Professor Tries To Sell His Lectures Online For Those Who Miss Class

from the one-idea dept

While it's become quite common these days for professors to put recordings of their lectures online for students who missed class, one professor at North Carolina State decided that if the students were going to miss class, they might as well pay. John points us to the story of Dr. Robert Schrag who has been told to stop selling his lectures online, while the new department dean decides if it's okay or not. The professor had uploaded the lectures to an independent music site that charges for downloads, though he claims he's not profiting from any downloads. What's most interesting, though, is the idea that the school administrators aren't sure they like the idea (though, it's not clear if they'd prefer him to give away the audio tracks, or not offer them at all).


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    claire rand, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 2:37am

    good idea

    Oh I can see why the school doesn't like it.. they are not profiting and they didn't think of it first.

    Actually I think this is a very good idea, frankly the 'lecture' portion of the course is a small part, its the tutorial support thats worth the cash, so let anyone who wants them get the lectures (and why not charge a small fee?)

    if it was common it could be a good way to see if a course was worthwhile or not too.

    kudos to the guy for trying it.

    but then what do I know.. 30kbps mp3s and all.. :-p

     

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  2.  
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    PaulM, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 3:17am

    RTFA - he previously had permission

    "Schrag had approval from the previous administration and hopes to get the service back online soon."

     

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  3.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 18th, 2006 @ 3:27am

    Re: RTFA - he previously had permission

    Your point being? He did previously have permission, but he no longer does.

     

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  4.  
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    Thurmand, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 3:38am

    Obsolete Professors

    ...bad news for all professors & teachers -- because it highlights their basic scam.

    Why pay teachers to endlessly repeat their classroom lectures/presentations every semester ... to new groups of students ? (.. or force students to sit thru them?)

    Record the teachers' standard 'presentation' in some form
    (print, audio, video, etc) and give it to the students.

    Any words that a professor/teacher can ever utter in a classroom
    can be easily recorded -- the 'in-person/face-to-face' classroom
    format is a very old & unnecessary format now.

    Well-edited recordings are better substitutes for 90% of standard classroom presentations... right thru college graduation.

    But then we would need much fewer pompous pedagogues --
    Bonus!

     

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  5.  
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    ScytheNoire, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 3:45am

    ha...

    i do like that idea, just make the professors obsolete. maybe they can go get a real job out there in the real world. :P

     

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  6.  
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    Dane, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:01am

    Making them obsolete

    That's not one of the best ideas I've ever read. I think that the most valuable part of any course is the expert running it. A lecturer is at his/her most valuable when the class starts asking questions and (s)he can then clarify issues. I suspect that there are too few good professors because all the potential ones go out and get jobs in the "real" world. And if you think that academia isn't real enough then try and remember that there's more to it than just teaching -- there's a lot of research that goes on that most undergrads are never even aware of.

     

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  7.  
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    SortaLikeJake, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:17am

    Such sharp academic minds here...

    ...I'm guessing that many of the "get rid of the professor" people didn't do so well in college.

    Despite what may believe, information relative to any particular subject changes over time. Besides, you can't direct comments to nor ask a recording to clarify a point.

     

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  8.  
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    hoeppner, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:31am

    haveing a machine as the sole teaching device is a very bad idea. also part of school is socializing, and that includes people not your age, and in college possiably meeting the teachers that were part of the industry.

    though this could possiably be part of some minor classes i guess for MUCH cheaper

    PS. i plan to get into IT so if i realize how bad it could be it shouldn't be too difficult for others too.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:34am

    Record the lecture ...

    It depends on the course - and it's NOT a new idea.

    I took a basic Astronomy course for a science requirement. There were 500 people in the course and it was in a lecture hall. It could have been easily recorded - and would have probably been much more interesting as I couldn't see the professor's face very well any way. There certainly weren't any opportunities for questions anyway.

    Anyone who's taken courses online knows how interactive some classrooms can be - with discussion groups and chances for questions and answers. Some lectures could easily accomodate this format.

    I took a Mid-East politics class that WAS a recording - I had to go to the library and watch the class and then there was scheduled time with the Professor to go by their office during the week for questions etc. (this was before the Internet and wide spread use of email).

    However, other classes - more specialized and much more intimate would suffer from recording. These classses or seminars are much more discussion driven and are typically very small - say 10-12 students and everyone sits together in a discussion group and the discussions flow freely guided by the Professor.

