|Syllabus passion: "you show me yours, and|
I'll show you mine ..."
This Kat learned early on from that experience—there is very little that is exciting about course syllabuses, at least until now. This Kat does a bit of teaching and over time he has a developed a course syllabus. He is delighted to share it with his colleagues and friends ("If only she had the shown the same interest in my syllabuses 40 years ago ... "). Not long ago, he was in correspondence with a colleague who teaches a similarly focused course at a top ten worldwide university. "Sorry", she said, "my university treats course syllabuses as its property. I can't show it to you."
I have to admit—I was flabbergasted by her assertion. What kind of "property" did the university have in her syllabus? Faculty members publish books all the time, researched and written at the university using the institution's books and other resources (not to say the salary paid by the institution to the faculty member). To the best of my knowledge, the faculty member enters into a contract with the publisher in his or her own name. Murkier is the status of faculty inventions, but here as well this Kat is not familiar with any developed university system where the institution treats the invention solely as its own property with no possible rights flowing to the faculty member.
|Receiving a degree?|
No -- giving back
the syllabus ...
This Kat is fully aware that universities have been grappling for more than a decade with the issue of online instruction. The issue is how can universities leverage their competencies and resources to reach many more students by on-line means. While online students will not be paying $50,000 a year for these courses, there is still money to be made here. In this context, course syllabuses can serve as the gate keeper for access to such potential students. In such a case, the institution may not wish the syllabuses to be freely available. Maybe yes, maybe no. Indeed you don't need to be in the on-line world to raise the issue of faculty access to his or her syllabuses outside the specific context of the classroom course. Faculty members change affiliation (or they simply may go on a sabbatical). Should they be allowed to make use of their course syllabus in the new institution? Or is it the property of the original university?
All this Kat knows is that he was not able to view his colleague's syllabus to see if he could tweak his own course curriculum. Indeed, he wonders if her university also has a policy that would have prevented her from obtaining a copy of this Kat's syllabus. More generally, this Kat wonders what the position on these issues is at other universities. Readers with any insight are invited to share them (no need to identify the institution involved).