Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chronicle Article: Run Universities Like Wikipedia?

The piece below is from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Something this good would have to be a new start, probably.  That's the only way we were able to start as revolutionary a seminary as we have at Wesley.  Academics ironically are often the least innovative and most selfish people out there.  Most want a job where they can stand up in front of a captive audience and be boring and relatively irrelevant to the people in front of them.  When you truly are astronomically brilliant (in which case you probably aren't at the majority of small colleges out there), fair enough.  But almost anyone can get a doctorate these days...

I love the obscure and fully affirm its legitimacy.  But in this world, it's the other people in the room who pay the bills.  Give them mostly what they want (and of course feel free to sneak in some profundity they didn't ask for that actually makes them better people)... or you'll be closing down soon enough.
What if We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

October 13, 2010, 5:43 pm

By Marc Parry

Anaheim, Calif.—A silly question? Maybe. But the analogy, made by a speaker at the Educause conference here today, reflects a recurring theme at this year’s event: Do our university bureaucracies still make sense in the era of networks?

In a session called “The University as an Agile Organization,” David J. Staley laid out the findings of a focus group he conducted asking educators what a college would look like if it ran like Wikipedia.

First, it wouldn’t have formal admissions, said Mr. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching at Ohio State University. People could enter and exit as they wished. It would consist of voluntary and self-organizing associations of teachers and students “not unlike the original idea for the university, in the Middle Ages,” he said. Its curriculum would be intellectually fluid.

And instead of tenure, it would have professors “whose longevity would be determined by the community,” Mr. Staley said, and who would move back and forth between the “real world” and the university.

Universities “seem to be becoming more top-down and hierarchical at a time when more and more organizations are looking more like networks,” said Mr. Staley, who expanded on the Wikipedia theme last year in Educause Review.

The Wikipedia analogy struck one observer as silly. Universities are nothing like an encyclopedia, and Wikipedia is nothing like a university, argued Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia... [read the rest at the link above]

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