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Seb Anthony

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We are about to present a pilot of an e-learning project to our Directors and I predict that the main question will be "how do we ensure someone does not steal our material?"
Is there an answer?

We are looking to combine presentations (with commentary), adobe acrobat documents, video clips, animations and toolkits of various forms and have looked at using Citrix software so that material does not reside on the students computer.

We are still being asked how do we stop people just screen dumping all of our material.

I don't think you can ever be 100% secure but am looking for more concrete arguements to present.

Ivan Pinson

2 Responses

  1. Belt and Braces
    We have a licence for our materials as well as systems and software to protect the material. In real terms the key is to constantly tweak and innovate the material content and record the amendments to track any possible misuse.

    We have used a legal consultancy to deliver the licence and have been happy with both the costs and the results so let us know if you require assistance sourcing that.

    [email protected]
    0870 241 3998

  2. You can’t, but why does it matter?
    The day piracy becomes a significant issue for the e-learning industry will be a good day — because it will mean that there is such great demand for e-learning that there is a viable grey market for knock-offs. We are a long way from that.

    This question reminds me of a fellow presenter at a European Federation of Distance Learning conference a couple of years ago. He was presenting on the obstacles to effective distance learning, and I was expecting something strategic and significant. But all he could talk about was the dangers of cheating in tests.

    If you teach this course in the classroom currently, how do you secure it? Do you confiscate pens and paper as learners arrive so they can’t take notes? Or do you provide hand-outs that they can take with them? If so, how do you know they are not going to start up in business competing with your course? Do you care currently — and if not, why care about the e-learning version?

    Anyone who wants to steal or plagiarise your content will find a way, if they are desperate enough to do so. You can take the obvious precautions of copyrighting everything, and taking legal action against anyone who you catch using your material. You can provide an overt “click to assent” acknowledgement of copyright for each learner. And you can put various technological obstacles in the way to make it harder for anyone to download too much. We, conversely, usually make it easy for e-learners to download PDF versions of course content. It gives them something to work with if they are offline, and provides a take-away document. Many less PC-comfortable people even prefer working on paper, going online only to do assignments or tests. In my view the more people who see our courses, the more will want to take them.

    Finally, you have to differentiate between the value of your content and the value of your learning methodologies. It is harder for someone to mimic the learning methodology of your course than to copy the content.

    Godfrey Parkin
    [email protected]


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