I am wondering if anyone can offer any advice: I currently am an adjunct and teach a bunch of undergrad math classes, like Calc, ODE, etc.

What I want to do is to create a YouTube channel and show people how to do Calc, ODE, and other undergrad math topics. I want this channel to be for personal gain and not affiliated with my university. I would create the channel completely separate from my university, using a personal account only.

My question: is there anything potentially unethical about this? Can I create (public) math content on YouTube that is similar to the content that I am teaching? Any advice is helpful.

  • 1
    I believe this is not an ethical issue, but rather a legal one. Make sure to consult your university's legal department or if you are hesitant about approaching them directly, an outside legal professional or possibly a trusted colleague. If your videos are going to feature ads or something like that, it might be a problem, so make sure you're safe
    – Yuriy S
    Feb 10, 2021 at 16:39
  • You only need to take care you don't abuse copyright material. The rules are very similar to other forms of publishing.
    – puppetsock
    Feb 11, 2021 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


This is a great idea, and at my university people would generally be delighted if you create a public math resource of this type.

In terms of ethics, I don’t see a problem as long as you don’t start making the web materials a required source for your own students, since that would put you in a conflict of interest.

Also, if you use university-owned equipment in creating the online materials, in some cultures this could be deemed ethically problematic, so you might want to check with your department how they would feel about it, or take care to create a full separation between the time and resources you dedicate to your teaching job and the resources you use for the YouTube channel.

Other than that, as I said I think it’s an awesome initiative. Maybe the biggest concern I can think of is that if you become too successful as a famous YouTuber, people around you will get jealous. That’s not an ethical problem but maybe a practical one to think about...

Anyway, good luck with it!

  • I am curious what the conflict of interest would be in making the web materials a required source, assuming they are freely available. How is it different from using a book you wrote for your own class? In fact, in this case the creator does not even directly profit from using their created resource in their class.
    – GoodDeeds
    Feb 10, 2021 at 7:08
  • @GoodDeeds OP wrote that they’d be doing it “for personal gain”. So it sounds like there will be some profit, or expectation of profit, in it. Even if the profit doesn’t come directly from the students that’s still a conflict of interest (possibly a minor one, but still) and raises ethical issues. For example, it would create a situation in which OP might be financially incentivized to prefer to use the web materials as a primary source over a department-recommended textbook, even if they know the textbook is a better quality source that would be pedagogically more useful to the students.
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 10, 2021 at 7:12
  • Thanks, that makes sense, though I suppose this is also true for writing your own book or other study material.
    – GoodDeeds
    Feb 10, 2021 at 7:13
  • (Also if the content is free but requires students to watch ads to access that’s another issue some people could reasonably find fault with.)
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 10, 2021 at 7:13
  • In regards to using university equipment, I'd worry less about ethics and more about legal problems. Doing so without permission can be seen as embezzlement and can get you fired and sued for damages. So in particular if there is any intent to profit, I'd always get permission in writing first.
    – mlk
    Feb 10, 2021 at 11:22

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