I’m still very much interested in the idea of creating a system that enables professors to assemble course packs out of Open Access or, better yet, Creative Commons-licensed content. But my idea is broadening somewhat based on what I’m learning at my new job.In addition to encouraging faculty to use open content, the system should also enable them to mix in content which has already been licensed by their institution. For example, the SUNY system has a program called SUNYConnect, which allows students and professors online access to a wide range of licensed academic content. From the perspective of the professor putting together a course pack, s/he might want to mix CC-licensed works with SUNYConnect works. The main point is that all of these works are cleared for use by the students without obtaining further permissions or paying further royalty fees.
At the same time, assuming that the course pack assembly system is usable by professors outside of the SUNY system (which, ideally, it would be), they would need to be able to differentiate between content in the course pack that is CC-licensed, content that is copyrighted but that they have permission to use through their own institution’s licensing agreements, and copyrighted materials that they do not have permission to use. In addition, the professor would want to know about which content is discovered through a search engine is copyright cleared prior to assembling a course pack. So it’s complicated.
Frankly, this is a bit beyond my technical expertise to puzzle out on my own. At first blush, it seems to me that we’d need to run both search queries and course pack inventories through a filtering system that is capable of tracking copyright access for each institution. It may be that a design like the University of Calgary’s APOLLO (a learning object repository that keys on the objects themselves, allowing an arbitrarily large number of metadata records to be attached to each object) would be the right kind of architecture for something like this.
I dunno. D’Arcy Norman, are you reading this? Perhaps D’Arcy will be kind enough to shed some light on the subject.