Posts Tagged ‘response’

Jus’ Talkin’ bout da Bava

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

I have been really busy with classes at ICLP, but I came across a blog by Jim Groom that just really needs some talking about. The question being dealt with here is how open should umwblogs be. Since my attending UMW’s faculty academy, I have been thinking about this issue of opening of online spaces to further connect and encourage students to knowledge creation. As a student, I want to touch on my own perspective and side of the argument. While at the Inter Chinese Language Program in Taipei, I have been keeping blogs to talk about Chinese language learning and my classes. It got me thinking that it would be awesome to have other students that are here participate in my own work as co-authors, but the problem is I can’t do that on umwblogs. It’s unfortunate, but this space isn’t open up to outsiders who could potentially be brought into the conversation beyond just comments, any one can do that. I want to be able to talk about Chinese language with a multitude of other students and be writing a blog that informs other people. Here’s the thing, at Mary Washington there are very few people who are as interested in studying China or the language as I am, how awesome would it be to get other scholars from different institutions writing on the same space? It would be sweet and could connect schools in totally different ways. I would love to have the capability of adding authors to my blog who are in similar veins of study. If we are all about having a “conversation” which was the buzz word at faculty academy, shouldn’t we be talking to more people than ourselves? If that answer to that question is yes, then what do we do?

Jim Groom makes a very strong statement in his post: “What is UMW Blogs if not simply a step towards something else? Why are we so jealous about protecting it, let’s burn it down and build it anew.” I feel that what we are seeing is a return to a very old problem concerning how academic works, it is madly sheltered away from the eyes of the public. It’s also something that should be vigorously controlled and locked down to just people at the institution, but really come on, is that how learning works for those of us interested in umwblogs? No, because it comes with the assumption that you can only learn from your institution and nowhere else. I have wondered if this idea about umwblogs and its bringing up of a network of problems also points to how academics have to publish through peer-review journals and have little control of their own work. Who really holds the reins in terms of umwblogs? The students aren’t the ones calling the shots, its the university. I remember at the end of the spring semester this year Jim Groom posted about a “umwblogs escape plan” for those students who were graduating and wanted to continue on the work they began at UMW. This sounds great, it sounds like a flexible system, but if you have an escape plan, you are getting out of situation that is stuck, trapped. In my own opinion that isn’t what umwblogs is supposed to be, but if you go to the mainpage it says “a publishing platform for the UMW community”. It doesn’t say “a publishing platform for the academic community” or even “…for the learning community.” It’s ultimately limited by a simple tagline to the university. I agree with Groom’s answer of saying bah to it, start over and open the sucker up, but that isn’t going to happen, just because as long as it is attached to the University, they are going to want to keep a handle on it. It’s how a school works, it needs to protect and secure its own intellectual property for its own prestige (which brings to question who owns the blog posts : P).

The eventual compromise looks towards a way of doing a plug-in to allow people from here to grab people in. I can settle for that. Groom said it right, ” This is a plugin/feature that we should develop, for we need to start thinking of this as network that both relfects UMW, but also all the various individuals and their networks and relationships that move beyond it.” Where does the UMW community end, really? If it is actually about the individuals then let’s allow the individuals a little more control, but how do we simultaneously call this the University’s space but say it moves beyond it as well? I think here at Mary Wash we do have a body of students that are very rigorous in their learning and want to try it out by letting the world see it. Frankly, it’s great practice. It doesn’t come with the fears of receiving bad grades, but allows you to still be susceptible to mistakes and grow from the process. I’m down for a new approach to the umwblogs and really am super stoked to see where it goes from here. We have seen this platform do exceedingly well, but just because this is having success doesn’t mean we should stop here and call it a day. Does it?