Academic Freedom and Control of the Classroom

Vision Collaboration InsightOver at the Digital Pedagogy Lab, Jonathan Rees writes about technology being used as an excuse to wrest control of the classroom from instructors:

‘While administrators will likely argue that these kinds of online offerings benefit students, it’s really part of an ongoing labor struggle. As Mike Caulfield has suggested as part of a metaphor comparing curriculum to urban planning, “I think a lot of administrators are frankly relieved about this, as more and more education moves online, the idea is that we can bulldoze our stripmall exburban eyesore and replace it with something centrally managed and controlled. And courses will be delivered as these closed, feature complete products, designed by the experts — us, the instructional designers.” Through such changes, working as a professor will become a lot more like working at a factory and a lot less like working as a professor used to be. No matter how much faculty want to resist the fact that they are working class (in the sense that there is an academic bourgeoisie whose interests are aligned against them), the proof is ultimately in the pudding.’

Despite the rather depressing picture he paints, Rees argues that, “there is a way to turn this important class struggle into more of a fair fight.” It involves instructors using technology that they control. Refusal to engage with technology will only leave you vulnerable to charges of antiquated methodology.

Read the essay here.

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