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Sharing free/open LOs [2 db ROSSZ LINK]

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Site: Tenegen
Course: TC05 - Sharing Open Learning Objects
Book: Sharing free/open LOs [2 db ROSSZ LINK]
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Monday, 4 March 2024, 10:29 PM

Introduction

SHARING FREE LEARNING OBJECTS

The main motivation in favour of using Learning Objects is reusability.

A Learning Object covered by copyright -- “all rights reserved” -- can be reused from a technical point of view, but legally it is only reusable by the copyright owner himself.


A free/open Learning Object is a LO with a licence which allows the material to be used freely, to be changed and to be distributed.

INTRODUCTION

The theme

A free/open Learning Object is a LO with a licence which instead of imposing “all rights reserved” enables the object to be used, changed and distributed by others. However, there are some limitations such as you are obliged to mention the original author and maintain the same licence on products which are derived from the original.

The objectives

At the end of this LO you should be able to:
- identify the fundamental principles of free/open LOs, derived from the free/open source software movement;
- describe relevant initiatives in the field of open content;
- explain the essential aspects of the copyleft licence;
- choose which licence you want to issue your contents under.

How organised

- Introduction (2 web pages)
- Content for e-learning: a critical element (3 web pages)
- The Free/Open Source Software model (10 web pages)
- Initiatives in Open Content (3 web pages)
- Copyleft licences for Contents (9 web pages)
- Conclusions (1 web pages)
- Self - evaluation test (6 multiple-choice questions)
- Biblio & sitegraphy

The duration

About 30 minutes


The critical element

E-LEARNING MATERIALS:
THE CRITICAL ELEMENT

A teacher who plans an eLearning project takes into consideration the following factors at the beginning:

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the trainees' characteristics and learning needs,

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the learning objectives of the institution,

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available learning materials and tools,

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technological aids, in particular a “platform” or a LMS.

Starting from this information, and from the learning model chosen, he/she plans and develops:

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the learning environment dependent on the kind of relational context he/she wants to promote,

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the plan of activities,

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the core and supplementary materials to be used.

DIDACTIC MATERIALS
& E-LEARNING MODELS

Self-learning

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In on-line training models which are focused on self learning, didactic material must be highly structured and accomplish all the tasks carried out by the teacher: the transmission of content, sustained motivation, controlled learning, feedback, etc.

Virtual class

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In models which are based on a virtual class, where there is a relationship between a teacher and with a peer group, the didatic materials do not have an all-embracing role because the teacher and the group intervene directly to maintain motivation, to control learning and to offer feedback with new content. The importance of the pre-defined didactic material is reduced, however the didactic material must be specifically designed to be used online.

DIDACTIC MATERIAL: THE CRITICAL POINT

Most teachers have become acquainted with ICT, and many of them have already carried out eLearning activities with their students. However many cannot go beyond these few and limited experiences because of the lack of time to develop suitable learning materials.

This is one reason why the availability of materials is essential, to encourage more and more teachers to carry out online learning activities. But learning materials - in order to be available for and to be used in different contexts - need to have the typical features of LOs, namely granularity, adaptability, accessibility, transportability/interoperability, re-usability and durability.
Last but not least, they must provide the potential of free use.

The idea of Learning Objects was generated to meet the requirements to have “chunks” of reusable didactical contents. Yet, if they are protected by copyright, only the one who owns the rights to them can reuse them. The logic of ownership goes against the requirements indicated in the premises.

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In the field of software, nowadays, a different perspective has become dominant: the one of Free Software and Open Source, with copyleft rights.

Free/OpenSource Software Model

THE FREE/OPENSOURCE SOFTWARE MODEL

A reference model for free LOs

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Free/OpenSource software

WHAT IS FREE/OPENSOURCE SOFTWARE?

The free/open source software movement supports the freedom to use, modify and distribute the software. The access to the source code guarantees the possibility to modify it.

The "free software" has born at the beginning of the '80s, mainly thanks to Richard Stallman, the promoter of the Free Software Foundation.

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In 1998 the foundation of the Open Source Initiative was formed, and it has greatly contributed to the diffusion of the model.

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The term Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) or Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) is a hybrid definition related to that movement, but neutral as far as the “ideological” aspect is concerned.
The term FLOSS was adopted by the European Commission (June 2004) while studying the subject. In 2004, it appeared as an English definition in some official documents of various countries, among them Spain, Brazil and South Africa. In FLOSS, the F can be also the initial of the German word Frei while L can refer to the French and Spanish Libre, the Portuguese word Livre and the Italian term Libero.

THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION

The idea of Free Software spread at the beginning of the '80s, mainly thanks to Richard Stallman, the promoter of the Free Software Foundation (www.fsf.org/), "dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs".
According to Stallman, four concepts of freedom need to be guaranteed:

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the freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0),

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the freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1)

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the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour (freedom 2),

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the freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).

Since the word free means "not restricted/limited/controlled" as well as "gratis/without any charge", Stallman and his movement explain: Free software'' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in "free speech,"not as in "free beer". In 1983 Stallman promoted the project GNU - Gnu is Not Unix - to produce a free operating system of the Unix type, a powerful operating system of which many versions already existed on the market, mainly copyrighted.
As far as the OpenSource Initiative is concerned the position of FSF is as follows: "Another group has started using the term 'open source' to mean something close (but not identical) to 'free software'. We prefer the term 'free software' because, once you have heard it refers to freedom rather than price, it calls to mind freedom. The word 'open' never does that".

THE OPEN SOURCE INITIATIVE

The Open Source Initiative, OSI , was founded in 1998 by a team involved in the field of free software, stimulated by the choice of Netscape to release its own browser source. They aimed at publicising their ideas and practice to impose them on the market. They successfully met their goal.

Although it is simplifying the issue, it is possible to say that while Stallman accentuates the ethical aspect - it is a problem of freedom! - the members of OSI want to promote the practise of free software/open source by using the argument that collaboration will produce better software . This is based on the principle "people use it, people adapt it, people fix bugs".

Moreover they want to involve companies in this methodology by showing that it can be economically advantageous

FLOSS

FREE/OPEN-SOURCE MODEL SUCCESS

Stallman and the Free Software Foundation's plan appeared, at the beginning, as one of the many, beautiful, utopian ideas describing a "different likely world" but without any possibility of it becoming reality.
Of course, small communities of idealists can potentially produce and exchange free software, but such software will never be fully able to compete with the ones developed by enterprises within well-organized, centralized, financially supported projects. University scholars and people keen on technology can also enjoy themselves with hobby software, but who can readily believe that cooperating individuals would be able to produce software that is more reliable than the one developed by giant enterprises such as Microsoft? That an open source code can actually allow the bugs to be fixed though voluntary work? That this anarchic way of working can eventually produce reliable software?
But this story is r!

The figure opposite (from http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html, 14-4-2006) shows the evolution of the server web market. At that time, December 2005, the Opensource Apache server - which runs on GNU-Linux [ROSSZ LINK], Windows or Mac OSX - represented 69,97% of the market! Microsoft servers came in second at 20,92%!
A server must be reliable. The fact that this is exactly the field in which free software has proved most successful, reopens the debate on what was once taken for granted.

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Market share of Internet Servers

GNU/LINUX

Linux is the most famous Open Source software. Linux is often spoken about as an Operating System, but this is incorrect: it is only the kernel, the core of the operating system.
In 1983 Stallman promoted the project GNU - Gnu is Not Unix - to produce a free operating system of the Unix type. In 1991 the GNU project had developed many relevant components of the operating system, but the kernel, the basic nucleus, remained unfinished. It has since been produced through the efforts of a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, who, in mixing his own name with Unix, called it Linux.

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Linux logo
GNU logo

The Linux kernel was issued under a GNU GPL licence. It is this very licence, of the copyleft type, which has enabled hundreds of programmers, from all over the world, to contribute to the development and improvement of a product, created for fun, or rather for individual study, which has become the heart of an operating system that is nowadays widely used all over the world.

Licences

COPYLEFT LICENCES

Most software is copyrighted, that is, "all right reserved". Thanks to a pun, the word copyleft was coined. It uses "left" as opposed to "right", as in political terminology, but also "left" as in the verb "to leave" with the sense of being "not constricted", "let free".
Yet any type of freedom, if it is to be granted, needs the observance of some rules. What if I produce free software and somebody uses it (I allow him to do that) and then they apply for a copyright on it?
This is the reason why "licenses" have been provided in order to protect and grant the rights of free use. Practically, to be legally protected, the creators of free software state: "©This software is released under licence X".

The main copyleft software licenses have been developed by the Free Software Foundation:

GNU GPL
and
GNU LGPL

GNU GPL

The most widely used licence for open/free software is the GNU General Public Licence, GNU GPL, formulated by Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen in 1989. It aimed at distributing the programs created within GNU project. The latest version, 2, dates back to June 1991. (View http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html, 10-12-2005).
The kernel of GPL is as follows
:

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the licence is applied to any program which, under the entry copyright, indicates GPL licence;

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the use of program is permitted;

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the alteration, copy and redistribution of software is allowed both in its original form or modified, both free of charge or not, provided that each copy shows the same licence and that the source code is available in case alterations wish to be made by the user.

GNU LGPL

The GNU Lesser General Public License - GNU LGPL - allows the creation of links between free and proprietary software. It has been mainly formulated in order to allow the use of repositories containing free and non-free programs.


 

FLOSS and market

FLOSS & MARKET

The ideological basis of free software is freedom, against prohibitions. The GNU GPL licence doesn't foresee any commercial prohibitions.
Free distribution means also free marketing (but, obviously, at the same time, others can commercialize on it as well as giving it out for free).

A free or open-software, does not necessarily coincide with not-paid activities. The software market is widely supported by enterprises that commercialize free/opensource software and the services connected to it.
Any user can install a GNU/Linux system or an Apache server on his computer by freely downloading the kernel and all the components he considers interesting, but there are enterprises - linked to the free software/opensource such as Debian and RedHat - which put together and test the software components and provide personalised releases.  They charge for their expenses and services.
Such enterprises often devote a certain amount of their profits to further improve and develop the open-source software.

Yet there are also “traditional” companies that build part of their business on OS software and therefore support its growth. Linus Torvalds, for example, works full time today to coordinate the group of programmers who develop the kernel Linux on the behalf of OSDL (Open Source Development Lab), a project funded by Computer Associates, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and NEC.

Open Content experiences

OPEN CONTENT EXPERIENCES

The extension of the FLOSS model to content

This theme has imposed itself on open-source programmers: in fact software is always followed by manuals, that is to say, by text documents, whether they are in digital form or of paper. If the software is free, the related documents should also be free.

Why should one consider only the documentation of free software and leave out other cultural fields? Let us think only of that content related to eLearning.

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CASE STUDY: MIT

MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the first well-known educational organization to release its own didactical materials with a licence of the copyleft type. Thanks to the project MIT OCW (MIT OpencourseWare) MIT has, since 2002 MIT, made all the materials used in its courses available on the web free of charge.
Not only does MIT make its own materials available, but they are also being organized according to standards currently under discussion in the world of eLearning. MIT is adapting their technological platform to conform to the Open Knowledge Initiative standards, which are being defined by the MIT together with Stanford University.
The choice of copyleft by such an institution and in such dimensions (all the courses) is relevant from numerous points of view:
- it is an exceptional support for the position of those who affirm that knowledge - and educational content with it - is the "heritage of humanity" and for that reason it must be available to everybody, free of charge and easy to distribute;
- it can cause significant adjustments in the publishing market which has to compete with MIT free materials;
- it is an intelligent marketing initiative. MIT can afford to give free access to content because the “added value" of actual enrolment lies the good quality of their teaching personnel!

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CASE STUDY: WIKIPEDIA

Wikepedia is certainly another relevant case of the free sharing of knowledge. Yet, while MIT makes a product that is complete and validated and available to everybody, Wikepedia is an example of a second relevant objective of FLOSS: cooperative formulation.
Wikipedia is a project which aims at cooperatively creating a multilingual encyclopaedia - there are currently 34 languages! The English version exceeds 1,135,000,000 words, the French version 285,000,000 the Italian 158,000,000 and 118,000,000 for the Spanish version, ...(April 2006)

Wikipedia is continuously enriching and widening its content thanks to the voluntary cooperation of thousands and thousands of people scattered all over the world.

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In a nutshell, Wikipedia is the tip of an iceberg: the most significant case of collaborative production of content based on the following principles:
pallinogiallo.gif everyone can upload new content, not necessarily complete and well-organized (somebody will do that);
pallinogiallo.gif anyone can modify already existing content provided the aim is improvement;
pallinogiallo.gif all the alterations are traced so that a previous version can be reactivated.
The basic hypothesis is that the modifications progressively improve the product and also that intentional episodes of vandalism can be thwarted by the supervision of the community.

Copyleft licences

COPYLEFT LICENCES IN THE "CONTENT" FIELD

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GNU FREE DOCUMENTATION LICENCE

GNU Free Documentation Licence - GNU FDL - was created in order to distribute software documentation and training material.
According to the licence:

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everybody can copy and redistribute with or without alterations, for profit or not, the material published under this licence,

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each copy of the material, even if modified, must be redistributed under the same licence, an unabridged copy of the licence must always be included in the distributed document,

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in case somebody needs to reproduce a great number of modified copies, they must be available also under a “transparent” form which should easily enable future modifications,

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the authors of a previous version must be indicated and the "invariant sections", outlined by the original author and concerning his relation with the document, may under no condition be changed,

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if the document is changed, its title must be changed (unless differently indicated by the author).

