Friday, August 8, 2008

Pedagogical Irony and the Illusion of Inclusion

I am on my college's "elearning task force". (We don't have committee's anymore, we have task forces which is a metaphor borrowed from the military, although I doubt any of our administrators would know or appreciate the rich irony of that--no, I have another irony in mind.). Our Dean of the Virtual College set up an asynchronous discussion forum on, ugh, BlackBoard, to review our policies (which are presented as document checklists) for our Distantly Learning courses and faculty.

Irony alert: no one is participating! We have yet to have a post from any administrator on the panel. Self Interest Alert. We have a couple of posts from a long time and retirement-aged faculty member who owns a piece of land a couple hours from campus arguing for permitting faculty to be located off-campus. And a couple of posts from librarians (who police the open lab areas and offer assistance) who continually witness groups of students taking exams together. Or people (spouses and friends) taking exams for students. Hey, in today's world that's collaborative learning. But, other than myself, that's about it. No responses to any postings. Most of my postings have been about allowing faculty at the departmental level to work out our evaluation. The model presented gives it all to an entity known as the Department Chair (but there are several departments glommed together under a Chair.) No responses to any of these few suggestions and arguments. The site has been up for 3 months now.

In the end, the administrators will make the decisions they want. But doesn't it look good that they had a discussion forum to tackle these issues? I am so proud of us. Embracing both new forms of media expression and models of inclusiveness. Cue Alanis Morisette. Unfortunately, the shadow world of appearances isn't accompanied by any true meaning. Because our emperor is buck naked. And that is definitely a nauseating thought.

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