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This is a wonderful idea and a beautiful way of honoring the community of educators and scholars that influenced us. I wonder if you might also consider dedicating each lecture in a similar way? I dedicated my lecture on primate cognition To Jane Goodall, Birute Galdikas, and Dianne Fossey.
@Meg Sorry not to have responded earlier! I had your comment in my “approve” queue–it does that with new commenters. So first, welcome!
Now to your point. I think you’re right that the pressures on faculty have increased in variety and intensity, and I think faculty who are fortunate to have tenure have been, for whatever reasons, less vigilant about these things than they should have been. The question is why? I do think that part of the answer may be the status race fueled by a number of factors. Does every university above 10K enrollment need to be a “research university”? Clearly not, but that’s how you move up in the all-important rankings. Should “credit-hour productivity” determine budgets? I don’t think so, but then we have to be willing to have hard conversations about resources rather than easier conversations about a race to the bottom with less challenging, highly automated, scaled-up courses. In short, we have to find a way for faculty to own their universities, which means that in the near term we’ll have to find some way to work even harder now so we can have at least the hope of better outcomes for the future. The alternative is not pretty.
Sounds like a fascinating book, by the way–and it’s now on my list. Thanks!
@Amy I’m glad you hear those resonances too, grim and disconcerting and discouraging as they are. We need people like Guedon whose conceptual frameworks are thoughtful and illuminating and thorough, for only those frameworks can keep our eyes on the prize and help ward off the forces of financial predation. All too often, however, the pressures of “operationalization” mean that no one in higher ed will take the time needed to attend to Guedon or to others like him. These are complex and difficult questions, but increasingly it seems we are in a race to the bottom for how to address them.
@Gardner: Yes to “distributed” for all the reasons you note. I just looked at Guedon’s article and find the resonances between the trajectories of Open Access and open learning disconcerting and discouraging.
Good conversation here, although I need to go back and read again for depth. I have similar concerns about the pressures on faculty (from contingent to full-time tenured) that prevent or discourage them (us) from developing the skills they (we) need to assist our students. I recently had cause to read some new studies of the professoriate, how it has changed since the 70s, and the picture is grim. One of the main points by Kezar and Maxey _Envisioning the Faculty_ concerns the reward structure for conventional TT faculty. For ex, there are far greater pressures to publish than ever before, across all fields and all institutions of higher ed. I’m starting to think the old three-legged stool model is outmoded. Perhaps more flexibility is needed to account for faculty interests, institutional needs? I’m still pondering, but thought I’d throw that idea out there.
@Amy “Maybe we could develop the concept of the ‘unbundled professor’ embedded in a more diffuse ecosystem of learners and colleagues than the one defined by a conventional bricks and mortar campus?”
I’ve long wondered about the answer to this question. I’d use the word “distributed” instead of “diffuse,” myself, as the latter word may suggest “diluted” or “spread thin” to some folks (though I certainly take your meaning here, as I understand it!). The word “distributed,” for me, rhymes with the architecture of the Internet and the Web that rhymes with that rhyme, a world in which “distributed” can (oddly, counterintuitively) end up meaning “denser and richer and more powerful.”
I cannot overstate the importance of that “Toward the Internet of the Mind” essay by Jean-Claude Guedon in this context (and in many others as well): it’s what I’d suggest is right on point and deeply necessary for turning the Titanic around, if that’s still possible. And @Steve, that’s one of the reasons that Chronicle article seems to me to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. If extensive faculty development resources are put to use on various tech-amplified instantiations of current practice (one of the things I tried to point out in my critique of Talbert’s Chronicle piece on learning outcomes and Bloom’s taxonomy), then we are truly doomed. We will be like the folks in Guedon’s article who allowed Elsevier and others to define Open Access in ways that end up destroying the term’s liberatory aspirations.
Yes to both of you. Faculty, particularly tenured faculty, must be change-agents rather than change-objects. And institutions need to be encouraged to support the innovations and initiatives that come from the faculty. This might happen more organically at smaller institutions? I fear that in many large universities, the voices of vendors offering solutions for the entire campus are heard more loudly and have more resonance with administrators than does the voice of individual, or even a group of faculty. This doesn’t let faculty off the hook, but I do agree that we’re mainly “tinkering around the margins” rather than engaging wholeheartedly in transformation. Maybe we could develop the concept of the “unbundled professor” embedded in a more diffuse ecosystem of learners and colleagues than the one defined by a conventional bricks and mortar campus?
“[O]ne of my ongoing nodes of discontent with the status quo has to do with how, all too often, faculty do not themselves have the knowledge, skills, or dispositions to be members of the participatory cultures supported by the open Web.” This is the same point that grabbed my attention.
We are asking faculty to develop in ways that they haven’t been trained. On top of that, the culture says (by omission) that these are not important to higher education. Right now, all we’ve done is tinkered at the margins. I’m waiting to see a university promote these to the first rank in terms of tenure, promotion and pay raises. This article from today’s Chronicle might be on point: http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Cost-That-Holds-Back/239708?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=cf1d7e552836441d8bfb133ffbe77ce9&elq=d7548dbbdee040d1a00a717feb2b63f7&elqaid=13414&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=5566
Your addition is right on point, Amy. And I don’t at all mean or want to let institutions off the hook for this encouragement and support. As in 2007, however, I very strongly believe that we who enjoy the waning days of tenure (heaven forfend) cannot wait for that encouragement and support. Tenure is the most extraordinary form of encouragement and support imaginable. By and large, it comes from our peers. That alone means we must proceed to develop these skills and urge their development in our colleagues as well. There is no other way to begin. My thought has always been that institutions will be embarrassed not to support extraordinary faculty-led innovation in these areas, once that innovation grows to a critical mass. Getting to that critical mass is possible, and crucial, and its support and encouragement must come from us. IMO