About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3829-3834
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain


T. Carney

Southern Oregon University (UNITED STATES)
In 1995 I was the first at my university to put course materials on the new World Wide Web. Little was available elsewhere on the Web to draw from, so in my courses I continued to rely on student-purchased books and packets of assembled articles and chapters. Eighteen years later, Web resources have become so developed that it is now possible to assign materials which are accessible directly online for little or no cost to the student or university. Just as importantly, it is now possible to require that students abandon the distinction between "inside" materials--formally-assigned readings--and "outside" ones found online by the student rather than prepackaged by the professor. I have been doing this for two years now, and I have come to certain conclusions which I present here as theses.

Thesis #1. In a university course, the line between “inside” and "outside” materials should disappear.
This is possible because of the Internet. Breaking down this distinction will go along way toward pruning back the over-institutionalization of learning in modern life. Most courses are mechanical in their nature and in their form, but the real work of learning takes place organically between teacher and student. Syllabi in which only some of the course’s necessary materials are spelled out will help in this regard.

Thesis #2. Professors should stop packaging knowledge for retail consumption.
Textbooks are often unnecessary. Excellent materials can be found online. Readers, packets, and other kinds of knowledge bundles are often not necessary, and they give the false impression that a) knowledge can be commodified,  b) that purchased knowledge is worth the huge cost and can’t be had any other way, and c) that it can be carried neatly in a book bag.

Thesis #3. University courses should model the intellectual and information ecology of the day-to-day World.
Though institutional considerations make disciplinary segmentation necessary, we should remember they are artificial and, to a certain extent, distort the true nature of reality. At the very least, we should encourage wide-ranging access to materials related to the subject at hand.

Thesis #4. Practice with the filtering and qualifying of source materials will reap huge advantages for students in their careers.
By always pre-qualifying and packaging course materials for them, we deprive students of the vital experiences that can lead them to intellectual autonomy. Professorial time can then be used to guide students in this work instead of forcing on them another sort of pre-packaged knowledge: the lecture.

Thesis #5. University courses should promote the exercise of active initiative rather than the lifelessness of passive compliance.
Fundamentally, this means shifting the balance of responsibility of teacher and student such that the student is more responsible for learning than the teacher is for teaching.

Thesis #6. Examinations and quizzes should be opportunities for additional learning.
To accept this may mean rejecting the notion that exams do what they are actually supposed to do: accurately assess learning. There is no reason why we can’t make examinations meaningful by making them part of the learning process. To some extent this means that exams ask for more than was actually included in the packaged course. This, of course, is not compatible with in-class examinations. It must be done online, and days, not hours, allotted. Open book(s), open notes, open internet, open minds.
author = {Carney, T.},
series = {6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3847-5},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {3829-3834}}
AU - T. Carney
SN - 978-84-616-3847-5/2340-1095
PY - 2013
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2013
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2013 Proceedings
SP - 3829
EP - 3834
ER -
T. Carney (2013) SIX THESES: COURSE MATERIALS IN THE 21ST CENTURY UNIVERSITY, ICERI2013 Proceedings, pp. 3829-3834.