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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The New Class Monitors (from Inside Higher Ed)

This just in from Inside Higher Ed:
In a move that some professors see as a new low in efforts to monitor their classroom activities, a conservative group is offering students at the University of California at Los Angeles money to tape lectures and turn over materials distributed by professors.
In essence, an outside group is paying students to document (and record) lectures by professors. This is the natural next step to many folks' frustration with the perceived liberal bias in many disciplines. The article highlights a website run by a UCLA alumni group:
In essence, an outside group is paying students to document (and record) lectures by professors. This is the natural next step to many folks' frustration with the perceived liberal bias in many disciplines. The article highlights a website run by a UCLA alumni group:
The Web site is a project of the Bruin Alumni Association, which is working to encourage alumni of UCLA to hold back their donations to protest the actions of liberal professors. The association has been working for several months sending thousands of booklets to UCLA alumni and compiling a list of the Dirty Thirty those professors it finds most objectionable. Scholars at the top of the list earn five power fists in the group'’s ranking system.
Read the whole thing here.

I have no problem with my students recording my lectures and giving them to any party they want. I just ask that if they distribute them, I get paid (after all, I am a Finance professor, and therefore motivated by money). I generally try to stick to the topic at hand as much as possible, and keep my politics out of the classroom. When we do get into "controversial" areas (e.g. privatizing Social Security), I'll give students both sides of the issue, and let them argue it out.

Of course, if they catch me while I'm getting coffee, that's another story.

It's also interesting that someone in the article made the obligatory over-the-top comment: "Paying students to inform on professors is right out of the Stalinist playbook. Now all we need is a Hitler reference, and we're all set.

I notice that Steve Bainbridge didn't make the list. No doubt he'll console himself with a good bottle of wine (or two).

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