OneClass is cancelled Uploading course content to external sites violates academic integrity

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After the University of Waterloo caught wind of students receiving emails from OneClass — a website that aggregates academic material — inviting students to upload lecture and to gain access to notes and study guides, the university sent out a message to students warning them against sending out information. Students received a message on Learn regarding sharing intellectual property with external sources Dec. 13.

In order to maintain the academic integrity of all students, the University of Waterloo has created guidelines regarding the uploading of university course content onto external sites.

“Please do not send any information to OneClass in any form and avoid using it completely, as sharing these types of things is a violation of the University of Waterloo’s Intellectual Property policy,” the message read. UW recently sent a cease and desist order to OneClass and is working on putting a stop to their activities on campus.

As outlined on the university’s official guidelines on external organizations, the most relevant policies are 71 and 73. Policy 71 addresses student discipline and lists academic integrity as an institutional value, and Policy 73 regards intellectual property rights, stating that property rights remain with the creators, not the institution.

The Office of Academic Integrity was created to support the promotion of academic integrity across the institution and ensures that all parties have access to resources required to make decisions aligned with academic integrity.

The University of Waterloo’s 2013 Strategic Plan also reaffirms the commitment to protecting the intellectual property rights of creators/owners and promoting integrity as a core value of the campus community.

According to the guidelines, UW only affiliates with external organizations that meet certain criteria. Specifically, the practices must be consistent with Policy 71, a contractual arrangement must have been set before commercialization of any course materials, and there should be an effective process identifying the creator/owner of intellectual property in order to ensure the correct party is entering into a contractual arrangement. There must also be effective processes in place to proactively identify copyright violations and take appropriate actions, and it is noted that the organization does not rely on the creator/owners of the intellectual property to assert their rights before removing materials from their repositories.

Furthermore, any external organizations should affirm that effective processes are in place to identify individuals who have submitted materials without permission.According to Amanda McKenzie, director of quality assurance, in regards to academic programs, the “secretariat is the keeper of guidelines,” and changes made through them are posted online to increase awareness. These changes were made in the summer of 2016.

“Associate deans are responsible for their instructors to be aware they manage Policy 71, which relates to academic integrity,”  McKenzie said.

To raise awareness, the university has posted to the Daily Bulletin to promote guidelines, and included the changes in course syllabi.

The university also uses digital slides on campus screens and in the libraries to educate students.

Students should be aware of Policy 73, to “[protect] people’s property,” McKenzie said, and they “[should not] share [course content] without permission.”

Speaking on the possible consequences for students who continue to post to external sources, associate deans of each faculty would have to explore repercussions under Policy 71.

“It is situational and depends on content being posted and the student’s history,” Mckenzie said.

Actions against external organizations may include not permitting the organization to host events on university property, not permitting them to participate in university activities, and not permitting them to participate in on-campus job postings or recruiting activities, as well as not recognizing work experience gained at these organizations for work term credit.

Students are expected to remain aware that intellectual property, such as lecture content (spoken and written), lecture handouts, presentations, and other materials prepared for the course, questions or solutions sets from various types of assessments, and copyrighted work is to enhance educational experience and not to be distributed.

For you as student:

Do:

Inform the owner of the intellectual property that their work is being circulated

Ask for permission before distributing intellectual propertsy

Ask for permission before recording lectures

Don’t:

Distribute intellectual property in person or online without permission from the owner or creator

Post to sites such as OneClass

Associate with external organizations for work experience

  • Lecture notes have always been shared, even before the internet.
    As far as entities profiting from it, the music industry has already gone through this issue and I think universities would do well to take some lessons from them.