The role of a University?

Is it to teach commercial skills (like how to run Adobe InDesign) or is it to push people to explore their fields and themselves?

Steve Sloan is asking for feedback about his innovative podcasting class because the university wants to change it to be just a pure skills class.

Sigh.

You can learn InDesign from a book. You can’t have a small group interaction with speakers like Steve Sergeant, host of Wildebeat, David Weinberger, author of Cluetrain Manifesto, Aaron Uhrmacher, Second Life expert, Phil Wolff, SkypeJournal author, or students talking about their own podcasts. I spoke to the class as well. Notice how all those link to podcasts of the actual class sessions!

It’s a shame, because San Jose State University needs more innovative classes like these, not fewer.

Steve is hosting a meeting Thursday evening to discuss the situation and see if they can do anything.

70 thoughts on “The role of a University?

  1. I attended a panel discussion “Innovation & Growth in a Flat World” just yesterday, where Thomas Friedman commented that American education must win in four areas in order to remain competitive: teaching lifelong learning, encouraging curiosity and passion over I.Q., teaching navigational skills & internet judgment, and celebrating right-brain performance.

    Working as an educator in an academic environment, I’ve come to realize how important it is to have an administration who are supportive and ‘get it’.

    Incidentally, blog publisher Nick Denton posted his Gawker Media readership numbers today.

    http://www.nickdenton.org/002200.html

  2. I attended a panel discussion “Innovation & Growth in a Flat World” just yesterday, where Thomas Friedman commented that American education must win in four areas in order to remain competitive: teaching lifelong learning, encouraging curiosity and passion over I.Q., teaching navigational skills & internet judgment, and celebrating right-brain performance.

    Working as an educator in an academic environment, I’ve come to realize how important it is to have an administration who are supportive and ‘get it’.

    Incidentally, blog publisher Nick Denton posted his Gawker Media readership numbers today.

    http://www.nickdenton.org/002200.html

  3. Steve, what Robert linked to was your personal blog. Had he – or your post – indicated anything about this being a journalism class, my initial reaction would have been different. I hope I communicated that in my second post.

    I understand why I misinterpreted things. I’m just hoping others understand how it happened.

    LayZ, out of the 10 IT people in my department we have one history, one chemistry, and one elementary education graduate. I can certainly agree on how a degree doesn’t directly correlate to one’s career path.

    I agree with you about Robert too. He’s an example of what it takes to be effective in his career.

    That’s just it though – a university should help a person be effective. If this were – as I mistakenly thought – an IT class teaching about podcasting, I can’t see how it helps someone in that career be more effective in any way. Taken as an elective maybe. As a journalism class? Sure, there’s much to gain.

  4. Steve, what Robert linked to was your personal blog. Had he – or your post – indicated anything about this being a journalism class, my initial reaction would have been different. I hope I communicated that in my second post.

    I understand why I misinterpreted things. I’m just hoping others understand how it happened.

    LayZ, out of the 10 IT people in my department we have one history, one chemistry, and one elementary education graduate. I can certainly agree on how a degree doesn’t directly correlate to one’s career path.

    I agree with you about Robert too. He’s an example of what it takes to be effective in his career.

    That’s just it though – a university should help a person be effective. If this were – as I mistakenly thought – an IT class teaching about podcasting, I can’t see how it helps someone in that career be more effective in any way. Taken as an elective maybe. As a journalism class? Sure, there’s much to gain.

  5. LayZ: you’re going soft on me. Oh, geez. Seriously, thanks!

    I did learn computers in journalism, though. I wrote a column called “Spartan Nerd” which was where I practiced a lot of the things I do today. I also setup hundreds of Macs and beta tested lots of software thanks to San Jose State University. All of these led directly into working for a computer magazine, which led to planning conferences, which led to blogging, which led to Microsoft and blogging, which led to PodTech.

  6. LayZ: you’re going soft on me. Oh, geez. Seriously, thanks!

    I did learn computers in journalism, though. I wrote a column called “Spartan Nerd” which was where I practiced a lot of the things I do today. I also setup hundreds of Macs and beta tested lots of software thanks to San Jose State University. All of these led directly into working for a computer magazine, which led to planning conferences, which led to blogging, which led to Microsoft and blogging, which led to PodTech.

