Jaschik, S. (2009) Tenure in a Digital Era Inside Higher Education, May 26

This article touches on a critical barrier to the more rapid development of e-learning, the academic ‘reward’ system. It focuses primarily on the assessment of digital scholarship for tenure and promotion, and the struggle to get recognition in the humanities for digital work. The article decribes the work being done by the Modern Language Association to change this situation.

Although not directly linked to recognition of teaching digitally, there are many parallel issues.

Two interesting comments from the article:

‘People who work with technology today face some of the challenges faced by the pioneers of women’s studies, ethnic studies and other fields that came into prominence in the 1960s and 70s. “It’s very often incumbent on individual scholars to make the case that their work has a history, has standards, that there are experts who can help in the process,” [Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association] said.

‘Many tenure review procedures are based on an assumption that a junior professor’s work can be divided easily into teaching, research and service. Feal noted that one of the exciting aspects of the new digital projects being created is that they advance scholarship and create teaching tools at the same time. Professors shouldn’t be forced to pick between one category and another. Similarly, those involved in this project say that some college departments just categorize anything digital as service, a solution seen as unsatisfactory because many of these projects are in fact focused on scholarship and teaching, and because service typically doesn’t count for much in tenure reviews.’

Although it is encouraging to see the Modern Language Association trying to improve the rcognition of faculty working digitally, it is still a really depressing article, an indictment of the failure of many faculty to understand the digital revolution. And read the comments as well as the main article, if you don’t believe me.


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