Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Professors selling lectures

A professor at NC State has agreed to stop selling his lectures until the university can determine whether it constitutes a conflict of interest:

Robert Schrag, who has taught at North Carolina State since 1980, sold 12 lectures on a Web site called Independent Music Online before he agreed last week to stop. The lectures cost $2.50 each, and Schrag got $1 on each sale.

To my students: why don't I sell you the lectures, a recording of me doing some discussion, and some take home tests, all for the low price of $99.99. I make money, you don't have to come to class, and we don't have to bother with all this education stuff.


Jordan 8:53 AM  

Hmmm...I don't know about $99.00. Maybe there is a more cost-effective approach, for we would still be missing the question and answer setting the classroom provides. Also, it would be difficult to get the same students that pirate music on the internet to actually pay for their lectures.

Nonetheless, I don't understand where the conflict of interest is with that professor selling his own lectures. Isn't that his intellectual property?

Greg Weeks 9:19 AM  

It is, but money changes it. For example, he might give preferential treatment to students who download a lot, because he wants them to keep fattening his wallet.

Jordan 10:26 AM  

I see, but that now makes me wonder how schools like MIT handle professors like Noam Chomsky who sell tons of books.

Greg Weeks 8:07 AM  

Assigning books may have its own issues, but in terms of money there is no differential--everyone only buys one, so preferential treatment won't be a problem.

I also wonder about lectures. If a student has an excused absence, can they get it for free, or do they have to cough up?

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