Week 7 – Universities in the digital age

This week’s lecture was a really important one for myself as a university student and particularly as a media student, as it discussed the implications of universities in the digital age, and the access to and freedom of information.

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Photo: http://www.bestcollegesonline.org/paywalls/

In our tutorial discussion, many of us viewed our university educations and degrees as little more than a commodity, a piece of paper we pay for to better our chances of getting the job we desire, not an opportunity to pursue knowledge, learning and further our understandings of our world. This perspective reflects the notion discussed in the lecture, of the change of universities from places of higher learning and knowledge to private corporations seeking profit.

I experienced the problem of paywall and the restriction of resources in preparing my recent research proposal. Countless times I came across what would be relevant, current and perfect academic resources for my research proposal in regards to media regulation, but was discouraged to find I could not access them or I would have to pay to access them, upwards of $30. This definitely limited my learning and also the quality of my assignment, as the restricted resources would have supported my arguments invaluably.

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Photo: http://goaleurope.com/2012/03/15/eastern-europe-startup-slovak-piano-media-continues-paywall-experiment-reports-interesting-results/

Universities in the digital age is an important issue for debate at a university, media and public level as the restriction of resources to students and academics will inhibit the learning of these groups, affecting future enrolments of students and impacting on the overall structure, nature and funding of universities.

I found the below article an important example of this restriction of resources to students and teachers, negatively affecting medicine students in Africa. This practice seems to go against the classic, fundamental purpose of universities, of facilitating  higher learning, the pursuit of knowledge and sharing resources and knowledge for the greater, public good.

– Breaking down the academic paywalls, in Africa too

“There are doctors who are working in malaria-affected areas every day, treating patients, without access to the latest research. They don’t know if the new medicine promoted by pharmaceutical industries is really effective. And researchers are wasting their time duplicating research that others have already done elsewhere,” (Radio Netherlands Worldwide 2013)

REFERENCES

Miller, R (2010) ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy Winter 2010 10(10): 143-151

Radio Netherlands Worlwdie, ‘Breaking down the academic paywalls, in Africa too’ 5th April 2013, accessed 15th April 2013 <http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/breaking-down-academic-paywalls-africa-too>.

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