Editorial – Plans Derailed

I had a good piece lined up about e-text books about how students weren’t getting what they were promised and how we should all be pressuring the university to make good on it, based on a question and subsequent response in the AU Landing, but it turns out I was jumping the gun. What I took as an AU response was just the response of a student who, unfortunately, didn’t have the right information. When a real representative of AU responded, it took the wind right out of my sails. Which is a good thing for students, but leaves me in a bit of a bind having to create a new editorial when the old one is still burning so hot in my brain.

The episode highlights to me one of the problems of AU trying to use the AU landing (or really, most social media platforms) as a teaching or learning platform. When anybody can write anything they want, they will. I’m hopeful the person who posed the question wasn’t misled by the wrong answer, as I was, but in an environment where every piece of information is presented as the same as any other, it becomes all too possible to waste a lot of time and effort chasing down the wrong path.

There are ways around this, of course. Things such as making AU staff responses be in a color that normal student responses aren’t, or by providing some other indicator as to whether someone who is responding to you knows what they’re talking about, but the AU Landing doesn’t have any of these.

Nor do most social communication sites. Usually in some sort of effort to “democratize” communication between people. But, honestly, and this may sound rude or snobbish, but there’s a reason the phrase is “ignorant masses.” In a crowd of random people, the number of people who aren’t experts in a given topic will always outnumber those who are, by the very definition of the word expert. Yet for some reason we tend to believe that it’s a good idea that everybody be given an equal voice.

This incident is also why I won’t be reporting on what I’ve heard so far about emails from the University President and the CUPE regarding the call-centre model (which some are now referring to as the Student Success Centre) until I’ve had a chance to get some verification. What I will bring you this week is a selection of our usual entertaining, helpful, and thought-provoking articles, such as our feature article looking at the topic of modern slavery, or The Study Dude and Christina Frey’s articles that are designed to help you get better grades through your AU courses.

Also, Hazel Anaka takes a look back at the late Robin Williams (and there’s something I never thought I’d be writing) which kind of brings it home. Plus we of course have the second part of Primal Numbers look at virtual vacations, and film and music explorations from The Mindful Bard and Gregor’s Bed.

Plus, if you didn’t catch it last time, check out the new AUSU Update column. It actually is an update!

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