The Open Syllabus Explorer is two months old and just crossed 250,000 visits. One of the exciting aspects of the launch for us has been the process of discovering the audience for the project. We anticipated strong interest from US academics in the teaching rankings within fields and the ‘teaching scores’ for their own work. The traffic data appear to bear out that assumption. We anticipated interest from the library, publishing, open data, and educational technology worlds, and from students.
We didn’t expect the extent to which the OSP would be treated as an authoritative ranking of Great Books, with a broad audience interested in non or extra-academic learning. The most powerful hook for media stories (and resulting bumps in traffic) wasn’t the things that interested us most—the significance of introducing a new publishing metric and the potential for exploring the history of fields—but the use of the top-ranked books as a proxy for being educated or ‘well-read’, and the enduring connection of these ideas to forms of status anxiety. The Washington Post boiled this down to its simplest form: What Ivy League students are reading that you aren’t.Continue reading →