Is e-learning the food-bank of education?

Tony Bates, e-learning, distance education resources, Jun 09, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

If we're going to use the food analogy, as the title of Tony Bates's post suggests, then what I would say is that what we have now is an economy in which the only place you can get food is in a restaurant, where it's prepared and served for you, sometimes by high-priced chefs, but usually by underpaid and overworked assistants. The world of online learning and OERs may be, as Bates suggests, nothing more than food banks for the needy. But what I want to see is a combination of grocery stores, kitchens and cooking lessons. Talking about tuition and "ability to pay" does nothing to address the fundamental problem of further education in this country and worldwide: it's too expensive, because it was designed for people with expensive tastes, who can afford to eat out every evening. Witness the ridiculous proposal to launch the New College of the Humanties, a high-priced extravagence which, if it becomes the model for higher education,means that education again becomes the preserve of the rich. As Eagleton writes, "The money-grubbing dons signing up at the £18k a year New College of the Humanities are the thin edge of an ugly wedge."
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