Use of Outside Course Materials

As with your other courses, bringing in outside material that support your course goals can enhance student learning and interest. However, the open online format poses challenges for course materials with regard to fair use and accessibility. In bringing in outside material one should not only be mindful of how it ties in with course goals, but also whether the material is universally available and the costs associated with accessing it. For example, YouTube videos may be subject to geographic restrictions, images that you use in your presentations may be expensive to access, or asking your students to pay for a required text will limit participation in your course. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to overcome the challenge of copyright and accessibility:

• Using open access materials. Ezekial Emanuel’s “Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act” course provided weekly readings which were publicly-available reports.

• Creating your own materials. Henry Lester of Caltech often made his own simple drawings instead of textbook images in “Drugs and the Brain”. For “Calculus: Single Variable” Rob Ghrist created his own wiki as a resource for students.

• Accessing copyrighted material through Coursera and Penn Libraries. Michael Roth of Wesleyan University used many images in his presentations for “The Modern and the Postmodern” from the Wesleyan Library.

Although it may be challenging to find materials that both support your learning goals and are accessible, students report that they value such material or even simply the faculty’s expertise in recommending reading that they may follow up on after the course. If you have further questions about copyright in your open online course, contact Shawn Martin of Penn Libraries or the Open Learning Initiative.

For More Advice

Penn Libraries Copyright Resources for MOOCs
Cornell’s Resources on Copyright Term and the Public Domain
Heather Glaser’s Guide to Finding Images for Academic Purposes

Resources to Find Publicly Available Material

Creative Commons
HathiTrust Digital Library
Directory of Open Access Books
University of Minnesota Open Textbook Catalog
Directory of Open Access Journals
NYPL Digital Gallery
Smithsonian Science Images
Medical Images from the Wellcome Trust