WE ARE NOT DANCING BEARS: OPPOSING RATE YOUR LECTURER

New on the UK scene is a local variant of the US Rate Your Professor, named Rate Your Lecturer. It is potentially very harmful, to UK Universities (good people will leave the sector), students (good people will leave the sector; trust will be breached), and of course individual faculty members (because they might be criticized in error, or over matters for which they have no control).  But resistance is not futile.  At the foot of this posting, there is some stuff you can do. But first, why is it a crock ?

Rate Your Lecturer: Inhumane, Dangerous for Students, Flawed

There are many reasons for this scheme being a bad thing, so let me give you my top four:

1)       I am a human being. I’m not a dancing bear.  For my work, as part of my teaching, I stand in front of a class and ‘lecture’. Its demanding.  I do my best.  I often think I could do better. I have good days and bad days. But I do this for my students, who are registered with my university, and for that university which is my employer. I make myself accessible to students who haven’t understood what I am trying to teach. I provide course outlines and guides. I put a lot of thought and effort into what I do. My students are great – indeed, I think they are a golden generation, which puts mine to shame. But what I am not is a public performer, a stand-up comedian, a cabaret artist. I have a mum and a dad and a partner and children, and friends and neighbours. If my occupation makes me personally the subject of anonymous, public comments about my day to day performance or appearance that they and anyone else can read then that is not the job I signed up for.

2)      Ironically, if not, hypocritically, the people behind the site conceal their names, while happily trading in the traducing of named individuals. Even in correspondence, the names of the people involved are concealed behind the sinister sounding “The RYL Team”. The single name I have found, Michael Bulman, required me going to Companies House and paying for the company registration documents.

3)      While encouraging anonymous comments from students, it does not protect or indemnify them from consequence should those comments turn out to be libelous or otherwise in error. From student feedback processes conducted in house, we know this happens. To illustrate, to my knowledge, there have been complaints about individual staff members and courses about things that just didn’t happen – for example, assessment by presentation on a 100% exam assessed course. There may well be some malice in feedback sometimes; or maybe just a general grudge. But sometimes, too, there is forgetfulness (which lecturer was Professor Cooke – oh yes the thin good looking one), there is misjudgment (the value of a course becomes apparent a year or two later) and sometimes, some subjects just are intrinsically difficult and boring, and there is no way round that.

4)      Lecturers will find it even harder to give the tiny minority of students who skive, turn up late, and otherwise free-ride on their peers’ work and commitment the bollocking they sometimes require, and would get in the real world of employment. I mean, why risk a public Maoist speak-bitterness campaign ?

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, there is no Data Controller registered under the company name (Sterling Ideas Ltd) or at the two addresses provided through companies house. It seems to me that this website provides suitable grounds for complaint to the ICO on these grounds:

  • You believe that an organisation has used, held or disclosed information about you:
    - unfairly;
    - for a reason that is not the one it was collected for; or
    - without proper security.
  • You believe an organisation is holding information about you that is:
    - inadequate, irrelevant or excessive;
    - inaccurate or out of date; or
    - kept for longer than is necessary.

(source: http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/handling, accessed 2 June 2013)

However, my experiences with the ICO over the REF debacle, wherein it permitted universities to gather intimate data about the wellbeing of university staff family members, without those family members consent, informed or otherwise (with respect, for example, to  their Alzheimers, adoption, divorce, mental illness, or gender reassignment) makes me less than sanguine. I will make the complaint, and also try and get UCU to take an interest. Again, given its failure to act on the REF scandal (I actually – foolishly it turns out – believed Sally Hunt meant it when she asked us to email her personally), I am not optimistic.

I shouldn’t have to, but I feel I need to go on record to say, actually, the Government’s KIS initiative, putting NSS-survey like data in the public domain is a good thing (to my surprise). And also, I like rigorous student evaluation processes – but you need to careful how you interpret them.

How to oppose Rate My Lecturer

1)      You can contact Rate My Lecturer at support@rateyourlecturer.co.uk. I have emailed them and told them either to remove my name, or, if they keep it there will be a fee of 75 pounds sterling per day to be paid to a charity of my choice.

2)      You can email a similar message to Michael Bulman on bulmanmsc@hotmail.com According to Companies House,  he is the owner of the company behind Rate Your Lecturer.  The address from which his company (Sterling Ideas Ltd) was registered is in Salisbury; but the company address is in Southampton. One of these could be his home address, so I will withhold that for now. But if it comes to it, and you need somewhere to send your fee invoice (for the 75 quid a day), I will publish the land-mail addresses here.

