Update #2 – Copy Right and Academic Freedoms

Members should have an understanding about the copyright of the academic materials they develop and their academic freedoms. The following provides information that you should bear in mind about material and lectures you provide.

Course Syllabi and Course Outlines

The syllabus and outline for your courses belong to you. No one may, without your expressed consent, borrow, copy or use material that you alone have developed. As to the books, texts, assignments used in your courses, you are free to accord and determine the parameters for your courses. Perhaps the one exception may involve common sections of courses where a common exam or a common textbook is used. Even here however, you need to have been consulted or provided your consent to having a common text, or a common exam. Courses with common sections rarely represent a problem but do know you are obliged to follow established practices if you “must” use a particular text, or conduct a common exam used for all the sections of the same course.

Other basic information about course syllabi and outlines involves course objectives, required texts, grading criteria, assignments, policy about plagiarism etc. A number of templates exist to provide generic information all course outlines/syllabi should provide your students.

Change of Grades

Only you can determine the grade you accord your students for completed assignments. There are procedures that you should be aware of if a student complains about a grade and rights you have if there is no student complaint but the Department changes your grade anyway.

• Ensure you keep any assignments, exams, etc. that you still possess for at least a one year period from the last date your final exam or, when the course ended; you are well advised to consult the established grading policies particular to your Faculty or Department and as indicated in the University Calendar;

• No one can alter the initial grade you assigned a student;

• Normally a student is encouraged to meet with you first and in fact the Associations recommends that you advise students to contact you should they not be satisfied with their grade. This type of advice can be placed into your course outline as it would be helpful to students; students do have a right to know their strengths and weakness, areas that enhance constructive criticism;

• If you have a Teaching Assistant or Marker, you must give them clear guidelines as to how they should grade and review some of their graded work in order to ensure consistency across your class. When a TA is responsible for the student’s initial grade, the student should meet with them first in order to discuss their results. If they remain unsatisfied with their grade, then they should meet with you. Ultimately, you are responsible for the grade your TA or Marker assigns.
• A grade can only be changed stemming from a decision of a student appeal; here a student sees the Department Chair after they have met with you initially. Normally the Department Chair assigns a re-read of materials to a colleague to establish the grade for a student after reviewing their work. Three possibilities can result from a student appeal for their grade: (1) the grade assigned is maintained (2) the grade assigned is lowered (3) the grade assigned can be raised. Your Department Chair must provide you with the comments about the grade appeal or re-evaluation, the written results of a colleague who has conducted the review, and all relevant documents. Otherwise, no one can simply alter the grade you assigned.

Remember you have the academic freedom to determine what the academic merits are for your course and the grades that you assign. Aside from the results stemming from a formal appeal from a student, no Chair can simply elect to change your grades unless for justifiable and extraordinary reasons.

Filming and Recording of Lectures

Your lectures are governed and protected by copyright laws. No one may film or record your lectures without your permission. In much the same way you are not permitted to copy, record or film some opera performance at Place des Arts, students or the university are not permitted to record or film your lectures. Great care needs to be exercised as the electronic means to alter course lectures that are recorded or filmed puts you and your reputation at some risk. Reasonable exceptions can be made but these are rare, for example: the needs of a challenged or disabled student requiring electronic assistance with your lectures or assignments. Overall though, you must consent to being recorded or filmed. As well, and on quite another important consideration: “the class” or other students have not provided their own permission to be recorded or filmed either.

Photographers, filmmakers, and journalists are well aware of the dangers of recording, filming or broadcasting. Individuals need to sign a waiver providing their consent before they are recorded or filmed. Whether on the street or in a classroom, permission must be obtained to use your “lecture” or your “photo” or your “materials”.

Electronic Courses

Electronic courses provide some challenges but when designed with sound pedagogical standards, and a respect for the copyright of music, film, or other visuals, they can provide creative learning possibilities for students. There are a number of workshops on the use of technology developed by CTLS (Centre for Teaching an Learning Services) to assist you with an array of possibilities to consider. It is also worth checking-out the benefits technology can provide to enhance your courses.

Electronic courses are not without their challenges however. If you develop the course and deliver it, then this needs to be compensated for, recognized, and your copyright protected. Another challenge involves the number of hours taught with the delivery of an electronic course well beyond those normally taught in a traditional course. Given the substantial class size of electronic courses, there are very few consistent or even sustainable policies with the assignment of teaching assistants for these courses. Such difficulties regrettably discourage the development and value of electronic courses.

Please contact the Association with issues you may have in the development or the delivery of electronic courses.

Course Packs

There are a number of university regulations and a policy about Course Packs faculty use for their courses. Your Department can provide you with the information involving Course Packs. Please read the material prepared to orientate you about the Course Pack you develop for your classes. There are two types of Course Packs.

The first involves a Course Pack that contains the work of other authors. Please ensure you are well versed in just how much material from other authors you are allowed to put together. The copyright of other authors or creators needs to be protected and properly acknowledged.

The second type of Course Pack involves your lecture notes, or materials that are entirely your creation. In such an instance, your right to copyright is not only protected, but you are entitled to royalties! Ensure it is all your OWN work. Course Packs that involve all your own materials, much like a book, CD, DVD, for film you have produced cannot be copied or reproduced by others. Your rights to copyright and the royalties you are obliged to receive are protected. For better protection, perhaps rather than placing your own materials on “Moodle”, designing a Course Pack of all your own materials (lecture notes) would afford you a much better protection to safeguard the content of academic materials you alone developed.

Safeguard Copyright and Academic Freedom

The Association hopes the information provided informs you about copyright and academic freedom issues. Should you have any difficulties or further questions, please contact the Association first and before you agree to something that may jeopardise your freedoms or the work you developed.

Maria E. Peluso,
President, CUPFA