Skip to comments.[It's] The End of the University as We Know It
Posted on 01/29/2013 11:41:33 AM PST by Jeff Winston
In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelors degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.
(Excerpt) Read more at the-american-interest.com ...
This has implications for anyone considering future education. As the author says, "...pursuing a Ph.D. in the liberal arts is one of the riskiest career moves one could make today."
I have excerpted only the first paragraph. The entire article is lengthy, but well worth the read.
I always thought it would be cool to create small SPECIFC colleges
For example, I went to a school for a physics degree, but i could have EASILY seen this done with a small group in someones home for 4 years.
That would have been much more cost effective. I would LOVE to start a small conservative- minded college teaching a physics curriculum
so freaking laughable.
Anyone who can find the local library could get a college education for free, and it’s been that was for 100 years or more.
Exactly the opposite will happen. College will be even more important than ever with advanced degrees like Masters and Doctorate becoming the new minimum just as a high school diploma was decades ago and a bachelors is now.
But those degrees will be deliverable (and delivered) online.
That’s the difference.
But they'll charge ten grand for the exams that qualify you for that degree...
Most HS graduates are immature dumbos.
Much as half way houses and probation serves as an intermediate time between Prison on regular life,
Colleges serve much the same purpose as being a half way house between HS adolescence and being an adult.
Hopefully this will help eliminate all the pseudo non-academic disiplines that dominate the liberal arts schools in most universities. Since these degrees have absolutely no social utility I doubt many will work to obtain them if they don’t provide a marketable skill and there is no 4 year edu-vacation to go with them.
The main reason for college for many is to meet a potential spouse from a similar or higher status. A good college culls the herd so to speak and dramatically increases the chance of your child meeting and marrying someone of a similar or higher status. And likely dramatically decreases their chance of hooking up with a loser who's going no where.
I wouldn’t hesitate for even a second to attend your Physics class.
It’s one thing to read a boat load of stuff and quite another to get feed back in an open environment.
Guidance if you will.
The issue is cost and time.
Online learning can only deal with those issues if they are set up in very small groups.
Most of what I know about free online learning is that of a passive consumer of information, like reading but with video and lecture.
I think your idea is fantastic !!!
What’s required, however is a model that pays the provider/Professor for his time given such a small student body. I’m not saying it can’t be done.
If this can happen for Universities, it can happen for High Schools, Middle schools and elementary school. When education becomes modular, down loadable, and open source, then the onus will be on testing or certification.
I see that as a good thing.
One thing is for sure - I’m NOT sending my kids off to have their faith and worldview attacked by some leftist/Marxist college professor.
That's true. But if you just study for yourself, there are problems: how do you know that you've covered all the bases? How do you demonstrate to anyone outside of the library that you know what you say you've studied and are qualified to do the job you want (let's say, as a researcher in particle physics at Batavia)?
You can learn a great deal in a library or online, but the element of interaction is missing. There's a lot to be gained from talking with your professors, taking exams and writing papers to make sure you really know what you think you do, having discussions with classmates, working in a lab, being directed to new authors and materials you hadn't heard of, etc. Just the discipline of knowing that an exam is coming up helps focus the mind.
So while the self-taught method is valid, an online curriculum offers a great deal, too. I've taken some for-credit online classes in a very intimate group (four or five student) and it was great. I learned a lot more than I would have had I just been studying on my own. At least there was someone of whom I could ask questions.
There are very good conservative colleges where that won't happen. Don't worry.
He claimed that the curriculum that had nurtured our Founding Fathers was no longer good enough.
He claimed that the old curriculum did not teach people how to think.
Well, it has all been downhill from there, because our Founders were able to think.
Can't say the same for most graduates using the "New Curriculum."
Our Founders would have easily identified Obama as a complete fraud.
All you have to do is go to places like khanacademy.org to get a glimpse of what is going on. Not to mention the MIT offering mentioned in the article.
My daughter has been sent off to a certain extent,and has and continues to have her faith and worldview attacked.
She is at an extremely liberal University with Professors that declare their Marxism. She also has very conservative professors.
She sends my her homework and complains about having to spend soo much time reading “Liberal Swill”, in order to complete an assignment.
Some kids can maintain objectiveness, while others can’t.
And what about the lab courses? How is a chemistry or physics student to do his lab work? How is a professor to evaluate the work of 100,000 students?
The current compromise is making the course material available but charging for testing and the actual degree itself. As participation becomes more interactive (i.e. webcams and real-time interaction between instructor and student) the advantages of large classrooms diminish. They don't go away altogether - I'm taking a class at the moment (yes, even a superannuated old git like me) and the classroom environment does seem a little more immersive. YMMV - young students used to the technology might not agree. Gamers spend a lot of time in a virtual environment anyway, so it may not matter to them. I still like it.
