Information Scarcity – Faculty

Thoughts about Higher Education

Institutions embrace an information scarcity model because as long as information is scarce, it is worth something. That doesn’t explain why faculty members, who teach, continue to support an information scarcity model. I believe it is because of several factors: the reinforcement system, inertia, ease, and lack of interest.


Reinforcement is a big factor. The university and college system have as their primary focusses things other than learning. In universities, the focus is research. As such, the reinforcement system in place is for research. Few, if any, faculty members receive monetary rewards (raises), real recognition, significant promotions, and peer approval for their prowess in teaching. If a person receives tangible rewards for research related activities (publications, grant capture, PhD students etc., space (labs) and assistants), those are the activities that will receive their time. I have worked in a research intensive institution and know faculty members who teach students…

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Information Scarcity – Institutions

Thoughts about Higher Education

Why would universities work under an information scarcity model of learning and resist moving to an information abundance model of learning?

I believe that there are several reasons such as research focus, efficiency of teaching, teaching rather than learning focus, and real – rather than stated purpose.

Research Focus

The definition of a university is a higher education institution that has research as the primary activity of the institution. Some would argue that the research interests come second to teaching, however, the reality is that research is the only game in town. The status and prestige of the institution is based on research and has nothing to do with teaching. Academic hiring and promotional opportunities pay lip service to teaching but are focussed on research activities with the few teaching only posts seen (and treated as) second class academics.

The very idea that teaching release is given for excellence in…

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Information Scarcity

The rise of universities in the C11-C12 was in response to the rise of merchants and traders who needed to keep track of their goods and exchanges in an orderly manner. There was also demand from traditional property owners to have access to those who knew the law and could prosecute or defend their interests … Continue reading Information Scarcity

Discussion Group – Continued Professional Development

I am an educational reformer - because I truly believe education is broken. Unfortunately, the current philosophies for moving education forward are founded in traditional education. Traditional education, with roots in social constructionist philosophies, tell us that reality is a social construct, and so there is no such thing as an objective truth. As a … Continue reading Discussion Group – Continued Professional Development

Mindset (again) and Learning Styles (again)

I just finished teaching my University class yesterday, and one of the focusses this year (by the students) was a focus on mindsets. Several of them wrote about mindsets, and a couple of them drew the link between mindset and learning styles (they were prompted during their presentations by someone). It has reminded me again … Continue reading Mindset (again) and Learning Styles (again)

Discovery Learning in Math?

Unbelievable! Discovery based learning - a huge failure in the wrong context - is the latest fad in teaching math to children in Canada. Discovery-based learning is the idea that someone is given a problem to resolve, and they will explore ways to solve the problem. Brilliant idea, but problematic to the core. Problem-based learning … Continue reading Discovery Learning in Math?

Information Digitization – a Paradigm Shift

There is a paradigm shift taking place in learning today. I have written before that there is a paradigm shift in education, but the status quo is reinforcing the traditional trenches in a way that is unbelievable in today's world. Just as the Germans simply zipped around the impregnable Maginot line (the massively reinforced trenches from WWI) … Continue reading Information Digitization – a Paradigm Shift

Conformity and Education

I have written before about the drive for conformity in education. Given the massification of education which has led to huge classrooms with, literally, hundreds of students being taught, conformity is essential. It has become, unabashedly, one of the central and core tenants of education. When I wrote about conformity three years ago, I focussed on … Continue reading Conformity and Education

How We Know

I know that this blog post will be old news to most of us, but I think it needs reiterating within the present context of my thinking - how do we find out what we believe in, or what are the methods of knowing? According to Peirce (1877), there are three methods of knowing information, … Continue reading How We Know

Information Abundance and Teaching

I have written a number of times about information scarcity and information abundance, however, it is a message that is ignored. I was in an exam today, watching students write an end of semester exam after having crammed over the past three or four days to get it all in. They were in a room … Continue reading Information Abundance and Teaching