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We're all University of Phoenix now

by: Eric B.

Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 14:23:23 PM EST

Your college degree, long touted as a critical tool in economic advancement, has come under scrutiny the last couple of years as too expensive (thanks in large part to disinvestment in higher education by state governments) and the fact that economic stagnation caused to a large degree by wealth inequality has made some folks question the wisdom of going to college in the first place. Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center looks at this and sees a future of crumbling university facilities that, while once a crown jewel investment of a people, are now just an impediment to Babbit Nation.

If it hasn't already, this broad overview of a higher education system on the cusp of a transformation brought about by online learning should be sending chills up the spines of high-paid university presidents and their legions of administrators.

"The higher-ed business is in for a lot of pain as a new era of creative destruction produces a merciless shakeout of those institutions that adapt and prosper from those that stall and die," Harden writes. "Meanwhile, students themselves are in for a golden age, characterized by near-universal access to the highest quality teaching and scholarship at a minimal cost."

He sees the renaissance in American higher education in online schooling, which he appears to think will replace brick-and-mortar institutions.

There are people and there are courses where I don't think online schooling is such a bad idea. I took a refresher course in basic electronics theory on the computer while I was in the Navy, and I never got the impression that a living, breathing instructor was so important.

But, this ain't basic electronics theory. Increasingly, this is coursework in which the student is intended to learn concepts from someone with more expertise and, not repeat them word for word, but instead use them to form new and independent thoughts. That is not a function that can be fulfilled via a computer, especially if the student in question has never been told that part of an education is learning how to think rather than using it as a racket to make money.

Eric B. :: We're all University of Phoenix now
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Online Education
Thanks for this Eric. Like you, whoever has been involved in online learning--I have taught online in one of our state universities for five years--knows that it's a poor substitute for face-to-face learning. Students are not fooled; our on-campus numbers continue to rise, despite all the ostensible choices online.

And as if McHugh cares about quality learning anyway! It's the "high-paid" part that bugs him.  God forbid anyone employed in education might earn a good wage.  

Informed opinion
Credentialed at many universities; totally rejected Phoenix after I researched how many they failed and coaxed to pay a second tuition.

AVOID Phoenix!  

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