Open Policy for Learning and Teaching
Earlier in September, my colleague Neil McCormick, Education Technology Policy Officer at LTW, and I took part in Jane Secker and Chris Morrison’s regular ALT webinar Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis on the topic of lecture recording and virtual classroom policies. This is an area of policy that is particularly pressing for many institutions right now as they manage the transition to hybrid and online teaching. It’s also a live issue for staff who are faced with the prospect of recording not only their lectures but also their seminars and small group teaching sessions as well, in order to ensure that different cohorts of students on campus and online, have equitable access to their classes.
At the University of Edinburgh we already have a Lecture Recording Policy that was approved in 2018 following extensive consultation with academic colleagues, legal services and the unions. Much of this policy has been replicated in a new Virtual Classroom Policy that was approved earlier in September. Neil is the policy officer responsible for drafting both policies, a responsibility he has undertaken with notable patience and diligence. The OER Service’s contribution has been to provide some input around copyright and open licensing, and this was one of the topics under discussion during the webinar.
Neil explained that the approach taken by both the Lecture Recording and Virtual Classroom policy is that everyone involved in the recording retains their rights, while the recording is licensed for specific purposes that are clearly defined by the policies. In the case of lecture recordings and virtual classroom recordings, the recording is shared with “students and staff on the instance of the course to which the lecture relates”. Students may use the recording only for personal study and schools may “use recordings in exceptional situations to provide continuity as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School”.
The University also has an Open Educational Resources Policy, approved in early 2016, which encourages staff and students to use, create, and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, enhance the provision of learning opportunities for all, and improve teaching practices. In supporting this policy, the OER Service encourages colleagues and students to share all kinds of teaching and learning resources under open licence. You can see a showcase of some of these resources here on the Open.Ed website. We also have over 3,500 Creative Commons licensed videos on Media Hopper Create and a large number of open licensed blogs on Blogs.Ed.
During the webinar, Chris raised a question that has come up a number of times before, about the tension that exists between lecture and classroom recording policies and openness:
“particularly in the case of teachers who are expected to record what they do in what is typically a closed private space and the idea of openness and sharing, and things going wherever they go on the internet without being able to control them.”
In terms of the Edinburgh policies it’s important to note that none of the three policies mandate the use of open licences. The OER Policy is informative and permissive, it encourages the use of open licences, it does not mandate them. The Lecture Recording and Virtual Classroom Policies are normative policies, which do permit lecturers to share their recordings under open licence but only if they have the appropriate permissions from all parties to do so.
“A lecturer may publish a recording of their lecture as an open educational resource, with appropriate modifications and safeguards, including an appropriate attribution, licence and having obtained any permissions required from other participants or third parties whose intellectual property resides within the recording. Guidance on this is contained within the Open Educational Resources Policy and Website Accessibility Policy.”
The important point here is that colleagues always have a choice as to whether they share their content under open licence, and if they do choose to share that content then they are required to respect the rights of all relevant parties, whether that is other colleagues, students or third party copyright holders, and to provide appropriate attribution as necessary. Choice and attribution are both fundamental aspects of open education and open educational resource creation.
In order to ensure that colleagues are in a position to understand the rights of all parties involved in recorded content the OER Service provides a range of resources and workshops focused on copyright literacy and understanding licences. When lecture recording was rolled out across the University, one of the first workshops launched as part of a comprehensive digital skills programme was Lecture Recording – Licensing, Media Use and OER. Resources from these training sessions are available to reuse under open licence.
With rights come responsibilities and the University has also recently launched a comprehensive set of Digital Safety and Citizenship resources curated by Digital Safety Support Officer Dr Vicki Madden. These resources include a Digital Citizenship Guide which is designed to be read alongside the University’s Virtual Classroom Policy. In addition, Neil has developed a set of slides covering etiquette, identity and recording, designed for use in virtual classroom sessions.
In keeping with the University’s commitment to OER and open knowledge, all three policies, together with the Digital Citizenship Guide and slides, are available under open licence for other institutions to adapt and reuse: Open Policy for Learning and Teaching.
We’d like to thank Jane and Chris for inviting us to take part in their webinar, a recording which is available here: Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis: Lecture recording and virtual classroom policies.
Header image: Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels