What We’re Reading: January 17, 2013

Today’s What We’re Reading features links related to two hot topics in the blogosphere: open access and MOOCs, along with much more.

Open Access: The Conversation Continues
Many members of the international scholarly and scientific community are justifiably concerned over issues of access to the fruits of their labors. The AHA, like other scholarly societies, has been wrestling with this complex issue for some time. The issues have provided a focus of conversations in our governing Council; and staff have participated in relevant conference panels. Below are a few links to some of the latest news related to open access, and as always, we are interested to hear your thoughts on the issues—either in the comments below or via our Facebook page, Twitter, or our LinkedIn group.

Letter from the President: Open Access Publishing
The president of the Royal Historical Society has published an open letter warning associations and publishers of the dangers of implementing open access without doing the proper consultation. The letter references the AHA’s statement on open access, stating that it “expresses precisely our own concerns.”

Journal Archive Opens Up (Some)
In a move that is being called an “incremental step” toward open access, more than 700 publishers have agreed to make their journal content available for free to individual users who comply with the “Register & Read” program through JSTOR, which allows free access to three articles every two weeks.Journal content included in this free access includes the AHA’s American Historical Review.

Academe Is Complicit
Timothy Burke writes a provocative letter indicting academia for its lackadaisical support of open access, while also addressing the Aaron Swartz tragedy.

If you are still looking for current conversation about open access, the Scholarly Kitchen offers an up-to-date roundup of the latest news related to scholarly publishing and open access. 

MOOC Talk
As California Goes?
California State University (CSU), San Jose announced a deal on Tuesday with a major massive open online course (MOOC) player to create three online, entry-level courses that will cost students $150 and can lead to university credit. With notoriously liberal transfer guidelines amongst public California schools, this could be a huge gateway toward both University of California and CSU MOOC offerings in the future.

Unthinking Technophilia
While CSU San Jose pushes the MOOC train forward, some community college faculty members voice concern about the growing movement. An article recently in Inside Higher Ed penned anonymously by “Six community college faculty members” offers a scathing review of the MOOC model and the potential “demoting of professors” that could accompany the MOOC model in higher education institutions.

So I Signed up for Another MOOC…
Another open critic of the MOOC movement is Jonathan Rees, who has signed up for another MOOC hosted the University of Virginia, and will undoubtedly chronicle the experience once again.

Historians in the News
Race, History, and Obama’s Second Term
The Washington Monthly devotes a special issue to these topics, with articles by Louis P. Masur, Colin Woodard, Nicholas Lemann, Douglas Blackmon, Taylor Branch and Hailey Sweetland Edwards, Thomas Sugrue, and more.

Does History Need a “Marshall Plan”?
Will Inboden, writing at Foreign Policy, discusses the inspirations behind the newly opened Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Value of Studying Politics in Context
Publick Occurrences 2.0 addresses the criticisms by the National Association of Scholars—that historians spend too much time thinking about race, gender, and class. (The February issue of Perspectives on History will feature another critique of the NAS report by the AHA’s executive director and vice president, Teaching Division.)

Historians on Reddit?
Kris Wood at HNN braves the wilds of Reddit, and finds the Askhistorians forum might be a place “for tech-savvy historians to interact with the public. With the increasing emphasis from organizations like the American Historical Association for historical engagement with the public, such forums are badly needed.”

The NEH Crowdsources Nonfiction Reading List for Kids
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced that it is seeking nominations for a new nonfiction booklist for elementary, middle, and high-school aged children. Its efforts to promote a nonfiction reading list comes on the heels of a current debate, featured on this blog, between teachers and administrators in response to the new Common Core State Standards in English obligation to increase the number of nonfiction reading assignments, including history texts.

AHA 2013: Blog Talk
The American Historical Association and NY History
New York History blog covers the annual meeting, with special attention to sessions involving local history.

Jon Stewart, Public Historian?
Should Jon Stewart be considered a public historian? Mary Rizzo for History@Work asks readers in response to an impromptu debate during the “Public Practice of History in and for the Digital Age” plenary session that discussed Jon Stewart’s role in “confronting politicians with inconvenient truths about the past.”

Miscellaneous (but Facetious)
Should You Use Twitter? This Flowchart Has the Answer
In most cases, the answer, according to this flowchart, is “No.”

Spoiled Children
Inside Higher Ed reports on the much-discussed study that “found that the more money (in total and as a share of total college costs) that parents provide for higher education, the lower the grades their children earn.”

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