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Robin Wright – Licensing Challenges for Open Education in Australian Higher Education

Research seminar

Wednesday 29 March 2017, 16.00, Room F306 (Fusion Building)

Concerns around copyright and licensing have been identified as one of the key factors limiting the introduction of Open Education Practices (OEP) in the Australian Higher Education sector. Open practices can improve quality and encourage innovation in online education; but they rely upon the creation and use of effective Open Educational Resources (OER). Institutions and individuals implementing OEP in Australia need clear information and practical tools to help them adopt best practice open licensing solutions for these resources.

Australian universities are increasingly producing online content, such as MOOCs, podcasts and YouTube video, but a relatively small amount of this material is available under open licences that enable sharing and re-use. The sector has traditionally relied upon statutory educational licences for the use of copyright material. However, the move to an open online environment requires a more complex understanding of the interaction between intellectual property and evolving digital business models. To create effective OER, and fully engage with a sharing economy, academics and educational content developers need to understand the mechanisms that support sharing and re-use, particularly open licences.

The Open Education Licensing (OEL) project (www.oel.edu.au) surveyed key stakeholders engaged with OEP at universities around Australia about the copyright licensing information requirements of staff working with online resources, and developed the OEL toolkit to address these needs. The toolkit aims to help Australian higher education teachers, developers, policy makers and information professionals understand and incorporate effective licensing decisions around their creation and use of open online content. The toolkit will assist Australian institutions to create a body of open content that can contribute to innovative teaching and learning strategies, enhance Australian higher education products and services and potentially have a global impact.

This presentation will describe the evolution of OEP in the Australian higher education sector since the ‘year of the MOOCs’ in 2012. It will outline some of the findings from the OEL survey, provide a demonstration of the OEL toolkit and discuss its potential contribution to open education in Australia.


Robin Wright is a copyright lawyer with an interest in the intersection of copyright and digital technologies within the education and cultural sectors. She is currently Copyright Manager at Swinburne University of Technology and Project Leader on the research project Effective open licensing policy and practice for Australian universities: making online education really work. Robin was previously a Research Fellow at the Centre for Media & Communications Law at Melbourne Law School and has also worked as a solicitor and in the film industry in Australia and the UK.