also cards on the table i am a liberal weenie type who would like everyone to go to college for the sake of going to college, what is the point of living in the richest and most technologically complex society on the planet if were not at least making the effort to give everyone the tools to talk about good books
I think this is true, but there's no reason it has to be done using today's college education structure. I mean we're operating w/ a basic model that's been around for centuries (okay it's a lot different today, but we've inherited the overall structure), not because it's the best of all possible ways to teach 18 year olds how to talk about books / create signals for the job market, but more because...well, it's there. in 2011 it still gets the job done. a BA is still a good investment, overall, I agree. but if you look at the trends w/r/t cost, value, risk - I don't think our current system is on a sustainable path. the best comparison is w/ our health care system.
another old blog post by the same author:
basically the problem w/ online education today is that it lacks rigor, post-degree signaling, and it's mostly run by evil for-profit companies. but can you, in theory, get the equivalent of a *college education* online? absolutely. (this is harder w/ science and lab courses, but I suppose some institution could create a private lab an online student could go to.)
but basically, if college is just about 'learning how to talk about good books', there's no reason why we can't create a cheap, scalable way for people to learn the same stuff.
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:21 (eight years ago) link
yes i agree with all of that!
― max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:41 (eight years ago) link
"but can you, in theory, get the equivalent of a *college education* online? absolutely"
stomach flu worse today so p much all I can manage is "lol"
evidence-less techno Utopianism
I mean it's coming but the point is that it's gonna be shitty, cheap but shitty, & we'll make big money off it & maybe it'll be good enough for a lot of shitty white-ish collar work but that's not the Dewey dream & im gonna put my stake in that dream over further cheap atomized memorization in order to serve the ruling class
― Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:41 (eight years ago) link
yeah I'm sure you can get one kind of college education through online services, but will it be equivalent to the traditional idea of a college education? by what metrics will you measure this?
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:44 (eight years ago) link
what's the evidence that our current system is actually working when it comes to giving someone 4 years of education? it appears to be performing worse than ever:
45 percent of students "did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning" during the first two years of college.
you don't think an online model can compete with...this?
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:47 (eight years ago) link
well I guess that depends on what your goal is - to outperform middle of the pack 4 year colleges, or to approximate the kind of education offered at a top tier school
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:52 (eight years ago) link
Theoretically this is possible, because the technology is there but
a) the interaction between students/student-and-teacher will always be mediated, and b) the price will be roughly equivalent to traditional school b/c the model for 'quality education' will always be plain ol' college, not some other (better, more equitable and Dewean ideal) system of learning and dissemination of materialc) an online degree of any merit whatsoever requires roughly the same amount of attention and ability from professors, TAs, and adminstrative staff.
So there is an argument to be made about accessibility and customizability of a degree done online, and its but if it's done correctly it is neither cost-saving (at least for labor and materials) nor time-saving.
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:53 (eight years ago) link
also not sure how an online model would ever replicate the social aspect of college, which is not really easy to quantify!
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:55 (eight years ago) link
I'm involved in the tests they're talking about; we're implementing the collegiate learning whatever this year. It tests skills that ought to have taught in elementary school (crit thinking etc). Let's work on stuff there! and in pre-k
also I read ilx & see how seriously a decently smart community took college, imagine what others are like. A lot of people aren't ready for college at 18
like should we just dumb things down? What's the point?
― Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:57 (eight years ago) link
or to approximate the kind of education offered at a top tier school
Why would you need to do this for people who otherwise might not go to college at all? A much less rigorous level of direction toward thinking/reasoning/critical skills would be just fine, probably. This is not a slur. People who get their livelihood by learning a trade are not also at the same time going to be the nation's foremost scholars. If they're using an online method, it doesn't have to approximate the offerings of an ivy or something.
― brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:58 (eight years ago) link
fwiw i've taken a few classes on line and they were - save one - uniformly terrible. mostly, subject-area professors are pretty unsavvy, conservative, and old-fashioned in their computer usage, and schools don't want to invest in the video technology that would make online tutoring/mentorship/discussion actually useful. the one valuable online class i took involved weekly skype check-ins with the professor, t.a.,; streaming video lectures with online chatting & question submitting, a lively discussion board, and a lot of free resources (.pdfs) provided inline in the course framework.
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 14:58 (eight years ago) link
online university doesn't need to complete with harvard. most of the country goes to middle of the pack 4 year colleges - outperforming and underpricing that model would be enough.
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:01 (eight years ago) link
xp iatee otm.
To remy: I'm not saying the tech or the methodology is there right now, you're the expert on this stuff! But even for a hypothetical future.
Fwiw I went to an expensive-ish liberal arts school, hated it, hated my classes, took a bunch of crap that I don't remember because I didn't have any framework to put it in because I grew up in a box where we didn't even watch the nightly news because it showed sensationalistic, violent, depressing stories. I needed another LIFETIME to grow up before I went to college. Would have been better served by working some low-level job and just living.
― brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:02 (eight years ago) link
as noted in the article, the keyword is rigor. if an online unversity program is *very hard* it'll be a the path towards gaining respect, esp when getting a generic BA from local U is easier than ever.
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:03 (eight years ago) link
be on the path
for sure, laurel.
I also think it's interesting that word 'rigorous' is currently so very loaded in elementary education. In my experience 'rigorous' is a cipher for 'quantifiable STEM and LA knowledges and discrete skills and abilities' as opposed to the more holistic, vocational, child-sensitive, broad-based, social science and socially/artistically inclusive curriculum that would actually be more valuable to pretty much everybody. Obv. I'm not parsing your use of 'rigor' that way, but even if I do I think the point stands that 'rigor' is much less important than whole-child education.
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:03 (eight years ago) link
STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Education is full of the most absurd acronyms.
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:04 (eight years ago) link
ok laurel - but if you argue for a less rigorous, online approach, what separates that from phoenix university?
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:06 (eight years ago) link
basically I think it's amazing that America has such an amazing university system given how incurious our population is, & it's sad that we're gonna wash that away to save a few bucks & lose the last, great hope of mankind
― Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:08 (eight years ago) link
well blame the people who run those universities!
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:08 (eight years ago) link
also our state gov'ts
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:09 (eight years ago) link
and I'm still talking under the influence of that atlantic article, but is there any evidence that the market for middle class jobs - i.e. jobs that pay $40-60k (or even 80!) and would thus be a reasonable goal for someone who enters a middle of the pack 4 year college or online equivalent - is growing? what use is training someone for a middle class job or for trade if those jobs aren't there in the first place?
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:09 (eight years ago) link
also us news and world report
Re "rigorous": Hm yes, I was just looking for a more neutral word to describe a less advanced, slower-paced (maybe?), program that would assume people coming in didn't have any background in the material yet, for instance. Dunno. Thinking about people who are not natural "students", and whose focus in time & energy is on another part of their lives at the same time they're using this hypothetical study program.
Dayo: oh god, I have no idea. I was just questioning the demand for a program "as good as" top schools, for the purposes that have been given here.
― brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:10 (eight years ago) link
the overall performance of the american economy is not something that our universities can control, but I agree, all signs point downward and think this is one of the factors that's going to take down the system.
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:12 (eight years ago) link
given how incurious our population is
This feels like a...strange thing to say. Or at least a pre-judged thing? I mean, how did our population GET so "incurious"? Americans aren't stupider than other (what other?) populations, I'm p sure.
― brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:13 (eight years ago) link
it's kind of a chicken and the egg question - why push 18 year olds into debt for college when so far all signs point to the economy not being able to support them when they graduate
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:13 (eight years ago) link
This feels like a...strange thing to say. Or at least a pre-judged thing? I mean, how did our population GET so "incurious"? Americans aren't stupider than other (what other?) populations, I'm p sure.
― brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, September 3, 2011 11:13 AM (8 seconds ago) Bookmark
I am always wary about talking about things like these, but for one thing, education isn't as highly valued by our culture (or certain segments of our population) as it is by other cultures
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:14 (eight years ago) link
i feel like this is kinda projection or s.thing, like if were talking techno-utopias then a system that got 'most ppl' into and out of school earlier wld be the ideal, with college being open to the ppl who 'really want it'
― Lamp, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:17 (eight years ago) link
― dayo, Saturday, September 3, 2011 8:14 AM (3 minutes ago)
Teachers especially. There's still some sort of respect (at least in the form of paycheck, often) for professors, and a ramping-up of respect as age-level of students progresses, but damned if I don't believe that teaching kindergarten (well) in failing district is a far sight harder than teaching 10th grade history in a wealthy independent. But we esteem the high school history teacher as an intellect, and passively denigrate the kindergarten teacher as basically a kid technician
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:21 (eight years ago) link
I am always kind of shocked to see how little respect teachers get in this culture until you reach the professor level - "those who can't do, teach" etc.
