If Top Lists are the Currency of Academic Quality I Quit

So I’m angry, I was reading a post from one of my Twitter friends, CC Chapman, about his dislike of Top Lists. This motivated me into responding back along the lines of “I despise Top Lists” in the context of how people continually request information along the lines of “what is the top school for audio engineering”, “what is the best school for production”.

I’ve seen these questions asked time and time and time again on one of my forums for studio recording engineers. The board has a category (99) (http://www.studiorecordingengineer.com/forum-99.html) entitled Becoming an Engineer, and I’m always amazed at how many people ask this, frankly dumb, question, I’ll now indicate why this is dumb.

Firstly, before we look at how Top Lists work in USA (thanks to another of my Twitter friends Christopher Penn) we need to ask this question: Why are you going to college? Or put in a more academic way – what are the main motivational reasons for a student attending college.

The main motivational reasons an individuals choice for attending a college for studying are numerous and considerable academic research exists which indicates this very clearly such as this (http://www.nwrel.org/planning/reports/self-direct/) to name thousands.

Some of the main reasons I’ve listed here:

Intrinsic reasons

• Loves the subject for the subject sake
• Wants to prove they can achieve something for themselves
• Loves the city the college is based at
• Knows other students or staff at campus

Extrinsic reasons

• Wants a qualification as a ticket
• Want to prove to family and peers their capability and worth

I do not want to dwell on these reasons in a blog post, but needless to say the reasons are complex, which make questions of the form “What is the Top School for Audio Engineering” absolutely of zero value, if there is no correlation to the individual students’ motivational reasons or indeed a definition of what “Top” is.

Indeed if Top List are not clearly defined as to why they are Top Lists they are nothing more than disinformation. Financially backed lists are even worse, where they are self-perpetuating and creating a very wrong perception of quality in the minds of the youth, I mean people really do seem to believe these lists as a measure of some kind of academic quality, it is frankly shocking.

Check this post out as an example of this activity:


If a Top List is in existence we have to pull it apart, rip it to bits and ask what are the qualifications for getting in the Top-List, what makes the school top, who decides that and why do they decide it, and could I put my school in the Top List if I could afford it! This goes back to Christopher Penn’s transparency concept, I’d go even further and simply do away with Top Lists altogether!

For example “goals such as increasing the diversity of freshmen, improving freshman retention, adding to research expenditures, improving faculty salaries, etc” are very noble targets for any Uni Director/President to aim for, but when these magazine Top-Lists are based on subjectivity we are in extremely dangerous ground, especially when a Uni President is being paid to reach the top of the Top List, outrageous!

Sometimes the best academic experience can come from the most unknown of sources and, it is the connections the individual makes with the material, the people, the environment which yield rich education, as well as a variety of other issues which have absolutely nothing to do with a subjective Top-List published in popular magazines.

Screw the friggin Top Lists!

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I Love New Media

I love new media, I love the people working within new media, and I love the tools we have in new media for sharing the love.

One very interesting blog post which inspired me this week was made by one of my Twitter friends Christopher Pen called Transparency is the currency of a trust relationship. This is a great post which I have been actively pushing all week which has led to some great things.

In all my meetings and activities this week I have been experimenting with the concept of “opening-up” more and more and sharing more and more information with more and more people. I consider myself fairly open already, but maybe I’m not as open as I think, so I have been exaggerating this as much as possible. I have been mixing real life face-to-face encounters with online-worlds, social networking tools and expanding all of those as far as possible.

I have shared my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blog, Podcast details with students, staff and anyone I come into contact with. I have had numerous requests for to be added for all of those channels and I’m loving.

I love new media.

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RSS to Twitter Script

Found a great script which takes an RSS feed and spits that up to your Twitter account.

I immediately installed this script for TPC and also ACF+, with a server CRON setting to once an hour.

This means that those two RSS feeds will be posted to their respective twitter acounts once every hour, thus displaying the most recent entry.

Check the RSS to Twitter Script here

ahhh, lovely.

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Second Life Educating Blog

Just launched SLEDucating as a shared portal for educators working in SecondLife wishing to blog. There is an abundance of academic research and development taking place “in-world” and though many many personal blogs exist for this, there was not one central shared space. Now we have one.

I encourage any of you dipping your toes into SL as an academic or a closely related field of development (new-media experts etc) to jump in. Just ask me for a category and I’ll set that up for you.

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Future Of Web Apps

I was recently checking out The Future Of Web Apps lectures which can be found at this site: http://www.futureofwebapps.com/. This was just what I needed this morning in order to get tuned into some site design and conceptualisation I need to get going today and over the weekend.

I’m wanting to re-vamp some of the services available on The Phone Cam, which will allow far more user interaction. Since we launched that site I’ve been really gagging to get more user interaction, everyone loves getting gossip and becoming part of a multi-user community providing it is busy and very transparent. The transparency in technology is totally essential. One of the ways TPC currently has interaction is through posting comments to a blogged picture, this then sends and e-mail to the poster that a user has commented on their content. Whilst this is awesome and cool, it’s not yet immediate enough for me. The thing is we are encouragring a user to use their phone to send content, that part works great, the user takes a pic and hits send, it’s blogged, sweet. A user can even use their wap connection and log-in to the site through their phone and comment, but this is the crunch, that is not transparent, it’s not “girl-proof” (no offense girls), I mean this in a positive sense, it is not easy, not easy enough.

So the developmental plan is to get TPC to be phone-text enabled, through either sms and/or e-mail.

I feel we need to change the way this will operate slightly from a user perspective, to not so much have the focus on pic discussion but to enable general discussion based on the users group, or network, or chosen pool of buddies/friends, much in the way twitter.com works.

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