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Professor Sells Lectures Online 457

Posted by samzenpus
from the never-go-to-class-again dept.
KnightMB writes "Students at NCSU have the option of purchasing the lectures of a professor online. The Professor did this as a way to help those that missed class, didn't take good notes, or from another country and have trouble understanding an English speaking Professor. The reactions on campus were mixed among the students as some saw it as a great way to keep up with things should real life interfere and others see it as something to pay for on top of the tuition cost at the university. Each one cost $2.50 for the entire lecture. Some students feel it should be free or cost less. The professor brings up a point that doing this takes extra effort and it's only fair that they should have to pay for that extra time and effort needed to put the lectures online for sale such as editing, recording equipment, etc. No one is forced to purchase the lectures, they are only an additional option that students will have. Quote Dr. Schrag "Your tuition buys you access to the lectures in the classroom. If you want to hear one again, you can buy it. I guess you could see the service as a safety net designed to help the students get the content when life gets in the way of their getting to class."
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Professor Sells Lectures Online

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  • Schrag explained that $1.50 of the money goes directly to ind-music.com, the host of the Web site offering the service. One dollar then goes to Schrag to offset the cost of recording and editing the lengthy lectures.

    If he's only getting that percentage anyway, he could have saved his students money by making it a podcast.
    • by HatchedEggs (1002127) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:46PM (#16100635) Homepage Journal
      I think that $2.50 is a fair price for a lecture. Lets be realistic... most of the time that you miss class it is your own choice (or worse, your failure) to miss it. In that, the professor doesn't owe anybody his free time. Something like this does take time and effort beyond what is normally expected. Those times when I missed class in college I would have gladly paid $2.50 if it was something that I wanted to hear.

      So... sure, make it a podcast. But keep the price at $2.50 and make all the profit himself. Students don't need any more excuse to be lazy, a good deal of them perfected the skill long ago.
      • O/B Spicoli (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sqwubbsy (723014)
        "I've been thinking about this Mister Hand. If you're here and I'm here, doesn't that technically make it our time?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ben there... (946946)
      $1.50 for a 10 MB audio file is rather ridiculous. I could host the same thing for pennies, and I don't even have a huge university network (bigger tubes than the internet uses), just a cheapo hosting account.

      Also, from ind-music.com:

      Newsflash
      If you have come to this site looking to purchase the audio lecture notes for Professor Robert Schrag, please take note that the files have been temporarily removed at the request of Dr. Schrag. In the meantime, check out some great indie bands in our Music Store.

      • by e2d2 (115622)
        What motivates the professor to make the price noticeably high? Getting students into the classroom I'd bet. If it hits your wallet just a bit to notice, and it seems a bit unfair, well that discourages it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      At a state university this means that he's essentially running a small side business which feeds off of his normal job at the expense of the public. While I understand that this is standard operating procedure for universities of all kinds, it still makes me slightly uneasy. I would much prefer that the university pay for recording all his lectures (if they aren't already) and then podcast them.... Seems that somewhere along the line, "For the good of the whole" exited the philosophy of public university
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by HatchedEggs (1002127)
        Before I went to town on this guy though for charging $2.50 a lecture to students that cannot manage to make it to class I would go after the professors that write their own texts (or for others) and charge a rediculous amount for it.

        I've never heard students complain about a professor charging too much for a lecture. On the other hand, I have heard an expletive or two when a student saw their $400+ bill for their text books for a single semester.

        I think that any professor that records his/her material shou
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by EvanED (569694)
          I agree. This idea doesn't really sit well with me either, but I'd have to think long and hard about any further classification of it, like if I were an administrator and asked to pass a regulation against it or something.

          But, I thought of this too; regardless of what that decision would be, having your own text as a required book for the course can easily be FAR worse than this. There are cases where it makes sense, like if there's a standard book on a topic and you're taking the class from the author. But
    • Since he is using university property.. and has this opportunity because he is a professor at that university, I would think the university should get a cut. Not all- not even most-- but definately a cut.
  • Years ago, when I was in school, there were services that did this at my university. They ran with the U's blessing and had to get Prof permission. They didn't sell lectures, just lecture notes. But if the midterm was approaching and you slept through a morning class, $1.50 for the notes on the lecture you missed was well worth it.

