Critiquing the critiques

In an effort to get this blog more active again, I thought I’d start off by sharing a brilliant critique of the commonly seen higher-ed critique genre that you see often in the Chronicle or shared on Twitter.

Critiques of Higher Ed by Melanie Fullick

We’ve all seen the type of article that Fullick refers to, as they all contain similar tropes:

  • “students are lazy and coddled”,
  • “administrators are turning higher-ed into a corporation”,
  • and my personal favourite, “technology is ruining absolutely everything”.

Fullick nails the entire genre with a perfect gif: the Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud. Her analysis and takedown of the original article by Srigley details the many, many problems with this genre of writing about higher ed, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety.

The area that concerns me most is the use of what Kevin Gannon on Twitter referred to as “anecdata”.

I hear “anecdata” a lot in my daily work as an eLearning designer, and I find it quite dangerous. I hope to use this blog a bit more to combat the common refrains (like, “technology is dangerous and distracting” and “students are just on their phones all the time”) which are huge generalisations and cannot possibly be accurate in a diverse student body.

I’d love to hear more about your experiences with anecdata in the comments or on Twitter, #anecdata!

 

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