As indicated above, we administered several surveys to the course participants. To maximize the comparability of their responses, whenever possible we used the 5-point scale employed in Harvard Law School course evaluations. For most questions, the five options were as follows: 1=unsatisfactory; 2=poor; 3=fair; 4=good; 5=excellent. In addition, on most issues, we asked participants open-ended questions.
Overall, CopyrightX was rated highly by all groups. The mean responses of the Harvard Law School students on the two most important course-evaluation questions were:
- Overall Effectiveness of Teacher: 4.817
- Overall Effectiveness of Course: 4.661.
Charts showing their responses to all of the questions in the official HLS course evaluation and in a supplementary evaluation (in which we solicited their views concerning specific features of the course) are set forth in Appendix B.
The responses of the HLS students to open-ended questions were also encouraging. In particular, they were nearly unanimous in their support for the “flipped-classroom” structure and for the organization of the in-class discussions around case studies. The most frequent suggestions for improving the course were: better integration of its various components; and reduction of the length of the lectures or the readings (or an increase in the credit hours for the course).
The edX students also gave the course high marks overall:
Even more revealing, perhaps, were the edX students’ responses to the open-ended question concerning the respects in which they found the course useful. These varied widely, but overwhelming majority were enthusiastic. Here’s a sample:
- “This course filled some knowledge gaps for me in a pretty critical professional area. I never could have learned what I did in CopyrightX by reading on my own, attending a workshop, or even watching the lecture videos independently. It really was the combination of all of the different modes, and the sustained focus over time, that pulled everything together for me. Short of auditing (or enrolling in!) an actual law school class, I don’t see how this could have been a better experience.”
- “I’ve taken dozens of online courses over the years, this has been by far the best intellectually, pedagogically, and professionally. It provided a clear challenge but I believe I’ve learned a great deal. I will continue to review some of the videos that I’m a little unclear about.”
- “As a military musician, I felt that participating in the class has help me be able to understand copyright enough to pass on to my superiors about the potential infringements we may be committing inadvertently. I also have had great discussion about copyright with my co-workers who produce and write music of their own.”
- The Deputy Director of the Customs Intelligence Headquarters in Pakistan wrote: “The course has opened up new dimensions for me. I am more confident about my knowledge of Copyright Law and to some extent Intellectual Property Rights. As I work for Pakistan Customs, I have been looking at our IPR Protection systems with a renewed interest, which unfortunately are almost non-existent. I hope to contribute meaningfully in this area now!”
- “I would like to express my profound gratitude to you for allowing me to participate in such engaging and enriching course. The lectures were superb and it was a great pleasure to engage in debate and discussion with my teaching fellow and fellow students from around the world with divergent views and experiences of intellectual property and the underling policy grounds. As a member of the English Bar, it was a real privilege to gain an insight into the U.S. legal system and I thoroughly enjoyed the comparative approach.”
- A professional composer in Italy wrote: “It has been an incredible experience which I am going to remember; not only that, I am going to shape all of my future initiatives in a radically different way, after being able to participate in the meaningful discussion about things I have always been interested in….”
- The Head of the Copyright Resources Office of George Mason University Libraries wrote: “Thank you for offering and teaching the CopyrightX course. I can only imagine how much work was involved in creating the content and coordinating the enterprise. It was an experience I learned from and will never forget. The guest speakers were a bonus but your copyright diagram, to me, is invaluable.”
- “I loved the class and am so glad that I was a part of it. I can also tell you that I have on numerous incidents already used my new-found knowledge (primarily the theoretical underpinnings of certain applications of copyright law to film, tv, music and software) in my entertainment law practice.”
- “I am a working novelist who also works for an educational publishing firm. Learning about copyright law gives me a better sense of how it affects me. Far more, it has focused my attention on the kinds of protection I want and need as a working writer, what I feel about creative endeavor (boo, hiss, utility theory; it’s all wrong), and what I want to do with my own published works going forward. I do not want to focus on production and distribution—it has relatively little value. I want rather to focus on the spectrum that stretches between consumptive use and transformative art, the monetary value of transformative art to the original work, and the role of indexing and indexing standards, visibility, and publicity. What production and distribution were to works on paper, visibility is becoming to digital works. It’s not strictly a copyright issue, but I think it’s one of the basic issues of 21st-century publishing. CopyrightX has given me some background to pursue these issues more intelligently.”
- “I took this course while on maternity leave (baby currently 4 months) so this has been very valuable for keeping me intellectually stimulated until I return to work. The nature of the course meant it was able to fit in around feeding/sleeping patterns—where other course formats would be prohibitive to parents seeking to further their education in balance with family life.”
- “From an engineer’s perspective the workings of the law system seemed chaotic, it seemed gray (compared to black(0) and white(1) of the world of the digital engineer). But as the course progressed and specially reading the course materials, the impression that was left was that the gray is made of lots of tiny black and white.”
- “I am an attorney by profession, and my main interest in reading the edX copyright law course was to obtain a basic but comprehensive understanding of the principles and legal approaches. The course has by far exceeded my expectations in this regard. On a practical level, copyright law is not a significant area of practice in my jurisdiction, and there has been negligible public discussion of this topic, though this is sure to change in the relatively near future. Presently, as my jurisdiction has a vibrant off-shore commercial presence, copyright law is likely to be more important when dealing with assets entailing copyrighted works.”
- “I own my own business. Our company makes websites, produces videos and mobile applications. We also provide live video streaming services. Taking this class has given me a broad understanding of copyright law and will allow me to better protect our own works and the work that we do for our clients without infringing on the rights of others.”
- “Well, I unexpectedly spotted a little oopsie that could save my company from bankruptcy some day. So there’s that. And I enlarged the knowledge I need to protect myself while enjoying my weekend artistic hobby/job. So there’s that, too. But I also really enjoyed knowing that I was very likely correct in phoning and writing one of my senators to complain about a certain bill he co-sponsored. And last, but not least, I’d forgotten how much fun it could be to wrestle with the intricacies of a fairly abstract intellectual topic and to sense myself stretching mentally.”
- “I have been working on the IPR field for more than 10 years as a contractor legal advisor for the Uruguayan and U.S. Government. The course provided me with the ability to improve the aforementioned skills.”
- “This was not the first instruction or reading I had done about intellectual property generally or specifically copyright. It was however by far the most informed, comprehensive, and satisfying. The lectures were an intellectual feast. The suites of materials, catalyzed by the section meetings, have given me confidence in this topic that I have not experienced in any other way. I feel much more equipped to challenge things I see—results, proposals, theories, ideas—with much greater comfort. With that sense of ease will come greater frequency of interrogating future material. This has been a truly spectacular learning experience. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
- “I had high expectations for this course, and I am greatly satisfied they were met. I feel I received a world-class education on copyright tailored to the professional working in a copyright-related field. It was the perfect balance of theory, fact and normative discussion.”