Is the Copyright Law Reshaping Distance Education Opportunities in Community Colleges? An Academic Capitalism Perspective

Yoshida, Jason
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2015]
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The purpose of this study was to examine whether distance education activities at two community colleges have followed the revenue-generating pattern of research institutions under the Bayh-Dole Act (1980). The study relied on the academic capitalism framework described by Slaughter and Rhoades (2004) to examine whether the incentives under the Copyright Act (1976), as amended in 1998 and 2002, resulted in institutional policies, networks, and shifts in academy practices that could transform distance education goods and services into marketable assets. My study also sought to identify and examine the economic, political, and social forces that positioned distance education activities at each campus in service of either the public good regime or academic capitalism regime. The evidence suggested that the convergence of these forces in approximately 2008 resulted in record student enrollment that continued through 2012 before appearing to stabilize in 2013. During this period, increased distance education opportunities contributed to higher tuition revenues. In contrast, the predominant attitude shared among faculty and staff was the desire to increase access to instruction through distance education to help prepare a diverse student population for employment in the new economy. As predicted by Slaughter and Rhoades (2004), distance education was an area in higher education where the competing interests represented by the academic capitalist regime and the public good regime would intersect. However, the forces that gave rise to record enrollment did not provide sufficient impetus at either campus to position distance education as an entrepreneurial activity. Although the intersection of the competing interests of the respective regimes seemed to contribute to distance education’s reputation as a quality instructional option, ensuring its permanent role within the entire university system, steps towards institutionally owned distance education assets have only recently been undertaken. First, the National Science Foundation awarded Campus 1 a $5 million grant in 2014 to develop an online pre-engineering curriculum that would be shared with two other community colleges. Second, Campus 2 has begun providing online course design and development services to other community colleges under a revenue sharing arrangement, and has fielded inquires by private sector employers to develop customized instructional modules for their employees. Given the potential for institutional ownership or control of the distance education assets or services outside of existing policies, networks, and shifts in academy practices, a future study might track the progress of these independent activities to ascertain whether the academic capitalism regime had emerged.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Education, Interdisciplinary
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