Fact-Checking “Irrelevance,” and Open-Access Ed

David Hymes wrote a thoughtful response to a Deseret News article in which Professor David Wiley was quoted as saying, “Institutions [of higher ed] will be irrelevant by 2020.” It turns out that Wiley claims to have been misquoted: his original utterance began along the lines of, “IF universities do not respond to certain crises and trends…” What is more, Deseret News went on to publish an editorial challenging Wiley’s claim: not the moderate claim he actually made, but the unqualified extreme claim that their own journalist redacted his words to produce.

In other words, it gives the appearance of a common media practice: produce a wild-eyed zealot if possible, and if none is available, edit somebody’s words to create the impression of wild-eyed zealotry. Sure, it fails to advance a conversation responsibly, but it does produce a lot of page-hits for the advertisers.

Let’s tease a couple of positive threads from this (in addition to David Hymes’ constructive reflections).

  • The Google video “What If?” (wrongly described in the original Deseret News article as a YouTube video) is thought-provoking and funny: an Enlightenment history of “OMG new tech will destroy learning.” Go ahead and have a look.
  • The Flat World Knowledge catalogue of open-access textbooks: do you notice anything about what sorts of topics are and are not currently available? Would you write an open-access textbook in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, ancient Near East studies, or whatever you teach or plan to teach?
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One Response

  1. Thanks for the pointer, Brooke. I was disappointed to see how transparently fictive the Google video was; it would not be all that hard to come up with actual quotations from teachers who resisted previous technological transitions — this teacher seemed to belabor his point.

    But I would indeed produce an open-access textbook; indeed, I would be eager so to do, if circumstances supported such an exercise. I caninstantly describe plentiful advantages to such a work, for author and teachers and students alike. If only someone at Pew or Lilly or Wabash would get behind such an endeavor….

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