Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quick Academic Question: Are Courses/Syllabi Intellectual Property?

When I decided to leave my current adjunct position, I assumed that my GenEd class would be canceled, but the chair just told me they need to find someone to teach it (whether they'll be able to is another matter).

This is the class that I painstakingly designed last year... I don't mind someone teaching the same books and stuff, but... does my syllabus "belong" to the university (they have a copy) now that the class has been offered a few times or do I have any intellectual property rights to the class and the many activities I designed for it?* I think I would be willing to help the next person if they asked me to, but I'm just feeling a little sad about it... It's hard to let go when so much effort and energy is put into something...

Sigh...

Well, this is part of the choice I made. And I'm thrilled that I in the new job can teach whatever I want in the upper level class I'll teach in the Spring (I will adapt the class I'm talking about above).

Pleese let me know if you have any opinion/ knowledge about my question above. Maybe I should submit it to Dean Dad? ;)

* The department has a copy of the syllabus, but none of the activities.

4 comments:

kate said...

I shouldn't answer this, because I really don't know, but I think that you probably don't have any rights over it, since it was created as part of your job (for which you were paid) and therefore may be the property of the university. At least in other similar situations I think it works like that. What does your contract say?

Though I'm talking about the syllabus-- not necessarily the activities.

Lilian said...

I think you may be right, Kate. And I forgot to include in my post that one of my favorite classes to T.A. for in my graduate department was a class that exists only because someone designed it and then left. Thanks for your input!

Spanish prof said...

I don't think the syllabus belongs to the university, but to you. However, on this day and age, when any student could have posted it on Koofers or similar sites, I think it's pointless to fight it. What I would do is to get out of Blackboard or any management system they use any material you created for the class (study guides, handouts, etc).

Anastasia said...

I wouldn't think you could stop them from using the syllabus you have on file as a reference point or even having the next professor use it in all or part but if they asked for any of my activities or handouts, I would politely decline. I have declined such requests in the past. As an adjunct, I am paid to teach the course. That much is in my contract. I am required to submit a copy of my syllabus but I don't take it that course development on behalf of the department is part of my job because it's not in my contract. If they want my intellectual property, they need to pay me a reasonable salary with benefits, thank you very much.

Now, CDS where I'm working now as a salaried employee? They have hard and electronic copies of all of my handouts and study guides and I assume that they own those materials because I work for them and developed the as part of my job. The difference is my job description and the way I'm compensated.