February 15, 2009

Propagation of the rock-star professor myth

A few weeks ago, I worried about how the distribution of lectures on iTunes was promoting the idea of higher education as lecture. Along comes Academic Earth, which is collecting what appears to be the most charismatic of the iTunes professors. On the one hand, there are some wonderful lecturers, this is a great advertisement for good lecturing, and it sets the standard for what we should be doing when we choose to lecture.

On the other hand, this propagates the idea of the student as a voyeur, someone who watches a charismatic (generally male) teacher rather than works with the material. A class is not a lecture, and iTunes does not currently showcase great discussions and cannot showcase your personal experience in a class.

Richard Ludlow's project (and its showcasing of lecturing) is great as a small taste, a teaser for college that could democratize the appetite for a good class. But if it's not quite Don LaFontaine's voice (the trailer for Quantum Physics: "In a world where matter appears and disappears faster than you can observe it..."), it's still not the whole experience. 

See also Stephen Downes's concern about Academic Earth's reliance on U.S. faculty.

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Tags: iTunes
Posted in Higher education on February 15, 2009 8:15 AM |