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Why Such a Course?

The "old-school" e-learning environments such as WebCT/Blackboard were closed both in technical (source code) and regulatory (needed registration and logging in to access the content) sense. Most newer ones like Moodle are open-source projects and as such much more customizable, but the content is typically still locked up behind the passwords - random visitors cannot access it.

This course started out in Wikiversity, which represents another 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 complementary services (in this case, a certificate) may need to be paid for.

Unfortunately, during the 2020 Spring run, we experienced some obstacles in Wikiversity - for instance, some content was deleted without warning by overtly watchful admins. Even if the protests succeeded in restoration, the course flow suffered. And so we ended up closer to home, in the IT College wiki. Everything but the URLs should be the same as it was in Wikiversity.

The content is (just as Wikipedia) licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA license. We will cover these licences during our course - but 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 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.

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