    I suspect what the University was more concerned about was liability issues, lack of the University controlling the content of the course and not having edited the content, and possibly losing a revenue generating opportunity.

     

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  10.  
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    Ian, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:36am

    Re: Such sharp academic minds here...

    or have yet to attend college.

    Having expereinced both classroom and "non-interactive" learning I would not recommend removing the personal interaction. Some of the best classes are the ones where the lecture is very little but the discussion that it creates is where the bulk of actual understanding comes from.

     

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  11.  
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    MEoip, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:04am

    Scam

    This is only a variation on the scam where I recorded lectures and sold them to my fellow students who missed class (or the over achievers who wanted a jump start for next years classes). Some I would bundle with the professors power point slides (freely available on the network) and charge an extra fee. I had quite the collection of lectures but was doomed by the mass change of text books one semester. Curse my antiquated lecture collection.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:19am

    Dyslexics and the blind...

    have been recording lectures for yeas. Now they have a way to make money form them.

     

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  13.  
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    Matthew, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:31am

    Turn back now


    by hoeppner on Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:31am
    haveing a machine as the sole teaching device is a very bad idea. also part of school is socializing, and that includes people not your age, and in college possiably meeting the teachers that were part of the industry.

    though this could possiably be part of some minor classes i guess for MUCH cheaper

    PS. i plan to get into IT so if i realize how bad it could be it shouldn't be too difficult for others too.


    If you are planning to get into IT at this point you better have a couple back up plans. The IT industry is heavily saturated by people that believe it is all just fun and games. Back in the day before bosses knew what a keyboard was this may have been true, but now it is all over-expectations and dreams of magical valleys where there is no such thing as virii or spam or DMCA.

    Damn you Sarbanes-Oxley!
    DAMN YOU ENRON!!

    Ahem. On topic for a moment: Professors have their place in the world and they are not obsolete. Recordings cannot convey or adapt to the invidual, and students can't sleep with them for better grades. Besides, the last thing we need is for Hollywood to come in teaching teachers how to act to increase their revenue by making presentations more theatrical!

    Now if you'll excuse me I'm missing the Quake tourney.

     

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  14.  
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    PinkyNarf, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:32am

    Missed the Boat

    It appears you all missed the boat on this one.

    Come on, the school is struggling with the idea that if the courses are posted online.. even for a fee, students and potential students may just take the course online and never come into class. They are concerned about loosing revenue... and who wouldn't? It's their job! You would be concerned too.

    Now, of course there is the whole thing of having a degree... which would require someone to attend a college in the first place, but many courses are offered completely online... so having a recorded lecture is not a bad thing. My wife has taken several of her classes online and she really enjoys them. She still has the option of driving to the school to meet with the professor is she wants.

    Again, back to the topic. Whether to allow the material to be posted online is a question of "Who's going to benefit from it?". What makes a school great is the professors and the school... what you get out of it. If I could go to Baker College and Listen to Harvard lectures, I would pass my class and have a better education WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY HARVARD. Then everyone would be doing it and we wouldn't need to pay huge dollars for those schools and so on an so forth.. you get the idea.

    If you let it happen, what does the future hold?

     

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  15.  
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    Big Huge Dave, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:42am

    This is the beauty of capitalism

    For some people taking online courses is much more convenient, or pleasant, than having to drive to a campus, or live on a campus, to take a class.

    For others they prefer the traditional methods of classroom instruction.

    The beauty of the free market is that it will adapt to offer choices that people want. Which is why there's such a huge influx of online degrees now, and schools that offer the traditional settings are also learning of new, innovative ways to teach.

    As to the point of this article I really don't care one way or the other if this professor can charge for his lectures. It's up to the school. So whatever you or I think doesn't matter, it's their school and they'll make the final decision. I kinda think his approach is humorous though, but I understand the school's trepidation with this. Some kids will just skip all classes and just buy the lectures, listen to them at their leisure, and go in for the tests. But if they're learning the material then who cares?

     

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  16.  
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    ScytheNoire, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:43am

    wow, a few people are sensitive about a little joking...

     

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  17.  
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    confused?, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:47am

    Ummm...

    Is it just me or is everyone looking over the fact that you already spend $75k + to attend college every year. Why should a student have to pay more for a class they're paying for already?

     

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  18.  
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    Stephen, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:48am

    At most jobs the work you do belongs to the employer. Perhaps the school takes the same view and they were not being compensated?