The licence also provides clear indications for requirements of the front and back cover, the sections dedicated to the document history, to the acknowledgments, and for whatever the combination of different documents concerns.
Wikipedia uses GNU FDL licence.

Creative Commons

CREATIVE COMMONS LICENCES

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization, founded in 2001 and aimed at defining "the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright - all rights reserved - and the public domain - no rights reserved. Our licenses help you keep your copyright while inviting certain uses of your work - a "some rights reserved" copyright."

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CC: between copyright and public domain

The key elements of Creative Commons licenses are as follows. They are presented by means of very clear icons.

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Attribution.
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give credit the way you request.

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Non-commercial.
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for non-commercial purposes only.

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You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

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Share Alike.
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

Here are the different licences:

The MIT OpenCourseWare is released under the Creative Commons Licence: Attribution - No Commercial - Share Alike

ATTRIBUTION - NON COMMERCIAL - NO DERIVATIVE

by.jpg nodev.jpg

You are free:

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to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work,

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to make commercial use of the work,

under the following conditions:

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you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor,

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you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work,

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for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work,

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any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

ATTRIBUTION, NO DERIVATIVE

by.jpg nodev.jpg

You are free:

pallinogiallo.gif

to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work,

pallinogiallo.gif

to make commercial use of the work,

under the following conditions:

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you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor,

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you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work,

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for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work,

pallinogiallo.gif

any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

ATTRIBUTION, NON COMMERCIAL

by.jpg nocom.jpg

You are free:

pallinogiallo.gif

to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work,

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to make derivatives work,

under the following conditions:

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you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor,

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you may not use this work for commercial purposes,

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for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work,

pallinogiallo.gif

any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

ATTRIBUTION, SHARE ALIKE

by.jpg sa.jpg

You are free:

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to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work,

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to make derivatives work,

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to make commercial use of the work,

under the following conditions:

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you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor,

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if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a licence identical to this one,

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for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work,

pallinogiallo.gif

any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

ATTRIBUTION - NO COMMERCIAL - NO DERIVATIVE

by.jpg nocom.jpg nodev.jpg

You are free:

pallinogiallo.gif

to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work,

under the following conditions:

pallinogiallo.gif

you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor,

pallinogiallo.gif

you may not use this work for commercial purposes,

pallinogiallo.gif

you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work,

pallinogiallo.gif

for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work,

pallinogiallo.gif

any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

ATTRIBUTION - NO COMMERCIAL - SHARE ALIKE

by.jpg nocom.jpg sa.jpg

You are free:

pallinogiallo.gif

to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work,

pallinogiallo.gif

to make derivatives work,

under the following conditions:

pallinogiallo.gif

you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor,

pallinogiallo.gif

you may not use this work for commercial purposes,

pallinogiallo.gif

if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a licence identical to this one,

pallinogiallo.gif

for any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work,

pallinogiallo.gif

any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

Conclusion

CONCLUSIONS

To integrate traditional teaching & learning with online teaching & learning, it is necessary to have a vast archive of granularised, didactic material that is accessible, adaptable, durable, portable, interoperable and reusable. Producing a large archive of quality LOs will exceed the capacity of most schools and universities, not to mention individual teachers.

The FLOSS model suggests a possible answer: a collaboration of schools, universities and individual teachers to improve and expand a repository of free LOs. In such a repository the quality of the LOs comes from sharing and the collaboration of communities of practice.

This hypothesis is the point of departure of the SLOOP project: to transfer the Free/Libre Open Source Software model to the didactic content of training.

Test

SELF-EVALUATION

A test to check your understanding

This multiple choice test does not communicate any score to the platform. It is only a tool you can use if you want to check your understanding of the concepts presented in this LO.

Feedback is provided for each answer. If you also click on the answers you answered incorrectly, you can get some explanation as to why they were wrong.

To go to the test click on the forward arrow.

Biblio

Biblio/Sitegraphy

Creative Commons

http://creativecommons.org

Free Software Foundation

http://www.fsf.org/

Licenza GNU FDL

http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html

Licenze Creative Commons

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Licenze Free Software Foundation

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/index_htm [ROSSZ LINK]l

MIT OpenCourseware

http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html

Open Source Initiative

http://www.opensource.org/

Progetto GNU

www.gnu.org/

Wikipedia

http://www.wikipedia.org/