Rethinking the Academy: Problems and Possibilities of Teaching, Scholarship, Authority, and Power in Electronic Environments

by Keith Dorwick
The University of Illinois at Chicago


We live in a time in which the very ways in which we make knowledge and pass that knowledge on to others is shifting and changing; roles and identities of knowledge makers move into flux as students teach teachers, teachers learn from students, and students learn from and teach one another. Indeed, some teachers are giving students control over the content of courses they teach, an inversion of traditional roles that is beginning to revitalize teaching.

The existence of the computer, a device which can increase the ability of its user to manipulate text, and the existence of networks which can link those devices and thus speed the transmission and modification of text through collaborative means, allows, if not forces, the academy and those who work within its spheres to rethink how we teach, how we make scholarship, and even what the role and purpose of the academy will be in the next millennium.

The grassroots nature of these changes may end up being far more significant to the structure of the academy than will the technologies themselves, as undergraduate students, graduate teaching assistants, junior faculty, and staff members begin to demand and receive access to various hardware and software systems.

In "Rethinking the Academy," I'd like to examine the problems and possibilities inherent in the present situation of the academy as it exists in a web of social, political, technological, and legal forces that are mostly beyond its own control with a special emphasis and attention to scholarship and teaching, and contrast that with the problems and possibilities that are increasingly evident as growing numbers of teachers and students begin to experiment with ways of learning and the creation of knowledge in cyberspace.

This web was peer-reviewed by Rebecca Rickly of the Kairos Editorial Board.

Contact Keith Dorwick
About the Author
Keith Dorwick is an Instructional Media Planner for the University of Illinois at Chicago, and serves as the Associate Head of e-works, a virtual counterpart to the English Department at that institution, and on the Committee for Computers and Composition for the Conference on College and Communication. Keith has presented on a variety of subjects at a number of conferences including pre-Shakespearean cross-dressing; the relationships between Augustine and Plato; and the use of music in Paradise Lost. He also leads workshops on the uses and dangers of electronic pedagogies, and is currently seeking ordination as a permanent deacon (the kind that doesn't  want to be a priest) in the Episcopal Church.

Note: This Kairos web-essay (linked below) is the heart of a dissertation in production (James J. Sosnoski, director, the University of Illinois at Chicago) with the same title; please visit it as it continues to grow.

KAIROS Enter the Archived Version of this Hypertext
Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments.
Vol. 1 No. 3 Autumn 1996