Hacking the Academy: A book crowdsourced in one week — from MPublishing/University of Michigan Press


On May 21, 2010, we posted these intentionally provocative questions online:

Can an algorithm edit a journal? Can a library exist without books? Can students build and manage their own learning management platforms? Can a conference be held without a program? Can Twitter replace a scholarly society?

We asked for contributions to a collectively produced volume that would explore how the academy might be beneficially reformed using digital media and technology. The process of creating the edited volume itself would be a commentary on the way things are normally done in scholarly communication, with submissions coming in through multiple channels, including blogs, Twitter, and email, and in multiple formats—everything from a paragraph to a long essay to multimedia. We also encouraged interactivity—the possibility that contributors could speak directly to each other, rather than creating the inert, isolated chapters that normally populate edited volumes. We then sent out notices via our social networks, which quickly and extensively disseminated the call for submissions. Finally, we gave contributors a mere seven days, the better to focus their attention and energy.

Preface | Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt


Excerpt from “About the Book

MPublishing, the publishing division of the University of Michigan Library, is pleased to announce the open-access version of Hacking the Academy, The
Edited Volume
. The volume is forthcoming in print under the University of Michigan Press digitalculturebooks imprint.

This volume was assembled and edited by Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt from the best of over 300 submissions received during a spirited week when the two editors actively solicited ideas for how the academy could be beneficially reformed using digital media and technology. For more on the unusual way this book was put together, please start with Cohen and Scheinfeldt’s preface.



CEFPI Mayfield Project 2014



A group of ten young professionals from backgrounds of architecture, design and education collaborate together in preparation for a year-long research program investigating educational design.

This is the Mayfield Project.


From DSC:
Also, consider subscribing to their blog to keep up-to-date on their work.


Also see:

  • Hard working environments for future education — from nbrspartners.net
    McCrindle Research, a leading Sydney-based social researcher, organise an annual Education Future Forum. At this year’s Forum James Ward and Andrew Duffin of NBRS+PARTNERS presented a study into Future Place Learning Environments.




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Scientific articles accepted (personal checks, too) — from the nytimes.com by Gina Kolata


The scientists who were recruited to appear at a conference called Entomology-2013 thought they had been selected to make a presentation to the leading professional association of scientists who study insects.

But they found out the hard way that they were wrong. The prestigious, academically sanctioned conference they had in mind has a slightly different name: Entomology 2013 (without the hyphen). The one they had signed up for featured speakers who were recruited by e-mail, not vetted by leading academics. Those who agreed to appear were later charged a hefty fee for the privilege, and pretty much anyone who paid got a spot on the podium that could be used to pad a résumé.


Excerpt of some recommendations/suggestions from Mr. Steve McMullen, Assistant Professor of Economics, Calvin College:

  1. Only publish in journals that you know are legitimate and long standing.
  2. Only go to conferences hosted by an institution or association that you respect.

These two rules immediately rule out all the suspect journals and conferences, but they do so by granting power to the traditional gatekeepers. I recognize that if everyone behaves this way, it might be difficult for the open-access movement, which is sometimes laudable, to take off in our field.

Another observation:  It is probably important for departments to have some statement written into their scholarship statements/guidelines that indicate the sort of journals that count and those that don’t, and a process for evaluating publication outlets.



From DSC:
My dad sent me this in an email — I’ll include it here as a graphic to insure that I get the layout correct:




Another excerpt from the email:

If you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid, too.

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!


From DSC:
What amazed me about this was in the meta cognitive processes of my mind I sensed my mind struggling to make sense of the first couple words…but then, as I moved forward, my mind went back and filled in the gaps and moved forward with understanding what the words were saying.  Then it occurred to me how amazing the human mind is — glory to God!  Humans can pick up patterns much quicker than computers and algorithms. Not that algorithms can’t be tweaked over time, but humans are key in getting them headed in the right direction in the first place!

P.S. I also saw this type of thing at Jimmy Johns; but that’s even one step further outside the academic realm than even an email from someone’s dad!  But thanks Dad if you are reading this!  I found it to be an amazing exercise.   🙂



Mobile connections to libraries — from PewInternet.org by Lee Rainie, Kathryn Zickuhr and Maeve Duggan




Also see:


From DSC:
I’m also reminded of what I’d like to see in a digital textbook — a series of “layers” that people — with various roles and perspectives on the content — could use to comment on and annotate an article:


How teens do research in the digital world — from pewinternet.org by Kristen Purcell, Lee Rainie, Alan Heaps, Judy Buchanan, Linda Friedrich, Amanda Jacklin, Clara Chen, Kathryn Zickuhr

Excerpt from the Overview:

The teachers who instruct the most advanced American secondary school students render mixed verdicts about students’ research habits and the impact of technology on their studies.

