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Higher Education Imploding?

While browsing the ‘nets, I found a letter to the editor about Radford University’s recent expansion of university construction.¬†I also found this article from the NYT¬†discussinging the role of academics in society.

When looking at the two links, I found myself thinking about my own potential future as an academic. Both seem to call for more respect and recognition of academics as vital resources at the university and with the public.

This quote from the NYT article seems to relate back to the general tenor of our GEDI course, that we seem to be required more and more to use online social media to interact with any and everyone to impress upon them our worth…”Professors today have a growing number of tools available to educate the public, from online courses to blogs to social media. Yet academics have been slow to cast pearls through Twitter and Facebook. ”

While I think that it is important to share knowledge, I’m not convinced that online methods and social media are the best, or only, way to go. Just because there is the potential to reach more people does not mean that they are listening. Or that anyone appreciates all the work that is required to do any of the online activities.

This “extra work” also starts trickling down to the graduate student level. Stipends (which might be at or below poverty levels) are given for 20 hours/week of work; as probably ANY graduate student can tell you, that’s a minimum that is usually a fond dream. The work being performed (research and teaching) by graduate students, adjuncts, staff, and faculty seems to be valued less and less as time goes on, as high workloads and longer work weeks become the norm.

In the PFP class last fall, we discussed the division of faculty work at a R1 institute between research, teaching, and service. Where, exactly, does having a Twitter account fall into this equation? What is the value to the faculty member of being more visible online? Who cares?

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