Penny Welch and Susan Wright
Fieldwork for master’s students of anthropology
Helle Bundgaard and Cecilie Rubow
This article discusses the teaching of anthropological fieldwork during a period of comprehensive educational reforms in Danish universities. We trace widely held conceptions of fieldwork among master’s students of anthropology and the efforts they make to live up to what they assume to be classic fieldwork. We argue that the ideals of classic fieldwork too often fail to support the learning process when fieldwork is squeezed into the timeframe of the curriculum and show how fieldwork as part of an educational programme can be mentored by online feedback. Our suggestion is that cooperative reflection during fieldwork can improve the quality of the empirical material and the analytical process significantly.
The challenges and benefits of taking English-medium courses for Japanese students
English-medium degree programmes are one of the trends within the internationalisation of higher education in Japan. The recent university internationalisation project, Project for Establishing University Network for Internationalization, or Global 30 is a good example. English-medium degree programmes attract a larger and more diverse international student population to study in Japan and create an on-campus international learning environment for both local and international students. This article aims to shed light on what attracts Japanese students to such an on-campus international learning experience and the kinds of challenges they face in taking English-medium courses. The results of my research show that English as a medium of instruction is a good tool to attract Japanese students, but the quality and relevance of what is being delivered are also significant. Japanese students are willing to challenge themselves in a different learning environment, but they tend to do so without seeking support, which in turn limits their learning.
Surveying the lack of pedagogical and theoretical diversity in American International Relations
Christopher R. Cook
This article contributes to the discussion of internationalisation in higher education in the context of the international relations (IR) sub-field of political science. The field of IR might seem by definition to be ‘internationalised’, but the underlying theoretical assumptions of the field, its social science rationalism and privileging of the unitary nation-state exhibit an American or Eurocentric bias. This Western bias with its emphasis on security issues is then replicated in research agendas and reproduced in higher education classrooms across the United States and beyond. I argue that the way forward to promoting internationalisation partially lies with promoting plurality and diversity within research and in the classroom or what Lamy calls ‘challenging hegemonic paradigms’ (2007).
Can commercial vendors support creative higher education?
The large-scale massive open online course (xMOOC) rose to prominence in 2012–13 on the promise that its outcomes would be better and cheaper than those of face-to-face university instruction. By late 2013, xMOOC educational claims had been largely discredited, though policy interest in ed-tech carried on. What can we learn about the future of ed-tech by analysing this eighteen-month period in higher education history? This article gathers different types of evidence to suggest several conclusions: MOOC momentum was propelled by an administrative failure to apply due diligence to xMOOC educational claims. The MOOC path was also smoothed by a confusion among key commentators between xMOOCs and small-scale ‘connectivity’ MOOCs that did show meaningful learning outcomes. At the same time, online courses do not overcome race-based disparities of outcome and in some cases make them worse. In addition, student use of online courses appears to be instrumental, even cynical, further limiting their educational value. MOOCs will be back in modified form to endanger educational equity and quality unless faculty members articulate explicit goals and standards for public higher education to which ed-tech can be held accountable.
The university intellectual as globalised neoliberal consumer self
This article focuses on the ways that modern American universities are engaged in the process of articulating new producing and consuming subjects. It argues that the image of the engaged ‘media celebrity’ intellectual, as presented in the TED Talk model, has become a cultural ideal that reconciles a deeper contradiction in the academy. Through a complex process, university faculty and students are assimilated into the globalised lifestyle and the identity of cosmopolitans by participating in a social space that is at once an upscale shopping mall and at the same time a high tech corporate research park. This global elite is forged first out of individuals who make it through the university and then secondly out of those university students who successfully excel under the twin pressures of elite production and consumption. Most student, faculty and universities fall short of this ideal. But by watching TED talks they can aspire to this fantasy ideal through the image of the media celebrity intellectual.
MOOCs, academic labour and the future of the university
Michael A. Peters
This special issue focused on ‘Digital Media and Contested Visions of Education’ provides an opportunity to examine the tendency to hypothesise a rupture in the history of the university. It does so by contrasting the traditional Humboldtian ideals of the university with a neoliberal marketised version and in order to ask questions concerning evaluations of the quality of higher education within a knowledge economy. Theorising the rupture has led to a variety of different accounts most of which start from an approach in political economy and differ according to how theorists picture this change in capitalism. Roughly speaking the question of whether to see the political economy of using social media in higher education from a state perspective or a network perspective is a critical issue. A state-centric approach is predisposed towards a reading that is based on a critical realist approach of Marxist political economy (). By contrast an approach that decentres the state and focuses on global networked finance capitalism ironically grows out of a military-university research network created by the U.S. government. Arguably, networks, not states, now constitute the organising global structure () and while state-centric theory with hierarchical structures are still significant, relational, self-organising and flexible market networks have become the new unit of analysis for understanding the circuits of global capital (; ). However, states still have a role to play in norming the networks or providing the governing framework in international law.
Digital Media and Contested Visions of Education
Wesley Shumar and Susan Wright
Facebook as a shaping force for students’ transitions into higher education
Sally Baker and Eve Stirling
As technological developments accelerate, and neoliberal ideologies shift the ways that universities ‘do business’, higher education is facing radical changes. Within this context, students’ need to ‘succeed’ at university is more important than ever. Consequently, understanding students’ transitions within this shifting higher education landscape has become a key focus for universities. It is now pertinent to explore how social-networking sites (SNS) influence students’ experiences as they transition into university. In this article, we offer two ethnographic case studies of how students use one SNS (Facebook) as they travel through their first year of undergraduate study. We suggest that Facebook is used not only for dynamic participation in the social fabric of university life, Facebook is the go-to space to organise their academic and social lives, using it as a hybrid space to negotiate between home and university. As such, Facebook offers student-users a ‘liminal tool’ for negotiating and facilitating resources and networks within the first year at university.
Marxist theory in action
Megan Thiele, Yung-Yi Diana Pan, and Devin Molina
Karl Marx’s revolutionary call, ‘Workers of the World Unite’, resonates with many in today’s society. This article describes and assesses an easily reproducible classroom activity that simulates both alienating, and perhaps more importantly, non-alienating states of production as described by Marx. This hands-on learning activity gives students the opportunity to experience and process these divergent states. In reflecting, students connect their classroom experience to societal forces surrounding wage labour. A quasi-experimental design implemented across eight sociology classes at two U.S. university campuses – one two-year and one four-year college – points to the effectiveness of the activity. Evidence suggests that students are better able to grasp Marx’s theory of alienation, retain the knowledge over time and apply it to their own lives with this experiential learning activity.