Some 77% of advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed say that the internet and digital search tools have had a “mostly positive” impact on their students’ research work. But 87% say these technologies are creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans” and 64% say today’s digital technologies “do more to distract students than to help them academically.”

According to this survey of teachers, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the College Board and the National Writing Project, the internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up:


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My notes from Thursday, 10/11/12 Sloan-C presentation by Hayley Lake & Patrick Lordan from Eastern Washington University, US
The discussion board audit: How will I know what I think until I see what I say

Discussion boards / forums are great for:

  • Reading and using research to support viewpoints/perspectives
  • Writing
  • Deeper reflections
  • Communications
    • Need to get point across succinctly
    • Decide what’s important
    • Tailor language to audience
    • Be professional
  • Critical thinking
  • Student-to-student interactions – students can generate their own online community
  • Time management and study skills
  • Can be relevant to real world and draw upon students’ experiences
  • Bringing out the wall-flowers – they can come alive and really contribute in this manner
  • Thinking more meta-cognitively and growing in self-awareness

(Bearing in mind a class size of 24-30 students per class)
Except for first two weeks, did not answer each posting; instead, typically the professor looked for themes and provided a weekly recap. Straightened out any wrong understandings.

Characteristics of reflective learners

  • Curious
  • Open to criticism and different approaches
  • Honest
  • Motivated to improve

Used the idea of a Discussion board audit

  • For closure
  • For summative assessment
  • For deeper learning/reflection; richness, depth, self-evaluation
  • Based off Mark Samples’ (George Mason University) blog audit
  • Re-read all DB postings, mark them up, analyze own work; look for themes and ideas worth revisiting, assess own learning
  • Really helped students see how they had learned, changed, grown




Another discussion board related presentation was:
Cleaning Out the Crickets: Enhancing Faculty Presence in Online Instruction
John J. Oprandy, Ph.D., South University, College of Nursing and Public Health, Health Sciences Program Online; Savannah, GA, US

  • John presented an alternative approach to discussion board questions and assignments aimed at helping students think critically
  • Discussed the merits of this approach and how to execute it
  • DB’s targeted as one of the most important ways to teach a student online
  • In their model:
    • Professor:
      • Sets expectations up front on when going to respond and how going to respond – i.e. NOT going to respond to each person’s every posting
      • Responds to each student’s main post; students respond to 2 other students
      • Use open ended, carefully crafted questions; questions need to be more complex in nature
      • Offers substantive responses, leads/guides discussion, models good writing, offers timely responses
      • Summarizes info and adds something new
      • Asks probing follow up questions to guide the conversations/learning – “It’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together.”
      • Provides final wrap up
  • What NOT to do:
    • Provide short/trite responses, give away the answer, give feedback that better belongs in the gradebook
  • This approach requires daily interaction and participation
  • Rubrics important and must align with approach
  • Works best with smaller groups
  • Faculty liked it because they often had to think on their feet

After hearing Sebastian Thrun’s keynote last week at the Sloan Consortium Conference on online learning — where he at one point alluded to the creation of “rockstar professors” arising from the current day MOOCs — and after reading the following item, I wonder…

…are we already owning our own personal brands more and more…?


Academia.Edu overhauls profiles as the onus falls on researchers to manage their personal brands — from techcrunch.com by Kim-Mai Cutler


Steelcase: Using our heads and our hands to give information physical form



When we take notes during a lecture, however, something amazing happens. As we write, we create spatial relationships between the pieces of information we’re recording. The region of the brain that handles spatial information is engaged and, by linking it with the verbal information the brain filters wheat from chaff.

Research bears this out. In a study of a lecture class, students who took notes remembered no more content than the students who didn’t take notes; the act of taking notes did not increase the amount of what they remembered. But the students who took notes remembered more key facts, those who merely listened remembered more or less random content from the lecture.

Note taking isn’t the only way to help the brain recall important stuff. Other kinds of writing, such as scrawling ideas on a whiteboard or pencilling a reminder on a calendar, create a link between the spatial and verbal parts of our brains and strengthen how important information is stored in our brains.




Project summary for FuturICT


Also see:

  • Scientists aim to predict the future with $1 billion Earth simulator — from dvice.com
    Imagine what would happen if you had a computer program that could take in data from sensors everywhere on Earth and then plug that data into a detailed simulation for the entire Earth all at once. If you’re imagining being able to predict the future, you’re imagining correctly, and E.U. researchers want to make it real.The Living Earth Simulator is a billion-dollar proposal to spend ten years developing a computer environment that can simulate everything. And not just simulate, but also explore predictive models of how everything going on in the world interrelates with everything else, deriving connections and correlations that we never knew existed.

    In order to get that billion dollars, the Living Earth Simulator has to beat out four other future and emerging technologies projects that are all trying to win funding from the European Commission.


