Open educational resources and intellectual property rights


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Open Educational Resources (OER) are starting to have impact in influencing those that are planning educational policy as governments look for ways to meet ambitious targets at lower costs and also altering the way institutions can collaborate by making it much easier to share content. OER also have the potential to support more informal ways to learn that might mean new opportunities in working with learners or the need for existing providers of education to change their approaches.

A core element of OER is their openness which is expressed through the use of a licence that explicitly permits free use and reuse by those other than the rights holder (Bissell, 2010). Simply declaring permission can seem like a small step. However that small step can have a big impact and help address several underlying problems that emerge when education moves online. Making material open needs an understanding of the way rights works in education, and for OER in particular.

The Creative Commons licence has greatly moved the sharing of resources forward. Even so licensing is only part of the answer, alongside there has to be change in culture and practice to accept some risk in order to achieve the benefits of sharing and openness.

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