Open Conference on Open Education/Producing OERs

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Discussing OER production
Video recording copy.

In this session La Trobe University staff and external conference attendees discussed issues related to creating and disseminating open educational resources.

Copyright and licensing[edit | edit source]

All content protected by copyright law as default. Publishing content involves licensing work to other parties. Creative Commons licenses allow people to license their work openly. Attribution license is the most open of CC licenses.

Gov 2.0 recommendation to dept finance and deregulation for all public service work to be made available using Creative Commons attribution licence, but in practice public servants are including non-commercial restrictions in the licence, meaning that the work cannot be blended with material that uses other licenses. (Read more about CC licences.) People seem to be using the licence that mimics current/existing practice & thus missing the point of the recommendation, which is to be more open than current practice.

Discussion point:

  • Is this a demonstration that the change needs to be managed more? Things won't change just because CC option is there; we have to address the reasons why the approach to open has been introduced.
  • How do universities fit with the government 2.0 model and the Department of Finance and Deregulation recommendation? As a research organisation using public funds?

La Trobe hasn't made wide use of Creative Commons licensing for its iTunesU content; most content carries all rights reserved copyright notice. All rights reserved licence is a default; it hasn't been thought through as yet (as to whether it should use a CC licence).

Discussion points:

  1. What material/activities do we want freely available?
  2. How much should be open?
  3. If openness is to be restricted, at what point? Who decides that?

Standard copyright licences rely on users complying with the stated restrictions, as does Creative Commons. There was some questioning of whether the conditions of restrictive licences (copyright or Creative Commons Non-commercial or Share Alike) should be used if the institution does not have the capacity/ability to monitor breaches of those licences. Other views expressed indicated that the institution should adopt the licence that best fits with the institution's guiding principles/constitution, etc. The Non-Commercial CC licence is seen as a way to stop others from commercialising content that we've put a lot of effort into producing and making available. Is this about us not wanting to give commercial publishers a 'free ride' on the back of our content?

The risk of making content available on the internet must be weighed against the cost of not taking the opportunity to make content available to those who would not otherwise have access to it.

Discussion points:

  1. Does La Trobe need to increase capacity to monitor the use of its open content if it is to enter this space?
  2. What are the implications of setting Share Alike CC conditions? What if others want to incorporate our content into material that is licensed CC attribution?

Otago Polytechnic adopted CC attribution licence as default, but it relied on academics to understand what that really meant. It required academics to include the CC licence statement on their slides and resources, rather than standard all-rights-reserved copyright statement.

Ownership and attribution[edit | edit source]

There was discussion about institutional vs. individual ownership of content created for university courses. La Trobe Intellectual Property Policy stipulates university ownership of materials created "during the course of employment".


  • Should materials be attributed to La Trobe or individual author(s)? If attributed to individuals, institutional endorsement comes from their employment of those individuals. Attribution to teams, departments, faculties?
  • If materials have been shaped based on engagement with other staff and students, then is that essentially the product of a community?
  • What are the implications of assigning individual ownership of materials created for the university's courses? With individual ownership comes individual responsibility and liability for copyright breaches as well.

When setting IP policy around open licensing of materials, an opt-out clause needs to be included for:

  • patentable works
  • works created in conjunction with Indigenous communities that need to retain ownership over culturally sensitive material
  • what other justifiable conditions?

Third-party agreements[edit | edit source]

Current IP Policy allows open release of teaching and learning materials providing no third-party agreement is already in place. We need to ensure that no third-party agreements get in the way of pursuing the aim of openness. What are the implications of this for academics who have long-standing textbook authorship arrangements with publishers?

Benefits of adopting open policy[edit | edit source]

What are the benefits to LTU in making our teaching materials open?

  • Promotion of LTU work in teaching (and in research)
  • Good opportunity to put our best work "out there" and showing that we are doing good work.
  • Individual recognition.
  • Creates opportunities for collaboration - within LTU and across institutions.
  • Opportunities to focus on specific areas of interest/expertise & draw on a wider field of talent to 'fill in the gaps' in their own expertise. Beneficial to teaching.
  • Openness and collaboration can help improve on work in commons space; colleagues helping colleagues improve materials across institutions; allowing staff to develop skills and knowledge in a field.

Concerns[edit | edit source]

Some expressed concerns about the quality of our content. Those who are producing the work will know if it's high-quality or not. Institutional guidelines/common practices could be established to guide people through the publishing process. What processes can we adopt from other organisations or institutions?

Courses and materials put up onto iTunes U go through rigorous quality-control process (quality of content and of media itself). Knowing that materials will be released openly encourages people to ensure their best work is on display. Could this have a good effect of improving our teaching? Could it be detrimental? e.g. people not wanting to release their materials because they think it's not good enough, that they are not experienced enough to be lecturing publicly on certain topics.

There is a perception that creating own materials adds to workload. Some evidence suggests it is no different from normal teaching planning and preparation. Should the development of teaching and learning materials by teaching staff on payroll be a normal part of teaching work?

It takes time to locate good-quality OER, but the more high-quality OER contributed to commons spaces by La Trobe and other institutions (with appropriate metadata to aid searching), the easier it will be to find.

Modern academic practice

Going into open education is about more than achieving efficiencies; it's about adopting modern pedagogical practices. There are risks in not adopting openness as policy; being excluded from collaboration with other open institutions.

Discussion points:

  • What resources need to be provided to academic experts to help them publish their materials openly?
  • Are there appropriate support mechanisms within the university to make this a part of normal business?