Day of Higher Education

Department of Faculty StudiesLast week, I wrote about Day of Digital Humanities–an annual tradition of digital humanities scholars blogging and otherwise chronicling their work for a single day in order to document the field. Lee Bessette, of College Ready Writing at Inside Higher Ed, took #DayOfDH as inspiration and called for a broader dialogue, Day of Higher Ed. The resulting posts yesterday on Twitter and academic blogs produced both documentation and reflection on academic workload and lifestyles. If you didn’t participate in #DayOfHigherEd, here are a few of the posts from the day’s conversation:

There was an activist impulse (or perhaps “slacktivist”, as David Parry critiqued) underlying the day. Drew Loewe offered the question on Twitter: “Could we change hashtag #dayofhighered to #davidlevyisohsoverywrong?”However, projects like these day-long calls for self-documentation may not have much reach beyond the academic community: most of the people participating in the exchanges are insiders, not the outsiders more likely to be swayed by pieces like Levy’s infamous editorial. As Laura Portwood-Stacer noted in her post, “I’m a bit skeptical of this #dayofhighered social media campaign, not because I don’t think it’s about something important, but because I worry that the people in my social networks are already well aware of the labor that goes into an academic career and thus I really won’t be helping that much by tweeting about my day (and I think the people in my networks who are not academics would as likely be alienated as informed by the tweets).”

So why tweet and blog to fellow academics about our workload? Even among higher education faculty, adjuncts, and staff, there’s an incredible diversity of workload and experience. Everyone might be tweeting their “#DayOfHigherEd”, but the result is not one story. Within the seemingly insular walls of academia there’s a need for a better understanding of this diversity, particularly when it comes to acknowledging the incredible burdens placed on contractual and adjunct faculty members. This same understanding and appreciation can come in handy in forming alliances and discussing workload across an institution.

In some ways, Twitter and blogs are constantly home to a #DayOfHigherEd-esque conversation, with academics from across the board sharing their struggles, pedagogy, research, cat photos and occasional griping. But these types of hashtags intensify and focus the usual energy onto a particular day and topic. Did you participate in the Day of Higher Ed? Share your experiences in the comments.

[Creative Commons Licensed Photo by Flickr User Quinn Dombrowski]

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