By David Austin Walsh
The academic freedom of professors is under siege, Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors said during his opening remarks for that organization’s annual meeting in Washington D.C. yesterday. Universities are threatening to hijack the intellectual property rights of faculty members over their course material, he argued, and the consequences of that could be extreme.
“If we lose this battle for intellectual property,” Nelson said, “it’s over. Being a professor will no longer be a viable career. It will be a service industry. That’s it.”
Nelson said that the advent of massive online open courses – commonly referred to as MOOCs – offer the potential for tremendous disruption not just in terms of jobs and educational options for students, but professors’ control over their course content.
In the past, professors typically held the intellectual property rights for their courses, largely because unlike with patents, course content was not profitable for the university. MOOCs, however, offer the potential to monetize individual classes. Coursera and other MOOC providers typically have language in their contracts explicitly granting universities an ownership stake in online content; however, universities do not necessarily share that stake with the faculty members who actually create the content.
“MOOCs do not need ownership,” Nelson said. “It’s bullshit. … Do you want to be locked out of your own course?”
[ Full article available at History News Network: http://hnn.us/articles/being-professor-will-no-longer-be-viable-career ]