Podcasting 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