Most of my colleagues won’t admit it, but I know they occasionally visit RateMyProfessors.com (RMP) to see how students grade them. Visited by 10 million college students so far, this website is about to get even more popular on the heels of this news from Online Media Daily.
ADDING WEB SERVICES THROUGH ACQUISITION, MTV Networks has agreed to buy a professor rating-service for college students named RateMyProfessor.com. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The site will not only become part of mtvU’s online presence, but will serve as a model for other college-related rating services, according to Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU.
“Every time we asked our audience about tools they use online, RateMyProfessor always came up,” he said. “Now we’re talking with them about how we build on this idea–best dorms, best places to eat around campus.”
A student voice. Many in academe dismiss RMP as a place where students go to bitch. It is that, but it’s so much more. It’s a site that gives students a voice, an empowerment that most universities haven’t offered them internally.
RMP gives students who feel mistreated or shortchanged a chance to share that information. But it also lets them praise good teaching. Is the picture RPM paints an accurate one? Maybe not always. But in sum, RMP works the same as Wikipedia. As more and more students contribute, it comes self-correcting.
My enthusiasm for this site could be colored by my own ratings, which are pretty positive. Yeah, there are only 11 of them (10 smiley faces, one frowny), but the comments from students pretty much mirror what my school’s own evaluations tell me. So in my case, RMP offers some validation.
Transparency aids decisionmaking. What’s most important is that RMP offers a transparency that most universities could and should offer on their own. At Kent State, we’re required to conduct student evaluations for every course, every semester. Sadly, those reports are shared with instructors and their department chairs, then they’re filed away.
Here we have this giant database of useful public information that students gain no benefit from whatsoever. Does that make sense in a world where “transparency” is the path to credibility? It’ll take a few strokes of some techie’s nimble fingers to load all this info onto an online database accessible to all.
The data is there, so let’s post it. Can you feel the sunshine?