Back to School At P2PU

Well, I have taken the plunge back into being a student. After writing and presenting about many of the "open learning" initiatives online, I registered last week for my first course at P2PU. P2PU (as in Peer To Peer University) has a mission "to leverage the power of the Internet and social software to enable communities of people to support learning for each other." It combines open educational resources and structured courses to offer high-quality low-cost (or no-cost) educational opportunities. It is run and governed by volunteers.

I signed up for "Copyright for Educators, Cycle 2."  All courses are open for sign-up until Wednesday the 3rd of March and the courses will begin 12 March. This course is for educators and learners who want to understand how copyright affects the use of learning materials and how to use copyright to facilitate education.

The goals of this course are:
1. to help you identify copyright issues in education and give you a firm grounding in copyright, exceptions and, licensing
2. to help you recognize open licenses, and find open license material and apply open licensees to resources
3. to get you thinking, writing, and conversing about how to use  copyright exceptions and open licenses to enable education.

I have several reasons for taking the course. I have always had an interest in copyright issues for educators and have done presentations and workshops on it over the years. Though I don't consider myself an expert on copyright, I know more than most educators. Of course, that's fairly easy since most educators (perhaps I will need to qualify that as "U.S. educators") know very little about copyright other than claiming "fair use" when questioned about their use of copyrighted materials.

Since P2PU has more participation outside the United States, part of the appeal to me of this course is to learn something about copyright beyond the United States.

I also want to see how P2PU works from the inside. How are the courses designed? How are they facilitated? What kind of audience and interactions occur?

I know that when I have mentioned P2PU and other open courseware initiatives to other educators (and in posts on this blog), they have a very skeptical attitude about free and open learning. They are immediately wary of anyone "giving away" learning for free. They are distrustful of the quality of the courses and the instructors.

My only hesitation in signing up for the course was time. It runs 6 weeks. Although I am not teaching any courses his semester, I am designing a new grad course for summer session and my full-time job fills the daylight hours. If I just stop all my blogging though, I should have plenty of time to do the assignments! Of course, knowing myself pretty well, it is likely that taking the course will generate a lot that I will want to blog about, so...

The course "organiser" (instructor, facilitator...) for my course is Delia Browne. She is the National Copyright Director, Copyright Advisory Group of Australian Schools and Technical and Further Education Institutes(TAFEs) and an experienced intellectual property lawyer. In her current role, Delia manages the National Copyright Unit which provides specialist copyright advice to the education sector and conducts negotiations with collecting societies on behalf of schools and TAFE institutes. Prior to her current role, Delia worked at law firm Minter Ellison providing specialist copyright advice to the education and media/entertainment sectors. She is also a strong advocate of the open education movement and has actively participated in several international meetings and projects on promoting open resources, technology and teaching practices in education.

I would be very pleased to get an instructor with those qualifications for a course I would pay for at a local college.


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