Creative Commons for New Zealand Schools
This post was originally published in the August 27 print edition of the Gazette Focus, a supplement to the Education Gazette.
In 2013, the Ministry of Education will begin to roll out Ultra Fast Broadband in the Network for Learning (N4L). This will give teachers and students ‘ultra fast’ access to a global archive of digital educational resources. Ultra fast connection speeds will help New Zealand teachers do what they do best: teach New Zealand kids to understand and critique our rich cultural and intellectual heritage.
This is a truly exciting development. Teachers will be able to easily share, remix and reuse resources; students will be able to critically engage with an extraordinary range of online materials. There is enormous potential for collaboration between schools across New Zealand.
But what about when the tools of the trade—the educational resources themselves—are locked under copyright? This is notoriously murky territory. While teachers have some special permissions under the Copyright Act, they do not have the right to adapt and re-release copyright materials.
With such uncertainties, teachers may decide not to risk adapting and sharing resources across the N4L. This threatens to undermine the purpose of the N4L itself, which is intended, as the Education Gazette reported in April, “to encourage collaboration and sharing of resources and knowledge between school communities and learners around New Zealand.”
This is where Creative Commons can help. The Creative Commons licences are robust legal tools that enable users to share, remix and reuse copyright materials; they are quickly applied and easily understood. From a suite of six licences, copyright holders choose from a series of licence conditions. The more restrictive licences prevent derivative works and commercial reuse; the most open licence allows users to adapt, remix and share materials as they wish, as long as they credit the original work.
Realising the potential of digital technologies, some New Zealand schools have decided to adopt a Creative Commons policy. This automatically grants a Creative Commons licence to all educational materials produced in the school. Teachers are then free to adapt and share their resources without having to ask copyright holders—that is, their Boards of Trustees—for permission.
These schools are well placed under current Government policy. The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL), approved by Cabinet on 5 July 2010, invites Boards of Trustees to consider using Creative Commons licences for their teaching resources.
The educational benefits are clear. Since Albany Senior High School adopted their Creative Commons policy, Deputy Principal Mark Osbourne has noticed that “teachers are collaborating more, and they’re also involving their students in the development of those teaching and learning resources.”
In taking this step, the teachers of ASHS join a thriving culture of sharing, remix and reuse already embraced by many kiwi students. Adopting a Creative Commons policy, and working with Creative Commons resources, is also good way to educate students about copyright, so that they can stop infringing and start creating.
The commons is growing: There are already between 500 and 700 million Creative Commons licensed resources available for sharing and reuse, and this is growing every day. Institutions using Creative Commons include Wikipedia, The White House and the governments of Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
You can help expand the commons by reusing, remixing and sharing Creative Commons licensed resources. For more information on the licences, as well links to our Creative Commons video, brochure, poster and slideshow presentation, visit us at creativecommons.org.nz.
Teachers looking to use and share OERs should visit the NZ OER portal at Wikieducator.