     

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  19.  
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    hoeppner, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:50am

    yes i'll admit its an attractive future right there, but you're missing out on a few minor things. it might be worth it in some cases, tough i'd still be against classes that are completly online being the majority of someones clases.

    matthew reply:
    only idiots go into ANY industry for fun.

     

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  20.  
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    Beamo, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:59am

    Professor Tries To Sell His Lectures Online

    What's the point of going to class and enjoying the intellectual interaction amongst peers, just stay in the dorm - sleep, party or do whatever then buy the lectures online. Take the exams and hope for the best. It cheapens the educational experience and it's not a very good character builder.

     

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  21.  
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    Savio Rodrigues, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:00am

    MIT has made their classes available on the net fo

    I think it's somewhat silly to charge someone tuition and then charge them to listen to a lecture that they missed. If the professor were charging for non-enrolled students to listen to his lectures, that would be okay.

    But as an fyi, MIT has been delivering much of their courses for free on the net for 2 years or so now. Check it out: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html

     

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  22.  
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    Bob, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:20am

    TAs

    Sadly, when I attented UofK College of Engineering we (in general) had two types of lecturers in class. First, professors who might have been amazing researchers but were definitely horrible lecturers and instructors. Second, teaching assistants who were less knowledgable and rarely better at lecturing or instructing. Even worse, the lamestof professors usually had teaching assistants that didn't speak of word of english. If you had a problem that could be worked out on paper then you could point at it and they could do that for you. If you had any other type of question you were SOL because the professor could never be found.

    There were excellent exceptions of course, but they were few and far between.

    Given my experiencem, I think recorded lectures could be better if they were recorded edited and tweaked. They could replace the professors altogether.

     

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  23.  
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    Steve, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:42am

    seriously people.

    We already pay way too much for school in the first place. Just because some kid misses his lecture doesn't mean some asshole professor should be charging for them to DL it. It's just ridiculous.

     

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  24.  
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    Zwxphtt, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:49am

    Wife

    I record everything I tell my wife. I then post that on line. If my wife misunderstands my instructions or ignores me or sleeps while I'm lecturing here she must go online and pay to download my previous instructions. This works good for me. My wife doesn't mind because she pays no attention to me anyway!

     

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  25.  
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    lexpro, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:00am

    Nothing new under the

    Getting rid of the profs by access to online lectures could as easily be accomplished by anyone who can read...books were the prior technology for broad distribution of thought...but the profs are still with us...so the market is saying that impersonal access to knowledge is inferior to a system of interaction between providor and recipient of knowledge. Also, monopolizing access to knowledge has a long history dating at least to the supression by the Church of printed Bibles and access to learning to read. Monopolists are never willing to give up their ways since by definition they are able to exact a value greater for their offerings than if alternatives were available to the consumers.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:00am

    Re: Obsolete Professors

    Actually my University did try online based courses where the topics were pre-recorded and what not. This was in my opinion by far the most difficuilt course. You spend lots of time trying to understand the interface (it varies per class) and lots of time trying to understand a point in which there is no expert available to interact back and clarify (immediately). I think this is important in the learning process. For students to ask questions and receive clarification, or for students to try and answer some questions during the lectures. Obviously Thurmand went to some crap college or did not ever attend at all.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    lexpro, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    Nothing new under the

    Getting rid of the profs by access to online lectures could as easily be accomplished by anyone who can read...books were the prior technology for broad distribution of thought...but the profs are still with us...so the market is saying that impersonal access to knowledge is inferior to a system of interaction between providor and recipient of knowledge. Also, monopolizing access to knowledge has a long history dating at least to the supression by the Church of printed Bibles and access to learning to read. Monopolists are never willing to give up their ways since by definition they are able to exact a value greater for their offerings than if alternatives were available to the consumers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    lexpro, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    Nothing new under the

    Getting rid of the profs by access to online lectures could as easily be accomplished by anyone who can read...books were the prior technology for broad distribution of thought...but the profs are still with us...so the market is saying that impersonal access to knowledge is inferior to a system of interaction between providor and recipient of knowledge. Also, monopolizing access to knowledge has a long history dating at least to the supression by the Church of printed Bibles and access to learning to read. Monopolists are never willing to give up their ways since by definition they are able to exact a value greater for their offerings than if alternatives were available to the consumers.

