Internet teaching and the administration of knowledge
Brabazon, T. (2001) Internet teaching and the administration of knowledge. First Monday, 6 (6).
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Settle down people. Welcome to ERE 102. This course, colloquially known as Selling Silicon Snake Oil, provides an introduction to an Economically Rationalist Education. I teach you how to use the Internet, not for the purposes of critical thinking or creative mobilisations of hypertext, but to administer knowledge. For those of you with busy lifestyles, you are encouraged to leave the lecture theatre right now, and buy yourself a long black at the library coffee shop. Everything I am about to say will appear in my PowerPoint demonstration, which is downloadable from the Web site. Please do not contact me if you have difficulty logging into the course site. Your access is not my responsibility. So, if this is the last time I see you in this lecture theatre, I thank you for enrolling in ERE 102. I look forward to receiving your e–mails. Have a nice life.
In keeping with our bullet–point culture, I will now dim the lights and attempt to activate my PowerPoint presentation. Hopefully the projector will work. As I have not prepared a lecture, I will talk to the slides, filling in the space between the headings with banal comments and self–evident nonsense. You will however see some attractively coloured graphs. These are downloadable from the course Web site. Well they would be, but they are rather large documents and cannot be saved to floppy disc. I am certain though that most of you have a superdisc or CD–ROM burner in your homes. They will be necessary to get the most out of ERE 102. Afterall, there is no textbook and not much reading. Everything you need to complete the assignments is found in my PowerPoint bullet points. Copying them down accurately will determine the calibre of your grade in this course.
So starts an imaginary, dystopic University course. Readers may recognize fragments of this spiel, either from their own teaching, the work of others, or the fashionably superficial budgetary briefings and marketing meetings. While it is crudely configured, it does provide an entry into the concerns of my work. Now that the practices and principles of Web–based pedagogy have been experiencing a boom (of rhetoric, if nothing else) during the last five years, it seems timely to unpick the digital fabric of the times. At the end of our academic career, when we have returned the last telephone call, answered the last e–mail and closed our office door for the final time, we will not list our major teaching success as training efficient administrators. Most of us hope to teach prime ministers, community workers, journalists and filmmakers. Certainly the modern university, as one ideological arm of the nation state, is a bureaucratic, corporate, capitalist organisation. This volatile role for the university triggers a new vocabulary: of excellence, standards, flexibility and efficiency.
In keeping with the era, I track the shape of the argument around a critical vocabulary of five words. These terms push the keypads of the time: crisis, teaching, management, flexibility and literacy. The critical inflection of this discussion is not meant to discount or demean Internet–based education. Instead, I problematise and theorise the justifications of Web–inflected learning, suggesting that teachers may be major losers in the — cliched — virtual university.
|Publication Type:||Journal Article|
|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Media, Communication and Culture|
|Publisher:||University of Illinois|
|Copyright:||© 2001, First Monday|
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