    - Greg
  • Hm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:33PM (#16100551) Homepage
    If it isn't DRMed to hell this could be great, for example one could make techno-remixes of professors, ect.
  • Why is this news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lambadomy (160559) <lambadomy@di[ ]edie.com ['edi' in gap]> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:34PM (#16100562)
    This sounds like the school equivalent of all those patents that take something common and add "on a computer". I was able to buy lecture notes for most of my classes in 1996. Admittedly, those notes were taken by someone paid to take the notes, and sold by the school not the professor, but still this doesn't seem particularly exciting or novel, just a natural progression. I do remember back then they printed the notes on this annoying red paper to make it more difficult to photocopy the notes, something tells me any measures on the web to prevent copying and sharing of these notes will be even less effective.
  • What a wonderful way to reward laziness. And hey, while you're at it, pad your pockets through your podcast? Ridiculous.
    • by Y-Crate (540566) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:39PM (#16100584)
      What a wonderful way to reward laziness. And hey, while you're at it, pad your pockets through your podcast? Ridiculous.
      I tend to agree, but there are some classes where missing a day or two because of illness or some other, non-voluntary situation can absolutely destroy your progress in the course.
      • Then why not ask to borrow a classmate's notes? Not all my professors made notes available at all on the web, so that's what I did when I missed a lecture.

        Hmm... perhaps students could undercut the professor by selling their own notes. I have to tell my friend Cliff about this!
        • Then why not ask to borrow a classmate's notes? Not all my professors made notes available at all on the web, so that's what I did when I missed a lecture.
          But if there is a recording, why not take advantage of it?
      • ...but there are some classes where missing a day or two because of illness or some other, non-voluntary situation can absolutely destroy your progress in the course.

        The courses that tend to be like this are usually the smaller ones (not the 200 people in an auditorium ones). Way back when I was in school you could actually, y'know, talk to the prof if you missed a lecture or two due to illness. And they usually knew whether you were an attentive student or one who just showed up twice a week. And guess
      • by juushin (632556)
        You know, I think you are wrong. It isn't laziness, it is greed. I found this story disturbing because apparently this guy has forgotten that his JOB is to educate students (especially in an area such as English, where, let's be honest, your research is going to have very little impact on society). I am going to email this guy now. let's flood his inbox
    • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75 AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:58PM (#16100690)
      What a wonderful way to reward laziness. And hey, while you're at it, pad your pockets through your podcast? Ridiculous.

      I see someone's apparently never been to college.

      What happens when a family member takes ill or dies? What happens if you get sick? Or break your leg? Or (as I did a couple months ago) suffer a spontaneous lung collapse?

      If you're working, you call in sick, go on leave if necessary, go back to work when you can and no harm done.

      In college, you miss a class and in some cases, you fail the course. It doesn't matter why you missed it; if you don't know the material, you have no hope of passing. You have now wasted potentially thousands of dollars, several months worth of your time and have a permanent black mark on your record, which will affect your later job prospects. All because you might have been walking down the street one day and slipped on the sidewalk.

      I went to college; obviously, I know there are days when kids just don't feel like going to class. But you know what? There are days when 40-year-olds don't feel like going to work either. The difference is, most white-collar workers can call in sick, take a personal day or vacation day. (In fact, personal days and vacation days are *intended* to reward "laziness" as you put it - people need downtime.) College students officially get no unscheduled days off, for any reason. (Some professors are more relaxed than others, but my university had no such thing as "sick days". And anyway, if you miss important material, there's no hope of passing final exams.)

      And just in case you're still sitting in judgment of college students' "laziness", consider the fact that many college students have classes six days a week, year round, from 8AM to 10PM, and on the off day they're doing homework. This was the way my student life was at NYU. My last 2 years, I got about 3 hours of sleep every single night, and some nights I got none. You're going to judge somebody even if they do just feel like taking a day off now and then?

      These kids are ungrateful jerks for complaining over $2.50, though. I would have given my left nut for the chance to pay $2.50 for a missed lecture when I was in college. No such technology even existed back then to do so (unless the prof. wanted to spend all his off hours making analog cassette copies for his students).
  • To whomever thinks the pricing is outrageous... it should dawn on you that the alternative is NO SERVICE for NOTHING. Those are the two alternatives and the only two. Now which would you prefer: The option of purchasing non-required lecture notes or no option at all. That's what I thought.
    • NO SERVICE for NOTHING

      Not only that, but folks tend to miss that it's not prof's ``job'' to make these things available online---profs don't get -paid- to do that. It's also not something he creates during class time (I can't imagine him creating digital class notes -during- the class).

