“Commonwealth government laws now require schools to delete all copies of these recordings by no later than seven days after the end of term four, Friday, 18 December,” the department advised schools this week.
However, Victoria’s Education Minister, James Merlino, has made an 11th-hour appeal to the Morrison government to spare schools from having to destroy material they would like to keep for future use.
In a letter to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, Mr Merlino urged the government to rush through proposed legislation that is intended to reform copyright access laws and make it easier for schools and universities to deliver lessons online.
“Victorian school teachers put a significant amount of work into these resources, which were of considerable benefit to students during the pandemic,” Mr Merlino wrote.
“The overwhelming feedback I have received from school communities is that they wish to retain these resources’ availability for students in their current form.”
The department’s directive also means schools would have to create many digital resources from scratch should they return to remote learning next year.
Hayley Dureau is leading teacher at Mount Waverley Secondary College, and created “literally hundreds of videos” and hours of content to be used in online maths lessons for senior students during Melbourne’s first lockdown period in term two.
“Copyright laws were not just the furthest thing from our minds, it was not on our radars at all,” Ms Dureau said.
Many of the videos she created contained extracts from school textbooks that some students did not have access to at home.
“A lot of kids had hard copy textbooks but they were in their lockers and they physically couldn’t get on-site to get the book, so without sharing the textbook with them online they had no way of accessing the work,” Ms Dureau said.
The senior maths teacher surveyed Mount Waverley Secondary College students about the online resources after they returned to face-to-face learning in term three. Most said they wanted to continue using the videos when they returned to remote learning during the state’s second lockdown later in the term.
“We made all these videos at the time because they served a purpose but they are an incredible resource … so many students said they loved the videos and either wanted just the videos or they wanted a mixture.”
A spokesman for Mr Fletcher said the government was committed to copyright reforms that would remove the administrative burden on schools and universities.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic schools have been able to rely upon various pre-existing provisions of the Copyright Act to help support their use of copyright material in remote and online teaching,” the spokesman said.
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Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.