Friday, January 18, 2013

History of the future of research and teaching

Here is historian Andrew Smith in Britain reflecting on the recent suicide of internet pioneer and content thief civil disobedience practitioner open access crusader Aaron Schwartz in the United States. (A case can be made for each of the descriptions; not sure which is fairest, I've settled on the most neutral but left the others visible in cross-out.) While this troubled young man is being made into a martyr for "open access," Andrew offers some thoughts on the real problems scholars who need scholarly publishing are facing in the new model of "everything oughta be free and someone else will be made to pay the cost."

And here is historian Jonathan Rees in the United States reflecting on MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), in which universities take the courses you teach and make them available online for credit to the whole world -- while the overcharged students and underpaid instructors in the classrooms remain over-crowded and under-resourced and increasingly irrelevant.

Mostly I don't write for scholarly journals and don't teach in universities. This stuff is mostly spectator stuff to me, except that I publish stuff that Canadian schools and universities intend want to appropriate unpaid.  But doesn't anyone in Canada who is actually living with these issue think about these matters, publish about these issues, blog about.....  Maybe I'm just missing it all.

Rees calls the willingness of those who go along with the way universities are using MOOCs "Stockholm syndrome":
They identify with the views of the people who have power over them so much that they forget that their captors have a vastly different set of priorities than they do. While a MOOC might be an excellent learning tool when used properly, rank-and-file faculty have no guarantee that their administrations will ever let them use it the way that they desire. Contingent faculty have even less protection.
 Rees has probably never heard of CAUT, but it sounds like them to me.