Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Digital Learning Challenge

Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age - Click HERE to read the White Paper online, which reports on a year-long study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The study explores whether innovative educational uses of digital technology – everything from DVDs in the classroom to digital music libraries to online resources such as Wikipedia -- are hampered by copyright restrictions.

The foundational paper examines the relationship between copyright law and education. In particular, exploring whether innovative educational uses of digital technology are hampered by the restrictions of copyright. They found that provisions of copyright law concerning the educational use of copyrighted material, as well as the business and institutional structures shaped by that law, are among the most important obstacles to realizing the potential of digital technology in education. The paper builds on four detailed case studies of initiatives that have encountered such obstacles. Each of these initiatives is moving forward, but only by fighting against a copyright-related system that instead should be helping educators accomplish their goals...

While the primary task of the paper was to identify these obstacles, the paper concludes with some discussion of paths toward reform that might improve the situation. It suggests that certain types of legal reform, technological improvements in the rights clearance process, educator agreement on best practices, and increased use of open access distribution would help overcome the obstacles identified.

It's available in HTML and PDF. You can also listen to an interview with McGeveran about the paper at AudioBerkman.

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