[iDC] A Modest Proposal: Let's get rid of the teachers

Zbigniew Lukasiak zzbbyy at gmail.com
Wed Feb 18 17:00:27 UTC 2009

On Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 8:49 AM, Mark Marino <markcmarino at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi, IDC-ers:
> Please consider the proposal below in the spirit in which it was intended...
> Today, sitting in a left-handed chair-desk in a mandatory writing
> class, with a not-so-mandatory technology component, I asked my
> students: Do we really need libraries and librarians in the age of Web
> 2.0?
> One replied: Couldn't we ask the same thing about everyone? Even teachers?
> (collective gasp from students)
> Well, why not?
> What if we just got rid of teachers, the way we've gotten rid of
> journalists and books, VCRs and retirement funds?  Let's follow open
> content to its natural conclusion...
> Instead of that Web 1.0-notion of professors and Instructors, we could
> have Link Jockeys
> Chronicle Job Description:
>             Wanted: NTT Link Jockeys.  Instead of teaching classes,
> delivering lectures, and creating wicked midterm essay questions, we
> seek Link Jockeys (or Tag Mavens or User Yentas) to spend their time
> networking students with pre-existing online content, social scholars,
> and a demographically balanced mixed of like-minded students.  Salary:
> Gift Economy Karma/Linden
> Duties of the Link Jockey:
> No more office hours. No more lesson plans.  No more wrestling with
> students' dispersed attention spans.  (Google has already made them
> stoopid.  No need to make them angry, too.)  Link Jockeys will busy
> themselves:
> 1) Creating "syllabi" of entirely (Free) online content:
>             viral videos: Ted videos, youtube (Charlie Bit My Finger
> 101), videojug
>             sharable widgets
>             free readings
>             link lists
>             blog feeds
> 2) Connecting students with online mentors:
>            These social shirpas help students find scholars to
> "friend" and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Social Bookmarking sites
>            Students rinse themselves in the streams of content
> regularly coursing forth from these web-springs.
> 3) Compiling lists of listservs and discussion forums for the students
> to join. (Toss those tired discussion starters.)  And if that's not
> enough interaction:
> 4) Assigning students into cohorts based on an interest survey (a la
> Friend Recommendation).  Collect them in Ning or Facebook groups
> 5) Compelling all "students" (--aren't we all students?--) to blog,
> bookmark, and Twitter so they are rebroadcasting their reflections and
> discoveries
> Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
> (Note by wiki-izing this process, the job tasks below could be
> crowdsourced -- or better yet re-distribute this job to the millions
> of users trying to register for adult content sites in the manner of
> Captcha.  Users could become passive micro-contributors to online
> education by correctly tagging, say, an LoC holding about
> globalization as either "international relations" or "global conquest"
> or "Web 2.0")
> Such a bold move would alleviate the troubles of grading, fretting
> over a particular class or student, or even finding a job in a down
> economy.
> You might be thinking: Does he mean online education like Open
> University? THE University of Phoenix?
> No, not at all.  I don't mean teachers would be paid to teach courses
> online, nor do I mean students attending online unis.  There would be
> no courses really and certainly no teaching in some old-fashioned,
> hegemonic, spoon-feeding, outline-following, learning-outcome sense.
> The goal is simple: make links with the hope that the students will
> begin to make their own.
> Aren't we awfully close?
> Would this really be so bad?
> I wonder.  I wondered aloud to those same students who were either
> text messaging weekend plans to their friends or Twittering my
> revolutionary proposal to the world.
> Thoughts?

This is already happening in the context of various Open Source
projects.  To gather new users they need to teach them and vice versa
- people who want to use those projects need to learn.  This is very
visible if you are a programmer working with some Open Source
libraries - there are tutorials, manuals, IRC real-time help sessions.
 The focus is more on 'learning as you need' rather then going a full
course - but for some large libraries the need becomes big enough to
justify a larger chunk of material that is meant to be consumed in a
very similar way as traditional courses (for example see
and http://search.cpan.org/~drolsky/Moose-0.70/lib/Moose/Manual.pod).


Zbigniew Lukasiak

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