Open source teaching materials -time for a mandate

It has become increasingly common for sponsors of research (e.g. the EPSRC in the UK) to mandate that the publications from that research are ‘open access’ that is, available freely to anyone who wants them. Rightly so – public money has funded this work and it was ridiculous that this was locked away in expensive journals.

Yet public money also funds teaching but  if we look for teaching resources on the web we find that few institutions (in the UK at least) seem to have policies to make their course material available. Some (including, I am ashamed to say, my own department) have a policy of locking away material so that no-one outside the institution can see it.

Of course, individual lecturers and professors do (mine are at http://www.software-engin.com/teaching) but that’s not good enough – all courses that are publicly funded should be mandated to make their teaching material available under a creative commons licence. That way, we can build on the best and develop a high-quality corpus of teaching material for our courses.  And we can show taxpayers what we do, that we care about teaching and that they can get access to the material if they wish.

If it’s good enough for MIT (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/) it should be good enough for the rest of us.

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4 Comments

Filed under CS education

4 responses to “Open source teaching materials -time for a mandate

  1. Russell Lock

    From my perspective the problem here is not one of willingness to make material available, it is our draconian copyright laws that scare universities. By the letter of the law in the UK I can put lots of things in a live lecture under the fair use clause of our copyright law, websites, logos etc. However, fair use comes with the cost that the material must only be available to those under my educational umbrella.
    The fair use clause is seriously mangled in any case by it predating VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) which further constrains what ends up in the live lecture, and what gets stored even within the university firewall. We live in a world where I can show a student a website in a browser, but cannot take a snapshot of the page for inclusion in slides.

  2. I agree. Also, I’d like to point out that making course material and video lectures available on the web is potentially a great marketing device for the university. If one is confident that teaching is excellent one has nothing to lose but everything to gain.

  3. The same should go for the US. Bravo!

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