As colleges and universities continue to develop and invest in online courses, have their policies kept pace? In An Academic Policy Framework for Technology-Mediated Content, published today, authors Randal C. Picker, Lawrence S. Bacow, and Nancy Kopans argue that clear policies—on governance, conflicts of interest, and intellectual property—are critical to promoting innovation in the development of new educational technologies. As the authors caution “without adequate policies, the development of potentially interesting and valuable new educational technologies [may] be stifled by uncertainties as well as possible tensions between the roles of faculty and administration.”

In our work with the Council of Independent Colleges Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction, we have learned that faculty have numerous questions about embedding content into the online courses they are developing. In addition, they are not clear about the rules and best practices for sharing educational resources with students in the consortium, going beyond the local institution. In another project, where Ithaka S+R carried out testing the efficacy of using MOOCs in classrooms throughout the University System of Maryland, it was not always an easy process for faculty to navigate intellectual property questions surrounding the use of MOOCs.

The questions our partners have raised apply equally to all academic institutions. In this highly practical policy framework for technology-mediated content, three legal experts examine best practices in three contexts: (1) the relationship between a third-party platform and the academic institution as consumer and as producer; (2) the relationship between the institution and its faculty; and (3) the relationship between faculty and third party institutions.

Our hope is that this policy document will provide practical ways for faculty and administrators alike to think about effective ways to provide content in an online environment. We also note that librarians are an excellent source of assistance to faculty who have questions about use of technology-mediated content.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments.