Expiry Date for Courses (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)
In my in box today, a question to ponder. What courses from your program should not be accepted for transfer credit after 10 years have passed?
If you started a science major 10 years ago, and took some foundational courses, and then dropped the major, how much of what was then considered cutting-edge knowledge would be obsolete if you went back to school a decade later? At least some of it.
An English student who learned literary theory 10 years ago may not be up on the latest trends, but should ideally have been exposed to research methods that would make it fairly easy to catch up on a level sufficient for undergraduate work. (Besides, plenty of English academics do their job just fine without paying much attention to the developments of the past decade.)
While the culture of journalism and the methods of delivery have changed, the bedrock principles of journalism (the difference between edtitorializing and reporting; the relationship between expected depth and time until deadline; the importance of checking your sources) are pretty stable.
What about writing for the internet? In 1996, when the World Wide Web was young, and graphical browsers were just starting to introduce the internet to large numbers of people who were not computer specialists, Jakob Nielsen wrote Writing Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace and In Defense of Print. Both of these contain dated information (one so dated that Nielsen added an update), but once again, the principles are still solid. A set of handouts I wrote for the Engineering Writing Centre in 1998 are still pretty accurate. A page I wrote called “Annotate Your Lists of Links” covers most of the basic concepts that I now teach in the context of writing for weblogs.
Since new media genres are constantly emerging and changing, it’s likely that the content of the “New Media Projects” course that I’ll teach for the first time this fall will look very different from what it will be in 2016, but I suppose I’ll still be teaching interactive fiction, and I hope I’m still teaching it in 2026 and beyond.
In all my classes, I’m most interested in teaching process, which changes more slowly than the content.
Yes, the actual steps you take in order to get text onto the internet has changed in the last 10 years, but the process of prototyping, beta-testing, and quality control is still the same.