Copyright and syllabi

I had a professor once, who made a point to mention how valuable his syllabus was. I hung onto it and should I need to bring up a textbook from the class, I have it to refer to. I’ve also considered occasionally checking to see what profs are using in classes that may hold an interest to me, especially in overseas institutions. I’ve never looked. Mostly because I am inundated in my own studies, reading, and research. But how valuable is a syllabus? And is there a copyright to its content? Should it be available online?

What value is it to have a profs syllabus? If I am a prof, and I am viewing other’s syllabi, then I am potentially getting ready to plagerise their work, if I use it. Do profs own their syllabi, and should it be searchable as a public document? Will it take value away from the institution, if a person can access this information and basically take the class without the benefit of lecture or in class time, or even web time.

As a for instance, I checked out a web class online and read the syllabus. I found that I could learn much of the same by reading textbooks on the subject. This was a noncredit class. $100. I decided to pass on the class and read the books to get myself on to a higher understanding, and will, in turn take an academic level computer web class. So the syllabus helped me decide not to take the class; however, the institution offering the class didn’t benefit.

Dan Cohen brings up searchable text. This reminds me of spell check. Expecting the computer to do the work for you. It doesn’t always lead to saving time. Perhaps. Perhaps a content sifter will make you miss something key to your research. Further, this leads me to the future toilet, which will one day include a hand to wipe one’s bum. Must every piece of tech come with a “geared to make life easier” tag? Sometimes working for something is what it’s all about. It’s part of the process.


~ by disembodiedspirit on September 24, 2008.

One Response to “Copyright and syllabi”

  1. I think online syllabi can be particularly helpful for both students and professors because it allows both parties to see how other professors and teachers are presenting materials. Are they taking field trips? Using more primary source materials as opposed to text books? Utilizing digital technologies such as blogs? I think it is an excellent ways for professors to get new and fresh ideas.

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