Being a Luddite is an Act of Absurdity
(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Very rich unintentional hilarity on MOOCs and the devastation that they will bring.
Go read it now, and when you have stopped laughing and have dried the tears from your eyes, a little Danny Devito refresher course in creative destruction might be in order:
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The best classes I’ve ever taken are the classes that professors wanted to teach – all were small classes that tapped into a professor’s particular area of expertise. These were the classes that kept me in college. They were the classes that determined my choice of major. If professors are less saddled by teaching introductory courses – where MOOCs might actually do a better or faster job of teaching basic subject material – couldn’t that free up professors to teach more of the smaller classes that they’re actually passionate about?
Actually, what may really empower profs to spend more time teaching on subjects they love is not that MOOCs will let them pass off intro courses to others, but that MOOCs give them the opportunity to teach on their highly specialized topics to more than a few students at a time. Your ability to teach a class doing a deep dive on Plato’s shorter dialogues or comparing Shakespeare’s Shylock to other Jewish figures in 16th century English drama is limited if you can only draw students from one campus, but suppose you could draw students from around the world?
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: MOOC is a bunch of BS designed to bring the equivalent of “reality television” into academia.
I’ll take all of this “Online Learning Is Just As Good If Not Better” hype and BS seriously when Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, and other members of the Ruling Elite publicly announce that THEIR children are passing up Harvard, Duke, Williams and Stanford, and will instead spend their college years in front of a screen, enrolling exclusively in MOOCs and/or such esteemed institutions like “Full Sail University” and that one located in “Phoenix”…
Until then, spare me the nonsense and the stupidity. As with most things, watch the very wealthy and influential; if they’re doing it, it’s worth doing. If they don’t—but preach to us about how “good” it is—they’re just lying and hoping we don’t notice.
Bill Gates actually pulled his children out of whatever the most elite private school in Seattle is and had them learn on Khan Academy. Moreover, the first new elite university to start in over a century is planning on making extensive use of MOOCs. The plan is to charge half the price of current Ivy League universities but have their campus move around the world as students advance.
I’m afraid you’re wrong on all of this. Nothing personal but Gates did not pull his children out of the schools they are still attending in Seattle.
How do I know this? I live in the Seattle area, and a good friend has her child at the same school as one of the Gates children.
However, even if you were correct, why would that invalidate anything I’ve written? The very wealthy and prominent have always tended to tutor their progeny at home—usually a vast estate set up with ample room for a private classroom, and a budget that would allow for excellent one-on-one learning.
Surely you’re not trying to make the case that if Gates chooses to eventually tutor one or more of his children at home, that it means he considers online “classrooms” superior to one in a physical setting?
And, do you have any evidence that if the Gates children are being home schooled, that there are no adults involved, except for those who appear on a screen?
Do you think the average family could afford the “Gates Solution” of hiring top-notch tutors to assist the full domestic staff available for the children—while mom and dad jet around the planet, speaking everywhere on education, despite their complete lack of scholarship, or training, or experience—or do you think this might not be a feasible solution for most people with kids?
I notice you didn’t answer my question: Can you tell me the name of any very important, powerful or wealthy person who is choosing to send their child to a “Full Sail University” as opposed to a real college?
Anyone? Anyone at all? No, I didn’t think so… 😉
Oh, and what is the name—ROFL, sorry—of the so-called “first new elite university to start in over a century” that will rely exclusively on MOOCs?
(Given the charlatan driven nature of such schemes, run by con men who think “It’s all in the branding and marketing, no matter what you’re selling, toilet paper, Dream Whip or college, it’s all the same thing…” it sounds like it should be called “INSTANT PRESTIGE UNIVERSITY!” or “New Amherst College” with a catchy slogan under the “sharp” logo, reading something catchy like “Same Courses, Twice The Prestige, On YOUR Schedule, At Half The Price!”
Yeah, Gates, Obama, Duncan, the Walmart grandchildren…they’ll ALL be beating down the doors to enroll their kiddos in THAT place. No doubt.
And, you’ve got ANOTHER way to pitch to those Global Elitists: “You won’t have to pay nearly as much to have a Virtual Building” named after your family! We’ll give you a far better deal than these ripoff artists up at that Harvard place!”
Just one more thing, Matthew—well, two actually: How much are they paying you for this gig—shilling for the “Instant Stanford: Just Add Wi-Fi University” people?
And finally, just how dumb are you to assume that we “little people” would fall for the horse manure you’re flinging at us, hoping we’ll believe you when you insist it’s filet mignon?
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