This morning I was sitting in a session discussing the morality and ethics related to data and artificial intelligence. The question came up who really owns the data instructors put into D2L. While the presenter claimed D2L owns it, every meeting I’ve attended D2L says they are the caretaker and we own the data. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t have access to the official contracts, but I have no reason to believe this is not true.
So, who is the ‘we’ that does own the data? It’s not the instructor or the college, but most of the time, it’s the State Board of Colorado Community Colleges. The justification as I know it is, the board pays for the platform (D2L) as well as the labor (instructors, course designers, administrators, etc.) and thus they get to own the content, unless we are licensing the content from another source. Those other sources could be publishers or even OER creators.
So, how often does this even come up? In my 10 years in eLearning, it’s only come up a handful of times. We had one instructor who came from a field where they brought some of their own work and wanted to show students as part of the course. We advised them that it would be a good idea to link to the material instead of loading to D2L and making it clear this was something they had produced outside of their PPCC contract.
Another time, I had done a course design project. One of the instructors for the department took a job for an outside company and used my design for that company. Since I technically don’t own the design, the state board does, it was up to them whether or not to take action. I’ll admit, though, it did hurt to have someone take your work and claim as their own.
We have had a few instructors over the years publish a book that PPCC later adopted, including the online resources. The process pretty complex and is published in the Educational Procedures.
In short, it’s important to know that you, the instructor, does not own the content in D2L. If you need to own that content, it’s critical you get in touch with your division along with HR.