- Taking into consideration the spread of online education and its founding partnership with MOOC provider Coursera, the University of Pennsylvania Almanac has clarified the institution's conflict of interest policy in regards to new concerns presented by online teaching.
- As with the general conflict of interest policy, the essence of the policy is that the faculty's primary commitment of time and effort is to be dedicated to the university, with advance permission required for any activity that may compete with the university.
- The document goes on to offer analysis for three scenarios in which the policy would come into play, including the development of online, video or audio versions of lectures, development of executive education courses for outside companies and guest lectures recorded for use by faculty at another institution. The document states that only guest lectures recorded for use by students in that class may be given without explicit permission from the university.
- Essentially, the University of Pennsylvania clarified its conflict of interest policy to include online learning as part of the mission of the school, meaning that a professor's online teaching must be part of the school's Coursera offerings or the professor must have explicit permission from the school to take part in an outside online learning project.
From the article:
... In applying the University’s policy, we seek to further the foundational principle that faculty members make a “primary commitment of time and intellectual resources to the academic mission of the University and its functioning as a community.” (Policy I) As faculty members, our primary professional duties are to Penn, and outside professional activities should not conflict with our obligations to our students, colleagues, and the University as a whole. On the other hand, as the University has made online learning a part of its mission, there may be situations that, while not problematic in the past, will raise new concerns. ...