On Censorship

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”  Joseph Brodsky

Censorship seeks to maintain social control by depriving people of information that challenges the status quo. Brodsky would know, having first been committed to a mental hospital then sent to a work camp before the Soviet Union expelled him in 1972 calling his poetry, “gibberish.”

Poets and writers have likened books to many things, beacons of light, navigational tools, gardens, and magic tickets. All of these represent possibility. Books can transport you to another time and place, or they can change your worldview. However, an unopened book is a dead object. Unlike censorship which can still allow ideas to flourish through unofficial channels, choosing not to read something is a form of self-censorship. It is perhaps an even more insidious one since apathy and inertia squash the need for state control over what we read.

National Library Week is a good time to celebrate our freedom to read whatever we wish, and to reflect on the possibilities and advantages of our intellectual liberty.

Topic Three Readings

I have not employed any formal instructional design in anything that I have ever attempted to teach, except for ideas that I read/heard about. I am familiar with the concept of SMART goals and learning objectives and I think having the terms from Bloom’s Taxonomy to wrap around objectives would be useful for creating a good instructional plan.

I can see that if I had a sense of instructional design, I could have developed more thematic activities and then even figured out a way to assess my learners in the few times that I have taught. I would get anecdotal evidence, but not always and never from everyone. I think the strength of what I created came from knowing my learners’ needs very well rather than creating an actionable plan.

I’ve been enjoying all of the readings/videos in this topic and having most of it in an alternate format was an interesting break for me since I am almost always drawn to text-based resources. I spent a fair amount of time looking at the No Significant Difference Phenomenon Web Site and it linked to an interesting article at Inside Higher Ed.

The article reported on a meta-analysis of 1,000 empirical studies published between 1996-2008 that compared the academic success rates of online learners vs. F2F ones. The findings concluded that online students had a slightly higher success rate and blended instruction (online & F2F) students did the best overall.

The study also found that while online quizzes do not appear to enhance learning:

“Studies indicate that manipulations that trigger learner activity or learner reflection and self-monitoring of understanding are effective when students pursue online learning as individuals,” the report says.”

So, it would seem that while there is a space for interactive features, they serve a more intangible need.

Something else from the article that anyone in an online program can relate to and is time. One of the factors for success in online learning is that students tend to spend more time exploring the topic on their own, referred to in the article as “the expansion of learning time.” This was certainly true of this post, because, by the time I reached the end, I had actually gone all the way to the primary source.


Jaschik, S. (2009, June 29) The Evidence on Online Education. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/29/online

No Significant Difference Phenomenon. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.nosignificantdifference.org/

U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. (ED-04-CO-0040 Task 0006). Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf