So, your first question will be - who is this woman and what has she got to do with copyright? My role at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) also takes in copyright and licensing advice, working with our library website and the promotion of open educational resources (OERs). Quite a wide remit! When investigating why people did not all rush to adopt the production and use of OERs, I found research by Gadd (1), Rolfe (2), and Whitfield (3) which identified several copyright related barriers.
So, what are they?
- uncertainty about copyright ownership of OERs produced at work
- lack of knowledge of copyright and licensing issues, leading to a reluctance to engage with the topic
- uncertainty on the use of third party materials in OERs
And another thing ... The rise of distance and transnational education puts more pressure in lecturers and learning technologists to produce quality online resources fast.
Does any of this sound familiar? Probably. So how did we go about tackling these problems?
The first one that I ran into was uncertainty about copyright ownership of OERs produced at work. We tried producing library guidance on the production and use of OERs, but our lecturers thought that advice is not 'official' enough and said that we needed a policy. So, we helped write one and pushed for its adoption across the university. We got this approved and it is now available at http://edshare.gcu.ac.uk/id/document/11345. Of course it is an OER and you can download and adapt it for use wherever you are.
So far, so good - so what was next? Lack of knowledge of copyright and licensing issues, leading to a reluctance to engage with the topic and uncertainty on the use of third party materials in OERs.
So how do we tackle the general fear and loathing produced by copyright and licensing issues?
We offer an enquiry service and training sessions, but what people really want is quick answers available at the point of need. Ideally this should be available without communicating with a scary librarian (apparently librarians are scary, who would have thought it!) So, we decided to put basic copyright advice online and developed the GCU online UK copyright advisor.
It is available as an OER and you can use it at edshare.gcu.ac.uk/3608/2/index.html
So, how did we do it?
When we set up our team mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org, we used this to keep track of copyright enquiries. As we got more, we started to keep a document of tricky questions, this was helpful as more than one person monitors the mailbox, so we could use it to help us give consistent advice.
We found that some questions came up often so developed a list of FAQs as nobody likes that 'groundhog day' feeling at work! However, you will all know that staff and students never read your lovingly prepared FAQs, so we wondered how we could make them more easy to use. Our goal was to save ourselves time and effort.
First we asked around to see if any other universities had developed online guidance. Funnily enough, there was an online advisor produced at the University of the West of Scotland, but it didn't quite do what we wanted so we came up with a plan.
We decided start with the main types of material:
- Journal articles
- Book chapters
- Audio files
- Video files
- Computer code
- Images (photos, mind maps, diagrams)
Then we developed question and answer flowcharts. Next we created text answers to the questions in the flowcharts with links to web resources and a glossary. These are available under CC licence at https://edshare.gcu.ac.uk/2706
We found that one or two people working together was not enough! So we formed a group made up of:
- Me (Copyright Advisor)
- Toby Hanning (Systems with knowledge of copyright and repositories)
- Nicky Stewart (Systems with experience of web design)
- Elinor Toland (PURE Repository)
- Susan Cunningham (Administrator who contributes to the web group)
Teamwork helped with the logical flow of the workflow charts and the wording of the text documents. It also helped ensure consistent use of language. BUT eventually you have to stop revising and start building!
In the spirit of 'frugal innovation' (thanks John Casey!) we needed a low cost way to pull it all together. We already had the iSpring quiz software and found that it was compatible with edShare, so decided to use that. It was easy enough to input the questions and answers and set up the branches to the answers.
However, because it is quiz software, the navigation only moves forward. If the user has more than one question, or clicks the wrong choice by accident, they have to restart the session. This is not very clear, even though we have added in messages and guidance.
The first version has proved popular and effective, but not ideal. The look and feel of the advisor is very plan, and it is not visually engaging. We wanted it to look more like a website like Copyrightuser.org.
Luckily we noticed a call for applications for SLIC innovation grants. We applied for one to develop the advisor further into a more open HTML5 resource which is not tied to any one proprietary system. We were lucky enough to be awarded one, and have already put the project out to tender using the Creative Scotland network. We hope to award the contract to a firm of commercial website developers by the end of the month and to have a new user friendly, mobile compatible and attractive edition available in 2019.
Watch this space! Feel free to get in touch, I am happy to chat any time:
- GADD, E., WEEDON, R. 2017. Copyright Ownership of E-learning and Teaching Materials: Policy Approaches taken by UK Universities. Education and Information technologies. 22(6), 3231-3250.
- ROLFE, V. 2012. Open Educational Resources: Staff Attitudes and Awareness. Research in Learning Technology. 20(1), 1-13.
- WHITFIELD, S. ROBINSON, Z. 2015. Open Educational Resources: the Challenges of ‘Usability’ and Copyright Clearance. Planet. 25(1), 51-54.
All images from openclipart.org CC0 apart from the first, which was done in Canva!
About the Author
Marion Kelt is Open Access and Research Librarian in the Collections and Discovery Team at Glasgow Caledonian University Library. Her role is to support the adoption and creation of Open Educational Resources (OERs), to advise on copyright and licensing issues and to lend support to our research community. She also chairs our website group, is developing a community users scheme and is involved in several aspects of information literacy.
Anyone who knows her will know she is a mad cat lady who likes yoga, gardening and gin (not necessarily in that order!). She is very proud of her First Certificate in Sports and Exercise Fitness! She is sure it will come in handy some day…