Image Credit; Bill Smith; CC BY

Created by Teachers for Teachers

Theo Kuechel
Sep 2, 2016 · 4 min read

The field of teacher created resources is complex, made up of interwoven layers of IP, copyright, value, quality, discovery, publishing and distribution. The digital age has certainly not made things any simpler, now that the days of a quick photocopy or audio-taping from the radio have long since gone.

Current UK IP law is clear, the IP of any resources created by employees belong to the employer and this applies to all schools, colleges and universities.

Where a written, theatrical, musical or artistic work, or a film, is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work (subject to any agreement to the contrary.)” UK IP Office

My position is that teachers should have agency over anything they produce in their own time. Well, teachers have always written books without much of a problem, providing welcome additions to the educational canon. I also believe that if resources are produced in the workplace using the resources of the workplace, during working hours, then the employer, (whether LA, school or Academy etc), should have a stake, (though not necessarily financial). Certainly the author should at least be credited appropriately. Finally and very importantly any resources created with public funds, (inc. teachers salaries) should be freely available under an open licence.

It is probably true most teacher made resources are produced at an individual level, and very likely to include: worksheets, lesson plans, classroom tips and, of course, the ubiquitous ‘powerpoint.’ Whilst many of these resources will be valued by other teachers, it begs the question - is owning the IP and managing these assets really the best use of schools administrative time and public money? It becomes even more complex when you consider Cloud based resources. It is no longer a case of putting your resources in a cardboard box and taking them with you to another school. they are already out there. Dropbox, Google Drive, and indeed apps mean resources can be accessible and shared anywhere anytime.

The priority for schools and educational administrators should be making sure their students have the best possible educational opportunities, not getting involved in the murky world of IP and Copyright. That is not their role. Lawyers are expensive.

One thing I come across regularly teachers’ social media; is the claim that “he/she has stolen my idea”. This invariably leads to online squabbles and results in bad feeling. But, if it is only an ‘idea’ the law is quite explicit, (and rightly), states that you cannot copyright or patent an idea.

One possible solution to some of those preceding issues might be for educational institutions to adopt the Leicestershire model, whereby the local authority has granted teachers and their schools the right to create and share OER (Open Educational Resources).

Leicester Open School Project Icons — CC BY

Other areas to consider are quality, value and sustainability; how many resources made by teachers are merely reinventing the wheel? How many PowerPoints about <insert topic here> are really needed? Even though individually good, if they are all similar which does one choose and why? The real question here is; what are the best ways to use these resources for the benefit of teachers, schools, and educational practice? A growing number of teachers share expertise, resources and good practice through Teachmeets and also social media, including blogs and Twitter. If the resources are produced under open licences then others will be able to modify, improve and adapt these resources. This would result in real innovation and development.

Digital media technology has a lart part to play in innovation and the CC licenced example above from the Panoply Vase Animation Project exemplifies what is possible, through combining digital media and traditional approaches to learning design.

Both the ecosystem and marketplace for teaching resources are changing. The TES now hosts Creative Commons licenced resources within an increasingly complex mixed economy of open and premium content. OER are moving from their origins in HE to schools and there is a slowly increasing awareness of open and CC licensing amongst teachers. Non-profit platform Khan Academy have recently purchased Duck Duck Moose apps in order to offer pre-school learning on their platform.

Finally, If any more evidence is needed that the landscape in which teachers creating resources will be participating is changing, look no further than Amazon’s move into the OER space with Inspire. The next few years will be worth watching.

This post is developed from a comment I left on Mike Cameron’s Post — A penny for your thoughts?

Theo Kuechel

Written by

Learning Technology, Educational Research, Video for Learning, Archives/Collections, Open Education, Music, social and cultural activities….online/offlline

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