I don’t read the Chronicle of Higher Education that much, but I miss it even less. Inside Higher Education has been advancing by leaps and jumps since they started this online rival to the Chronicle. Just this week, IHE featured an article on the perils of built-in digital restrictions that sounds an even more ominous note as BlackBoard controls all the major proprietary e-learning applications; ran Alex Golub’s scintillating essay on professors as personal trainers (my advocacy of Dr. Golub’s work has nothing to do with the presence of a clergyman/professor in some of Golub’s now-inaccessible works of fanfic — didn’t anyone archive “My Weekend With Leuschke”? Later: the author function himself directs my attention to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6); and a report on James Hilton’s recent address to the annual Educause meeting.
Alex’s essay pushes back against the so-called commodification of education, but also against educational discourses that get so student-centered that the main goal of education becomes helping students feel “empowered,” whether they have learned enough that they ought to be empowered or not. Teachers, like personal trainers, need your trust and your willingness actually to put some effort into the endeavor if you want actually to learn something. We who teach need to remember that we can’t simply requisition that trust and that interest level.
Hilton’s essay sounds like a post facto vindication of the kinds of arguments I started making a while ago, in my presentation at the first Garrett Conference on Teaching, Technology, and Cyberspace (earlier, if you count unanswered memos to administrators). More power to him!