And then there were twelve… I have no quibbles with the people The Chronicle of Higher Education highlight as people who are innovators, but the old school notion of top x lists continues to baffle me in the internet age.

I can barely resist a chance to poke fun at The Chronicle. IMHO, their sole purpose, through misleading headlines and spurious claims, is to do the age old newspaper traditional aim of drawing eyeballs.

What works for the midway, works for the webway.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Andrew Huff

Back in December 12, 2011, The Chronicle put out a call for nominations for this list. I just spent about 20 minutes scrolling trough this list, and besides one mention of Salman Khan, I don;t see the other 11. What I did see was a ton of blatant ballot box stuffing attempts, and it is left as an exercise for the reader to pick them out. I might be interested to see what others come up with.

That said, there are more people, centers, projects in that nomination list that deserve mention, but in naming 12, the others get swept under the tug.. because they do not make for good attention getting material.

Again, I have no real complaints about the selection. Why only 12? Even number? Fits in an egg cartoon? Most academic jury?

I strongly question the Chronicle’s editorial approach- for one peson I know well- they again pigeonhole Jim Groom as Self-Described ‘EduPunk’ Says Colleges Should Abandon Course-Management Systems.

The Chronicle conbtinues to bend Jim into a cartoon version of himself; as he has not even written about LMSes for a long while, and wrote a goodbye letter to Edupounk a year ago.

Their article does come around to what Jim is focused on, ds106, but why does it have to lead in with such a clichéd and DOA term as “edupunk” which Jim has left in the dust for others to harvest?

The answer is obvious when you come around to reading the other choice, Adrian Sannier, touting the Pearson product that warps the whole meaning of “open” to meaning not really open “most professors have neither the technical chops nor the interest to create their own systems.” Jim is there (or Adrian is) to false pit ideas against each other.

Chronicle, I love thee, for you continue to bring fodder to toss darts at. It’s as old as snake oil.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Putting aside their obvious bias in choosing who they did (I suppose you could argue they only really said they would “consider” input from the community, not that they’d act on it) I thought the piece on Jim and ds106 was ok, not great. To be fair they were clear with us what their intentions were in terms of framing their piece as “Jim Groom the anti-LMS versus Pearson and OpenClass”.

    What I’m more disappointed about is that such a short fluff piece was put together after the entire group including a student sat with Nick for at least 2 hours talking about ds106 and what that model can mean for higher ed. The absence of any mention of Martha given she has taught ds106 is particularly annoying. We asked for the audio of that meeting (unfortunately hindsight being 20/20 we wished we had recorded it) and we were told that wasn’t their policy to release audio recordings of their interviews. I know cuts have to be made but it feels so damn watered down. I guess I have to remind myself it was technically 1/12th of a full piece.

    1. It’s how a lot of press works, unfortunately. There is no easier story to write than a “fight” story, which is why a time-pressed reporter will gravitate to that. Fights also draw eyeballs (love the pic, BTW Alan, nice choice).

      We must have click-through!

      It’s a double edged sword, really — the reason EDUPUNK took off as a meme was to some extent it felt like a fight meme, so the stories wrote and promoted themselves. The positive story (what are they actually building) — well, that’s just not going to make it up there.

      I thought given this is the way things are done, though, that the article was not bad. it felt like Jim and others were able to get some ideas past the media filter, enough at least that I was impressed. Hopefully a few people will read it, get interested in what ds106 is, and check it out. Jump the filter. If that happens, I’m pretty happy the list had that effect, no matter how (admittedly) annoying it might be.

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