      Charging for such things doens't sound right though... I wouldn't do it.
    • Here's the "vital point" you seem to be missing: lots of other profs give away lecture notes etc. for free. Sure, in most cases it isn't an audio recording, but depending on how visually-oriented the material is, powerpoint or whatever is probably better anyway. And sometimes, if you get lucky, the professor posts nearly verbatim transcripts [gatech.edu] of all his lectures!

  • by yeoua (86835) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:39PM (#16100585)
    Seems like a good deal. If you don't want to pay extra, just go take the notes yourself... you paid for it already anyway. If you want the stuff for free, just get someone else to record it for you.

    But yes, if he is offering very clear, and clean mp3 versions of his lecture, this could be a non trivial task to make sure the audio is audible, which is what your money would be paying for. This is on top of the lecture. He is isn't required to do this.

    Most other professors have written notes instead... which probably would be more useful than this.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      IF bhis lecture is clean enough to record, then how are the student in class expected to understand the class?

      what next, charging me for the ink he used to print out his lecture?

    • by strider44 (650833)
      The problem is that they're already paying the lecturer to teach them. In my opinion the lecturer should try to do as much as he can to teach his/her students not take the opportunity to charge even more money.
  • Yeah, until... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:40PM (#16100589)
    He starts racing through lectures and writes equations on the board faster than students can copy them, because "if they keep catch up, that can always buy the video."
    • Holy crap, I just watched the Borat trailer http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox/borat/ [apple.com] and I'm already talking like him!

      I meant to say, "if they can't keep up, they can always watch the video."

    • Re:Yeah, until... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Propaganda13 (312548) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @09:33PM (#16100859)
      I remember just having to buy a "book" for a class. This book was just the professor's notes and slides bound together. I never took a note in that class, and skipped several because I knew what I was going to miss.

      A coworker is currently taking a math class. Anything drawn on the board is sent in an email to them immediately after class for no fee. He doesn't take notes either.

      While this trend frees you from fantically scribbling, making mistakes, etc., it has its negatives too. Actually writing notes has been proven to help remember information better than just reading the same information. Personally, my attention drifted away from the course material more when I did not have to take notes.
  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:40PM (#16100594)
    I can see students getting together to buy them all for study purposes and then bundling them all together to either sell to people taking the class next semester or more than likely just sharing them all. Before long the professor is easily found on file sharing networks.

      Information does want to be free after all.
  • I missed my Stats class at NCSU last night :( I'd gladly pay $1.50 to get that lecture.
  • i think this is a really good idea..

    1. it will probably keep some kids who don't feel like being in class out -- this will help those who do want to participate
    2. it is good for studying for finals, or finding some obscure point you missed in class
    3. it is good for when you just can't make it to class for whatever reason -- WAY better than copying notes off some other person in class, who probably has even worse handwriting than you do
    4. ???
    5. Profit!
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:44PM (#16100617) Homepage
    Is banned in my classroom as is all other electronic devices except for ADA needs. I don't post the notes and I don't post the powerpoints. Why? Well, there is a direct correlation between bad grades and lack of attendance of lectures even if the notes and powerpoints are posted. I also found out that a teacher at another university was using my powerpoints with out attribution as his own work. AND what I say in class is my intellectual property. AND I don't want the David Hershowitz brown shirts holding the odd joke about US foreign policy during the Eisenhower era against me (actually happened).
    • by Mikey-San (582838) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:59PM (#16100695) Homepage Journal
      AND what I say in class is my intellectual property.

      You'd better stop your students from, uh, using your "intellectual property" in real life, then. That's valuable money you're losing by teaching students your knowledge.

      Are your students not allowed to talk to people about what you say, as well?

      You should make them license this special "intellectual property" when they go to work and use what you've taught them. I mean, it's not like there are other people teaching the same things out of the same reference material or anything.

      For fuck's sake, are teachers really starting to call their lessons "intellectual property"?
      • "You'd better stop your students from, uh, using your "intellectual property" in real life, then. That's valuable money you're losing by teaching students your knowledge.

        Are your students not allowed to talk to people about what you say, as well?

        You should make them license this special "intellectual property" when they go to work and use what you've taught them. I mean, it's not like there are other people teaching the same things out of the same reference material or anything.

