This panel session reflects on our approach to supporting the higher education community with copyright and online learning issues, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020. We will be joined by a panel of key contributors to the ALT webinars which addressed the shift to online learning for those across higher education. We will reflect on the leadership role we played supporting the higher education community to build knowledge and confidence and liaise with rights holders to find solutions. We also reflect on the role that technology played in bringing the community together at a time of crisis.
At the start of 2020 we considered updating the book Copyright and E-learning: a guide for practitioners (Secker and Morrison, 2016), but plans hadn’t got much further than an initial discussion with the publisher when the COVID-19 crisis broke out. Our approach has been to simplify the complexity of copyright law, but what was previously a relatively niche topic became the question on the minds of many in the higher education community. Following the closure of university libraries it became apparent that despite significant investment in digital resources, there were still substantial gaps in provision of published content to support online learning. This had been partly reflected in earlier research conducted into open access availability of teaching materials (Gadd et al, 2019), but the issue was brought sharply into focus during the COVID-19 crisis.
As the owners of the LIS-Copyseek discussion list for copyright queries in HE, we noted a number of questions coming from the community. We wrote a blog post, to try to address some of these questions, (Morrison and Secker, 2020) reminding the community that both licences and exceptions offered ways of making content legally available online. We drew attention to an earlier study into educational copyright exceptions (Morrison, 2018). We also highlighted the importance of using open resources where possible and using existing, institutionally-licensed digital resources. However, the discussion continued and so we approached ALT to host a webinar for us to support the community. The first webinar was on 20th March and this led to a series of weekly webinars, attended at times by over 100 participants.
This session will outline some of the issues vexing the community during the crisis, and will outline our approach to supporting the community using the webinar series, the discussion list and our blog. Discussion of copyright is a sensitive topic, and LIS-Copyseek is a closed list where members must agree to a set of community rules before they are allowed to join. Prior to the crisis, the use of the list and periodic events which brought people together provided community members with a safe space. However, a key difference with the webinar series was they were open to all, recorded and made available freely after the event. This session will therefore reflect on the contribution of representatives from the rights holder community, and the balance that needed to be struck between collaboration, transparency and confidentiality.
We’ll start by presenting an overview of our approach to running the webinar series.
In addition to discussing the concerns that the community had and our approach to supporting them we’ll also reflect on the following questions:
- What did we try and do and what role did technology (and the ALT webinars play) in supporting the community?
- What impact did our actions have on staff levels of knowledge and confidence at this time? Were we successful? What could we have done differently?
- Was copyright really a barrier preventing teachers getting access to content during this crisis?
- What did we learn from these experience and does this mean for the future of the copyright community as a closed or open group?
Gadd, E.; Morrison, C.; Secker, J. (2019). The Impact of Open Access on Teaching—How Far Have We Come? Publications, 7, 56. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7030056
Morrison, C. (2018). Illustration for Instruction and the UK Higher Education Sector: Perceptions of risk and sources of authority. Masters dissertation, King’s College London. https://kar.kent.ac.uk/73310/
Morrison, C. and Secker, J. (2020, March 18). Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis, available at https://copyrightliteracy.org/2020/03/18/copyright-fair-dealing-and-online-teaching-at-a-time-of-crisis/
Secker J and Morrison C. (2016) Copyright and E-learning: a guide for practitioners. Facet Publishing: London.