My goodness, Jessica Wildfire, you pushed a couple of buttons. Despite the impending apocalypse this, with all the responses, shows that no one gets into education without serious commitment. It’s just a lousy way to make a living.
The very slow moving train wreck of American education has had an incredible life span. It was first declared brain dead by John Holt in 1964 and has yet to either fully succumb or show any clear signs of recovery. We are in serious walking dead territory, here.
Don’t worry, I don’t have the answer. But I’ve only been at this for forty years. I should mention that twenty-five of those years was as an adjunct but I opted out of it early to make a living in technology, IT, and the internet. But I always taught because I liked it and because there were always at least one or, if I was lucky, a bunch of amazing people to work with as students. There were years that my three or four hours of teaching in the evenings (the real students) that kept me sane
Nothing much as changed institutionally in that time except the truly walking dead seem to slowly increase. A great deal of superficialities have been thrown in the air to see where they land or if they land. A lot of higher education is watching other universities throwing stuff in the air and then trying to imitate them usually because there is grant money available.
The stuff that creates the most excitement (excitement is directly proportional to grant money available) will, after a while, become available for debunking. This is because it doesn’t really do anything other than what hard working and talented teachers already do but will fail to accomplish that for teachers who actually don’t give a shit. And administrators have no idea how to tell the two types apart.
Careers can be made by correctly timing this debunking but it is a risky venture as careers end at calling this too soon. If there is still money to be had no matter how complete the failure to achieve outcomes debunkers will be crushed. It’s then back to the lecturer gig or food services.
If you want to take a chance the whole Student Pathways system ventures are due for debunking now. These things can work but normally don’t because the wrong people are tasked to do them so teachers get confused on who to talk to about a student exhibiting problems. Good instructors will talk to the student and find out what is happening but, of course, they do that anyway. The system requires that they fill out forms at specific times that are sent to counselors who deal with students as stereotypes that are just boxes to be checked off. Done. Next.
Those things that really make a difference in higher education but seriously disrupt the road to retirement for the tenured or those who want to be tenured will be targeted for rules that will paint the pheromones of sickness and death on the doomed tools. Online content for all courses is the big one.
Select first tier universities that got on this early will eventually drive most of the others out of business. This is total disruption so it cannot be allowed. Tens of thousands of tenured faculty will be downgraded to TAs. OMG, how do we stop this?
Online education causes cancer! No, MIT does it really well. Ordinary students can’t do it only MIT’s students can do it. That works. We’ll officially support putting our degrees online but we will assign one person to that. And we won’t help any faculty who really want to to do it. Oh, we will say we help but we’ll make sure they get the idea of what happens if they do.
This is the strawman defense. What needs to be online is the contents of a course so it is available to the student at any time. The faculty becomes a facilitator and enabler with a constant channel to the student in class or online but better with both. So it is not converting everything to a completely online course but a different way of information delivery with a different way of personal contact and mentoring.
Will common sense handle this? No but a great deal of available technology and different expertise, that is available, can and will. Unfortunately this is real disruption so it needs to go away. Hope, hope, hope.
Maybe common sense will figure this out when it is over.