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Part Question, Part Observation

One of the most significant trends (which receives limited focus) is the very rapid shift of content ownership in education. Instructors/trainers who previously “owned” content, are now only partial contributors in the process of developing online resources. Creating content online requires a diverse set of skills – instructional design, graphics, programming, media, subject matter expert. This largely ignored trend could be seen as a significant “intellectual land grab” or the starting point of truly collaborative sharing.
Organizations obviously invest heavily in the creation of content for delivery online…and as a result, institutions have a much stronger claim for ownership. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If the organization believes in freely sharing resources created with public funds, content can be used as catalyst for innovation and collaboration. If, on the other hand, the organization prefers to position their digital content as a strategic competitive advantage (instead of services offered), it could lead to more rigid copyright rules that we have experienced over the last few decades.
What are your experiences with this? Any thoughts on why this concept is largely ignored? What are the implications? Is it a “good” or a “bad” trend? Comments are open.


  1. Tom Layton wrote:

    I am reminded of the old joke that a camel is a horse built by a committee. This, to me, seems the direction of online course creation. We combine content experts who lack the tools and technical experience to build a simple web page, with a team of design experts, artists, and programmers who have never taught anybody anything, and ask them all to design a course that will be used, by someone who has never taught over the internet, to teach a bunch of technology-savvy teenagers. It may look pretty, but it is still little more than correspondence course + email.

    To me, the problem cannot be resolved until we deal with the issue of teacher certification. Because a teacher certified in Oregon cannot teach students in Florida, Alaska and Texas we are not going to produce professional online teachers who can develop the skills they need to create and teach online classes. For most online teachers, face to face teaching consumes the lion’s share of their time and energy. And, increasingly, they are teaching courses designed by others, typically the teams you describe.

    Until online teaching is your whole job, you are not going to give it the attention and creativity it deserves. And as long as a teacher cannot modify the courses they teach because they do not “own” them, online teaching will not be the art it often is in face to face teaching.

    Thursday, July 22, 2004 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  2. cindy wrote:

    Hello George,

    I am happy you mentioned it !!

    Here is some of my comments on CEDEFOP, an EU portal on learning. I PRAY someone hear me at CEDEFOP!


    Thursday, July 22, 2004 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
  3. James Farmer wrote:

    Good topic :o )

    The institution I work for, Deakin University has been developing content in the way you describe for decades. My role is actually, somewhat bizzarly, situated withing the group that produces and has produced the study guides, readers, videos, CD ROMS and all the distance learning material that keeps us with a fully operational printery, editorial group, desktop publishers and alike.

    So, in answer (I think) to your question, the development of online content doesn’t really impact (besides some of the more bizarre copyright restrictions and processes on electronic reserve documents). The perspective here is that the IP is with the academic and it’s not about to change.

    However, it’s not like you can wander off with the study guide if you leave :O)

    Cheers, James

    Thursday, July 22, 2004 at 11:24 pm | Permalink