Expertise, Advocacy, and Media Influence: Lessons in the Aftermath of an Academic Study’s Publication

Recently, Dr. Christopher Lubienski and I were pleased to have our research, regarding media influence in education, published in the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA). Better yet, and with irony in light of study topic and findings,[1]our work generated some media influence of its own. Organizations such as Media Matters and the Australian (see here and here) covered the article, as did education writers like Alexander Russo (see here). We even learned (via a Tweet, of course) that Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, referenced our work at an event. Because one of the discussion points of the paper was that scholars should strive to share their findings and knowledge in new and social media,[2] I’ve decided to use this blog post to share a few reflections.[3] Specifically, I consider why this study might have received some attention, focusing mostly upon actionable explanations.

E-Advocacy and E-vidence: How do Bloggers Participate in Education Reform?

Networks of intermediary organizations (IONs) are penetrating the education policy space with a range of ideas and “evidence,” brokering knowledge to policy actors and the public at large. Increasingly, we are observing IOs gaining traction as key players in advocacy and policymaking in the U.S. public education sector around tenuous reforms such as charter schools, merit pay, vouchers, and Parent Trigger. Operating in a myriad of forms, IONs often include a mix of the “big three” foundations (i.e. Gates, Walton, Broad), advocacy groups, think tanks, academic research networks, policy groups, and journalists. Several articles from our research study on evidence use among IOs and policymakers give empirical accounts of this phenomenon at the national and local levels in Denver, New York City, and New Orleans (see Further Reading).

“One Format to Rule Them All,” Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the MOOC

Scott Grubbs's picture

Among the myriad battles that comprise the existential wars over the fate of higher education in the 21st century, the controversy over Massive Open Online Courses—or MOOCs—seems to have all the elements of a Tolkienesque epic. Like the protagonists ensconced in the mighty fortress of Helm’s Deep, many traditional universities view their educational way of life under assault from massive hordes of the untraditional, unadmitted, undegreed, and un-sold on the trappings of higher education as it has previously existed. Instead, these “students” opt in and out of vast online courses designed by professors and other specialists, but piloted by armies of teaching assistants and adjuncts. They engage in the learning process until they acquire the competencies they need, freed from Byzantine admissions processes, majors of dubious value, years’ worth of tuitions, and the seemingly unending parade of fees that often finance services that these students neither want nor need. Indeed, advocates of MOOCs may very well argue that their approach is truly “one format to rule them all.”