        For fuck's sake, are teachers
      • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@nOsPaM.chromablue.net> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @09:26PM (#16100822)
        For fuck's sake, are teachers really starting to call their lessons "intellectual property"?

        Only those who live in their ivory tower / have delusions of grandeur, like the GP seems to have.

        Somewhere along the lines, he seems to have forgot that his salary is his compensation for dispensing his knowledge.

      • You clearly have never taught anything. Even if it's something you know inside and out, preparing lectures and course materials takes a fair amount of time and effort.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172) *
          You clearly have never taught anything.

          I have taught.

          . . .preparing lectures and course materials takes a fair amount of time and effort.

          However, I always had the impression that that's what I got paid for. My students are clients.

          KFG
      • by AhtirTano (638534)

        You'd better stop your students from, uh, using your "intellectual property" in real life, then. That's valuable money you're losing by teaching students your knowledge.

        The professor's lectures, slides, etc. are just like a textbook. The knowledge taught by them is free to anyone to disseminate. The presentation of the material is copyright of the professor and cannot be used without at least acknowledgment of the source, preferably with permission. (Fair use meets basic politeness.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)

      Why? Well, there is a direct correlation between bad grades and lack of attendance of lectures even if the notes and powerpoints are posted.

      "Direct correlation" means that those with lower attendance *tend to* have lower grades. There are a lot of variables here, including teacher's ability, course content, and student's learning abilities. I've noticed that in my classes there is a direct correlation between whether or not you are caucasian and whether you make it to university, but you don't see us ban

    • by Landaras (159892) <neil AT wehneman DOT com> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @09:52PM (#16100973) Homepage
      Initial Disclaimer: IANAL but I am a law student who will practice copyright / technology law

      With all due respect, I disagree strongly with your comment.

      You said...

      and what I say in class is my intellectual property

      Repeat after me: copyright is not an absolute right.

      Go ahead, repeat it: copyright is not an absolute right.

      There is something called Fair Use [copyright.gov]. I should know, as I rely upon it when creating my podcast, [shameless plug] Life of a Law Student [lifeofalawstudent.com]. In LoaLS I build upon my notes from the lectures I took part in at law school to create audio episodes explaining the cases and the law. I then make these episodes available, for free, to anyone who wants to listen and/or download. They are licensed as CC-Attribution and GNU FDL to enable others to build upon them freely.

      Out of respect, I informed my profs and the administration what I was planning on doing before I started. Most thought it was a great idea or at least would not stand in my way. Unfortunately, I had one of my professors tell me that he only gave permission for his students to take notes for their own personal use, and so he wouldn't allow me to do LoaLS off of his class. I politely told him I wasn't seeking his permission because my Use was a Fair one and thanked him for his time.

      Fair Use has four articulated prongs (although there are potentially more factors to balance).
      1. First, what is the nature of the new work? Is it transformative or merely derivative; is it educational and noncommercial or commercial?
      2. Second, what is the amount of the old work re-used?
      3. Third, is the old work largely creative or largely fact-based?
      4. Fourth, what is the impact by the new work on the market for the old work? The first and fourth prongs are given considerably more weight than the second and third prongs.

      Let's consider a student setting up a tape recorder and simply recording your lectures. (We'll set aside any Honor Code violations that explicitly give you the right to ban taping; we'll only deal with your "intellectual property" right.)

      1. First, if the students aren't selling the recordings and using the recordings to help themselves and others learn, prong one cuts in their favor. Also, they're transforming your ephemeral audio into more durable format, so prong one further cuts in their favor under the transformative question.
      2. Secondly, although they may be taping the whole old work and prong two cuts against a finding of Fair Use, this is only one prong and a less important one at that.
      3. Third, your lecture is likely primarily fact-driven, so the third prong cuts in favor of finding Fair Use.
      4. Finally, you're most likely not selling your existing lectures in a recorded format. You may be selling your lectures via tuition at the University, but so long as these tapes are not serving as a substitute for the University experience and/or degree, you're not being harmed. (On the contrary, I've had many people tell me they decided to go to law school because of LoaLS, because it de-mystified what law school was. In this way I'm helping the market for my law school professors, and so your hypothetical recording students could be helping the market for your copyrighted works.)

      In summary, a student would likely have a legal right to record your lectures under Fair Use because three of the four prongs (and both of the important ones) would cut in their favor. If you would like make your lectures available for sale or distribution that might change the analysis. But the key thing is to disabuse yourself of this notion that your "intellectual property" is an absolute. Fair Use is explicitly codified in the Copyright Act because it is recognized that oftentimes the incu

    • by rm999 (775449)
      "Well, there is a direct correlation between bad grades and lack of attendance of lectures even if the notes and powerpoints are posted."