     

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  29.  
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    School Boy, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:15am

    I already paid for that lecture

    My only comment about this is that in paying my (over inflated) tuition, I should already be entitled to that lecture even if I missed the class. Am I not paying this professor enough already. It makes me insane the amount of money I already spend on books, classes and supplies, now some jackass thinks he should get paid twice for the same lecture.

    Screw that.

     

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  30.  
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    Me, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:45am

    Re: ha...

    You Sir, are an idiot. Teaching is a difficult profession and the really good teachers are the ones who's advice, guidance, and answers to student questions are worthwhile. To say a professor does not have a real job shows your complete ignorance of the education system. Go back to school.

     

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  31.  
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    ExNihilo, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 8:00am

    Either Way

    If you're skiping the class you obviously don't care about your 25k in tution. But if you're sick or have to miss for other reason i think theres an exception.

    I for one would like them to be free. The more people who slack and watch/listen from home the less people i have to compete with for questions and 1on1 time with the prof.

    The less everyone else works, the eaiser it gets for me.

     

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  32.  
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    Paco, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 8:17am

    Lectures

    When I was in college, the biggest reason why I missed a lecture was because I was too lazy (or hung over) to get my ass out of bed. Very seldom did I have a valid excuse for missing, and this was the same for most of the people that I knew. SO, the students should have made time to go to the class. I think the Profs are smart to charge for their lectures.

    "Those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach, teach college."

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 8:45am

    My First IT Job

    I was recommended to my first software development position BY my Professor. It involved doubling my yearly salary, and reducing my hours at work. Pretty sweet deal, try to get that from a recording...

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 9:04am

    I think its a great Idea.

    besides unless something in the teachers contract say that he cant give class outside the school/uni he is working at then he should be able to sell them independantly.

    but that the educational institutions will not like cause if you can just buy your classes online you wont have to pay for college although you wouldnt get a degree

     

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  35.  
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    XCollegeProf, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 9:08am

    Those who can..

    Ok, I am sick of hearing the cliches promoted by lazy, blame-shifting students. Not all teachers are great. Fewer teachers still will be able to teach in a manner that is most productive for YOU.
    There IS a reason teachers are not all excellent: Almost all Airline Pilots are exceptional: The rationale is the same. There is a great deal of competition for pilots jobs, there isn't for teachers. You really want better Teachers? Quit dissing on the profession. Do your part to make it an attractive carreer, and the worst teachers can start being weeded out by the better teachers coming up.
    If your griping, start recognizing the real problem(yourself), if you want a better education system, quit blaming the teachers, give them compettition.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    S John, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    Podcasting is official in many universities

    The U of Mich School of Dentistry gives students an official way to put the lectures online via ITunes.
    http://www.merit.edu/mn/events/mjts-0605/abstracts.html

    Students can review the lecture at their leisure.

    Biggest use? Reviewing the lectures on the hardest topics.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 10:43am

    School wants money for itself

    The only reason that the school is going to prohibit him from selling his lecture online is that the school isn't getting a cut, say 100%, of the profits.

    This school will do a cost-benefit analysis to see if it can make enough money by selling (really renting) CDs and mp3s/mpegs of the lectures to be worth doing it.

    Many schools already video lectures and charge "remote" students an extra fee above tuition for not using a physical classroom. Then the students have to return the CDs at the end of the semester so they can't sell them to next year's students.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Patrick Hefner, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 1:11pm

    Our view

    We started working with Dr. Schrag in late August. He had this entire process cleared with his attorney and the Dean of Communications at NCSU. The Dean that asked him to stop temporarily is the Dean of Humanities.

    Dr. Schrag is in his legal to do with IP as he sees fit. He chooses to put it up for sale in our store, as opposed to giving it away for free. We've had interest from people that are NOT students at NCSU being able to buy these materials from Dr. Schrag as well.

    I realize that this is annoying to some students who feel they should get it for "free" because they paid tuition, but since Dr. Schrag is the copyright holder, he determines what can be done with his IP. From his point of view, the tuition pays for the "concert" but not the "CD". Another point to remember is that he doesn't require the students to purchase these lectures, as they can always choose to go to class and get what they paid for. I'm 3 years removed from being in college myself, but will 2 dollars and 50 cents really break the bank?

    I'm confident that the University will give him the ok soon.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: ha...

    Indeed teaching is a difficult job. However at the university I went to (and many others like it) there was no teaching whatsoever (at least not done by the paid lecturers).

    In fact that's generally why in school they are called teachers but at uni they are called lecturers....because they lecture at you, not teach you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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