Open Education and Copyright in 2019

This week in EC&I 831 we began learning about the concept of Open Education. This is a topic that I have heard of before but have never really explored much. I am glad that we will be talking about Open Education more in EC&I 831 over the next few weeks as I hope to gain more understanding about the concept to better determine how I feel about it. 

Open education removes barriers to learning so there are no pre-requisites, no prior qualifications, no discrimination, affordable for all, and more. Essentially, open education is to be accessable by anyone and no one should be denied. Dr. Tony Bates’ blog What Do We Mean By ‘Open’ in Education? explains that open education as a concept can take a number of forms:

  • education for all: free or very low cost school, college or university education available to everyone within a particular jurisdiction, usually funded primarily through the state;
  • open access to programs that lead to full, recognized qualifications. These are offered by national open universities or more recently by the OERu;
  • open access to courses or programs that are not for formal credit, although it may be possible to acquire badges or certificates for successful completion. MOOCs are a good example;
  • open educational resources that instructors or learners can use for free. MIT’s OpenCourseware, which provides free online downloads of MIT’s video recorded lectures and support material, is one example;
  • open textbooks, online textbooks that are free for students to use;
  • open research, whereby research papers are made available online for free downloading;
  • open data, that is, data open to anyone to use, reuse, and redistribute, subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share.

There is a misconception that open education is free education. I have always associated open education with being free but upon further investigation, open education does not always equate to free education. As Bates explains, “there are real costs in creating and distributing open education, and supporting learners, which has to be covered in some way” (Bates, 2015).

According to BCcampus, Open Educaitonal Resources are “teaching, learning, and research resources that, through permissions granted by their creator, allow others to use, distribute, keep, or make changes to them.” Educators are no stranger to free educational resources, I strongly relied upon such resources when I began teaching and still use a significant amount of free materials in my classroom today. A quote that is often used amongst my colleagues and I is “sharing is caring” in the concept that sharing resources with each other is just a common thing that we regularly do. However in recent years I have become more conscious of the amount of time, effort, and resources that are going into those projects, assignments, and lesson plans that I have been so freely sharing while others are posting similar content on Teachers Pay Teachers and getting paid for their work. I am now conflicted on whether or not resources in education should be open and free or whether they should require some form of acknowledgement, copyright, or payment. 


In my undergrad ECMP 355 class, Dr. Alec Couros showed us the RiP! A Remix Manifesto documentary. I remember this film really challenging my views on copyright and ownership of material for the first time in my life. I showed this video to the Communications Media 20 class that I taught during my internship and we had a lengthy class discussion about it and the majority of my students were in favour of creative commons and being able to use any material for their creations however they did not like the idea of others being able to use their work without giving recognition or compensation.

I have noticed in recent years that companies are shifting to using consumer photos and videos as opposed to paying for their own content creation. One of my classmates in EC&I 831, Nancy has shared her experience working for a tourism campaign that used others’ photos that they had tagged with a particular hashtag. I have personally experienced my photos being used for a company’s marketing campaign just like this. A few years ago the RCMP Heritage Centre sold special edition rubber ducks with the iconic red coat uniform of the RCMP. I was ecstatic to learn of this rubber duck and knew that it would make the perfect travel companion.

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 11.57.41 PM

I purchased my very own Corporal Funduck and it was the first thing I packed as I jet set off to Europe for a summer trip. I quickly began snapping photos of Cpl. Funduck in Slovenia, London, and Spain and shared my photos on Twitter where I tagged @RCMPHC

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 11.56.40 PM

While I was away on my trip I received a message from a marketing company who was hired by the RCMP. As it turns out, the RCMP loved seeing the photos of Cpl FunDuck exploring the world and wanted to encourage others to share their photos of their ducks as well. I was so excited that someone liked what I had done that I immediately agreed to let them use my photos of my new travel companion. I did not receive any mentions, credit, or compensation for my photos as I had given permission for them to be used. I don’t regret this decision but I must admit that I had not fully thought it through before I agreed to it. I wonder if others feel this way in terms of Open Education or sharing of resources and materials for free? Would you agree to allowing others to use your photos for their own marketing materials?

In case you were wondering, I have since created an Instagram account for my Cpl FunDuck which documents all of our travels together and I continue to tag @RCMPHC in all of my photos.

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 12.04.50 AM



Filed under EC&I 831

5 responses to “Open Education and Copyright in 2019

  1. Dean Vendramin

    Great blog Amy. Your response was well put together and your uses of Tony Bates (BC Open Source), your Comm Media experience, and your trip to Slovenia all hit home in many ways for me personally. Last semester in eci 834 we used Tony Bates open source textbook and was great to use a resource of that quality to earn from. I used to teach Comm Media as well and had the same reaction from the students to RIP Manifesto (I even ended up watching is again and going through the guided questions this week). My dad was from Slovenia (former Yugoslavia) and I’ve been lucky to go there a couple times too. Your RCMP story also hits home because I was just there for a staff retreat. I love to share and usually have problems with things like Teachers Paying Teachers … although I do see your point, I appreciate the ability to remix / innovative any idea out there to help create better / more engaging learning experiences for my students.

  2. Hi Amy! I really enjoyed reading your blog post this week. As I was going through our course readings/videos this week the idea of Teachers Pay Teachers kept popping up in my mind too. I feel that the monetization of teaching materials is problematic as Dean Shareski suggests “the entire premise of which education is built…is sharing”. There are many connections to be drawn between a site like Teachers Pay Teachers and the work that Aaron Swartz was doing with open access. I have a lot of thinking to do on this topic in the coming weeks!

    I also really enjoyed your personal connection to sharing with Cpl Funduck! What a unique and interesting project! I will check it out on Instagram!

  3. Pingback: Sharing is Caring: A Discussion of Open Education – CATHERINE READY

  4. Pingback: When We Share, Everyone Wins – My Teaching Story

  5. Pingback: Share the Wealth (of Knowledge)! – The Musings of Moffatt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s