Games, MOOC’s and the Ph.D. today

February 4, 2012

Couldn’t agree more, Roger, about all those points below! Here’s the Chronicle chiming in, with a report on the New Media Horizon Project:

“One hundred experts from higher education, K-12, and museum education identified 28 “metatrends” that will influence education in the future. The 10 most important, according to a New Media Consortium announcement about the retreat, include global adoption of mobile devices, the rise of cloud computing, and transparency movements that call into question traditional notions of content ownership concerning digital materials. […] Of the top 10 trends the group flagged, Mr. Johnson said one of the most interesting conversations to emerge was about open data and open-educational resources. As the group discussed these issues, he said, the participants began to think about transparency “as a value” rather than a buzzword.”

Frankly, I see administrators and students (undergrad and grad) talk about the new media horizons, but the landscape remains the same: faculty is supposed to publish analog since review and PTR committees in the humanities still ogle digital publications and digital work in general with suspicion (except for bringing in money with MOOC’s). I don’t care. In my modernism and media seminar I ask grad students to produce analog AND digital work since I would otherwise a) completely ignore the trends above, b) set them up for failure in a world that simply stomps far ahead of academic parameters, and c) diminish their creative and scholarly potential: they form a transitional generation that should take advantage of all these possibilities and resources and educate their own students in entirely new ways.

We owe it to our students (grad and undergrad) to acknowledge these trends and integrate them into the university apparatus – in teaching, scholarship, and service. Essentially, I face the same questions as my grad students: do I spend time learning a new game (anything from the popular Angry Birds, a favorite of my son’s, to Minecraft, a real hit among kids with Asperger’s), do I compose a critical video article, engage in digital story telling or create a website – just a few possibilities among the many forms of presenting ideas in multi-media and multi-modal  forms (none of which are categorized on my PTR form)? Or do I write yet another analog article or book that will get me a promotion, following peer-review and a 2-year (at least) process of submission, revision, and finally holding the printed product in my hands? Why should the creation and dissemination of ideas and knowledge take so darn long? Why should it only be black and white? Why are we not all playing to learn? It’s a dilemma, at least for now, in higher ed. It shouldn’t be.


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