      I have found a direct correlation between teachers who don't do everything they can to help their students learn information and bad teachers. The old excuse that they should be in class and paying attention doesn't apply to everyone for various reasons. Your job is to teach, not to hold your students' hands or teach them some sort of life lesson in paying attention to you
    • AND what I say in class is my intellectual property.

      What a shitty attitude for someone who claims to be a teacher to have! I'm sure as Hell glad I don't have dumbasses like you teaching me!

      So, what do you teach, anyway? How to be good little digital serfs, I bet! Asshole. It's people like you that cause so many of the problems we have today...

    • by Petrushka (815171) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:14PM (#16101324)

      I understand what you're saying -- I'm a university lecturer too -- but it is a two-edged axe. On the one hand, I agree that it feels awful when someone pinches your work and doesn't even attribute it to you. On the other hand, when I write an article, I want people to read it. I don't want it to be reserved for just a privileged few who have the good fortune to be at rich universities with well-endowed libraries. I don't see a lecture as something qualitatively different.

      If you'd care to try it, I find that slapping a CC licence on my lecture notes does wonders for my peace of mind. The same things go on, but suddenly it's no longer "theft": suddenly it's ethical and above board. ... and down goes the blood pressure.

  • Another attempt to leech money from students.

    When I went to school, I could get a copy of any lectures notes just by asking the professor.

    It also presents a conflict of interest. It is not in their interest to present the lecture in a clear manner.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @08:52PM (#16100668)
    The Professor did this as a way to help those that missed class, didn't take good notes, or from another country and have trouble understanding an English speaking Professor.

    Great idea! A better idea would be if the non-English-speaking professors would do the same thing, so that English-speaking students have a way of understanding their lectures.

    Seriously: I had to drop a class once because I couldn't understand a word the Vietnamese professor spoke.
  • At many schools materials produced for classes like handouts, tests, etc are property of the department, not the professor. Perhaps the professor doesn't have the right to sell his lectures.

    My friend tried to start a business reproducing old tests for study guides. He had the ok from the professors who wrote the tests, but the school demanded such a large cut of the revenue that it wasn't worth his time.

    Basically it's like a musician selling his songs on the side and not through his record label.
  • MIT's OpenCourseWare (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pasquina (980638)
    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned MIT's Open Courseware program (ocw.mit.edu). The goal is to have every class available online, and many have taped lectures for free, for anyone to see, not just students. I had a horrible differential equations professor, so I watched the OCW lectures from the previous term. It sure beat walking to class in the cold.
  • Just kidding...

    From TFA:
    Since the site was created, five students have purchased lectures.

    If you are in his class I'm sure you already have put in your share of the $12.50 that was used to get one master copy of each of the first five lectures.

  • CHEAPER!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abscissa (136568) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @09:18PM (#16100777)
    Why has nobody pointed out that the $2.50 is FAR FAR CHEAPER than the tuition money the students are paying for the original lecture in the first place??
    • Students probably pay upwards of $100/hour of classroom instruction. $2.50 is the biggest bargain on campus!
    • ... didn't come out of YOUR pocket. Seriously, I went to a school populated by far too many rich kids where the cost per year was about $40,000, many kids had a monthly wire from home for $1,000 for "walking around money", and one student got $9k of Neiman-Marcus furniture for an apartment she lived in for a whole year. And when a particular department charged $5/semester for copy fees for the daily worksheets there were howls of protest. That, after all, competes with beer money, in a way tuition charge
  • I read a lot of replies saying "Professors give out lecture notes, so they should give the recordings away for free, as well."

    Maybe things have changed since I was in college ten years ago, but it used to be that *some* of my professors gave away lecture notes, or put them online, and some did not. Some only put up problem set solutions, and some had every paper given in class away online. Some refused to put anything online, except the syllabus. /. readers seem to be saying that lecture notes are a right t
    • by SEAL (88488)
      They then make the jump that if they are ENTITLED to lecture notes, they are ENTITLED to free recordings of the lectures.

      You completely lose me on either one of those jumps.


      Have you looked at the cost of tuition at most four-year universities in the U.S., lately? A professor is a paid employee of those universities. He shouldn't be creating a little side business while he's doing his job.