  7. @32 “My real point is that a university should prepare a student for their career.”

    Well, yes and no. That probably applies to accounting and perhaps computer programming. But I’m sure we all have plenty of examples of people working in careers that are not even remotely related to what they majored in in college. Even here Robert is a close example, but one can make the case his journalism training has helped him build his blogging reputation and PodCast business. Nevertheless, he didn’t have a “geeky” major but managed to prove his mettle in the industry. Despite my many and varied criticisms of Robert, he has proven that he can be successful in a career not directly related to his major. That’s because at the end of the day, his college education taught him how to think (yes, that was painful to write )

    Except for perhaps doctors, lawyers and accountants, employers usually, for the most part, look for people that know how to think and solve problems. If you can show you are smart, committed (you actually graduated, or made the effort), they figure they can train you to do the job. I’ve worked with many a developer that didn’t have a CS degree, and I’ve worked with many marketing types that didn’t have an marketing major or MBA.

  8. @32 “My real point is that a university should prepare a student for their career.”

    Well, yes and no. That probably applies to accounting and perhaps computer programming. But I’m sure we all have plenty of examples of people working in careers that are not even remotely related to what they majored in in college. Even here Robert is a close example, but one can make the case his journalism training has helped him build his blogging reputation and PodCast business. Nevertheless, he didn’t have a “geeky” major but managed to prove his mettle in the industry. Despite my many and varied criticisms of Robert, he has proven that he can be successful in a career not directly related to his major. That’s because at the end of the day, his college education taught him how to think (yes, that was painful to write )

    Except for perhaps doctors, lawyers and accountants, employers usually, for the most part, look for people that know how to think and solve problems. If you can show you are smart, committed (you actually graduated, or made the effort), they figure they can train you to do the job. I’ve worked with many a developer that didn’t have a CS degree, and I’ve worked with many marketing types that didn’t have an marketing major or MBA.

  9. Sourpuss Dave here….

    Robert – the blog is titled “Steve Sloan, SJSU Tech on a Mission”. Nowhere in the post does it refer to it being a journalism class, rather, it speaks of catchphrases like Web 2.0. Can you see where an undereducated sourpuss like me might make a mistake and think it to be an IT class?

    Katie – I’m not judging what class a student may take. Merely giving my opinion of what the worth may be. I’m in IT and in fact will be interviewing 3 candidates for an entry-level position today. My role is to assess their technical expertise. Appearantly somebody values my opinion.

    All, granted, my Basket Weaving 101 comment was a bit over the top. But no more than Robert or LayZ can be sometimes too. My real point is that a university should prepare a student for their career. A degree should show achievement to a commitment.

    As a journalism course there is some value to this course. As does teaching software. As for their technical merits? Not much.

  10. Sourpuss Dave here….

    Robert – the blog is titled “Steve Sloan, SJSU Tech on a Mission”. Nowhere in the post does it refer to it being a journalism class, rather, it speaks of catchphrases like Web 2.0. Can you see where an undereducated sourpuss like me might make a mistake and think it to be an IT class?

    Katie – I’m not judging what class a student may take. Merely giving my opinion of what the worth may be. I’m in IT and in fact will be interviewing 3 candidates for an entry-level position today. My role is to assess their technical expertise. Appearantly somebody values my opinion.

    All, granted, my Basket Weaving 101 comment was a bit over the top. But no more than Robert or LayZ can be sometimes too. My real point is that a university should prepare a student for their career. A degree should show achievement to a commitment.

    As a journalism course there is some value to this course. As does teaching software. As for their technical merits? Not much.

  11. Hi all,

    Uni is to learn how to learn. Then you can do the other stuff.

    Not “I see no useful skills in this course. Basket Weaving 101 enables a student more.”

    but underwater basketweaving 201.

    cheers Plu

  12. Hi all,

    Uni is to learn how to learn. Then you can do the other stuff.

