I interviewed George Mason University’s T Mills Kelly for BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human, for the programme about Mischief. Prof Kelly ran a history course called “Lying About The Past,” which gained attention from (and the wrath of) the internet community, the press and history teachers. Why? because he asked his students to create an internet hoax.

I wanted to know more. Here’s a clip:

I think it’s fair to say that my course made a number of my colleagues, both here at George Mason and elsewhere, very uncomfortable. And I get that. The course made me uncomfortable. As a historian I’ve devoted my career to getting things right and so to teach students how to get things intentionally wrong felt wrong to me at many levels, as I’m sure it did to many of my colleagues.

Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in convincing my colleagues here at Mason that what I was doing in the ways I was doing it had sufficient pedagogical merit that I should be allowed to continue. Instead, our undergraduate committee rejected my proposal to have the course included as a formal course in our catalog (I’d taught it twice under a special topics number). The only way they would have accepted the course was if I agreed that my students would not turn their hoaxes loose online. To my way of thinking, that would reduce the central motivating force of the class – the need to do excellent work because that work would be public – into yet another abstract classroom exercise. I was unwilling, for good or ill, to accede to that demand, so I won’t be teaching the course any longer.

Continue reading at DML Central.