Astrid Bovell on May 8th, 2014
Apologies to you all, I got desperately busy preparing and attending the MOOCs and Online Learning seminar presented by ALIA and CAUL in Brisbane and also the 2014 Coursera
Partners’ Conference which was held at the University of London.
In March, I gave a short presentation at the MOOCs and Online Learning seminar about some of the copyright and library experiences Melbourne went through in our first year of MOOCs. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel when there’s a wonderful summary of this seminar from Melbourne University Librarian Philip Kent available.
In April, I attended the Coursera conference to present a workshop on Navigating Copyright Issues.
The majority of courses in Coursera are provided by US based universities that are able to rely upon US copyright provisions which tend to be broader than the copyright provisions in other countries. Conversely, Australia has quite restrictive provisions, so Melbourne’s approach to copyright issues in Coursera, are well suited to all countries. I talked to the international audience about the types of works we can use in Coursera – Self created works, out of copyright and public domain works, readily licensed and open access content and content owned by your institution. We talked about things to look out for – such as copyright in digitised copies of out of copyright works, ensuring that something really is in the public domain and identifying infringing content. Lastly, we talked about seeking permission, what to ask for, how to ask for it, what to expect from the process and what to do if the permission is denied or isn’t resolved.
In addition to facilitating the Navigating Copyright workshop, I was also able to hear some of the other presentations given at the Conference. Some of the key issues discussion included:
There’s a lot of discussion going on about being able to provide translations for video lectures used in Coursera. This isn’t a new concept, but after a bit of experience, there have been discussions on fine tuning approaches to providing translations. Huang Zhen of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, highlighted the challenges they faced translating a subject about Chinese Medicine into English. Shanghai JTU found that a word for word translations were problematic because there are many words that are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. When these words are translated from Chinese into English, the deeper meaning of that word, the context and cultural significance behind it is sometimes lost. This means information – important information – for truly understanding what was being taught is also lost. What is the solution to being lost in translation? A better translation and a collaborative approach! In order to prevent the level of information and academia being lost in translation, translations should be created by an expert translator working in collaboration with a native speaking expert in the discipline.
People sometimes forget that translations are protected by copyright. When you think about what is involved in producing a good translation – the level of creative thought and interpretation that’s required in order for a translation to subsist, it helps to remind you why translations are protected by copyright!
Creative Arts MOOCS
I attended a workshop presented by Stephan Koplowitz from California Institute of the Arts. Stephan had decided to base a MOOC course on performance space design and planning. I asked him whether his subject incorporated examples containing music and/or choreography and how he approached the copyright issues. He laughed heartily and then shook his head – I’m used to this sort of reaction. I smiled as he explained that it wasn’t easy initially and he had spent some time attempting to get permissions – some successfully, some not. However, Stephan quickly realised he could avoid these difficulties by selecting examples from his own choreographed performances. This was the best way to incorporate creative examples. Stephan had a number of instances where he had commissioned musical works to be created for a dance performance, and as the commissioner of the works and the choreographer, Stephan owned the copyright (he still contacted the composer as a courtesy though!) It certainly made things easier for Stephan to use works where he owned the rights!
The Coursera Partners’ Conference is always interesting and full of opportunities to network and connect with people from all of the world and realise that we’re all in this together. It’s strangely comforting to meet people that go through many of the same difficulties we go through when navigating issues and seeking permission. It’s valuable being able to share insights and approaches to those challenges and sometimes discover new challenges!
The ALIA/CAUL MOOCs and Online Learning seminar also provided me with good opportunities to find out more about how other universities are tackling issues associated with running a MOOC.
Now, back to the copyright issues here at home! Stay tuned for something local 😉