Core area 3: The Wider Context

a) Understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards 

Intellectual property rights

As a photographer, it is in my interest to be familiar with intellectual property rights. Any creative works I produce are automatically my intellectual property unless I have produced it while at work in which case it would most likely belong to my employer.

If you’re self-employed, you usually own the intellectual property even if your work was commissioned by someone else – unless your contract with them gives them the rights.

You usually will not own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.

There seems to be a common misconception that images shared online can be copied and published freely on other sites. In fact, this is still copyright infringement and could potentially lead to a lawsuit or more likely a take-down notice.

Part of my role is to ensure that the images used in our learning objects have either an open-use licence or that we have specific permission from the author. In June 2020, I completed a course on  Open education, copyright and open licensing in a digital world with the OERu in order to learn more about open licencing.

Illustration of a scales for a French-language project that introduces Creative Commons to teenagers.
Islahaddow/ CC BY-SA 4.0/ via Wikimedia Commons

The course helped me understand more about Creative Commons licencing, why it is important, how it can be used. Creative Commons licences allow authors an easy way to licence their work and users the security that they have an irrevocable right to use the work under the terms laid out in the licence. I also gained a deeper understanding of what the different kinds of CC licences allow. This knowledge has been very helpful when I am deciding what images to use in a resource, for example, if I needed to crop or change an image I wouldn’t use anything that was ND (no derivatives). It is also useful when I am explaining to teaching staff/ content authors why we can’t use the images that they have selected. I then point them to sites like Wikimedia, Pixabay, or Creative Commons search for future use.

When including media in learning objects I always link to both the source and the licence so that it is clear where the image comes from and under what conditions it can be used, I also encourage this practice in teaching staff who are creating their own resources. By including source and licencing links we are potentially saving future staff the trouble of reverse image searching to ensure that content is not breaching copyright regulations.

Learning in a Digital Age course completion badge from OERu
Evidence: Learning in a Digital Age course completion badge from OERu

b) Second legislative area, or understanding and engaging with policies and standards 


‘Accessibility regulations mean public sector organisations have a legal duty to make sure their websites and mobile applications meet accessibility requirements.’

Accessibility GOV.UK

Accessibility is something that I am very conscious of when I am creating resources. As a team, the Educational Development Unit has a set of standards that we ensure all the work we produce meets. Accessibility considerations are a core part of those standards and my awareness of the importance of producing accessible materials and what that entails has grown considerably since I started in my role.

Accessibility matters from a legal standpoint, and as a university, we have an obligation to ensure that the content we produce is in line with current legislation. It also matters from an equality and student experience aspect. Every student enrolling in the University deserves to have the same opportunities for learning and achieving their goals.

Including alt text in all images, that aren’t there purely for decoration, including text versions of labelled diagrams and ensuring that headings are used properly are all fairly simple things that can make a difference to someone using a screen reader. For example, some writers might use a heading in the middle of a list or paragraph as a way of making that piece of text stand out. This might look fine to someone reading it for themselves but can be confusing for someone who is using a screen reader.

Under the new accessibility regulations, captions and/or transcriptions must be included with all pre-recorded videos produced after 23rd September 2020 (The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018). One of my first tasks, when I started in my role, was transcribing videos for a new course. It was extremely time consuming, although oTranscribe made it slightly easier because it allowed me to easily pause and play the audio. I later looked at alternative methods of creating a transcript or auto-generating captions. Options like Microsoft Stream can be good depending on the speaker and the subject. It copes with some accents better than others and it is still necessary to check the captions as often more technical language gets mistaken.

Now, I would encourage teaching staff to start with a script where possible and to produce their own transcript. I think this can have the added benefit of encouraging them to really listen to the recording and perhaps think about ways they could improve their delivery in the future.


Text button reveals a screen readable version of the labels in the diagram.
screen shot of captions on a video
screenshot of captions on a video