We all know that trouble– to use a polite euphemism– is on its way to the for-profit colleges as the impact of the new regulations slowly come into focus. My school seems to be thriving, but I have heard stories about sudden lay offs and reduced course loads. The new regulations may well be profoundly disruptive; there could be more layoffs and even some schools might close down. Birth can be a bloody mess; market economies focus on profits first, and people second.

Capitalism, as Marx said, is both violently creative and violently destructive, and the birth of contemporary online education is no exception. We can only hope that the machinations of the market as it absorbs change, along with the labor problems and the student debt that plague all of higher education, eventually helps to create, “intellectually rigorous e-classes so animated and interactive that students can’t help but excel.”  So far, I think, this is still more promise than reality.

Still, that’s one reporter’s description of the goals of the University of California’s new program (“UC investing millions in new cyber studies program“). For-profits can’t survive without regulations because we need them to build credibility.  We succeeded so far because we provided access unavailable anywhere else.  That’s changing, and more and more we’ll have to compete with schools, like the California system, solely on the basis of the quality of our programs.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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