Podcasting Professor Has Website Suspended

Post ImagePodcasting and education – I think it’s only a matter of time, once the issues that make educational institutions uneasy are worked out. And to be sure, educators are already experimenting with podcasting, like communication and technology professor Robert Schrag. The problem is that he decided to charge for his podcasts, and NC State University didn’t like that too much (via Podcasting News):

Schrag had made his lectures available to students and the general public online for a fee of $2.50. The University questioned whether this practice was ethical, referring to the inconsistencies in opinion concerning intellectual property and decided to ask Schrag to suspend the Web site until copyright-issue clarifications could be made.

Besides wanting to make a small profit, I don’t know why Schrag was charging for his podcast. I highly doubt he gave the money to the university to cover his (probably very small) bandwidth costs. Interestingly enough, when he asked his class about the situation, only four of them said the podcasts should be free, and no one said the site should have been taken down.

This situation brings up a bunch of questions. As a paying student, is recording what the professor says for my own consumption any different than frantically trying to write everything down? Does the university own the content that the professor delivers, or does the professor himself/herself retain ownership? Why should I as a student have to pay extra to get an audio file of the lecture?

And perhaps most important of all, is podcasting just something universities need to embrace in order to keep up with the times? I think it might be, kind of like replacing blackboards with whiteboards or overhead projectors with digital projectors and computers. Schrag has the right idea:

“I’m not sorry I made the choice and I hope I can get back to giving the information,” Schrag said.

After all, isn’t the primary function of a university to disseminate information? We call it teaching or learning, but really, a university is just a fancy way to spread information and knowledge to the population. Podcasting then should be viewed by universities as just another tool to help them spread information.

Read: Technician Online

4 thoughts on “Podcasting Professor Has Website Suspended

  1. It unfortunately just re-inforces the potential view (though not necessarily true in this case) that universities and various parties at them (thought not necessarily the professor in this case) appear to be asserting more of an interest in IP ownership, property and profit, than in teaching and researching for the greater good (and not to say that this doesn’t happen also). This is simply because universities are run by people (usually small pockets of a few people with regard to control) and so they exhibit human wants. I think that universities should receive no government assistance if they exhibit privately-held type behaviours.

  2. Maybe had he been giving them away for free there would be less of an issue by his University? I guess it’s kind of like the difference between auditing a class and just walking in and listening on your own accord.

    Me, being the model student that I am, can see how some people might not like podcasting lectures. The thinking behind it would be, "If I have to wake up early to goto an 8 am class, why shouldn’t you have to?". Afterall, it is you who signed up for the 8 am class to begin with. Maybe profs should record their lectures anyways and just give them to students who give them doctors notes for any classes they miss.

  3. phil, it has been done. i took a psych class where our prof had recorded his lectures for a couple of years past, and over the summer, he took the time to format each lecture – audio-wise, and make it available online for my class. it was great because i didn’t have to attend class physically; i could sit at home and listen to the lecture and follow the powerpoint slides. he did say that whoever wanted to come to class could come as well; but he didn’t take any offense to anyone who didn’t show up for class. and he password protected the audio so only people registered in the class could obtain it.

    as a student paying so much tuition already, you shouldn’t have to pay extra for the lecture (be it audio, powerpoint slies, or podcast). perhaps they should look into password protection if they are paranoid about the general public accessing such knowledge.

  4. Don’t forget that the school is a service provider. Profs should have no magic power over you – they are paid to show up. Whether you can get the information delivered in perform, or on-demand is just a matter of what that service provider is willing to provide – and it would be a free market if it weren’t for the fact that these particular service providers get to pick their customers in a way that optimises the marketing of the service to others – i.e. take the people with good grades or whatever in an attempt to make the service look like the best one…

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