3)      You can contact the data protection person at HESA. According to netsells.co.uk, which constructed the site, the Rate Your Lecturer personal data (names and affiliations of individuals) is populated using public domain data made available by HESA. There is also a link to HESA on the Rate Your Lecturer Site, suggesting some connection. The data protection email for HESA is data.protection@hesa.ac.uk  . Your complaint might include the use of data for reasons beyond that for which they are legally collected.

4)      You can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office  using their online process, following the instructions here http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/handling Things you might want to complain about are the breach of privacy,  and data being used for reasons beyond those for which it is collected.

5)      For what it is worth, if you are a UCU member, you could try getting them to act on this. Sally Hunt’s email is shunt@ucu.org.uk The National Head of Higher Education is Michael MacNeil, mmacneil@ucu.org.uk Given the US equivalent has a record of including comments on the physical appearance and attractiveness of lecturers, you might also try Equalities Officer Helen Carr on hcarr@ucu.org.uk

6)      You might want to share your own ideas, not least through this listserv, or at the comments section of an extended account of Rate My Lecturer on www.criticalfaculties.org.

7)      Please also circulate this more widely.

At this spot was a grump about the Times Higher piece on this. However, I have edited it out. Others are entitled to being cut some slack, as well as us lecturers.

This entry was posted in No idea of a university, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to WE ARE NOT DANCING BEARS: OPPOSING RATE YOUR LECTURER

  1. Pingback: Controversial ‘Rate Your Lecturer’ website features 3 law lecturers in its Top 10 | Legal Cheek

  2. AshleyE says:

    Can positive and constructive feedback be gleaned from these reviews? While RMP is a different website, it has been established long enough to garner some interesting studies which found a correlation between university evaluations and RMP ratings (http://chronicle.com/article/Researchers-Rate/129820/). RMP and RYL put something online that has already been happening between students verbally for years. Yes: there are stupid reviews. There will be students that are mad because they didn’t get that easy A and will spitefully go online and rant. There could be measures put into place so that only students with a .edu account can review. Each review needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I enjoyed reading the reasons for students’ posts: http://pareonline.net/pdf/v15n5.pdf. Sure, sometimes it was to warn other students, but the other top reasons include giving tips to other students and thinking the professor was excellent. University evaluations (if your institution does them) are just as anonymous and supposed to give the instructor and institution feedback. If that feedback doesn’t matter, why do them at all? I don’t know if the students expect you to be a dancing bear, but they do expect passion and an urge to share that passion and knowledge with them.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      If RYL was the same as what was happening verbally for years, then there would be no need for it. But its not, its written, its on the record eternally, and, not least, exposes students to the same liabilities that Lord McAlpine rightly and succesfullly pursued in the UK courts when he was wrongly traduced on twitter. And again, someone happy for named lecturers to be held up to scrutiny – and see some of the crap I’ve got here as a consequence – but not with the courage to use their own name.

  3. Ralph says:

    Thanks for this post. It highlights potential problems which also worry me. However, your responses to some commenters who disagree with you are not edifying, and don’t do your cause much good.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      Hi Ralph, you could be right, and if I do do my cause harm, I’ll have to take it on the chin. But, you know, its the flesh-and-blood human being thing that is at the core of this. I don’t like anonymous people telling me to jump off a bridge, and the other personal attacks, and maybe that come through in my replies ? Bill

      edit: Bugger. I’ve tried googling you. You’re not a real person either, are you Raf/Ralph Hylom

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  5. If all else fails (I’m not up on UK privacy laws, but, as you realize, the US version of the site has been up for some time), you can always just go ahead and write your own (and/or each others’) reviews. Unless the UK version of the site is much more carefully curated than the US one, you’ll find this works just fine. Personally, I periodically log on and write “reviews” that offer students some good advice for coping with my classes (follow the directions; keep up with the small steps on the papers; etc.), and rate myself as reasonably clear and accessible, but hard. I do this just enough to keep the site from torpedoing my chances of getting a new job should I need (or wish to apply for) one. I’d prefer that the site simply not exist, but given that it does (and given that anyone who uses it should know that (s)he is relying on suspect data), this seems like a reasonable way of protecting my online professional reputation. Besides, if a number of us (admittedly pseunonymously, though I’ve also admitted this to relatives who were praising the site) admit to writing our own reviews, it further undermines the credibility of the site.

