More from Our March Events
In the middle of March, we held a series of events on Creative Commons policies in schools in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. The events featured lightning talks from a handful of experts in government, law and education, who outlined the legal, technical and cultural reasons for schools to implement a Creative Commons policy.
While we couldn’t manage to record video of the events, we have recorded the audio for the final event in Wellington. Unfortunately, Carolyn Stuart and Mark Osborne weren’t able to attend, though Ian Munro was able to speak to Carolyn’s slides, and we’ve included a quick summary of their talks below.
If any of this piques your interest, you can register your interest in a Creative Commons workshop.
You can listen to the audio in the embedded player, or download the .mp3 files at the Internet Archive.
Matt then ran through eight different points, which are detailed in the slides. The general point of his talk was that while the internet and digital technologies have made sharing and reuse very easy, copyright law still represents a significant legal barrier. This is particularly true in the case of teaching resources, which remain the property of the Board of Trustees. He finished his talk by suggesting that Creative Commons licensing — and a Creative Commons policy — can help to address these IP problems in New Zealand schools, while actively encouraging sharing and collaboration.
However, if you create the work in the course of your employment, then the copyright belongs to your employer. This means that the copyright to all teaching resources produced by teachers in the course of their employment as teachers is owned by the Board of Trustees.
What if the BoT wanted to share teaching resources with other schools? It could say, ‘here, use it.’ From a lawyer’s perspective, though, this is imprecise. There might be a bunch of other things the board hasn’t thought about, such as commercial reuse, attribution and liability.
It’s better, then, to use a standardised, legally robust licence, such as those provided by Creative Commons. It’s more flexible, and provides protection for both you and the user. Andrew then ran through the Creative Commons licences, noting that the New Zealand licences were relatively clear and plain English.
Andrew ended his presentation by outlining New Zealand’s limited ‘fair dealing’ exceptions. These exceptions do not offer hard and fast rules. Instead, the definition of ‘fair’ depends on the facts of an individual case, including the amount that is used, its impact on the market of a work, and the nature of the use in question.
Keitha Booth, Programme Leader, NZ Open Government Information and Data Programme and Member, CCANZ Advisory Panel
But why would they? Keitha argued that a Creative Commons policy is a way for BoTs to require teachers to use and create licensed materials. It’s also a way to encourage students to use and create legally licensed materials. More broadly, the adoption of Creative Commons policies will make the education system in New Zealand more efficient and innovative, as teachers spend less time reinventing the wheel and more time sharing, collaborating and building on each other’s work.
Schools can do this by passing an open data policy – otherwise known as a Creative Commons IP policy – encouraging teachers to collaborate and share, rather than compete and duplicate efforts. This policy requires teachers to apply a Creative Commons Attribution licence when sharing resources, and use a ‘no known copyright’ statement if releasing a work has fallen out of copyright. Keitha finished her presentation by pointing to an open licence used by Te Ara – The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. She also pointed to the vast amount of works available through Flickr and many other repositories searchable through CC search.
When teachers begin to share resources, however, they have to confront the fact that, under the Copyright Act, their resources are owned by their Board of Trustees. This presents a significant hurdle to the sharing of digital resources, one that is most effectively addressed by adopting a Creative Commons IP policy at every school.
As Ian explained, IP was one of the issues faced by the MoE as it looked to source teaching resources for schools after the February 2011 Canterbury earthquake. Many schools found themselves unable to access their resources, which were either destroyed or stuck in unsafe buildings. In response, the MoE asked many of New Zealand’s top performing schools to provide subject area resources.
This was not as easy as it sounds. Some schools, for instance, were keen to ensure that the resources wouldn’t be made to other schools. Other schools thought that it was a great opportunity to develop a online repository for teaching resources, and were more than happy to oblige. But even schools that were happy to oblige found that their files had no clear metadata attached, including no standardised naming schema, file organisation or file formats. This made it incredibly difficult for outsiders to find the resources they needed.
We are, Stephen said, is an age of connectivity, and we are sharing more than ever. And teachers share as much as anyone, remixing and reusing resources to fit the needs of individual classrooms. New Zealand has also emerged beyond the competitive, contestable funding approach; with the recent development of Learning and Change Networks and collaboration on ICT, schools are increasingly being expected to share best practice with each other.
It’s important, then, that Boards of Trustees acknowledge that this is an age of sharing and collaboration – even when the professional instincts of BoT members, who may come from corporate backgrounds, are to commercialise educational resources produced at the school. This drive towards sharing and collaboration needs to be based in the vision of the school. At Taupaki, this vision was developed by the teachers and local community – without input from Stephen himself. This vision was included a desire to encourage collaboration , and this was a core part of Stephen’s sales pitch to the BoT.
Stephen submitted a discussion document to the BoT, and drew on these parts of their vision, as well as the potential for sharing in the Network for Learning, and it was passed just before Stephen went on study leave. But the implementation will be the challenge, and it is still early days. As Stephen said, quoting Friere, “ideas that are acquired with ease are discarded with ease.”
Read more about Stephen’s policy.
Quoting David Wiley, Mark argued that sharing and collaboration is fundamental to education: “without sharing, there is no education.” However, Mark also pointed out that openness is a new concept for many, including members of the Board of Trustees who may come from a commercial background. This meant that the policy required a shift in mental models. Instead of the ‘see-saw’ metaphor — whereby a gain for one is a loss for the other — Mark advocated a shift to a ‘rising tide’ metaphor, whereby sharing and collaboration benefits everyone, including those doing the sharing and collaborating.
He then pointed out several concrete examples of sharing communities, including the VLN and Wikieducator, where ASHS has had an active presence for many years. Mark concluded by discussing into other forms of openness, such as open software and open hardware, arguing that schools should be wary of locking their students into closed applications run by off-shore multi-nationals. Instead, schools should explore the range of free and open alternatives.