Inside Higher Education features a list of ten technological innovations to watch out for in 2009 (at least one of which I was advocating in 1999).
IHE also reports on a session at the American Historical Association meeting, which discussed the possible value of rejiggering the grad-school curriculum. The premise makes sense to me; to the extent that PhD programs think their main job requires them to infuse content-knowledge into students, they’ll produce graduates (or non-graduates) with expertise at perpetuating what they were taught, but without as strong a capacity for functioning as a critical participant in constructive discourses. This premise paradoxically applies all the more forcefully to second-tier (or lower) programs, where students arrive without as ample a familiarity with the subject field. That which they need in order to move into strong participation is not so much acquaintance with someone’s list of Great Works as it is the capacities to recognize and analyze problems, to develop reasons for approaching those problems in particular ways, and to communicate that analysis and those reasons clearly and persuasively. Student who have exchanged a little bit of grad-field surveying for a course that heightens their skills in analysis, reasoning, and communication will come out way, way ahead.