The University of Oregon joined others in the higher education community, edu-tech companies, and local business leaders in expressing concern about a new regulation proposed by the US Department of Education (DoEd). The regulation is part of the department’s #GoOpen campaign, meant to encourage use of openly licensed education materials. The new rule would require that all copyrightable intellectual property created with federal competitive grant funds have an open license. Openly licensed materials can be modified and redistributed without violating copyright laws, and can be used for teaching, learning and assessing without cost.
The University of Oregon is home to one of the nation’s most research-intensive colleges of education. Its researchers are also some of the most productive in terms of turning research through DoEd grants into engagement and licensing as a form of research extension and commercialization.
In a December 17 letter commenting on the rule, Brad Shelton, Interim VP for research, and Randy Kamphaus, dean of the College of Education, noted that UO shares the DoEd’s commitment to making research findings available and accessible. However, the pair recommended that the DoEd take more time to consult with stakeholders in the education research community.
Key among the concerns expressed by the UO is the impact the regulation may have on the quality of products and services produced through competitive DoEd grants. The rule would open up products not yet ready for use, and would allow products to be used without essential training. Work created with federal competitive research grants could be used and modified by anyone, regardless of whether they had sufficient training to administer or validate changes. This change could negatively impact vulnerable populations, who often benefit the most from education research. Under current licensing rules, research faculty are able to choose from a variety of licenses, including open source, to disseminate and maximize the impact of their research while protecting its fidelity.