The Twilight of Expertise (by-the-book professors)

Imagine if, to get the news, you had to go somewhere and have it read to you! What a joke. From an article in the Washington Monthly about on-line education:

If Solvig needed any further proof that her online education was the real deal, she found it when her daughter came home from a local community college one day, complaining about her math course. When Solvig looked at the course materials, she realized that her daughter was using exactly the same learning modules that she was using at StraighterLine . . . The only difference was that her daughter was paying a lot more for them, and could only take them on the college’s schedule. And while she had a professor, he wasn’t doing much teaching. “He just stands there,” Solvig’s daughter said.

The excellent article misses something big, however:

A lot of silly, too-expensive things “vainglorious building projects, money-sucking sports programs, tenured professors who contribute little in the way of teaching or research” will fade from memory, and won’t be missed.

Via Aretae.

3 Replies to “The Twilight of Expertise (by-the-book professors)”

  1. Don’t forget Veblen though. The very expense and lack-of-added-value of an education at a traditional university is part of it utility as a class marker. With large lectures at big state schools, you already have the lack of interaction of distance learning with the inconvenience and expense of a traditional university.

  2. Not to detract from your larger point, but StraighterLine (and several others like it) have a really weak set of course offerings.

    David’s point (above) is spot on. We need (?) those class markers in order to establish those stratification layers that keep the unwashed where they belong. Our system of education and credentialing is one of the most powerful ways in which we determine these class markers.

  3. Stewart, I’m not sure who “we” is in your statement “we need those class markers.” In certain situations I’m sure you’re right. I’m told that certain employers use what school you attended as a big part of the hiring process. And lawyers, I’m told, use the law school you attended to determine your status.

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