Image Case Studies
The aims of these small studies, which were co-funded by JISC and the Higher Education Academy were to:
- develop case studies in key subject areas on how images are used, and how community image collections can support this use by offering facilities to deposit and share images owned by the HE community
- undertake this work with close reference to the recommendations of the CLiC community image collections report (PDF)
Case studies were undertaken in the following subject areas:
Karla Youngs (TASI) and Neil Jacobs (JISC) have summarised the lessons learned from these case studies as follows:
The reports from the four case studies are all different, from different perspectives and emphasising different elements of the CLiC report. This reflects a number of factors, not least variations between disciplines in how images are used in education, and what their typical significance is. Nevertheless, some common conclusions can be drawn that are of relevance to those seeking to enable image sharing in the future, whether they are building infrastructure or capacity. These key common conclusions are:
- It is important to build strategies and partnerships appropriate to the discipline and to the task at hand. In any specific case, these partnerships may involve well recognised (international) collections, web entities such as Flickr, institutions (academic departments, computing services, etc), and individual champions. Engaging with commercial web services such as Flickr requires careful assessment of their service levels, terms and conditions, etc.
- Some means needs to be found to allay copyright concerns. This needs to operate for a number of scenarios. For new content within an institutional setting, the TrustDR development pack offers guidance, and image owners should be encouraged to use an appropriate open licence; the reports’ findings would imply that a Creative Commons ‘attribution / non-commercial / share-alike’ licence would probably fit. Guidance also needs to be offered to existing community collections where the copyright position of the images held is unclear, and to members of the community who think that using anything found on the Internet through a Google search is ‘fair game’ for use in a teaching and learning situation.
- Few community image collections have the technical capacity to engage with the JISC Information Environment. They are often run by a fragmented group including a champion academic and remote, best-efforts IT support from computing services. This may be a general issue of engaging with the IE, and might best be tackled at that level, perhaps with reference to the IE Demonstrator and IE programme level work on sector capacity-building. However, there is also an issue here of institutional support for community image collections. Specific guidance also needs to be given to institutions to address issues of sustainability of collections, once initial project funding has ceased (and / or when project staff move on).
- The extent is not clear to which institutions and other ‘hosts’ of community image collections support the open sharing of images. The incentives, at an individual and an institutional level, are unclear. Sometimes an institution may consider such images to be assets to be protected rather than shared. A project is ongoing to build the business case for sharing learning materials, and this evidence will help. We also need to understand more clearly the ‘self censoring’ that seems to be taking place when individuals do share images. There appears to be an anxiety over ‘peer review’ which means that people feel they can share only ‘really good images’. Again this definition of ‘really good images’ needs further exploration pertaining to usage.
- Images are meaningless without context (indeed, that is how Google Image search works). Images are often embedded in slideshows, text documents or learning objects – they are used that way and often shared that way for reuse. Focusing only on images risks losing this meaningful context.
- The conclusions and recommendations of the ‘Sharing eLearning Content’ report are relevant, especially with respect to IPR and cultural and incentive issues.
There appears to be a mismatch between current image provision for subject areas (which are not used widely) and images needed to support Teaching and Learning. We need to understand whether this is simply a copyright matter (i.e. a need for more recent images ref Engineering) or whether there are other factors involved. This mismatch could perhaps explain why there is such a low take-up of images in teaching and learning, despite evidence of enthusiasm and willingness to do so (see Archaeology and Visual Arts case studies)
Note, in addition to the above, a specific case study is been undertaken in the area of medical images, exploring the CHERRI findings further, to understand how feasible the 'consent and licensing model' is within current practice and what changes need to occur both locally and nationally. More information is in the proposal document (PDF). The CHERRI final report (PDF) is available.
For more information, please contact Karla Youngs or Neil Jacobs