Education is an industry that is undergoing rapid change, especially in the Internet. Where once the intuitions were the focus of the product of education, now the teachers are becoming the product of the colleges and universities.
The Internet is playing a big part in this changing role of education. Until recently, it was generally accepted that the colleges and universities owned anything and everything an instructor created for a class. However that’s changing as a result of the increase in low-cost on-line courses, especially those offered through for profit companies. It’s opened up a whole new industry, and put the issue of teaching IP to the forefront or controversy.
Courses have become “commoditized” and sought as commercial products by on-line distance learning companies, for-profit universities, and publishers. The digitizing of course materials makes it possible (and potentially lucrative)to package courses in mobile formats that is delivered by people other than the original author.
The result is new opportunities for both the instructor (faculty) “authors” and the institutions. Now it’s the quality of the instructors IP that is becoming the value of the education. And that IP is increasingly being recognized as the property of the teachers. The course materials – syllabus, structure, ideas, concepts -everything created by an instructor for a particular course is intellectual property.
These “opportunities” mean that suddenly the bread and butter of the instructor; the syllabus, lecture notes, handouts; are no longer only a focus of the classroom; the course material and it’s ownership are of growing concern to a larger audience.
Colleges and universities are now establishing contracts with instructors detailing who owns the IP rights to the course materials. And that is changing the dynamics of the relationship between teachers and the institutions. Rather than being an employee with tenure at an institution, now teachers are (or is now) building portfolios of IP.
Makes one wonder if at some point in the future, the competition will be for getting the best quality IP courses. Imagine the implications for the education industry. Maybe instead of just paying instructors to teach, the model will change to institutions licensing teachers content. Just think how that would change the dynamics of education.
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges, and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.