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Needs Assessment
Pricing #1
Pricing #2
Stakeholder Needs Assessment

OnDisC Alliance/Sheridan College

Don Berkowitz
[email protected]
Paul Hoffert [email protected]

1       Executive Summary

1.1     Terms of Reference

BELLE/Netera is one of a number of provincially focused initiatives to create repositories of digital educational multi-media learning objects that can be used and re-used in the creation of course materials. The technical and systemic work has been progressing nicely, but the question of digital rights management has thus far remained an unanswered question in this arena.

Stakeholder groups include instructors, students, educational institutions, librarians as well as commercial suppliers of course frameworks such as WebCT, and owners of intellectual property formerly delivered as books, journals, videos, CDs, and the like.

The business models for distributing online educational content are outside the scope of this needs assessment (see OnDisC reports "Environmental Scan of Pricing Models for Online Content" parts I and II). The authors concentrated on interviewing stakeholders and analyzing what their needs are with respect to digital rights management. These are quite different today than they were just a few years back.

One of the key changes has been driven by the symmetrical nature of digital networks, which enables a content client to become a content supplier. Thus, institutions, libraries and instructors that traditionally bought books and journals (clients) now find that they have a capability and interest in producing and making available text, images, video, animations, music, voice, annotations, metadata tags, and other content for use not only on their own campuses but at other educational sites as well.

The groups that used to be just "users" and are now also suppliers of content have more in common with commercial content providers today than they did before.

They wish to know:
  where their content objects used;
  by which groups they are used;
  in which contexts they are used;
  how frequently they are used;
  if they are copied to fixed media (paper, CDs, etc.);
   if they are modified (edited, excerpted, incorporated into new works).

These questions can only be answered by adding digital rights management - DRM - tags to the content objects and appropriate software and/or hardware to the distribution system. To date, most learning object repositories have not taken this step. The result has been a conspicuous lack of content deposited in them and hence not much to offer users.

Consequently, most leaning content repositories are now committed to using DRM. They now ask what flavours of DRM are appropriate for their repositories. They wish to find out how much DRM management will be deemed sufficient by content owners and at what point will users will view the tools as too onerous, too inefficient, and too intrusive for everyday use?

A companion project - DRM Extensions to the CANCORE Protocol for Object Repositories - is developing technology that will enable properly registered (tagged) content objects to have their use tracked, metered, and/or disabled depending on the use environment and users' authorization. This report will serve as a guide for that project's implementation.

One of the authors traveled across Canada and met with stakeholders in all groups to get a sense of what they believe the requirements for DRM should be in learning object repositories. Their input informs the report.

This report provides direction to the repository developers to assist them in the process of securing content.  It identifies key stakeholders, determines the needs of and assurances required by those who own or control content, and points out important structural, operational, and technological issues that may affect success.

1.2     Report Summary

The authors were struck by the lack of understanding within the user stakeholder group of the terminology and utility of rights management. Terms such as copyright and "rights management" were used interchangeably and, most frequently, with incorrect meaning. The users did acknowledge the importance of rights management and their need to conform to legal and institutional regulations.The authors believe that users need to be:

1) educated about the nature of content rights online and the various types of permissions necessary;
2) convinced of the benefits of taking the time to mark up their own content with appropriate permissions for use as well as other meta-data; and
3) supportive of using access technologies that allow for authentication, metering, and other rights management.

This group of content providers needs to ensure that the protocols used in an object repository system include rights management hooks so that the uses they wish to allow and meter may be verified. For example, the Cancore protocol would need to be extended to include meta-data relating to the rights to PLAY, COPY; and/or MODIFY the content object, in all the complex variations of those permissions as they relate to different media.