Eleven years ago, I began my professional career as a high school English teacher. All was right with the world until we introduced gradebook software in our district, and things were never the same again. I would get make-up work on my desk in the morning and have students stop by over lunch wondering when their grades were not updated yet.
“The gradebook does not operate in real time. I have to check those later when I don’t have classes,” I’d tell them. “This isn’t Burger King. You don’t get it your way.” I’d use that line for everything: haggling over late work, grades, the amount of homework, whatever they wanted to negotiate. They seemed to think everything was up for grabs. I didn’t. But maybe they were onto something…
We’ve grown up for decades knowing we can have hamburgers any way we want them. We can get are electronics in any color we want. Why then do we rely on old models for our content?
Why can’t I get a DRM-free movie with no regional encoding when I have been able to get a flipping burger (bad pun intended) my way since I was born? Why can’t ABC let me watch the entire season of Lost over the summer via Hulu when the ABC commercials have been telling me as a consumer I can have anything I want when I want it?
Why can’t students take the programs of study that they want to take? Why can’t the courses be offered at times that working students are able to take them? Why can’t the content be offered in multiple formats to address different learning styles?
Is content king or is the consumer king? And who do we work for anyway? If we don’t sort it out now, we may find ourselves out of work, or—at the very least—flipping burgers.
Photo of burger & fries by jwalsh.