    Although I’ve never tried it, I’m also told that the US site pretty much automatically takes down individual comments if the instructor writes in with a complaint along the lines of “this is untrue/this is libelous” (I know one professor who routinely does this for her TAs — a nice service, which addresses some of Alice’s concerns). Here, too, differences in privacy and libel laws might play a role.

  6. Naughty Professor says:

    Rationalize it however you wish, but you come across as a lecturer who is simple scared of students speaking the truth. (Otherwise, you are simply paranoid of being bullied which speaks to deep rooted psychological issues.) I would be willing to bet cold hard cash that that you get below average teaching evaluations at your institution and that you are embarrassed to have this reputation go public by allowing students to speak out. You probably have little natural teaching ability and put the minimum amount of work necessary into lecturing. As such, you have found other angles from which to take offense to this site, none of which is supportable.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      I could be all these things. But still I’m not an anonymous troll. And you are. So what does that make you versus me sister ?

      • Dr. Martini says:

        Yes, I’m anonymous but I’m not a troll; the two are not synonymous. I’m just calling things like I see them. The fact remains that you are scared of what students might have to say about you. Get over yourself.

        • Bill Cooke says:

          If troll and anonymous were synonymous, I’d not name you both simultaneous. You do realize you’re doing my job for me, don’t you ?

          And help me with a hypothesis. I’m betting you are based in the USA. Right or wrong ?

          edit: yup, the IP tracks back to California. Not 100% accurate. There’s a thing going on here – anonymous transatlantic vitriol downloaded on some guy in a far off country mediated by a screen and a keyboard. Let’s call it Drone Syndrome – look out for a post coming soon-ish. Keep sending the data, US-Americans.

          • Hanukkah Harry says:

            I like having my privacy, which is why I reroute my IP address to various locations around the world. (It also allows me to access Netflix selections in several countries. lol) Unlike you, not everybody wants to have their identity known online. It’s not a rule that you announce exactly who you are, but you seem to be obsessed with tracking down where people are… at least the people who disagree with you… which speaks volumes about your psyche. If you want to imply incorrectly that my anonymity means my opinions are invalid, then that’s your prerogative. Why would I want somebody who is clearly unstable to know exactly who I am and where I live? From your writings it is very clear to me, and certainly others, that you are not well regarded by the majority of students and, given how much you focus on bullying, you were bullied a fair deal as a child. I am sorry for your sad life experiences, and I am sorry that you let them override your ability to think logically and rationally. If you stick to the matter at hand, instead of user names and locations, then perhaps you can get somewhere… and perhaps you will realize the folly in both your interpretation of the RYL situation and your approach to voicing your concerns. Most students will speak the truth. Very few will make the effort to post a negative rant. You worry about your online reputation from a site like RYL but the damage to your reputation done by your childish responses and paranoia fueled articles is far worse.

          • Bill Cooke says:

            I could have chosen not to post this, but do so

            1) to show what the web degenerates to
            2) to say really, this is quite personally upsetting
            3) to make the point that some people are stupid to the point of peversity. To many examples in so few words on this post.

            Is the use of the name Hannukah Harry to send such abuse anti-Semitic ? I find it so.

    • Karla Pierce says:

      “Rationalize it however you wish, but you come across as a lecturer who is simple scared of students speaking the truth.”

      Underlying your assertion is the assumption that students are speaking the truth. How do you justify taking that for granted?

      Sometimes what students assert on those sites is not the truth. That is the problem.

  7. Bill Hicks says:

    Shorter version: “Waaaaahhhhh! I’m the authority and I don’t want to be held accountable! Make it stop!! Stop this internet thingy!!”.

    Sorry prof. The world is changing and you’re not going to stop it by whining. Get with the program or get off the bus. The dominant-submissive relationships are a thing of the past. Doctors, professors, and so on. You work for us and we will review you.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      Are you from the United States of America, Mr MBAfromHarvard as your email address calls you? Because if you are, whoever I work for, it isn’t you. That slavery thing, you never got over it, did you ? Anonymous, from a distance ? Can see where the Drone mentality comes from. Still. I accept your thanks for giving you a voice on my blog. You do the alma mater proud, bro.

