Otago Polytechnic is a publicly-subsidised vocational education and training organisation located in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand. It provides a range of vocational courses, offering certificates, diplomas, degrees and postgraduate studies in Travel and Tourism, through Automotive Engineering to Midwifery.
Taking an open view of teaching, learning and research, Otago Polytechnic reconsidered their stance on access to educational resources, then governed by traditional views of ownership and Intellectual Property. Key stakeholders were consulted in the review, which occurred over the past two years, providing feedback that the institution needed to be more open to support creative thinking and the application of theory to practice. This culminated in the announcement in March 2008 that Otago Polytechnic was releasing their training materials under open access terms on Wikieducator.
As stated in its current Intellectual Property Policy:
‘Otago Polytechnic wishes to foster research and development that advances knowledge and scholarship; and to support projects where that leads to marketable products or services. The Polytechnic:
- has a preference for the open sharing of information, knowledge and resources
- recognises that intellectual property (IP) is owned by the creator, unless there are :specific agreements to the ownership of IP by others, and
- wishes to foster the empowerment of individuals in their endeavours in a protective and/or promotional framework for individual creators associated with Otago Polytechnic.’
Otago Polytechnic now offers its open access courses under the Creative Commons Attribution licence, with the application ‘Creative Commons Attribution (Author name) for Otago Polytechnic.’
Individual lecturers own their intellectual property. Encouragement and support is given by the institution to use CC BY for copyright statements. Where the Polytechnic is used to publish or promote work, a CC BY licence is applied wherever possible. Exceptions are made for works where third-party content is not or cannot be cleared. Other restrictions (if any) are time-based and explained.
Encouraging open content licenses at Otago Polytechnic by way of its Intellectual Property Policy has assured employees and contractors that they are free to use and develop open content, and that they a free to participate in Open Educational Resource development initiatives. Many staff have now developed independent skills in publishing and managing their own content, as well as locating and reusing third-party open content, and collaborating in content development. The proliferation of open content and associated practices has helped to promote the Polytech as well as the expertise and services of the individuals in its employ. A more independent and participatory culture within the organisation is beginning to develop.
Free and Open Source Software first inspired thinking about free and open source educational content. The success of Wikimedia Foundation projects proved the idea viable. Support from many individuals and initiatives such as Wikieducator has made it possible.
Otago Polytechnic decided to adopt the Creative Commons Attribution licence so as to ensure a maximum amount of freedom and flexibility to itself and to people and organisations sampling its content. Restrictions like ShareAlike and Noncommercial were not an option as they would have compromised or complicated this position.
The text of this case study has been reproduced from the Creative Commons International Case Studies wiki.