Some major institutions - CalTech, MIT - are making some amazingly high-level classwork available. For courses where the curriculum doesn't change a lot - English literature - the buyin in course preparation is a one-time shot with little maintenance necessary. The class I'm taking now is from a retired (and returned) Classics professor whose coursework on Greek mythology was originally written to VCR and is still in use essentially unaltered except for the media. He was laughing about it the other day - what took a studio and endless rehearsal to record then is done now by a student sticking a cellphone up into the air.
Other stuff - technology courses, for example - where there is a great deal of churn in the course material are less remunerative for the institution, especially where class sizes are smaller as in senior and graduate-level classes. The U is still a corporation, and if it can't turn a buck my phony-baloney salary doesn't get paid. That's how it is in the ed biz.
I do see this helping impact student loan debt and yes, there will need to be fewer professors with slightly different skillsets. They have to go with the flow too. My guy, well, I'm going to help him log in again in another few minutes. Professors always will be professors.
I’m not buying it. The fact is the information has always been available, universities don’t hand out information, they hand out proof of completion. I’ve always quiped that if I want to learn something I’ll read a book school is for degrees. As long as employers find degrees important, which currently trends upward, there will be a place for universities. Online classes might become more the norm, less campus life, but there will still be universities handing out proof.
University Education bump for later......
“Any degree obtained online will be deemed as worthless as a degree from the University of Phoenix”
Or, the University of Florida, the University of Alabama, Ohio University, the University of North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Troy University, or Auburn University, all of which offer online degrees today—right now.
This watering down has been exacerbated by two things: 1) the rise of nouveau "colleges and universities," including a variety of "online" schools, and 2) seemingly unlimited government funding for higher education.
Say what you will about businesses, their quirks, and shortcomings, education establishes a pecking order, certainly in larger US companies. Your education lends tangible credibility, whether or not your particular job requires the degree or not. Degrees also give employers something tangible by which to compare potential new employees, and reasons to promote established employees.
You may rise through the ranks on your own merits and success, but a degree gets you in the door. You can argue that employers really want employees who are good workers....blah, blah. All employers want good workers, but it's very difficult to prove you're a good worker with online courses and certificates only.
This isn't just an employer issue. There is a value system in place today, where we in the US still value these credentials too. Would we fly in planes, drive in cars, or live in buildings designed by people with questionable backgrounds or specious qualifications? Would you seek medical advice or care from someone with an associate-level degree from an online school? What about legal advice from someone graduating from Dakota College at Bottineau, or Delgado Community College?
The value of some degrees is neglible, and as an employer, I'd be hard-pressed to show any extra consideration to a potential employee over another. But, until a new value system for employee credentials is created, the degree will still be of value for many employees and industries.
I'd be remiss if I didn't include that for those who may be in sales, those who plan to start their own business, or those pursuing legitimate trades such as plumbing, electrical, construction, welding and other such fields, a four-year degree would not add a significant value. There may also be exceptions in smaller businesses not laden with bureaucratic policies and procedures.
E-harmony and other websites do such work far more efficiently and cheaply.
E-harmony and other websites do such work far more efficiently and cheaply.
I agree however most students will not realize those benefits as they don’t have the people skills required. And then only in certain classes with certain teachers who you bond with.
More and more people are unable to find employment so they have more time to educate their spawn. One hell of a lot of 1-12 grades can be done with a computer and a loving parent.
Keep your kids out of the gov.con child prisons. Some will be better off going to a college but most wont and they can pursue a degree cheaply at a comfortable pace while working for a living.
Sounds like more fun than most schools. I hated having to take so many unrelated courses.
That in fact is a potential issue.
I suspect virtual environments for teaching are going to get more and more sophisticated. And they won't necessarily look just like traditional classrooms. Imagine a virtual archaeology class where it looks like you, the professor, and the other students are visiting the Acropolis... or Macchu Picchu.
That's only true to a certain degree. Pretty much any technology, relatively speaking, could be described as a "free lunch." We can get news instantly beamed to us from 5000 miles away. What's the cost? Negligible. New technologies often offer great advantages over the old ones.
Maybe, but a some of that has to do with personal contact. If you're around Harvard people all the time, you conform to their beliefs and behaviors. If you're not, maybe your real world surroundings have more of an influence. To be sure, though, public schools have gone pretty far with indoctrination already.