      From the article blurb: Quote Dr. Schrag "Your tuition buys you access to the lectures in the classroom. If you want to
  • That's a pretty good bargain; $2.50 is less than the going rate I used to pay to have people attend boring classes for me and take notes. I think two slices and a soda was my average trade. As this was tech school, in many cases the instructors lack of ability to explain the material (these men were paid to get research grants, not explain things to students) meant that actually attending the lectures would leave one more confused than had you missed it and just read the book instead. Still needed somebo
  • having videos of the lectures are a great idea, but I think he should try to get the university to pay for it instead of the students. non-native english speakers or students who get sick and can't attend lecture shouldn't be penalized. you only need to pay for the video equipment once, and in terms of the extra time it takes to make the videos, having the videos online will probably save him the time of answering many questions that students have later that could be answered by simply re-watching the lec
  • Pay for it? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Apotekaren (904220)
    For example, my professor records his lectures in Organization and Management digitally. Half the
    course runs online, and half is lectures. So he offers his lectures online through the same service
    that we get the online tasks through. For free. I'd never pay for something I had paid for before,
    or something the government paid for me(this applies in my case). Putting it online is not a hassle
    worth $1 per download. Our University allows him to do it on his personal(but university) webspace,
    with unlimit
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @09:50PM (#16100968)
    If he wanted to "help those that missed class, didn't take good notes, or from another country and have trouble understanding an English speaking Professor" he'd make them free. (This is assuming that everyone he's selling these lectures to is a student at the college he works at. I could easily see him selling the lectures to people not enrolled at the college)

    I'm surprised he's actually allowed to do this with lectures he gives at the college. Sure, he gives the lecture, but who pays for the lecture hall, the seats, and his payroll? One could make the valid argument that he's being paid to give these lectures and no one is forcing him to record them (so it wouldn't cost him anything if he wasn't allowed to sell the tapes), so they must be free.

    There are a lot of professors that record their lectures and make them freely available to help their students, this guy just seems to be trying to make a quick buck.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HappyEngineer (888000)

      There are a lot of professors that record their lectures and make them freely available to help their students, this guy just seems to be trying to make a quick buck.

      The beautiful thing about capitalism is that one person can benefit from the self interested greed of another. That's why it works so well.

      If he is only interested in making a quick buck then preventing him from charging will just mean that he won't do it at all.

      The only reasonable alternative is to have the university pay him the $2.50

  • Wow, on top of the astonishing tuition fees poor USians already pay? I have audio & transcripts available online for every subject I take at university, which is great, as I can actually listen to the lectures instead of madly scribbling down what I can. Teachers who use PowerPoint for their lectures generally make the ppt files available to students by request, if they missed a lecture and wanted to listen to the lecture, while watching the presentation.

    $2.50 is $2.50 too much, and as for the poor, pu

  • Who gets the fee? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @10:09PM (#16101056)
    Excuse, me, but who gets the fee for the lecture, the professor or the university? The students are paying tuition to be provided an education that fufills the requirements of course xyz (his argument that the student's tuition gets them the lecture in the classroom is bogus -- tuition is more than just his classroom time - otherwise, shouldn't distance classes and classes taught by a TA be less than those taught by a professor?).

    Therefore, the lecture is already being provided to the students as part of the contract for taking and paying for the course. The ability to download said lecture is the same content, just in a different format.

    I am assuming that it is the professor who is collecting the fee, but then that raises the question of whether he is producing said downloadable lecture using university equipment (recorder, internet, web server, etc.) and on university time or not. If he is deriving income from the download, then wouldn't that be using university resources for personal use?

    Also, the question of $2.50 a lecture seems steep. Maybe not for one, but a 13 week class at 3 classes a week comes out to be 39 lectures or $97.50. It doesn't take too many students before the professor makes a nice little income on the side. If the professor teaches three classes with three sections each, well, that's a nice supplement to his income each semester.

    Maybe not only the university should look into the use of school property for personal gain, but maybe the IRS should look into reportable income.
  • Bastard (Score:2, Troll)

    by DoorFrame (22108)
    What, is he going to start charging for showing up at office hours too? He's a jackass. You shouldn't be charging for class materials when that money's just going into his own pocket. If the school were charging it would still be annoying, but not awful. THIS, however, is awful.
  • Conflict of interest (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @10:46PM (#16101216) Homepage

    Well, first of all, this is a state school, and the professor is a Government employee. So state conflict of interest laws apply.

