The Open University Library working with Routledge Publishers and the Open University (OU)'s School of Education and Rights Department aims to create, maintain and run a database of digitised teaching materials to support remote (off campus) students in teacher training.
In order to achieve our aim Edbank  requires:
- teaching materials
- permission to store electronically those sections of "text" (within these materials) that belong to third parties - rights clearances
- an appropriate database and a means to make it accessible.
The plan is to digitise the course materials for the Open University's Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) together with the 9 readers co-published with Routledge and deliver them over the World Wide Web. Access will be permitted to OU PGCE students and a specified number of other institutions who provide teacher training. This will enable us to explore a number of issues such as:
- support for remote students based on dial-up access (PGCE students are loaned a PC, modem and printer for the duration of their course)
- perceived competition between digitised and non-digitised sources (PGCE students are supplied with OU produced materials at the beginning of their course)
- pricing of access to electronic materials and copyright management, including royalty collection.
Work started on Edbank in earnest at the end of February 1997 with the appointment of a project manager and copyright officer. A technical development officer has just been recruited and will join the project shortly. Support from the OU's Centre for Educational Software who have specialist skill in designing Web interfaces to databases has also been acquired.
Additionally, because we were comparatively late in starting we have been able to take advantage of some of the experiences of other eLib projects. This has proved invaluable.
The material we aim to digitise is primarily text although each of the 3 stages of the PGCE course has an accompanying video and audio tape. The text comprises the 9 Routledge readers plus, for each of the PGCE courses, a study guide, a resource pack and a school experience guide. The OU offers a number of PGCE courses (primary - specialising in age range 5-8, primary specialising in ages 7-11 and secondary with 7 subject courses - English, music, modern foreign languages (French), history, mathematics, science and design and technology).
Some documents and facsimiles are generic to all the PGCE courses. Much of the material has been produced by OU academic staff with copyright ownership remaining with the university. However, most of the individual study guides contain third party extracts: these range from a couple of lines to several pages. In addition the resource pack includes facsimile documents which are reprints of key articles plus larger extracts from other books and teaching schemes.
All of the material has been cleared once for text use and in the majority of cases is integral to the context. If permission for electronic use is not granted we will not be able to find supplementary or alternative material and/or rewrite sections of text to accommodate this.
Our copyright officer has experience in copyright and license negotiations for electronic rights gained within the OU Rights Department. Given the OU's experience in clearing rights and the copyright officer's intimate knowledge of existing procedures that work effectively we are
- following existing OU rights procedures and
- linking into existing OU systems to record clearance applications, chase them and authorise payments where necessary.
Deciding to follow this route was important since it enables the OU Rights Department to continue to hold a centralised record of all copyright transactions across the university and gave Edbank immediate access to publishers, their addresses and contact information.
So far we have identified some 300 publishers to contact for clearance rights and are in the process of distributing letters. Our letter contains a specific request for clearance for project purposes and asks separately for an indication of likely attitude for subsequent commercial exploitation. A single A4 information sheet on the project is also enclosed.
Unsurprisingly responses are slow. The OU typically allows 2-3 months for the whole process of approach, chase (if necessary), negotiate and agree.
Plans for the near future
On the digitisation front we are assured that we will be able to obtain the Routledge readers in an electronic format (probably in Word[TM]) which would negate the need for scanning. The OU-produced text material has been archived in an electronic format and we believe we can obtain either Word[TM], PDF or HTML formats for integration into the database. We await precise information regarding the true extent of availability plus its cost (internal charging mechanisms prevail). Missing from the text are all the photographs and graphics. We therefore know that we will be required to do some scanning, but not yet how much.
We are aware of the urgent need both to develop the database and to create and make information about the project available on an Edbank website. Successful implementation of an Edbank website will be the first indication that our technical person has arrived and begun to deliver! In the meantime please call or email us. We will be happy to provide further information, learn from you or discuss areas of common interest.
Author DetailsHilary Nunn (Project Manager)
Tel: 01908 858486 Sarah Gamman (Copyright Officer)
Tel: 01908 858473.