      • Anonymous says:

        I can see why you are so adamant about not being rated online. Based on your above response to Bill Hicks’ comment, I presume this is just how you attack your students in class if they dare to question your lessons. I’m assuming that you’re one of those professors that thinks that they know best, and that whatever they say is final. Long gone are those days Cooke. My suggestion, deal with it or go and jump off a bridge some where.

        • Bill Cooke says:

          Not exactly a great role model for anonymous feedback as a good thing are you ? But are you really that anonymous ? Be interested to know how accurate the ip locator is for you – are you near here https://dazzlepod.com/ip/12.96.87.2/ ? And you know Bill Hicks, thats the name of a famous comedian, so likely, like you, some bullying coward…..

          • Pink Panther says:

            Wow, you can use an IP locator. Welcome to the internet… circa 1998. There are ways to obscure or reroute IP addresses. I do it all the time. :-)

          • Bill Cooke says:

            You do it all the time. Even for an obscure English prof’s blog. But you’re not an anonymous troll. And its a shame you are, because I am loving your various nomes-de-plume (other readers should know, as well as this name, your ip/email reveals you to be the commenter Naughty Professor, Dr Martini, and several other names used in comments I can’t be bothered to post). Like the angry student in my class, I see you as a particular challenge. Get me out of bed in the morning type.

            And again, you can sorta see how you make my point for me ? Maybe that someone can pretend to be lots of different people to download nastiness onto people who haven’t asked for it ??? Anyway, I’ve got to go to Tesco’s now.

  8. robertcluleyrobert cluley says:

    i simply don’t understand how students will use the reviews on this site. if you have to do a core module, and there’s a lecturer with a low rating – what do you do as a student? I’m more worried about unversities themselves using this site as a stick to beat lecturers.

  9. Pingback: WE ARE NOT DANCING BEARS II: A CONSUMER RESPONSE » Critical Faculties

  10. Nicola Kean says:

    I find this “article” incredibly embarrassing to read. What it honestly reads as, is a professor/lecturer who has to teach a couple of subjects per year but is so caught up in his own research that he really doesn’t want to (nor has the time to) go to any great depths to actually fulfill the teaching aspect of his job. You, in my opinion, lost whatever small amount of credibility you had left when you mentioned the 75Quid charges you’ll be invoicing the website for. Had I the patience or actual interest I would research what I’m about to say a little better so I would be clear on the facts but, sadly no patience or true interest in your whiney, my-feelings-might-get-hurt opinion.
    In terms of anything here jumping into the category of illegal, or “sue-able” I think you would be hard pressed to find a judge who will waste his time dealing with your cry baby attempt at a court case. While negative OPINION reviews can be deemed libel, it is unlikely that you have a genuine complaint on your hands.
    It is a fact of this multimedia, multi technology, having-a-super-computer-inside-your-cellphone era that we are living in today. THINGS GET REVIEWED. Computers, phones, T-shirts, cities, travel companies, paper, drinks, actors, etc. You name it, it has a review. It has come hand in hand with the social media boom. When was the last time you logged onto facebook, twitter or some other time wasting website and not seen a review for a product pop up?
    It is a consumers right to be able to comment on a product they use, whether negatively or positively (I personally write both kind of reviews for almost everything I use). And YES!! Students ARE CONSUMERS.
    It has become apparent to me that professors in both the U.S and the UK are frequently forgetting that, although in the very official and technical sense they are employed by the University the teach at, they are the employees of the students. Without the students (or the student loan companies or the students parents) paying these over inflated (and constantly rising) year after year, these professors would not have a job. These universities would not have a purpose (other than research).
    So, lets say you’ve taken on a brand new position as a lecturer at the University of Kent. Sure, your paychecks come from The University of Kent but where do they get their money from? You as a professor (no matter how many years you have spent learning and researching and putting your heart and soul into your subject) have now become a product. Where your quality should, and forever will be (because if you can shut this one website down I’ll guarantee you many more will replace it – the grey hair senario you know?) rated and judged by those who “consume” you.

