Online Learning and Traditional Universities

George Siemens, elearnspace, Jul 12, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Online learning is making clear the contradiction between equity and elite institutions. This contradiction is especially apparent when the things that define an institution as "elite" have nothing to do with learning. The real objection is loss of faculty control, as University of California staff argue that e-learning "not only degraded education but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum as well as campus autonomy…a picture emerges of undergraduates jammed through a mediocre education and ladder rank faculty substantially removed from both control over and involvement with undergraduate education." If faculty showed any interest in keeping costs down,reaching more student, or even making academic papers openly accessible, I'd have more sympathy with their desire for control. But the relation between the professors and their entitled students is symbiotic - they need each other, to reenforce the idea that they deserve to be there, that they are better than other people.
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