The Future is Full-Time

The fundamental question that must first be addressed (and consciously built around) is: “Why are we doing e-learning?” Is it to increase tuition revenue? Decrease costs? Create greater access? Allow greater flexibility for our students? Experiment with new pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning, so as to better educate a different generation of students? All of the above?

Without a clear and unwavering “will,” it makes little sense for a college president to discuss the “way,” because ultimately the senior no-wake proponents on campus will delay and/or sabotage any meaningful e-learning strategy.

The ‘No Wake Syndrome‘” Kenneth E. Hartman

I think that Hartman is right; the MOOC’s put on a big show, with lots of sturm und drang, they are more a symbol of change than evidence of the change itself. Most universities, as Hartman suggests, have yet to build a viable online program. Online education, like Rome, isn’t going to be built in a day. Lots of folks, he says, are going to resist this change because they resist all change. Hartman, of course, thinks like an administrator.

It’s not about new ideas; it’s about managing people. He knows who’s going to cause a stink and he tries to find a way to placate them preëmptively. In this case, he’s thinking about the elderly academics who, curmudgeons that they are, will say no to just about any new thing. Administrators say these sorts of things no matter what change they are suggesting, even if the change isn’t designed to do much more than increase revenues.

What is fascinating is that Hartman and administrators like him don’t seem to want to address what is arguably the most serious problem in the current system in the discussions over the future and online education. Is he going to talk to contingent faculty– part-time, adjunct, graduate students– and see what ideas they might have? I bet their priority would be to use the online revolution to create (or re-create) a system based in full-time employment.

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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