chapter  15
14 Pages

“Keeping it Real”: Contextualizing Intellectual Property and Privacy in the Online Technical Communication Course

Teaching technical communication online can bring new pedagogical strategies

and with them different forms of communication, collaboration, and information

distribution. Yet with the potential for easier distribution of information online

come questions of ownership of that information and ethics in its digital transfer.

What happens, for instance, when an image of a bone density scan used as a

figure in a proposal for a new machine includes patient identifying informa-

tion? Or an email list of past donors for a nonprofit fundraising campaign is

accidentally sent to individuals outside the organization? There is a need to

address the limits of textual sharing-legal, ethical, and practical. How have

interpretations or conceptions of intellectual property and privacy changed

with the proliferation of digital texts and online education? How can instructors

of such courses negotiate intellectual property issues while taking advantage

of communication technologies that support effective teaching of technical

writing? What aspects of intellectual property beyond “fair use” or the

educational context need to be considered in light of the types of work done

in technical writing courses? This chapter presents strategies for negotiating

between “keeping it real”—encouraging students to gain technical writing

experience by composing for outside organizations-and addressing intellectual

property and privacy issues in theory and practice within the online technical

communication course.