Summer Reading

Professor David Harvey, an expert on Marx and Marxism is teaching a course on Marx's Capital vol. I on his blog.

I have to say this is really really awesome, but it comes with interesting caveats.

First, who is this for? What good is teaching with no interaction? This is my critique of all those great lectures on tape or whatever that you can buy at Barnes & Noble and such. There's such a thing as delivering information and then there's teaching. One is a lateral move, one is a forward move.

A quick fix would be a stickcam or liveblog that happened while the lectures were going on. TAs could man the chat rooms and serve as proxy questioners/commenters during the lecture. They would also keep the course on track by being able to filter some of the non-relevant internet comments that might get through if he were doing it himself while lecturing.

Second, why offer such a thing? What is the pedagogical payoff? It is great to have access to these lectures, but why were we given access?

Third, does this risk undermining the University structure? Will the increase of these sorts of things (and I'm sure this is just the first of them) spark a)backlash against the university for being too "liberal" b)the rise of the University RIAA who disciplines professors and students for gaining access to copyrighted 'for hire' work via internet channels or c) decline enrollment in the University as our economy continues to worsen, as it only provides a "fishtank" view which people might judge as being in the ocean?

Finally, this appears to be an early new media move, where the old media is merely imported into the new media and offered without much consideration for the power, scope and scale of the new tech. I think that's what's happened here. How could these lectures or a course be adapted and not just ported? I believe podcasting is one of the most significant media deveopments of recent years for University teachers. Thinking along the lines of that technology, how could it improve what we have here?

Thank you David for the blog, these critiicisms are those of a skeptical supporter, don't forget!