(barb)Wired Teaching Environs


Administrators with responsibilities for writing programs will

6. develop equitable policies for ownership of intellectual
property that take effect before online classes commence.

After reading the C’s
statement on teaching, learning and assessment in digital environments
Friday, I’ve been wondering about the risks of working at the intersection of
writing instruction and digital environments without an explicit,
institutionally endorsed set of policies addressing intellectual property
in such spaces. I don’t worry that I’m at risk, but I have started
to ponder the ethics of graded, compulsory blogging in a FY comp course like the
one I’m teaching now. I am naive on this front, since I’m not sure I understand
some of the issues knotting up at this nexus. It’s clear to me that students own their writing. It’s clear to me that I can make reference to their writing, cite passages, model it for other courses and so on, with a student’s permission. But are tech-enriched writing pedagogies treading on student privacies, refashioning a safe, protected environ into a perilous venue underscored by the potential for public critique and effects beyond the
course? In dedicated face-to-face courses and dedicated
online courses (barricaded behing protections, authorizations) this seems much simpler than in grafted or hybrid courses, where
traditional methods swirl in the current of emergent technologies and digital
mediums. And with this, I’m back to a lot of questions, ones mainly about
the teacher’s agency in convening such ventures without having mapped the juts
and crags. Where to turn in this exploration absent an "equitable
[policy] for ownership of intellectual property"?


  1. Good questions, Derek. But it’s we canaries in the mine who often discover just what those administrative policies need to be. When academics write policy by imagining and speculating what problems might occur, they almost always do overkill.

    So far, I haven’t encountered any problems that my students and I couldn’t handle. What’s your experience so far?

  2. I haven’t come across anything I couldn’t handle, either–yet. In fact, much of what’s shaping up at our class blog isn’t getting attention from administrators. And I think I know what you mean about wanting for policies: be careful what you wish for, right? A few students have resisted the blog as a mandated publishing procurement. It seems possible to have a quiet guff that goes, “nobody can make students publish their work.” And that’s where I would like some delineation–a guideline to ensure my practices jibe with institutional stances in matters of intellectual property, privacy and publishing student writing.

    Could be that such guidelines will come along in a few months (or years), and that they’ll be–in some cases–strongly reactionary. I think I read something over at Weblogg-Ed about strict controls on weblogs for middle-schoolers. And perhaps there is a greater need for controls in selected contexts. The part of the C’s statement about establishing guidelines “before online classes commence” gave me pause, considering that we’ve commenced sans policy.

  3. I guess the issue is just what kind of policy elements you don’t have in place. We have both state law and college policy that applies to on-line courses in general. We have a district policy on intellectual property. We have a CB contract that gives some specific leverage to faculty in regard to IP issues. We have a clear student privacy policy. I’m sure we don’t cover all questions that may come up regarding some of the new forms like blogs and wikis, but I guess I don’t feel like I’ve “commenced sans policy” [which as a kid who grew up a Cleveland Browns fan makes me think of the Carmen Policy who left the Niners a mess so he could go run the Browns, making the Niners also “sans Policy”.

  4. It would be embarrassing to tip my hand to reveal a mitt full of blanks (jokers?), to declare that I’m not guided by any policies explicitly detailing intellectual property or privacy as it applies to student writing. So I won’t do that. I’m familiar with FERPA/Buckley, which applies to student records, but that doesn’t have much bearing here. I shouldn’t overstate my concern because everything is going terrific with the classes I’m teaching this semester. One tiny, policy-testing rift, however, and I could feel as empty handed as the Niners sans Policy and Dwight Clark, too.

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