    First, North Carolina State University permits faculty to own copyright in instructional materials: "NC State does not, however, claim ownership of faculty-created instructional materials or courseware merely because it requires faculty members to teach courses as part of their regular responsibilities."

    However, the department has the option of taking title to such "Directed Works": "Directed works also include works created by faculty or staff in an institute, center, department, or other unit that, with approval of the Provost, has adopted rules providing that copyright in materials prepared by such faculty or staff in the course of their work with that unit vests in NC State and not in its creator. NC State holds copyright to Directed Works."

    However, see Conflicts of Interest and Committment Affecting Faculty and Non-Faculty EPA Employees [northcarolina.edu]. "Activities requiring disclosure for administrative review ... An EPA employee requiring students to purchase the textbook or related instructional materials of the employee or members of his or her immediate family, which produces compensation for the employee or family member."

    Provided that the professor made the proper disclosures and those disclosures are in his personnel file, he's probably OK. The university has the option of taking over this business from the individual faculty.

    Policies vary with the school. The University of Michigan permits commercial note-taking services but prohibits faculty from selling notes. [umich.edu] (This resulted in a note-taking startup, Versity.com, which was acquired by CollegeClub.com, which dumped the note-taking business to focus on entertainment content.) Yale is at the other extreme; they let faculty control their content. That's what you'd expect; state schools have to be much more careful about conflict of interest issues.

  • by McLuhanesque (176628) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:28PM (#16101383) Homepage
    In the course that I teach, and have taught, I make my lecture notes and powerpoints available for downloading by all my students. I tell them that I don't want them to necessarily be taking copious notes, but rather to be experiencing the learning that is embodied by the in-class experience. Later, they can download the notes and reflect on the combination of the text and the experience.

    I have had one or two students in the past that, despite my warnings in the very first class, chose to avoid the seminars and just download the notes. Invariably, they fail the course miserably, since they literally miss half the material - the experiential half - despite the fact that the text that is performed is the text that is downloaded.

    A good prof will create a sufficiently engaging and useful experience in the classroom so that the students will do whatever they can to not miss the class.

    (As an aside, relative to the "it's my intellectual property" thread, I make all of my materials on applied media theory freely available on request to any professor anywhere in the world who wants to use them under an appropriate CC license. Yes, it's material that I have evolved and developed over years. Yes, it represents a considerable amount of work and scholarship. And yes, it enables me to influence and touch so many more students than I could ever hope to reach directly. In return, I achieve recognition and reputation that are among the important currencies of the academy. Doing so also results in invitations for paying gigs in various cool places around the world.)
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:24AM (#16102019) Homepage
    I wish some of my professors would have done this. Sometimes it would be because I missed a class, but mostly it would be because I would have an easier time demanding that the professor's lectures be coherent. I took many courses where the lectures were incomprehensible, but most people still passed because the professor was too lazy to make unique exams, so people just memorized the exam questions from previous years. (And most seemed to be happy about that, and complained about the professors who actually taught useful information and expected their students to understand it. Fricking children.)
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:41AM (#16104336) Journal
    I'm not saying that he should or should not offer audio of his lecture for an additional fee, but for the price, it's a steal.

    Let's say he records the lecture digitally (say, with his ipod he already owned) so that he has to do minimal post processing of the lecture, and the initial investment in equipment is near-zero. Now, if he were to screen the content and make minor edits to clean up the file, you might expect him to spend 30 minutes on a 1.5 hour lecture. I'm assuming he's pretty efficient here, as the last time I recorded a book to CD for my daugter, it took about 20 minutes to combine and clean a book that finished at 7 minutes of audio (I Wish That I Had Duck Feet, if you must know). So 30 minutes to quick-review and prep, another 5 to upload. If he gets 80% of the cost of the product after processing fees and such, that's $2/purchase. Now, if you had to hire a professor at rack rates, you'd be looking at about $150-$350/hr, depending on the purpose (research vs expert witness) and the efficiency of the school's financial system (many have well over 200% overhead).

    So for a typical lecture, this guy would would need to sell $200/hr x 35 min / $2 = 58 copies to break even on a "fee for service" basis. Maybe he's got some big lecture classes, but most classes above the freshman or sophomore level rarely have that many students total. I'd say, aside from the ehtical issues, $2.50 is a bargain.

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