Dilemmas of Openness - Scope of Employment

This is the fourth in a series of posts that detail some of the moral, ethical, and other dilemmas of openness in education. I look forward to your feedback and participation!


As some might consider sharing to be the professional obligation of those in education, it can be difficult to understand the boundaries and scope appropriate for that sharing. Do the benefits of sharing justify large amounts of time and attention that might be spent on others outside of one's professional charge?

For example, in conducting the Open Professional Development courses back in 2007, Robin EllisSue WatersKelly Dumont, and I were intentionally "forced" to spend disproportionate amounts of time and attention on course members outside of our immediate care.  Failure to have done so would have resulted in a course of poorer quality.  More recent examples of sharing through "virtual service projects," and even volunteering to moderate international online conferences have also taken time and attention away from those within immediate care.  Furthermore, the experiences of Alec CourosStephen DownesGeorge SiemensDave Cormier, and many others that have taught open courses (i.e., MOOCs, etc.) have likely paralleled my own - in that considerable attention to outsiders not only contributed to the positive learning experience of local course participants, but comprised an essential component within the local and distant learner's experience.

Consequently, has our behavior been ethical and sufficiently responsible to our employer?

When an employer is flipping the bill, how much time and focus can reasonably be spent in the service of others? At what point does the openness and sharing of an employee infringe upon the rights of the employer?

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