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Who’s reading your research? Academia.edu offers an analytics dashboard for scholars  — from hackeducation.com by Audrey Watters


Academia.edu, a social network for scholars, is unveiling a new feature today that its founder Richard Price hopes will help address part of the “credit gap” for research. Academia.edu allows users to upload and share their research papers, and the site is launching its Analytics Dashboard for Scientists today that Price says will let scholars see the “real-time impact” of their work.

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How can you know if it’s *really* “research-based?” — from Daniel Willingham




My new book, When Can You Trust the Experts: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education is now available. (There’s a link for a free download of Chapter 1 on this page.)

I wrote the book out of frustration with a particular problem: the word “research” has become meaningless in education. Every product is claimed to be research-based. But we all know that can’t be the case. How are teachers and administrators supposed to know which claims are valid?

The second half of the book describes the short cut, which consists of four steps:

  1. Strip it. Clear away the verbiage and look at the actual claim. What exactly is the claim suggesting a teacher or parent should do, and what outcome is promised?
  2. Trace it. Who created this idea, and what have others said about it? It’s common to believe something because an authority confirms it, and this is often a reasonable thing to do. I think people rely heavily on credentials when evaluating education research, but I argue that it’s a weak indicator of truth.
  3. Analyze it. Why are you being asked to believe the claim is true? What evidence is offered, and how does the claim square with your own experience?
  4. Should I do it? You’re not going to adopt every educational program that is scientifically backed, and it may make sense to adopt one that has not been scientifically evaluated.
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From DSC re: the item below — an example of the opposite of true leadership
To see an example of TRUE leadership, see my immediately previous posting re: Christensen and Eyring.)

Give colleges more credit — Op-Ed at the LA Times by Barry Glassner and Morton Schapiro
Doomsayers are wrong. America’s higher-education model isn’t broken.

Barry Glassner is president, and a professor of sociology,
of Lewis & Clark College in Oregon.
Morton Schapiro is president, and a professor of economics,
of Northwestern University in Illinois.


From DSC:
I was going to title this posting “‘America’s higher-education model isn’t broken.’ Easy for you to say Morton and Barry.”

An excerpt from their article (emphasis DSC):

While for-profit colleges enroll an increasing percentage of all undergraduates, the demand for education at selective private and public universities and colleges continues to grow, as evidenced by dramatic declines in the percentage of applicants they admit.

Nice. Let’s see how many people we can decline — that’s a great  way to serve our society! Then let’s pride ourselves on this shrinking  percentage of people who actually get into our university.  Woo hoo!  That will help with our ever-important ratings/prestige/branding even more! (Please note: The dripping sound that you are now hearing is the sound of drops of  sarcasm  hitting the floor.)

A few brief questions for you Barry and Morton…

  • When was the last time you lived from paycheck to paycheck?
  • Do you know what that’s like?
  • Have you ever been in that situation? If so, when was the last time?

You two are so far removed from the society — that you say that you are trying to help and serve — that you don’t even recognize the strength of the current that you’re swimming in.  You swim with — and serve — the 1% (not the 99%).

One other thing worries us. There is a surefire way to make today’s dire predictions come to pass — if educational leaders feel compelled to listen to scaremongers who are all too anxious to force us to adopt a new model that eliminates outstanding professors and their passion for teaching, research budgets and the pursuit of new knowledge, the residential college experience and the core commitment to excellence that have made American higher education the leader in the world. If that were to happen, we might end up with colleges and universities that aren’t worth saving.

For transparency’s sake, I attended Northwestern University — and did very well there. It’s a great school in many ways. But I wonder what the percentage of professors are at NU who are there to work on being the best professors/teachers that they can possibly be. I question how many have a true passion to teach.  Research? Yes.  Teach? Not so much.

In fact, from my experiences at NU, I remember several graduate students grading my work or teaching our classes. Speaking of those folks…I wonder…were those graduate students trained in teaching and learning?  Were they given a background in any sort of School of Education? Or pedagogical training?  BTW, those same questions can be asked of NU’s  full-time, tenured faculty members; and I’ll bet you that the answers are not pretty. Also, in many other of the courses I took at NU, I had hundreds of students in them so I seriously doubt that any of my professors even knew who I was.

BTW, what does a year at NU cost these days? From what I can tell from NU’s website, roughly $60,000+ for 3 quarters worth of tuition, room, board, and associated fees.

The system’s not broken you say…hmmm…seems to me I have to pay the price of a pretty darn nice house in order to get an undergraduate degree at your place.  But then they tell me that an UG degree isn’t worth much these days…that what you really need is graduate work to get a good job. Hhhmmmm…

Northwestern and other universities and colleges like it have strayed far off the noble path from which they began their journeys. Look out for #1 has not only been Northwestern University’s motto these last few decades (replacing the long held Quaecumque Sunt Vera motto) , it is the unofficial teaching/undercurrent that it delivers to its students year in and year out.


© 2024 | Daniel Christian