the author of the curriculum in question. How is OpenUp able to claim to be the original creator? While its good that this dispute got resolved, it definitely creates confusion in the marketplace.

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