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The MLA Bridge to Nowhere: Bring on the T-shirts!

March 12, 2009
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I wrote a comment yesterday to InsideHigherEd’s story about the new MLA handbook.  The story states that part of the handbook resides in an online vault (my phrase) accessible only with a user pass.  That pass can be obtained by purchasing the book.

I immediately snarked that the MLA, who doesn’t seem to be in the classroom anymore–or even walking the halls–has missed their target audience: actual college students.  Instead, they have crafted a “solution” that to them provides access to digital natives while still preserving the integrity of the printed medium.

I say bull!

Rightly, one commenter pointed out that a printed handbook is necessary for those times when one is teaching away from a computer.  Yes.  One would have to make photo-copies, or create an exercise otherwise.  OR having online component would also marginalize those who write out longhand.  Yes, again, but with a huge qualification.

If a student writer is writing long-hand, which I think is a good idea, they shouldn’t be looking at a handbook until the digital composition (seriously, is anyone really using an IBM Selectrex anymore?) online when they enter the Edit phase of composing a written piece.  So, online is still practical.

But having to buy the book in order to access the web?  Come on!  Don’t they get it?  It is not the record sales but the tours that bring in the money–which seems to be the motivation for the present model.

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