The Bloom is off the Rose

I think one of my favorite more or less recent ideas is Allan Greenspan’s ‘s “irrational exuberance.”  It sums up both the era of Regan inspirited market craziness and the blooming of the internet. Hyperbole has been the order of the day. More and more, though, the bloom is off that rose. One sign might be the defeat of the “personhood” amendment in Mississippi and the striking down of the anti-union laws in Ohio.

Maybe I am being over optimistic but I suspect that the worst of the decades long  right-wing storm has passed. Another sign, I think, that the age of irrational exuberance is over is the increasing awareness of class privilege in education, especially as it relates to online education.  It’s still happening on the margins, but it is happening. One good example is the comments on “Why I No Longer Teach Online.”

The author, Nancy Bunge, makes a simple point: she’s stopping teaching online because students don’t like it. There’s no mention of class at all. The comments, however,  suggest a more complex if still inchoate picture of how the internet has been integrated into the higher education system, given the traditional systems’ profound neglect of its historical role as a means of social mobility. The  private system filled that gap.

Working students are not “warehoused” in online education; students are more than passive vessels and most don’t have the privilege of opting out of online classes. Still, online education has not yet realized the scope of the cultural capital (at least ideally) provided by a traditional education, and so has not created a robust system of class mobility. That’s our task if we are going to do more than serve a niche market.

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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