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:22 (eight years ago) link
hmm i guess i dont have particularly well-formed opinions on this subject im just kind of suspicious of a lot of the discourse that springs up when we talk about reform or whatever; im wary of the idea that "college just isnt for everyone" in the current state of things, i.e. huge wealth gap, increasingly stratified society and so forth. just seems like another way to reify those distinctions
― max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:24 (eight years ago) link
that was xp to lamp
and the underlying assumption is that anybody could teach, given the opportunity and necessity. It's the only job in the world that everybody thinks they know how to do! Nearly everybody has had 13 years exposure to hundreds of different teachers, many of them terribly poor in quality - and because so much of the job is invisible/off-stage, especially for good teachers, it even looks like an easy job. (xp to dy)
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:26 (eight years ago) link
for someone who ends up w/ serious debt from a for-profit university, "college" has only served to increase the wealth gap
and you can also argue that various institutions are key players in the huge wealth gap + increasingly stratified society
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:27 (eight years ago) link
― max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:30 (eight years ago) link
yeah remy my only experience w/ how other cultures perceive teachers is in china, but there if you tell someone you're a teacher it's an automatic +1 - respect for teachers is baked into the culture, there are loads of teacher training colleges (even if the methods they learn are questionable), a lot of students want to become teachers. I'm sure there are other cultures out there w/ similar views
like if there was more inherent respect for teaching as a profession, it would siphon off some of the brain drain that's going into finance, it would make it easier for teachers to get better compensation, more benefits, make it a much more attractive profession as a whole
― dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:32 (eight years ago) link
i struggle with this q, will universal (or graeatly expanded) university opportunities lead to better wealth distribution? or will it simply debase the signaling power of a degree and leave a lot of ppl with debt and few technical skills (4 those who dont pursue professional degrees)? i don't know, i guess i'm a fence sitter, i don't know what to tell a student other than "go, it's the best option" but i also want 2 live in a world where not going to college is not a death sentence for your career prospects.
― ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:34 (eight years ago) link
and a lot of it has to do, v. simply, w/ shitty pay. highly qualified young people (male, especially) don't want to enter into a low-regarded profession in which finding employment is difficult, where the salary is capped at 70,000 after 20 years of work.
― remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:35 (eight years ago) link
i guess i should stress that the ideal "lets all go to college and discuss great books" world is unachievable so long as college costs so darn much
― max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:42 (eight years ago) link
like, in comparison to other careers which require (or at least privilege) post-secondary ed, teaching is lower on the totem pole, but in a lot of communities, it might be one of the better paying jobs there. i worry more about plumbing and electricians and sewage and waste management and etc being considered "beneath" middle class kids (thus flooding the available college spots with those who can afford it).
― ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:43 (eight years ago) link
yeah max i think its hard, i mean i dont want a return to pre-50s college system either but increased access hasnt seemed to do all that much for income equality either. obv its a completely subjective argument but my ~feeling~ is that if we had some kind of system wherein ppl could leave school @ 15/16 for apprenticeships/job-training/a career the # of ppl who wld want to pursue post-secondary education wld drastically decrease, and that many people who currently spend 4 years and X dollars on a communications/business degree wld be a lot happier?
i mean its sort of a pointless opinion to have @ the moment since no1 really needs an apprenticeship to learn how to work at wal-mart but in an america that had actual jobs i guess its worth thinking abt ways to 'de-credentialize' some careers?
― Lamp, Saturday, 3 September 2011 15:47 (eight years ago) link
^^^i guess my line of thinking right now is basically pining for "true" meritocracy (obv a term fraught w complication). in that, if you are an excellent student, u get the k-12 education you deserve to help prepare u for the rigors of university ed regardless of your background. if u fuck around in lib arts type classes bc it doesnt interest u, there are other things u can do and support yrself/family as an adult. from my own exp, i see middle (the upperish side of that) class kids go to college whether or not it interests them bc they feel they "have to", frequently getting the degree that still serves as a signal of employability. and i see poorer kids who were the top students in their respective high schools getting to college without the skills to be successful (not just academic, but for lack of a better descriptor "professional" skills, parents didnt come from privlege, dont know how interview for professional positions or the jargon of higher ed or whatever), dropping out more frequently (w debt).
― ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:10 (eight years ago) link
if we had some kind of system wherein ppl could leave school @ 15/16 for apprenticeships/job-training/a career the # of ppl who wld want to pursue post-secondary education wld drastically decrease, and that many people who currently spend 4 years and X dollars on a communications/business degree wld be a lot happier?
right but what worries me is that those numbers would decrease largely out of the pool of lower-income, underrepresented students. if i thought that people from all different backgrounds would forgo a liberal arts education in favor of apprenticeships i would be more in favor of it, but the way things "work" right now i think you end up stacking the deck.
if i am king i probably nationalize higher education and make it free for everyone who wants to go
― max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:14 (eight years ago) link
my other idea is to make all kids between the ages of 13 and 20 go work on farms year-round without tv, the internet, or video games
― max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:15 (eight years ago) link
― D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:20 (eight years ago) link
they get to use facebook though right
― D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:21 (eight years ago) link
I think a lot of this goes back to 'in an america that had actual jobs' - I mean when times were good this country could get away w/ a lot of things that were pretty inefficient (health care system, 4 years of college to 'find yourself', *cough* urban sprawl etc.) that I don't think will be possible in the longer term
xp to lamp
― iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:25 (eight years ago) link
more respect and compensation would be nice for teachers, but do you know what would also be awesome? hiring people who would be fantastic teachers but who don't want to go through the horrible, utter bullshit that is the process of getting certified.
― jizz inside of your nose (the table is the table), Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:30 (eight years ago) link
if you live in Texas, you can get quickie certified (not necessarily a good policy tho)
― ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 16:40 (eight years ago) link