"Where Have All the Ideas Gone?"

This e-mail message, copied from the acw-l archives, was posted by Marcy Bauman on June 3, 1998.

I'm sorry I missed C&W; half my family has birthdays between May 29-31, so it gets a bit tough for me to get there . . . but I *do* have opinions about the research bit.

Seems to me that C&W folks have been leading the Paradigm Shift in education for a good decade now; you see people like Cindy and Fred and Trent Batson quoted all over the distance education literature, fr'instance. But -- and I hate to say this -- I think we're being choked, now, by the fact that C&W research has traditionally been done by relatively marginalized people in academe: adjuncts, grad students, folks without tenure. This was fine when ethnographic research or case studies were serving to advance knowledge in the field, and nobody cared much about computers anyway.

Now, though, it seems to me that the kinds of reserach we need to be doing -- more quantitative stuff, larger-scale projects -- are beyond the scope of isolated researchers working alone in hostile or indifferent departments and colleges. What we need now is research that, by its nature, demands institutional commitment and -- I hate to say this even more -- Big Bucks. Programmers. (Not student programmers, good as they may be, but people who have a commitment to the institution, and to the research, and who are going to be there for the long haul.) One of the things I hate about this field is that (S)He with the Most Toys Wins, and now that the rest of the world is starting to believe what we've been saying all along, the people with the money are making the waves. Situated in composition, which is traditionally in the margins anyway, we're in a bad bargaining position to ante up the resources we'd need to move from what we know to what we need to know.

I'm not sure what we can do about this, but before we think that all the ideas have left us for some reason having to do with our own talents , I suggest we examine the larger context . . .


Marcy Bauman
Writing Program, University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128
fax: 313-593-5552