Joe's Pedagogical Garage: Central Scrutinizers vs. The Mothers of Invention

Doug Marshall
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, University of South Alabama

Just as the proliferation of online teaching and course-management software has made the monitoring of students’ course-related behaviors much easier and more quantifiable for faculty, these same innovations have made the monitoring of faculty’s course-related behaviors equally transparent to their chairs and other supervisors. This session seeks to begin a public conversation about the implications and proper limits of such surveillance. The trick of course is how best to weigh the institution’s very real interest in assuring the academic quality and rigor of its courses, as well as the potential for improved faculty mentoring, against the equally real degradations of academic freedom, faculty authority, and the student-faculty relationship, that such practices entail.  More generally still, the issue is considered from the perspective of Weber’s critique of Zweckrationality, from whence one sees that the practice is likely to propagate academic monocultures that are antithetical to the creativity that has heretofore been the core competency of, primary advantage of, and strongest selling point for, a US University education.