North Texas Daily

Innovation fee goes halfway

Innovation fee goes halfway

September 17
23:46 2014

Three years ago, a freshman spent $200 on three textbooks that he never opened.

Now a senior and the Student Government Association’s advocate general, Adam Hasley didn’t feel like this is just his problem. He realized the fact-memorization model of learning is simply outdated, and the referendum that he thinks will help teachers do more with their class time will go to a student vote next week.

Should it pass, it will add $5 per semester to tuition. Teachers would use the money, an estimated $400,000 per year, to innovate their classrooms and incorporate online teaching methods. The money would be controlled by a seven-person committee comprised four students and three faculty, so students will always have final say. Teachers will send proposals into this committee, and the committee will spend money on the ideas it thinks are best.

This referendum is trying to solve a universal problem, but it doesn’t exactly go for the throat, does it?

In previous interviews,,Hasley has said he doesn’t want to be too aggressive and go for things most students aren’t upset about, and in this, he’s failed perfectly. Most students aren’t upset about the university not finding money to fund the coolest classroom idea. Most students are upset about buying those textbooks.

We’re not spending roughly $1,000 and three hours a week per class for the lecturer to tell us to drop another $100 and another two to three hours a week on a book we could have gotten anyway to do the lecturer’s job for him. We’re not spending $1,000 per class so the math teacher can tell us to pay another $70 for My Stat Lab for the privilege of accessing monotonous homework that should have been on Blackboard. And we’re not paying $1,000 per class to hone our short-term memorization skills, which is the only thing that happens in classes based around periodic multiple-choice tests.

These teaching crutches are as ineffective and outdated as they are expensive, and if Hasley had pushed through legislation to get the textbook industry off campus, most students would be clamoring to put their names on it.

So, it’s not the referendum we really want. But will it fix the problem?

There’s really no way to know. This represents a cheap opportunity to innovate in the classroom, and with the university’s newfound financial crisis, new and unproven teaching methods will be the first on the chopping block. But best-case scenario, one or two ideas will be implemented in a couple of years, and even if this revolutionizes high-end teaching, low-end, fact-memorization teaching will still be around.

If the question is a black-and-white vote yes or vote no, students should vote yes. There’s really no reason to vote no — it costs a cup of coffee per semester. But it’s a begrudging yes. It’s a low-risk, low-reward referendum — or at least, a very extremely slow reward that won’t benefit everyone.

And freshmen will still be wasting absurd amounts of cash on textbooks that they don’t need.

Joshua Knopp is the news editor for the North Texas Daily. He can be reached at hillbutton@gmail.com.

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