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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.