5 Improving access to New Zealand content online

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Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy

This is the text of the report presented to the New Zealand Parliament in December 2012

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We are aware that giving students access to technology and communications infrastructure, such as ultra-fast broadband and enterprise wireless networks, is one part of modernising our learning environments. The educational content made available to students is of equal importance.

We heard from a number of submitters the importance of ensuring there is good access to New Zealand content. Specifically, we heard that the teaching resources the Correspondence School uses could be made more accessible in a digital format, and more widely available online.

We heard that more New Zealand content should be made available for students online. We heard that there have been copyright issues relating to content that has already been produced, such as the School Journal archive. Other potential sources of relevant New Zealand content for schools include the National Library, TVNZ archives, the Film Archive, and the Alexander Turnbull library. We heard arguments that this content, originally funded by the taxpayer, should be available free for all schools to access. We heard that, while a lot of this archival content is already online, students and teachers find it challenging to obtain and use, due to a complex range of copyright restrictions. We heard that the result of these restrictions is that the content is not used, or the copyright is not respected. To allow its easy use by students and teachers, changes are needed to the copyright arrangements.

We heard of three licensing schemes administered by the New Zealand School Trustees Association, which provide content that schools can access online. These are the Schools Music licence, which provides audio content to schools, Copyright Licensing, which provides written content, and Screenrights, which provides visual content. We heard that approximately 70 percent of schools hold a licence for print copyrights, but only 25 percent of New Zealand schools hold a Screenrights licence. We heard that mostly higherdecile schools are able to do this, because of the licence fee, which amounts to $4.19 per student per annum. We heard that in other jurisdictions, such as Australia, these costs are covered by central agencies. However, in New Zealand, this cost falls to individual schools. We heard from one submitter their concern that schools may be unaware of their copyright obligations and may have issues with budgeting for licences. We were given an example of a school which was asked to pay $60 per second for footage of a haka from TVNZ.

We heard a submission from an organisation that is already providing online content to the education system about challenges in terms of copyright and licences. Their online teaching tool provides recorded and live videos streamed and downloaded from over 40 domestic and international television channels. It offers access to content provided by educational organisations, companies, foundations, and government departments. Currently any resource built by New Zealand teachers using a recorded TV programme or any learning guides developed around local productions are not universally available for sharing or purchase by other teachers unless they are in a Screenrights-licensed school. The submitter advocated that the Ministry of Education should consider granting cross-sector licensing. They advocated that this model, with associated funding, could confer a bulk purchase discount, and allow every school equal access to content. We heard that the need for Screenrights licences will only grow as more content becomes available online. We want the Government to consider improving access to digital content.

We also heard that licensing fees are preventing libraries from providing e-books. We heard that e-book technology is still developing. However, we heard that a 21st century learning environment will increasingly use e-books as a major source of teaching resources, and so it is important that access to e-books is not constrained by unaffordable licensing fees.

We heard that under the current copyright licensing arrangements that cover New Zealand schools, certain resources that a teacher develops can become the property of the school’s board of trustees, whose express, written permission is required before the resources can be shared. A number of submitters proposed that this could be a large obstacle to collaboration. One submitter suggested that as few as three schools in New Zealand may be operating under a Creative Commons licensing agreement. This submitter suggested that Creative Commons licensing could be adopted as the default setting for schools regarding resource material they create.

We heard from one submitter that it would be redundant for the Ministry of Education, or any other content provider, to replicate existing content, such as certain applications, or educational computer games. For example, mathematics tutorials can be readily used in New Zealand schools. We heard that some games do not translate so easily to the New Zealand context. One example is iCivics, a game which provides information on democracy and social responsibility, and is used in teaching social sciences. This game is based on the American governance system.

We heard that one way to ensure that resources reflect the New Zealand system is to have more New Zealanders producing them. We also heard about the benefits of students themselves generating new resources, as part of their learning. We heard from submitters that it was important to ensure the development of online Maori and Pasifika content and resources.

We heard about the importance of ensuring that there are policies in place to prevent cyber-bullying, and inappropriate online content. We understand the challenges of developing policies in this area. We note that the Law Commission has recently published a report, Harmful Digital Communications, and we support the work being undertaken to determine the best response to this issue.


12. We recommend that the Government consider ensuring that all appropriate New Zealand video content produced for public consumption is licensed and funded under a single national contract, and made available to all schools.

13. We recommend that the Government ensure that policies and guidance are developed to help prevent cyber-bullying and inappropriate online content.

14. We recommend that the Government ensure that more local New Zealand content, including Maori and Pasifika content, is made available to all schools, either through the Network for Learning or by other means.

15. We recommend that the Government ensure that digital educational materials for learning Te Reo Maori are available to all students.

16. We recommend that the Government consider ensuring access to high-quality digital resources to support the New Zealand curriculum for all teachers and learners.

17. We recommend that the Government review the intellectual property framework for our education system to resolve copyright issues that have been raised, including considering Creative Commons policy.

18. We recommend that the Government consider the advantages and disadvantages of whether all documentation produced by the Ministry of Education for teaching and learning purposes should be released under a Creative Commons licence.