If you haven’t heard of Murray Goldberg, you have probably heard of his major projects: Silicon Chalk and especially WebCT. Goldberg’s latest baby is a kind of social bookmarking site for academics, and it promises to democratize the classroom in a fully Web 2.0 sort of way. Students and faculty members can join and contribute equally to the building of their disciplines (if by building we mean gathering and annotating online resources that are better than what a search engine alone would find). Brainify.com encourages users to tag resources, but you can also watch for updates to subtopics, find like-minded colleagues, and ask questions in various fora. The principle here is that together, our brains are better at helping each other to find and integrate information than any algorithmic search engine, and I tend to agree. But is it a case of academic utility overtaking critical reflection? Seems to me that what is “useful” to students and professors is supposed to take precedence over any kind of more philosophical debate in the public sphere. Fine, but that’s only one conception of higher education, and on some level it frightens me to imagine a world in which the most efficient, most useful paths to a given goal are the only valued paths. Maybe Brainify.com will permit a more meandering discovery model to coexist with the performance-oriented model.
As Senior Instructional Developer, Curriculum and Programming, Trevor Holmes plans and delivers workshops and events in support of faculty across the career span. Prior to joining the Centre for Teaching Excellence, Trevor worked at a variety of universities teaching courses, supporting faculty and teaching assistants through educational development offices, and advising undergraduates. Trevor’s PhD is from York University in English Literature, with a focus on gothic literature, queer theory, and goth identities. A popular workshop facilitator at the national and international levels, Trevor is also interested in questions of identity in teaching and teaching development. View all posts by trevorholmes