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Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

MOOCS at Duke University

MOOCs at Duke University


In the article “Drawing the Blueprint As We Build: Setting Up a Library-based Copyright and Permissions Service for MOOCs,”  Fowler and Smith describe a service established at the Duke University that integrates library services into the school’s MOOC program. The authors emphasize that due to fair use law, instructors cannot use the same resources in a MOOC setting as in a classroom. Both faculty members and libraries wanted to ensure that proper resources were available to students who were enrolling in MOOCs. In Duke’s circumstance, the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication began working with faculty members who were involved in developing MOOCs.


Planning the service

Faculty members at Duke who are involved in the development of MOOCs wanted to make the courses to be as creative as their regular, face-to-face courses. The service delivery model implemented at Duke handles permission requests, fair use consultations, open source location, and copyrights permission clearance, in order to give students access to resources that are needed to complete the course, with an emphasis on open access.


An intern that was completing her MLS was hired in order to handle all transactions related to delivering content within the MOOC setting. Additionally, instructors were given a general guideline for fair use, and were encouraged to bring questions forward to the office, along with copyright guidelines. Although some MOOC platforms, such as Coursera, which is the platform that Duke uses, strongly discourages third party materials usage in terms of assigned resources,

the service model at Duke found that a lot of times this material is integral to the faculty member’s content, and therefore the school does not prohibit categories of content. The Copyright and Scholarly Communication Office usually meets with a faculty member in the early stages of course development, and asks a series of questions about the resources that would ideally be incorporated into the MOOC. These questions include the following:

  • How do you intend to use the material? (e.g., what lesson you'll be using it to teach, and also if you'll be modifying it, critiquing it, etc.)

  • Are you the author/creator of the content?

  • Are you willing to provide a link through which students have the option to purchase the material? (Although we avoid requiring any purchases by all students, providing an option to buy an entire book, for example, can increase the rights holders' willingness to allow the use, often without a fee.)

  • Will the material be embedded in a video?

  • Will the material be included in slides that students can download?

  • Would you be willing to link out to the content and then have students restart the lecture from that point after viewing it?

In seeking rights permissions, several trends emerged. Sometimes rights holders did not respond to requests at all. When they did respond, the fees had a tendency of varying greatly. This article also outlines considerations for various formats including music, image, and video. Generally, this service is labour intensive:   294 of the intern’s hours were devoted to 15 courses. A survey sent to faculty members involved indicated that copyright affected their MOOCs in several ways, and that obtaining usage permission was an extremely important barrier, with all three services that the copyright office offered were considered useful and valuable.