by Stephen Downes
Apr 14, 2016
"Please, don’t put your papers on Academia.edu," Wolfgang Schwarz writes, arguing according to this article that "He argues that the platform essentially bans access for academics who, for whatever reason, don’t have an Academia.edu account. It also shuts out non-academics." I've been hit with login requirements from both here and its twin, ResearchGate. I don't upload my papers to either site, though they've collected a large body of work by scraping available online libraries.
Here is the point of the post in a nutshell: "If we agree that empowerment and engagement of educators and learners is an important goal, we need to implement active policies that build on and support the potential ensured by passive ones," policies such as incentives and infrastructure (but let's be honest: mostly incentives). This is based on the presumption that "less than 5% of users is willing to modify content, remix it, create own versions and mash-ups." Judging by the amount of resharing, retweeting, and reposting that happens on Twitter, Facebook and the rest, I would say this number is very low. If it applies at all, it probably only applies to teachers and OERs. And I have to ask, if we have to incent them to reuse, then we should examine what we're doing.
This is a survey from the responses from the winners of Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) grants last year.
All of these seem reasonable - who would object? But the implementation is another matter, and these points are all (especially the last three) so broad they offer no guidance at all.
More evidence for a proposition that has been noted in this newsletter before, specifically, that equality of outcomes is not achieved simply by providing access to the same curriculum. The purpose of elite institutions of higher education is to allow the wealthy to create insider networks, and these appear to freeze out the non-wealthy, even those who attend these institutions. "Graduates from richer family backgrounds (defined as top 20 percent by household income) earn significantly more after graduation than other graduates, even after completing similar degrees from similar universities." See also another report on the same study from the BBC.
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