“The main reason for college for many is to meet a potential spouse from a similar or higher status.”
Actually, the HS grads go to college to get away from home (on their parents’ money), party on booze and drugs, and get laid (and experiment with gender benders). Things haven’t changed since I attended school 50 years ago except prices have gone through the roof, there are more required crap courses and majors, and the kids are stupider.
“...tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs...”
Be still, my heart!
Univ of PHX anyone?
The good private colleges are awash in high quality potential spouses and the girls often outnumber the boys significantly.
If it really was as effective as many purport... then there would still be a soviet union and people wouldn't be risking their lives trying to escape North Korea and Cuba.
Moreover, the state schools are infected with all kinds of worthless courses, taught by even more worthless tenured professors, that are made mandatory. Unless a student is enrolled in hard sciences or engineering courses where learning actually occurs, forget liberal arts and social sciences. Any course with “Studies” as part of its title is absolutely worthless.
I also question the numbers of “high quality potential spouses” at the 4 year schools. The women's studies programs destroy and indoctrinate far too many young women. These women are turned into Harpies seeking revenge upon any male dumb enough to get near them. The products being graduated from our schools of higher education are not educated; they are indoctrinated.
Thank you, Illinois taxpayers, for my cushy life.
May 30, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 35
After 34 years of teaching sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I worked. But thats not all: Theres a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites. Having overinvested in my retirement annuity, I received a fat refund andwhen it rains, it poursanother for unused sick leave. I was also offered the opportunity to teach as an emeritus for three years, receiving $8,000 per course, double the pay for adjuncts, which works out to over $200 an hour. Another going-away present was summer pay, one ninth of my salary, with no teaching obligation.
I havent done the math but I suspect that, given a normal life span, these benefits nearly doubled my salary. And in Illinois these benefits are constitutionally guaranteed, up there with freedom of religion and speech.
Why do I put worked in quotation marks? Because my main task as a university professor was self-cultivation: reading and writing about topics that interested me. Maybe this counts as work. But here I am todaylike many of my retired colleaguesdoing pretty much what I have done since the day I began graduate school, albeit with less intensity.
Before retiring, I carried a teaching load of two courses per semester: six hours of lecture a week. I usually scheduled classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays: The rest of the week was mine. Colleagues who pursued grants taught less, some rarely seeing a classroom. The gaps this left in the departments course offerings were filled by adjuncts, hired with little scrutiny and subject to little supervision, and paid little.
Sometimes my teaching began at 9:30 a.m., but this was hardship duty. A night owl, I preferred to start my courses at 11 or 12. With an hour or so in my office to see an occasional student, I was at the (free) gym by 4 p.m. Department heads sometimes pleaded with faculty to alter their schedules to suit departmental needs, but rarely. Because most professors insist on selected hours, to avoid rush hour and to retain days at home, universities must build extra classroom space that stands empty much of the day.
The occasional seminars were opportunities for professors to kick back and let graduate students do the talking. Committee meetings were tedious but, except for the few good departmental citizens, most of us were able to avoid undue burdens.
Another perquisite of the job was a remarkable degree of personal freedom. Some professors came to class unshaven, wearing T-shirts and jeans. One of the deans scolded the faculty for looking like urban guerrillas. He was ridiculed as an authoritarian prig.
This schedule held for 30 weeks of the year, leaving free three months in summer, a month in December, and a week in spring, plus all the usual holidays. Every six years, there was sabbatical leave: a semester off at full pay to do research, which sometimes actually got done.
Most faculty attended academic conferences at taxpayer expense. Some of these were serious events, but always allowed ample time for schmoozing and sightseeing. A group of professors who shared my interests applied for a grant to fund a conference at Lake Como. It was denied because we had failed to include any women and so we settled for an all-expenses-paid week at Cambridge, England.
The grandest prize of all is, of course, tenure. The tenured live in a different world than ordinary mortals, a world in which fears of unemployment are banished, futures can be confidently planned, and retirement is secure.
All of this at a university without union representation!
To be fair, the first years of a newly hired assistant professor can be harrowing. Writing lecture notes to cover a semester takes effort. But soon I had abundant material which could be reused indefinitely and took maybe 20 minutes of review before class. Adding new material required hardly more effort than the time to read what I would have read anyway.
The only really arduous part of teaching was grading exams and papers. But for most of my classes I had teaching assistants to do this, graduate students who usually knew little more about the topic than the undergraduates.
My colleagues, to their credit, promoted me to full professor knowing my ideological heterodoxy. I fear that a young Ph.D. looking for work today who challenged the increasingly rigid political orthodoxies would have a hard time. But the discipline of sociology is so ideologically homogenousa herd, as Harold Rosenberg put it, of independent mindsthat this problem is rare. Universities cherish diversity in everything except where it counts most: ideas.
