Should Podcasting Professors Be Paid?

Should professors create podcasts of their lectures for free? Or may they charge for them?

North Carolina State University Professor Robert Shrag, after making about $11 in sales of his lectures in mp3 format, stopped selling lectures online after a Dean raised questions.

Some students feel the recorded lectures should be given to them for free. Afterall, they've already paid their tuition fees, right?

Hmmm.

What if the professor wrote a book. Should that printed book be given away to the students? What about the PDF version?

If a teacher prepares slides or transparencies, may the students just borrow those notes and photocopy them? (When I used to teach, I would allow my students to just photocopy my handouts. No, I did not own nor operate the photocopier.)

IMHO, this is what tuition covers: classroom lectures and interactive learning. What's not covered are those extras such as podcasts. It's up to the professor (who spent the time making those recordings) to decide whether to sell them or not. It's also up to the student to choose not to buy the recordings and just attend the class.

I can almost hear questions that will be raised in the near future:

1. If students are allowed to make notes during class, may they also make an audio recording?
2. What about a video recording?
3. If students share written notes, may they also share mp3 files?

I say allow the professors to create supplementary material and monetize it. Let the market decide whether or not they will buy the product. Who knows? Some students might come up with their own lecture podcasts complete with their own annotations. :-)

As the world becomes increasingly digital and the cost of creating multimedia information products goes down, you'll have more "authors" producing many "infoproducts" to satisfy the needs of small niche markets, rather than coming out with a few mass-appeal blockbusters.

If I were to go back to teaching, I would make my podcasts, videos and PDF lecture notes freely downloadable. And I would use those to make the students want to be in my classroom. Let's face it, there are a lot of things you cannot stuff into a digital file.

[ First posted on 09/20/2006 by Manuel Viloria ]



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