I identify as an innovator. Thankfully, I work for an organization that supports Innovation. In fact, innovation is written all over my workplace – It is right in their vision statement and strategic plan.

Ramdlon / Pixabay

Concurrently there is growing support for open educational resources in Ontario, an innovative concept that has potential to improve learning and move education forward into the next century.

In the midst of this movement conversations need to be had about what faculty are able to share and what remains the intellectual property of the College or faculty member. I’ve been told that the timing for these conversations is not good. It’s true. I can feel the tensions.  

geralt / Pixabay

Some people want to hide and protect their course material. I can understand why the College wants to “own” content so that materials can be passed on to the next teacher.  At the same time, I know when I go above and beyond expectations that I want to “own” my work so I can share it. I am fighting the opposite battle.  I want to share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE. Luckily I am not alone.  I’ve even connected with a fellow open ranger at work!


As an educator I have some great ideas and big ambitions. Unfortunately I feel quite restricted by the current political landscape in the College system. Tensions between the union and management around issues of intellectual property, copyright and academic freedom are evident in day to day conversations at work. These are three separate yet interrelated issues. They need to be discussed and clarified. 

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

My students and I are ready to explore ideas that I feel I can’t talk about until our new collective agreement is signed. Under normal circumstances I feel my organisation would support these ideas. Yet, I’ve been told by someone in management that I should wait for now. The longer we wait to have these conversations the less potential we have to become leaders in innovation like BC campus. That is driving me crazy. I want to be on the cutting edge of this!

Shanon / Pixabay

The students are the ones that are going to miss out this term and it’s unfortunate. By the time I wait for the tensions to dissipate and have the conversations I need to have the term will be over. At the same time, what if my employer says no to my bright idea? Or what if they want to “own” it?

Is this what the union is fighting for? Our right to be innovators without a long approval process for new teaching and learning ideas? Or is the union actually holding us back? 

3dman_eu / Pixabay

Today I can’t help but feel like my own union is holding me back. Maybe that is because I work in what I perceive to be as an innovative and supportive environment.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


Jack Wilson · August 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I read your blog with interest.

At present the college already owns the intellectual property you and your colleagues generate. That has been the case for decades under successive collective agreements.

The union is hoping with this round of bargaining to finally achieve for college faculty the same rights as their counterparts in the universities: ownership of their intellectual property.

My hope is that faculty will support their bargaining team in achieving this goal, and they can do so by giving them a strike mandate on September 14. A strong vote will send a clear message to the Council that intellectual property and academic freedom need to be addressed this round of bargaining.

Jack Wilson
Algonquin College

    NurseKillam · August 28, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Hello Jack,

    I support the need for ownership of intellectual property. The contract discussions are actually harming my ability to do things right now in my College. To me that is problematic, yet I respect the process.

    However, I do not like the language the bargaining team is using to try and get support from members. I scanned the last bulletin and could not even read it. Whoever wrote it sounded to me like an angry teenager. I have colleagues who feel the same. My college is committed to quality education. Therefore it is hard to believe some of the claims in the bulletin I skimmed.

    Laura Killam

      Mona Chevalier · August 30, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Hi Laura,

      I’m curious to know how College management has convinced you that current union demands at the bargaining table prevents you from sharing your creative material. None of what is discussed has any impact until there is a settlement offer that leads to an accepted offer by the members and there is a new collective agreement.

      I will be at the Cambrian local 655 meeting this afternoon and would love to have the opportunity to talk about this issue about this situation.


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