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swarthmore web vision

The web will dominate higher education in the 21st century. The vast potential for research and publishing awaits vision.

Liberal arts schools like Swarthmore can take the lead by establishing space for and encouraging material migration online.

The only resources required are big computer servers with lots of space for archives, and someone to coordinate the collection.

As has already been evidenced, students will teach themselves to make materials available over the net, and given the space, they will create rich personal media reflective of the passionate intellectual life of the college.

The possibilities are so rich, we must not dally in beginning to play!

what could be online

Papers and Theses
Each year students generate an enormous body of scholarship that ends up largely moulding away. If these materials are online, future scholars can reference past work to move further forward.
Folks the world over could use Swarthmore online as their textbook, and for this we would recieve many links, and much respect.

Newsgroup archives
Conversations take place on and - these have become a primary place of personal expression for many folk.
That they take the time to record their thought in media so easy to archive and search should not be neglected.
Both as a point of recollection and reference, archived Swarthmore dialogue would be priceless.

Phoenix, Alumni Magazine
The Phoenix should be reborn online. Current Online Editor Dominic Sagolla has had this vision, he is publishing materials independent of print.
The school should provide the computer resources, and perhaps financial recompense to enable the Phoenix online to be dynamically reflective of this community.
All articles written, photographs taken are put online, into an ever expanding collection of Swarthmore-reflective materials. How these are presented is determined by editors, so that when it comes time to put together another Aliumni Magazine issue, or weekly Phoenix, those editors need simply to draw from the pool
Moreover, this kind of flexibility would allow everyone to create their own magazine of Swarthmore:
As an African American Mary Lyons dweller, I make my web page linking to articles about each of those from old Phoenixes and Alumni Publications, supplemented by my own reflections.

A recent graduate in the religion department, I link to an article about Don Swearer's environmental work from my web page in Thailand, where I am doing my own work in that vein.

A death penalty activist in San Francisco, I link to the Death Row poetry in the last issue of the Alumni Magazine.

Each of these is become a point of entry into Swarthmore,
and we have given each person the material and means to build and contribute to the online community of Swarthmore.

archiving personal pages
Each years, students are creating dozens of informal yearbooks on their web pages. For a few thousand dollars, we can save these upon their departure from the school.
The price of this is twofold
relatively cheap computer storage (in the tens of thousands of dollars)
an ongoing full time person to coordinate such an effort.

In terms of professional media, there is little doubting online migration. For colleges, Swarthmore could set the standard for full-on academic online life - both formal and informal. Encouraging students to post their papers as web pages enriches the online library, saving these immediately broadens the living textual history of the school.

In so doing, we create a fully searchable, manipulatable archive of the community and curriculum that is Swarthmore.

It will be accessble to the outside world - alumni, parents, future students and faculty of the school.

People can learn from us, and perhaps contribute from afar.

Fear is of presentation

- that someone might present a face with which the school will not want to be associated.

There are many filters involved here

Firstly, people have been selected to attend the school. We expect a fair level of acumen resulting
Because people contribute to the online whole does not mean they end up the official online voice of the school; especially when there is a vast multitude of voices.
The institution of Swarthmore assures it's image by selecting representatives - Welcome to our web site, here are five stories that give you a sense of our Swarthmore.

In other words, you do not begrudge people a voice, you choose the voices with which you agree.

You can't let the fear of the irresponsible keep you from trailblazing:
similarly, we can not let the hesititation of some prevent the forward motion of the group. If there are students who do not wish to be a part of the archives, so be it. By their silence it will be so. If they generate materials that they wish to remain fleeting, unarchived, then let it be so.

The possibilities are too rich to resist offering this opportunity to all.

and finally the fear that we might end up awash in drek -

this begs the question of glass half full or half empty. I believe that if we save everything, far more gems that will yeild.

Are most of the people here smart? Passionate? Good writers?

In an age where it is so easy to do so, let us dignify them by preserving their contributions to the community.
There is little doubt this is the future, certainly in education. How soon will Swarthmore be there? By migrating early, with firm vision and commitment to ethics, Swarthmore can establish a precedent for liberal arts leadership in this area. When I think of all the schools that could lead in this field, I want to see the Garnet ahead of the pack.

It is within the grasp of Swarthmore today to begin prepare students for full, balanced lives as individuals and as responsible citizens in a world vitally infused with technology.


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