OER1022 Oral Presentation ppt

An OER Amnesty

Alex Fenlon, Engineering Subject Centre

Conference Theme: Open Educational Content

Abstract: This paper will discuss perceived attitudes and observed barriers to the release of Open Educational Resources (OER) within UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Further Education Colleges (FECs). Through an OER pilot project involving seven partner institutions across the UK, a pattern of Intellectual Property Right (IPR)-related obstacles has arisen. The main issue faced by the project was academics' unfamiliarity with IPR when it came to releasing materials to the wider world outside of their institution and ‘normal’ publishing routes. This paper proposes that academics do not need to have an in depth knowledge of IPR but institutions do. HEIs and, to a lesser extent, FECs, are rapidly becoming more 'savvy' when it comes to the recognition, protection and enforcement of their IPR arising from research outputs. The findings of this project suggest that this same awareness has not transferred to teaching departments and staff. The confusion at academic level has a knock-on effect which manifests itself as uncertainty within the institution over ownership of teaching materials. For OER to thrive and become sustainable, this uncertainty must be removed. An institution must be certain that its materials were produced by a member of its staff in the course of their employment and that it therefore owns the copyright in those materials, subject to the terms of employment. Only when an institution is certain of this can it enforce, protect or even identify its rights and thus pursue an OER related policy. This paper will propose that the solution to surmounting the significant and substantial IPR barriers (and therefore permitting the release of OER materials) would be a move towards an OER amnesty. All materials produced within HEIs, FECs and possibly even wider educational establishments should either fall under a new educational exception in copyright legislation or automatically become subject to compulsory open licensing schemes such as Creative Commons.

Keywords: UKOER, EngSC, IPR, copyright, infringement, legal issues, barriers