According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Harvard, donating 4 to 1 in favor of Democrats in 2008, was one of the more politically diverse major American universities. Ninety-two percent of employees at the University of Chicago donated to Democrats. The University of California favored Democrats over Republicans, 90 percent to 10 percent. And William and Mary employees preferred Democrats to the GOP by a margin of 99 percent to 1 percent. Neil Gross of Harvard found that 87.6 percent of social scientists voted for Kerry, 6.2 percent for Bush. Gross also found that 25 percent of sociologists characterize themselves as Marxists, likely a higher percentage than members of the Chinese Communist party. I would guess that if Lenin were around today he would be teaching sociology and seeking grants to fund the revolution.
The research requirements to achieve tenure and promotion are rigorous. The top journals reject as much as 90 percent of the work submitted, so accumulating the half-dozen or so articles usually required to be tenured took sustained effort.
But it is not clear what value this work has to those who pay the salaries. As Thomas Sowell has argued, building a scholarly reputation requires finding a niche that no one else has exploredoften for good reason. I am hard pressed to explain why sometimes exquisitely esoteric interests should be supported by taxpayers: This expertise certainly does not match the educational needs of students. (Full disclosure: The book that established my scholarly reputation is titled Marx and Wittgenstein: Social Science and Social Praxis.)
The work done by most of my colleagues did bear on issues of wider relevance and not all of it was so ideologically compromised as to be useless. But the readership of academic journals is tiny, and most of this work had no impact beyond a small circle of interested academicsfor understandable reasons. Philip Tetlock, a research psychologist at Berkeley, tested the accuracy of 82,361 predictions made by 284 experts including psychologists, economists, political scientists, and area and foreign policy specialists, 96 percent with post-graduate training. He found that their prognostications did not beat chance. The increasingly ideological nature of social science will not improve this record.
To be sure, some of my colleagues were prodigious researchers, devoted teachers, and outstanding departmental, university, and professional citizens. But sociologists like to talk about what they call the structural constraints on behavior. While character and professional ethics can withstand the incentives to coast, the privileged position of a tenured professor guarantees that there will be slackers.
An argument can be made that, compared with professionals in the private sector, college professors are underpaid, though according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by rank, the average [salary] was $108,749 for full professors. It is difficult to compare the overall goodness of different lives, but there is a back of the envelope shortcut. In my 34 years, just one professor in the sociology department resigned to take a nonacademic job. For open positions, there were always over 100 applicants, several of them outstanding. The rarity of quits and the abundance of applications is good evidence that the life of the college professor is indeed enviable.
The life of a professor is far more attractive than that of most government employees, but elements of professorial privilege can be found in the lives of other public sector workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the quit rate for government workers is less than one-third that of the private sector. Applications for federal jobs exceed those for the private sector by at least 25 percent, and when workers move from private to federal employment their earnings, according to Princetons Alan Krueger, increase by 12 percent.
And then there are the public schools. Because K-12 education is local, generalizations are difficult. But there are many egregious cases. Less than 2 percent of teachers in Los Angeles are denied tenure. In the last decade, according to LA Weekly, the city spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the districts 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, liberal, and former union organizer, described union leadership as an unwavering roadblock to reform. Teachers in Florida gain tenure after three years of satisfactory evaluations and, in 2009, 99.7 percent received this evaluation. Michelle Rhee said that when she took over the D.C. school system in 2007, 95 percent of the teachers were rated excellent and none was terminated. Just 0.1 percent of Chicago teachers were fired for poor performance between 2005 and 2008.
This circumstance has attracted the attention of public officials. Illinois, with the support of some prominent Democrats, is desperate to cut back a public employee pension system that, even with recent reforms, will go broke within 10 years. John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio, has proposed that the teaching load of college professors be increased by one course every two years.
Such efforts at restraint are routinely met with Wisconsin-like howls of outrage. One of my colleagues, whose retirement benefits exceed the $77,900 household income average for retired government employees in Illinois, was indignant that the state had managed to require an additional $17 a month for his dental insurance. How dare they!
Protests against efforts to reform pay scales, teaching loads, and retirement benefits employ a solidarity forever, the union makes us strong rhetoric. What these professors and other government workers do not understand is that they are not demanding a share of the profits from the fat-cat bourgeoisie. They are squeezing taxpayersfor whom the professors purport to advocatewhose lives are in most cases far harsher than their own.
David Rubinstein is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.