As Online Courses Expand, So Do Questions About Ownership
Career College Central summary:
As online courses soar in popularity, a battle is beginning over who should own them. Though little noticed, it’s a fight that could change longstanding traditions about faculty control of classes they create, and influence the future and success of online higher education. Universities hope to make money off these courses, which can enroll thousands of paying students instead of the few hundred who can fit inside the largest brick-and-mortar lecture halls. But many faculty fear that their work may be altered for the worse, or that universities will employ other, less-qualified people to teach them.
About 70 percent of 110 higher education institutions surveyed by Jeff Hoyt, an assistant vice dean at Middle Tennessee State University, have already locked in policies about who owns online courses. And only 10 percent let faculty keep sole ownership. More than a third of universities claim complete control over courses and materials for themselves, the survey found, and another 41percent allow for joint ownership—meaning, for example, that professors might own the course materials they write but their colleges or universities keep the multimedia components.
Fast-growing third-party providers such as the Harvard-MIT collaboration edX, which collects and distributes courses from at least 30 universities around the world, leave the question to be resolved by member institutions. “We don’t own it. The university does,” said Tena Herlihy, general counsel for edX. “The universities create the course and the content.”
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