Curatorial Teaching

Finally got around to listening to this. It’s good. It’s nascent, but maybe that’s why I love it so much:

It’s not a total solution to the sage-on-the-stage v. guide-on-the-side but it’s a great rethinking, and it’s very practical to implement.

It’s also refreshing that Siemens approach is not kick-against-the-pricks* (an approach I’m often guilty of) — his approach respects that there is not here a complete historical break with previous teaching, but an accenting of things that were always a part of good instruction, and now need to be accentuated because of the realities of a highly networked world.

*Note on the phrase “kick against the pricks”: Since it seems this phrase is less known than I thought….”Kick against the pricks” is a Biblical phrase meaning roughly “rebel against authority despite immense pain”. It comes from a metaphor involving oxen and sharp pointy sticks. Kicking against the pricks represents an ideological yet futile rebellion against authority for the sake of doing the right thing, rather than out of hope of possible success.

It comes to me not through the Bible, but through the awesomeness of Nick Cave.

Entrepreneurship meets Service meets Academic Engagement…

…and it’s not even that hard.

I’ve said before that one of the fundamental things the university has not come to terms with is that in an environment where failure is inexpensive, undergraduates can be pushed to solve real problems, rather than to practice solving problems they might encounter once they get out of college.

In the world of net-enabled education, this is possibly the most important differentiator. And it will change the face of undergraduate education.

The product that colleges will be giving you in twenty years is not a degree, but a reputation. The number of students that have done something significant and public in undergrad will hit a critical mass, so much so that the reputation of colleges will be largely determined by what they helped their students do while the students were under their mentoring.

Here’s the thing: people in higher education often object — “But our students aren’t that smart! Not everybody can be an entrepreneur!”

Or they say something else with more syllables, but they mean that.

They are wrong.

Case in point — the hottest New Hampshire political blog right now is not Blue Hampshire or GraniteGrok. It’s New Hampshire Presidential Watch, a blog run by a St. Anselm’s undergrad.

What is it that attracts visitors? Incisive political analysis? Horse race statistics? Round the clock reporting?

Nope. What the kid who runs it does is take all the emails and other info he gets from all the Presidential candidates, and does the painful but absolutely essential work of organizing it into a single calendar. And because he’s become the destination site to find out who’s in the state, candidates now send him the updates. And because he now has an audience, he *can* do political reporting, and be read by thousands.

No algorithms. No advanced marketing plan. Just someone saying to a kid, you know, I wish I didn’t have to go to 16 different sites to figure out who was in town, and the kid thinking: I can solve that.

The talent is not in the compilation of these materials. It’s in that impulse: I can solve that. And because this impulse is what fuels the new economy, this kid will never want for a job. He will graduate Saint A’s, and the degree will be a footnote to what he already accomplished.

He’ll graduate with a reputation.

You can call it service, or entrepreneurship, or academic engagement; in truth, it’s all three.

What you can’t call it is idealistic. It’s here and now. It’s happening. And there’s absolutely no reason not to embrace it.

Support Music over Lawyers. Buy Radiohead.

The end is near. And that’s a very very good thing.

Radiohead is offering it’s newest album on it’s website for advance download.

The revolutionary thing? You pay what you want for it. Two dollars, ten dollars. Whatever. You make the call.

The experiment has even got mainstream investing sites abuzz, saying that if this works, it could be the end of the pricefixing era of music.

Sometimes though, history needs a push. I’m going over to get the new album right after I finish posting this.

You should come with.


I told you I was serious:

Radiohead Purchase

This is me buying the album for about 5 bucks American (damn that exchange rate!).

That’s a decent deal for a Radiohead album (if it was the new NP’s album, it’d be more).

You should go do it.


I know it’s good form to say where you’ve been when you disappear off the face of your blog for two weeks.

Answer: bilge-pumping.

That said, we’ll try to do better next time.

Now onto to other things.

A side project I do got some news coverage this past Sunday. And it was a pretty nice article in that they represent our political community site fairly well. (I wish sometimes they’d focus on how hard it is to do this with so little spare time, but oh well).

But the hook in these things is always so predictable I have to laugh. Here’s the final paragraphs:

“Bloggers are the new key influencers in the community. National bloggers are shaping opinions. They are engaged in the daily dialogue of national affairs and some voices are very influential,” Hynes said.

He said in New Hampshire for the 2008 election, three or four influential bloggers have emerged with “tier one” access to candidates – i.e. press credentials to cover events and interview the candidates – when many believed the blogging trend had plateaued.

“Bloggers will have a marginal effect, but a lot of races are decided in the margins,” he said.

I hate to pick on this article, because it got more stuff right than most. And they are just quoting Patrick Hynes a “blog outreach consultant” (Wow!) for John McCain. But much of the article follows the same philosophy, ticking off a list of types of access the campaigns give us, and saying isn’t it crazy? The world is upside down!

But it’s the press that has the battery wired backwards.

The reason blogging works is not because we’re so influential that we get access. The reason it works is that we don’t care about access. Frankly, we’re not corrupted by it. I receive so many invites to blogger conference calls I route them to a special folder. I hardly ever go. Why should I, when it’s just the candidate repeating the same talking points they just put out in a press release?

And I think it drives some campaigns crazy, but I don’t write stories off of press releases either. And although I get invited to “surrogate” events, for the most part I don’t go. I have no desire to see so and so’s daughter tell me how great their Dad is. Sorry. I just see that as another commercial.

Patrick Hynes, the blog outreach coordinator quoted, doesn’t know me, but I know his candidate. And that’s by design. I took a $119 video camera to an event of McCain’s last Sunday, and I sat in the back row, listening and filming.

I’ve been thinking about what I heard, and how he reacted to the audience questions. I’ve been thinking about which issues he dodged and which he didn’t, and how this might differ from his last spin through New Hampshire. I’ve been thinking about the reaction of people around me — people I might add that were the audience, not fellow reporters in some “press pen”.

All that “access”? Let’s be honest. The access beyond see the candidate in a Town Hall setting is spin control. It’s entry into the PR ecosystem.

And I have very little interest in it. Strip away credentials and access, and I’d argue what you get is better reporting.