Category Archives: Academia

Amen & Amen…hope in academia

In a New York Times article on “disruption” at big business schools (Harvard being the main subject) the dean of Wisconsin’s business school says:

“My best teachers are going to find platforms so they can teach to the world for free. The market is finding a way to unbundle us. My job is to hold this platform together.”

To that end, he has changed his school’s incentive structure, which, as in most of academia, was based primarily on the number of research articles published in elite journals. Now professors who can’t crack those journals but “have a gift for inspiring learning,” he said, in person or online, are being paid as top performers, too. “We are now rewarding people who have tenure to give up on research,” Mr. Ortalo-Magné said.

Oh joy, joy, joy – when the big deans are starting to realize this, there is hope for change in academia that values teaching over pure research.

A professor’s good day

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This is the first week of spring semester classes at Northwest University. I love that I can say “spring semester” when many in the Seattle area are in “winter quarter” – it makes me feel a bit smug.

This term I teach a favorite course – Multimedia Principles – it is near and dear because it combines a lot of things I love. The students will learn about great sound-gathering, photojournalism, video and simply good story-telling. It’s just a blast.

But…the best thing on Tuesday afternoon? I sat at the instructor’s computer in our lab as I set up the projector, cued up sites and sorted my various lists. As I sat, the students wandered in and for the first time in 5 years at NU I knew everyone in that class. OK – there was one guy I didn’t know, but out of a class of twenty-five or so that is pretty great. They smiled and joked and hugged when they saw someone else  they knew. Granted, NU is small and the communication department is just a slice, but it made me smile and then laugh out loud as they convened as a class. I think I even whispered “all the cool kids are in this class” and one of my students just looked up and grinned.

Then I was able to say “wow, it’s so wonderful to see you all.” And along with that I said, “I love teaching this subject and we are going to have so much fun.” Being the journalism geek I am I also fawned over a book we are using (Photojournalism – Kobre). It is just gorgeous.

As this poster reads: Love what you do. 

I am one very happy professor.