    • Alice White says:

      Dear Nicola,

      I’d like to begin by pointing out that I am both a student and an assistant lecturer, so I have sympathy for those that might want to know what others think of a lecturer but also those who find themselves under scrutiny.
      I don’t know if you’re aware, but there’s already more than one way for feedback to be delivered from students, checked out by prospective students, and used as a measure of universities’ quality. The National Student Survey provides a platform for students to pass comment, and this is used (by the Times Higher Education, for instance) to rank universities. Every university I have heard of also uses student feedback for each module taken, and this is really more useful than any online ranking site, because it’s annonymous like they are, but the feedback is actually given to the lecturer, so they get their reviews, and have a chance to act on the comments.
      As someone who considers myself still to be learning to teach at this level, I would be extremely concerned if feedback was put on the internet, where I was unaware of it and unable to learn from it. I kill myself working far longer than my supervisor is happy with in order to make my classes challenging and interesting and effective, and I accept that this won’t always work, so I need to know what works and what doesn’t, to get proper feedback, precisely because I care what my students are getting from my efforts. I’d also be worried that feedback from such an early stage in my teaching would stay online indefinitelly, and affect future job applications even if mistakes had been learnt from, or even worse, if there had been a case of mistaken identity or vendetta. I’m sure you’d agree that lecturers should try new ways of making their classes better; websites like ratemylecturer could discourage this. As such, I can see why Bill and others would want their names removed from the site.
      From a student perspective, I would rather ask someone who has recently been taught by a lecturer what their thoughts are, with the opportunity to ask follow-up questions than use that review site. Most of the reviews on ratemylecturer and its American cousin are very brief and uninformative. That has the added bonus of not involving being advertised at whilst getting the information! Also, I would consider that, at least in the humanities, the contact hours are few and the main factor in a course is its design and my hard work – I’ve taken great courses where word-of-mouth said that the lecturer wasn’t great, but it turned out that the person ranking the lecturer hadn’t done any reading! Finally, I’ve had some lecturers I really haven’t clicked with, but still done well, and in that vein, I’d point you to this article, where a longitudinal study found that ranking bore little correlation to how much the student actually benefitted from a lecturer: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/everybody-is-stupid-except-you/201305/do-the-best-professors-get-the-worst-ratings
      Sorry that’s a bit of a lengthy essay, but I hope some of it is thought provoking!

      Best wishes,
      Alice

    • Karla Pierce says:

      Nicola,

      The fact that something *is* the case does not automatically justify the conclusion that it *should be* the case. If that were true, then the fact that the murder rate *is* high in my city would lead to the conclusion that it *should be* high. Therefore, your citing that things *do* get reviewed online as sufficient justification for the conclusion that they *should be” reviewed online is not reasonable.

      Later you assert that students pay for their classes, and that this therefore makes students the employers of professors.

      That is not true: Most students do not pay the full cost of their education or the instruction therein; some students do not pay at all: How is that true? Because some students receive scholarships, some students receive education vouchers through work or the military and so on, and then some colleges and universities– public ones especially– are subsidized by tax dollars. By your logic, that would make taxpayers, employers, the military, and scholarship-giving institutions the employers of professors too.

      Anyway, the mere *transfer* of money does not automatically make the *source* of the money an employer! If that were true, then I would be your employer, by virtue of the fact that my tax dollars go in part toward paying for the roads you drive on.

      Cheers.

      • Nicola Kean says:

        I just had to reply quickly to this comment because of the idiotic statement you made regarding roads. No, you are right the transfer of money does not automatically make the source of the money an employer, that I can agree with BUT the transfer of money for a SERVICE does make the source of the money an employer (to a degree, a technicality.. you know, not always LITERALLY as a lot of sources can be self employed etc. etc etc.
        FOR EXAMPLE. I have a yard, it looks CRAZY because of all the rain and sun and heat we’ve had here recently. I have been considering getting a gardener as I am currently a cripple. When I find myself someone to mow my yard, I will exchange money with them in return for a service. Now, I will not give this person healthcare, nor will I pay into their 401K but, that person will regard me as one of their (probably many) employers.
        Teaching is a service. The use of a road, is not. I would go ahead and say a road is more of a product because theres very little interaction between myself and the road. My car’s tires and the road maybe but I don’t speak with inanimate objects so I couldn’t possibly make an accurate and true statement on this.
        An awesome example that something as moronic as Wiki.answers gives is “A product is something you can touch, a service is an action performed by someone (labor). If you buy a new battery for your car, that’s a product. The installation of that battery is a service.”
        A road does not labor. The people who built the road were performing a service, the actual road is more of a product.

        I’m sure someone could make a decent argument countering what I just said, yes BUT, really? You, employ me because you pay your taxes? No. BUT, just so you’re aware you one of the many “employers” of the united states government. You are one of the many “owners” of the government infrastructures (Pssst, this means had I been one of the workmen building the road you could say that you were technically my employer then, not because I simply USE the road…..)

    • Nicola Kean says:

      This is the email conversation between Bill Cooke and I. I am posting this as I am not concerned with sitting down and reading your replies. – Nicola

      Hi Nicola
      Thanks for this. As points of fact, I do have grey hair. The money was to be donated to charity. Given your argument, you could say I am exercising my rights too as a consumer of RYL? Indeed it is the classic bullying behaviour. Happy to dish it out but not to take it? If everything can be commented on, why can’t I comment on a website not, I may add a flesh a, d blood human being.

      Your fantasy about my teaching life is precisely that, btw.

      So, can you confirm you are happy for me to reproduce your comment for you on my blog? I will reply, along the same location new but in more detail than you I have here. Bill

      REPLY FROM ME:
      Bill,
      I have no problem for you to do what you feel is necessary in regards to my previous post and this reply to your email. RYL will not post opinion reviews on Lecturers itself. It is a peer review website -if you must- and the reviews rarely go further than “Good teacher, really gets his points across. Exams can be difficult but he gives great reviews for them”. As a student, I have found the U.S website to be a godsend when it comes time to pick those classes for the next semester. It allows me to go and have a look at what my peers have to say about a professors particular teaching method. If by chance there is the possibility that two professors are teaching the same class that semester I will pick the professor that has the better reviews.
      For you to go on and on about the idea of bullying, you must really not have delved into the American example of the website. It is a networking tool for students, to review – as consumers- the quality of a professors work. I’m more than positive that straight up “bullying” style comments will be reviewed and removed by the website. It is not illegal or against the law for a student to dislike your method of teaching and if the website is used correctly by British students then the wording will be less like “OMG, I H8 THIS GUY SO BAD. HE IS HORRIBLE AND MEAN AND GIVES BAD GRADES TO GIRLS WITH GINGER HAIR BECAUSE HIS EX-WIFE CLEARLY HAD GINGER HAIR AND HE IS UGLY AND SMELLS BAD” and rather “Couldn’t get into this guy’s style of teaching. It may have worked for some people because I saw others do well within this class but it was sadly not for me. Being dyslexic, I find myself needing alternative methods of teaching other than standing and talking. Some interactive classes would’ve been great for me but sadly his format of standing at the podium and reading from his notes just didn’t work in my favor” — An actual review I’ve written for a former professor and this format is what is mostly used within the U.S website and what I have seen on the RYL website so far.
      I don’t see bullying, therefore I cannot agree with your opinion on this website. But Hey!! That is A.O.K because it is an opinion and we are under freedom of speech, and freedom of expression all entitled to our own opinions. Personally, my opinion on your opinion is that you could perhaps look a little bit more – do a tad more research- into what the actual purpose of the website is for and see that the “hotness” rating is just something quirky that gets a laugh out of American students and teachers. It is up to the students to embrace this website and make it the best possible tool it can be. It is not the fault or problem of the RYL creators or website itself that there are dumb ass kids out there who’s parents have never taught them an ounce of human decency (another reason why I prefer to be in the U.S, I find that teens and young adults are far more respectful here than they are in the UK) and who will use the website for the negative example I gave above. I think you will find that straight up disrespectful comments and comments with lewd language tend to be removed by the website administrators.

      Sincerely,
      Nicola Kean

      P.S I am sorry to hear about the loss of your youthful hair color. I hope you have embraced it as Richard Gere and George Clooney have. If not, Kelp tablets work wonders according to my dad.

  11. You should be allowed to comment on whatever you like in life, lecturers included.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      Hi ‘Joe Fingersmith’, or whatever your name is. So for you cyberbullying doesn’t exist ? Because that is people commenting on whatever they like. And as we have seen with twitter, actually, the Courts are clear that what you say has to be truthful. And, I would suggest, if you are going to comment about real people, by name, then you should have the courage to use your own name, so they can comment back ?

  12. lrobinson27 says:

    Hi Bill, sorry if I wasn’t clear. I just meant I’m not all the stuff I’ve looked at is correct (I didn’t look through loads of it so I don’t know about the rest). I got a lovely email from Simon at HESA. RYL seems to be misrepresenting where they get their data from. I also think that our students deserve more professional courtesy when they work than this site offers us, and I think standing up to this, is a way of communicating to them that they can stand up to inappropriate practices at work.

