Administrative and academic procedures

We have tools to do all we need, broadband Internet, and a majority of users ready for a change. That is a good starting point. However, intensive constructive collaboration and development of shared digital curriculum require a whole array of tasks administrators will face. The most important tasks are (MacKeogh, Fox, 2009):

  • Flexible modular frameworks that will support collaboration. Moodle is an ideal tool for such a task.  It is extremely powerful, easy to administer and use, and it is free. Therefore, each institution can have its own Moodle installation, while being able to actively collaborate with all members of the network. Besides Moodle, we need a trained system administrator, instructional designer and support staff.
  • Innovative pedagogical approaches appropriate for online education. Because faculty acceptance of online instruction and collaboration is usually the key issue (Allen, Seaman, 2007), introduction of such approaches should be very well-planned.
  • New forms of assessments linked to learning outcomes, including e-portfolios
  • Cross-institutional accreditation and credit transfer agreements
  • Inter-  and intra-institutional collaboration in development and delivery
  • Multiple access and exit points from programs
  • Commitment to equivalence of access for students on and off-campus

Proper management of the aforementioned tasks requires (MacKeogh, Fox, 2009):

  • A clear vision of desired outcome (i.e. collaboration, shared digital curriculum, ubiquitous, lifelong access to veterinary education);
  • An understanding of the current capacity and attitudes of the relevant staff and
  • A coherent set of steps to move from the current situation to the desired outcome.

Three crucial steps are:

  • Training and awareness promotion.  Lack of awareness of the potential and quality that online collaboration and education can achieve can be a major obstacle. The same thing will happen if sufficient in-house expertise is missing
  • Funding flagship programs
  • Clarify ownership and usage rights of intellectual property generated for teaching

Intellectual property

Properly managed copyright ownership and licensing rights are essential tools to stimulate, reward and recognize faculty to develop innovative educational activities.  If such rights are not properly managed, they could become a major obstacle.

Challenge 1. Intellectual property created at a university can be extremely valuable. Therefore, sometimes teachers and students are not willing to share that data. For many faculty, this is unacceptable because it is completely opposite to traditions of education as a public service. Therefore, we will probably face this challenge only sporadically.

Challenge 2. Traditionally, faculty and administrators both resist creating project-specific written agreements.  Without a written agreement, the copyright law states that all contributing authors are "joint owners" or "owners in common." (Donohue, Howe-Steiger, 2007).  Such a situation can cause painful tensions, enormous litigation expenses and, in the end,  can permanently discourage future courseware development.

Challenge 3. Choosing  an appropriate copyright model.  There are three basic copyright models (Donohue, Howe-Steiger, 2007):

  • Faculty-owns-the-copyright model
  • University-owns-the-copyright or work-for-hire model
  • Collaborative ownership model

Traditionally used are the first two modes: Faculty-owns-the-copyright and university-owns-the-copyright.  From the administrator’s perspective, they are simple, easy-to-use models that have long tradition.

New. The model of choice now would seem to be the collaborative ownership format even though  it requires the "soft" analysis of relative contributions  and takes the most time to develop (negotiation of incentives, rights, and other expectations).

Donohue and Howe-Steiger found that sharing rights keeps the cost of curriculum development down, allows each party to do everything with the courseware that they might want to do, and attracts excellent academic and private-sector experts to e-learning projects (Donohue, Howe-Steiger, 2007).

Collaborative ownership model addresses unique e-learning issues such as collaboration between groups from different institutions, different experts (content expert, instructional designer, web developer . . . ), content updating and maintenance, financial incentives and royalties from distribution of e-learning courses.

Creative Commons

Make it simple. Numerous authors argue that the existing copyright system, created during pre-digital age, cannot work in the digital age (Lessig, 2010). The Creative Commons licensing system is created as an answer for that challenge. It provides simple ways for authors to mark their content with the freedoms they intend their content to carry.

Top  universities such as Harvard, Yale and MIT are intensively using Creative Commons licenses for their OpenCourseWare activities.

It would be very beneficial if all administrators and faculty would become familiar with the Creative Commons framework and a few positive examples.

More about the Creative Commons licensing system is available at


Collaborative education supports team work in which everybody participates equally. However, it is also an excellent environment to promote areas where we are the most competitive experts. That is why we should mention coopetition.

Coopetition is a neologism for collaborative competition. It happens when schools work together on projects where they do not believe they have competitive advantage and where they can share common costs. In other areas schools may remain highly competitive.  For this system to work properly, schools need to define where they are working together and where they are competing (Wikipedia, 2010).

For example, a group of veterinary schools can work together on undergraduate veterinary parasitology course while remaining highly competitive in the area of postgraduate parasitology education and research.

Case Studies