Who Owns Your Brain?

I’ve had a very interesting and scary discussion on Twitter this morning dealing with the ramifications of intellectual property law in education. It began by thinking through student blog portability upon graduation and morphed into questioning the ownership of student created writing on blogs. Bud Hunt @budtheteacher asked the question, “How is it different from an employee leaving a company?”

That’s when the fun began… for me at least. ((And if I knew how, I’d create a Tweet storyline within this post…. but I don’t. Best I could do was to create an Exquisite Tweets storyline- click on ‘discussion’ above. Anyone want to enlighten me?)) I’m living that question right now as I have moved from a district position to private school. You see, I assumed when I spent hours of personal time outside of work learning, creating, and cultivating that the knowledge was mine. When I sketched out ideas, blogged about applications, and networked with other educators, I thought that was me, the individual, not me, the employee. Contractually, my time as an hourly, classified employee started at 8:38a and ended at 4:10p. It honestly never occurred to me that it could possibly be otherwise. And my content here, in this blog, that was written outside of those hours and paid out of my own pocket? It sounds like the district might actually ‘own’ that too, if the issue was ever put to the test since I did not gain written permission to publish under a CC license while in their employ.  It might be different as a classified employee than it is for certified teachers…. I’m not sure.

This issue has less to do with my particular district than it does with the concept of knowledge ownership for educators in general. I’m a huge fan of what they are doing, where they are going, and who they are as people. I didn’t leave mad, and I would hope the door would be open to work for them again in the future. I spent personal time this summer meeting with my replacement and continue to support via email and resource sharing. I do these things because I want to see them succeed. In fact, I made this comment to William Chamberlain @wmchamberlain, who had some great things to share:

I left hard copies of materials I printed at school. I left hard copies of things from my own printer.  I took things I printed at home with my paper and ink. I took my brain. I archived my blog content since it will disappear when the school turns off the WPMU installation. I pulled online links and resources that I used with students (and published online) for my own future reference.

  • Can remixes of other’s work be considered lesson plans?
  • What about collections of links?
  • Can curation of resources be considered Intellectual Property?
  • Do educators own their thesis or project for degrees if they utilize research from their classroom?

It begs the question, “Who owns your brain?”  Do you know? ((Part 2 to follow… “Who owns your student’s brain?”))

One thought on “Who Owns Your Brain?”

  1. Had similar experience… Luckily, my blog was not something I ever shared with them. Will be interesting to hear how this plays out.

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