Is this ethical?
posted almost 10 years ago
A lecturer (a non-tenured, non-tenure track professor) here at UMBC teaches a few classes covering requirements in a few different departments. Rather than setting a textbook for the class, this professor requires their students to purchase a $101 access code to an online course site. This course site has approximately 50 pages of non-peer-reviewed material, and is not published by a major publisher. Additionally, this lecturer posts the class syllabus, assignment information, and informational links within the same system that houses the previously mentioned "textbook" instead of using the University provided BlackBoard system. A student only has access to the course site for the duration of the semester. After the semester, the site is no longer accessible and the End-User License Agreement specifically prohibits copying or printing of the material, so the student cannot sell the "textbook" back to the bookstore, sell or give to another student, or sell using sites like Amazon marketplace or half.com.
This raises a few questions:
The University (via our tuition and tax dollars) spends a lot of money to provide BlackBoard, why is this teacher allowed to force students to pay to use an alternate system?
Is it ethical for a professor to set such a costly text for a class when that text is not actually published or peer reviewed?
Is it ethical for a professor to set a textbook that effectively self-destructs at the end of the semester and is no longer usable for anyone, despite the $101 investment?
Given the excessive cost in relation to the small amount of material provided, it can only be assumed that that the professor in question personally profits from the sale of access codes to the course site for the class; is it ethical for a professor to profit from requiring students to purchase a textbook for a class?
(edited almost 10 years ago)