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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brainwashed into the cult of social media

Attention Oliver Burkeman's column in The Guardian this week discusses brainwashing and cults. "Brainwashing" doesn't exist, but "effort justification" does - the tendency to attribute a greater value (greater than the objective value) to an outcome effort has been put into acquiring or achieving.

Effort justification applies to a lot of activities which take place in and around education. Over-attributing value to fetishes such as collaboration, team work, and social media is an example of this. One of the main reasons I'm currently trying to shift my emphasis from social media to a dark social approach is that I have been guilty of effort justification in the past, and returning to a more evidence based rationale for dealing with students and colleagues is needed to re-establish more profitable outcomes.



4 comments:

  1. This seems quite sensible to me, especially your conclusion, about returning to a more evidence based rationale.

    I balk at (and am quite curious regarding) your choice of words in the last sentence, however. Why do you wish for more "profitable" outcomes? "Profitable" has a very explicit definition among the accounting-inclined, myself included. Do you mean to use the word as metaphor, i.e. as yielding more productive output given expenditure of time and energy?

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    1. A fair comment, though as I suspect will be all to obvious from the content of this blog, I mean educationally profitable, not bean counter profit. Time to reclaim the language from the perversion of the wonks.

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  2. I must admit that I was part of the 'cult of social media' and shall be spending time in digital purgatory for running an online course that had a mandatory social media component in it -- for 'collaboration, cooperation and peer-to-peer learning'. Years later at a conference I met some of the students who now have their own successful science careers and after a few beers asked them what they thought of the course I ran -- they smiled politely and said: they 'gamed' the system and didn't find the innovation particularly useful. A more truthful response than the student evaluation at the time.

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    1. I've had exactly the same experience.
      Makes you wonder about the value of student evaluations, doesn't it?

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