emerging technologies in instruction, instruction section, acrl

August 2003 Site of the Month


Authors: Center for Intellectual Property, University of Maryland University College
Interviewer: Norman Buchwald


As part of the center's educational mission, the staff of the Center for Intellectual Property along with Professor Laura (Lolly) Gasaway, the 2001-2002 Virtual Intellectual Property Scholar, develop this freely accessible Flash enabled interactive tutorial. First conceived as a print publication, it was believed that more people could be served by placing the content online. The tutorial provides illustrative scenarios and links to additional resources. Upon completion users are e-mailed a transcript of their responses to the scenarios.

Interview with tutorial author:

Q. What was the motivation for creating the ©Primer?

A. The ©Primer was a product of the educational mission of the Center for Intellectual Property. (See the Center's mission at http://www.umuc.edu/distance/odell/cip/mission.html)

Q. How long did the entire creation process take?

A. That might not be a completely fair question in this case. The director, Dr. Kimberly Kelley, originally co-wrote and published the first version
of the ©Primer in 2000 as a print document. Two years later we felt it was time to expand and update the publication; so because the Center is
part of an institution that is committed to serving the adult learner at a distance, we wanted to find a way to better disseminate the ©Primer
among faculty and students as well as reach our growing constituents outside of the University System of Maryland Community. This re-writing
and coding took about a year.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced?

A. Initially finding a contractor; bringing an audience to something you have built; and working with code-heads to develop something visually
appealing. Seriously though--it's always a challenge to turn written text into an educational journey for a learner.

Q. What support, if any, did you get to assist you in the creation of the tutorial?

A. We were able to use some grant funds from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that enabled us to hire an outside web developer to do the coding. In
addition, locally, we had a great staff that gave continued feedback as the project was being developed.

Q. What are the plans for the tutorial?

A. Because the ©Primer overviews the US copyright law for academics we probably will not need to update it that frequently. However, we have
used the shell of the ©Primer to develop a tutorial titled the Digital©Primer that was written by our 2001-2002 Intellectual Property Scholar in Residence, Laura (Lolly) Gasaway, Esq. This should be available by mid-fall 2003.

Q. What technologies did you use to create the tutorial?

A. It's basically a Macromedia Flash front-end supported by a MySQL database that allows us to continually update the main content as necessary. Because we did not have a Webmaster we thought that it would be prudent to build the site so that our staff could make changes to the text, scenarios and resources without moving complete files to and from a server.

To contact the authors of ©Primer, please write or call:

Olga Francois
Sr. Research Librarian
Center for Intellectual Property
3501 University Blvd. East, SFSC 3219
University of Maryland University College

301-985-6426 office
301-985-7654 fax