    Not “I see no useful skills in this course. Basket Weaving 101 enables a student more.”

    but underwater basketweaving 201.

    cheers Plu

  13. #17: Actually knowing how to do a podcast is far more likely to get you a job in Silicon Valley lately than knowing how to write a newspaper article. The San Jose Mercury News and other newspapers are laying off journalists. Companies like PodShow, Revision 3, TWiT, and PodTech are hiring podcasters, though.

  14. #17: Actually knowing how to do a podcast is far more likely to get you a job in Silicon Valley lately than knowing how to write a newspaper article. The San Jose Mercury News and other newspapers are laying off journalists. Companies like PodShow, Revision 3, TWiT, and PodTech are hiring podcasters, though.

  15. In response to: “If a blogging course helps you analyze news and data more effectively, then by all means make it part of the ciriculum [sic]. But if all it’s going to do is teach you HOW to podcast or blog, well, sort of a waste of university resources.”

    I’m also involved in Jour163 (co-lecturer/”understudy”), and be assured this class has done both.

    For example, to get a better understanding of web/web 2.0 concepts, we read The Cluetrain Manifesto, discussed it class (with co-author David Weinberger via Skype, no less), and continued our discussion on the class blog. We also read Friedman’s The World is Flat to get a better grip of some of the global trends shaping our economy and the media industry. We didn’t just hear about Second Life, we saw it and experienced it as an SJSU staffer who’s involved in Second Life interacted on screen (again using Skype) with another Second Life denizen.

    In Jour 163, we’ve tried to combine an understanding of media trends, web 2.0 and new media technologies with some hands-on experience at blogging, podcasting, creating RSS feeds, simple web page design, and multimedia.

    I think we’ve all learned a lot…and I’m talking instructors as well as students. I know I have. We plan to do some things a little differently next semester (and we’ll probably consider some other modifications after we hear our students’ evaluations as we wrap up the class). But I hope we can continue to use this class to offer students an opportunity to explore how and why the media industry is changing, and think about how they can fit into that new world, as well as to help them learn some new media skills.

  16. In response to: “If a blogging course helps you analyze news and data more effectively, then by all means make it part of the ciriculum [sic]. But if all it’s going to do is teach you HOW to podcast or blog, well, sort of a waste of university resources.”

    I’m also involved in Jour163 (co-lecturer/”understudy”), and be assured this class has done both.

    For example, to get a better understanding of web/web 2.0 concepts, we read The Cluetrain Manifesto, discussed it class (with co-author David Weinberger via Skype, no less), and continued our discussion on the class blog. We also read Friedman’s The World is Flat to get a better grip of some of the global trends shaping our economy and the media industry. We didn’t just hear about Second Life, we saw it and experienced it as an SJSU staffer who’s involved in Second Life interacted on screen (again using Skype) with another Second Life denizen.

    In Jour 163, we’ve tried to combine an understanding of media trends, web 2.0 and new media technologies with some hands-on experience at blogging, podcasting, creating RSS feeds, simple web page design, and multimedia.

    I think we’ve all learned a lot…and I’m talking instructors as well as students. I know I have. We plan to do some things a little differently next semester (and we’ll probably consider some other modifications after we hear our students’ evaluations as we wrap up the class). But I hope we can continue to use this class to offer students an opportunity to explore how and why the media industry is changing, and think about how they can fit into that new world, as well as to help them learn some new media skills.

  17. In response to: Is it to teach commercial skills (like how to run Adobe InDesign) or is it to push people to explore their fields and themselves?

    Steve may want to explore what the Harvard law school is doing with Second Life and one of their course offerings called CyberOne. True potential for how people might explore their fields. http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/cyberone/

    regards,

    Joe

  18. In response to: Is it to teach commercial skills (like how to run Adobe InDesign) or is it to push people to explore their fields and themselves?

    Steve may want to explore what the Harvard law school is doing with Second Life and one of their course offerings called CyberOne. True potential for how people might explore their fields. http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/cyberone/

    regards,

    Joe

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