Educational content lifecycle
For as long as there’s been an MIT OCW, we’ve been talking about the “unified process” of educational content creation and management. In its latest iteration, “educational content lifecycle,” it’s being discussed as the start-to-finish process through which educational materials are created (mostly by idiosyncratic faculty), used for instruction (often in an LMS), integrated with other materials (via library electronic holdings), ported to an open publication (that’s us), archived (DSpace, anyone?), and (hopefully) reused for the next generation of educational content.
There are clear reasons why OCW would be interested conceptualizing and examining this lifecycle–if we can convince faculty to make OCW-friendly decisions upstream, then our publication process gets simpler. The developers of the Institute LMS (Stellar) have an interest in understanding how to drive adoption of the tool. Faculty (may) want to make content creation as easy as possible through reuse of existing content. But for the most part, the discussions of the ECL (god help me, another acronym) revolve around the notion of cost savings with little mention of to what ends.
The one that gets no mention at all, but I think needs careful consideration, is that much of the process is designed to shield the institution from IP risk. In large part, LMS use for classroom-based courses is about having a safe space to provide IP restricted course materials online. Authentication systems providing access to electronic library reserves are another layer of IP control in this chain. OCW publication processes are largely a game of weeding out IP-protected materials. In fact, when viewed as an end-to-end process, the ECL seems as much about IP as anything else. Maybe that’s just my perspective.
So, if part of the game is cost savings in the process, then one question to ask is are these technology tools the appropriate way to manage IP risk? Especially if (as I’ve heard rumored) they aren’t really able to do the job. Might not there be cultural or legal strategies that might be more cost effective? Not sure I have anything to propose, but I can’t shake this line of thinking…