In 2012, Auckland’s Albany Senior High School adopted a Creative Commons policy, and thus became New Zealand’s first fully open-source school. The policy ensures that all teaching materials and policies produced at ASHS are given a default Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.
Currently, the copyright to all teaching materials produced by New Zealand teachers is held by their respective schools’ Boards of Trustees. As Albany Senior High School Deputy Principal Mark Osborne points out, “Sharing resources is something teachers have done since teaching started… and most people don’t realise they’re breaking the law by doing that.”
Albany Senior High School’s Creative Commons policy allows—and even encourages—teachers to, as Mark puts it, “share the family silver.” Many of ASHS’s teachers work on WikiEducator, an initiative of the Open Education Resource Foundation, hosted at New Zealand’s Otago Polytechnic. ASHS contributed to WikiEducator, Mark says, “because we want to be open and collaborative.”
Their Creative Commons policy ensures that teachers “felt free to contribute to Open Educational Resources projects without having written permission from our Board of Trustees.” The Board itself saw the advantages of students and teachers joining the growing international OER community.
As ASHS Deputy Principal Mark Osborne puts it, “When we were putting our vision for the school together, and our vision for our students, we knew that there were real opportunities. We wanted collaboration, sharing and community.” Along with their use of Creative Commons licences, ASHS have stocked their computers with open-source software, saving the school thousands of dollars in licensing fees.
Other schools are following suit. Warrington Primary School has adopted an intellectual property policy, and has embraced open source software. Mark Osborne hopes that other schools have a look at the resources available online, and begin a conversation with their Boards of Trustees about formulating their own Creative Commons policies.
As more schools participate, the OER movement will enjoy what Mark calls a “network effect” – the exponential benefit of having thousands of kiwi teachers building and sharing Creative Commons-licensed resources.
Four years on, the effect on traditional teaching methods at Albany Senior High School has been dramatic. “The big change taking place” Mark says, “is that teachers are collaborating more, and they’re also involving their students in the development of those teaching and learning resources. This is quite different from what happens in most schools.”
[Want to know more about Creative Commons policies in schools? Visit our Education page.]