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  14. Simon Kemp says:

    I am the data protection officer for HESA.

    Individual staff data on RYL does not come from HESA. The site includes some public domain data about courses from the Unistats dataset hosted by HESA.

    HESA does not hold the names of HE staff, and will only supply aggregated staff data for statistical and research purposes.

    Please do contact me on data.protection@hesa.ac.uk if you have any questions or concerns about the use of HESA data. Please note that HESA cannot remove any personal details form Rate Your Lecturer. HESA has no affiliation with this website or its creators.

    I will contact the site today to request that they correctly acknowledge the use of the Unistats dataset.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      Hi Simon,

      I am sorry if HESA have been drawn into this. The reason that I named you – in error, as you, and Odul Bozkurt, below point out – is because I got this email from the person who runs netsells.co.uk:

      _________________________________________________________

      Hi Bill,

      The information on the RateYourLecturer website is populated using data that is in the public domain, with the data being held by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. It is HESA who decide how this data is processed, and the RYL website merely shares it.

      We also do not host the websites content, it is hosted by a third party which we merely manage.

      Further communications should be directed to the websites owner at bulmanmsc@hotmail.com

      Kind Regards,

      —–
      Managing Director
      Netsells Ltd

      • Simon Kemp says:

        Thanks Bill,

        I’ve contacted the site to ask them to clarify that the Unistats Dataset is the source of course data only. They responded that they would make this change as soon as possible.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Colleagues

    Although I don’t fully share the way Bill is proceeding (I think the sterling payment is a distraction), I do feel
    1) This is an abuse of freedom of speech and impacts on my personal right for privacy as well as the extent to which we have control of our identities on the Internet.
    2) It is an abuse of Bangor University’s name as a trademark because by listing its employees en masse, is profiting from our employer’s name and reputation (as the site will sell advertising and aims to create a university ranking).
    3) The site is falsely advertising itself as “for students by students” . There is a profit motive and this is also evident from their terms and conditions. As you can see below, Bill has also identified the owners.

    4) There are important implications of this type of site for young colleagues and the way we interact with out current and future students.

    Hence the reasons I am supporting Bill and invite you to take action, if nothing else, to log a complain and ask for your name to be removed from the site: http://rateyourlecturer.co.uk/contact

    Kind regards

    Bernardo

    PS An article on THES which is rather favourable to the website: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/rate-your-lecturer-urges-new-uk-website/2004274.article

  16. Thanks for this, I’ll share it around. Any idea where they are getting their data from? how do they even have a list of our names? How do they work out the hours activity breakdown? I’m pretty sure that some of the information is out of date. This is the last thing we need – we need a response to austerity that recognises that the attacks are against all students, faculty and staff – not that divides us. It feeds into the whole teacher pupil model that is such a problem for real learning, research and community.

    • Bill Cooke says:

      Hi Lucy, I am told by the people who say they made the website that the list of names came from HESA. Hence my suggestion that HESA are emailed. Much of the data, you seem to be saying, is incorrect ? Certainly is deeply wrong for the courses I know about best. But I agreee with what you are saying about teaching and learning. Our ‘students’ are adults when they come to university; and learning is a shared endeavour between faculty and students.

      • I’m not sure the data all comes from HESA, looking at the typos and odd formating, a lot of it looks like it is scraped from university websites.

      • Ödül Bozkurt says:

        Hi Bill thanks a lot for this, definitely worth sharing widely and indeed this better be something the UCU can (get its ) act (together) on. I doubt very much that the data can in any way be coming from HESA- I work with HESA data and they are adamant that noone’s individual data is identifiable (so much so that one cannot make use of many otherwise potentially helpful variables on which data is at least meant to be collected – eg race, ethnicity, gender, nationality and pay / grade progression would be very interesting to investigate- as the personal identifiers change from year to year)

        Once up, this feedback stays in cyberspace FOREVER- I still have “evals” from the time I taught as a PhD student and so that everyone else I studied with.

        PS: In the US version of this thing there was (I believe there still is) a category for “hotness”, not sure if you’d think it’s good news or bad news that that bit’s
        been lost in translation ;-)

  17. I understand these objections to RYL, and the balance of academic research suggests that the US RMP is susceptible to several foreseeable biases. But isn’t a better response to make people aware of these biases? The definition of “data subject” that you’ve offered above cuts both ways, and I can see how an expansive definition would easily restrict much research on elite populations, for example.

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