Shock Horror! Education supplier says changing technology won\’t do away with him!

Mark Thoma is a professor somewhere over in the US. Professors over in the US face a certain amount of compeition from online courses:

But traditional colleges are not going away, and the potential of online education to reduce inequality is overrated.

So let us not talk about the relative abilities of tenured professors and online courses to provide education. No, unh, unh, let us instead talk about inequality.

Online education has the potential to lift the incomes of people throughout the world. Because of online education, many people will end up much better off than otherwise. But we should not rely upon online education as the primary solution to the problems workers face due to globalization, technological change, and a political environment that puts the interests of business above those of the working class.

Or, don\’t worry about the education bit, just keep employing me because I run a blog that talks about those inequality things.

You know, please, not the face, please don\’t hurt me!

9 thoughts on “Shock Horror! Education supplier says changing technology won\’t do away with him!”

  1. Just before reading this, I spent a while trying to find out how many university professors there are in the UK. About 15k is the usual estimate, but it’s unsourced, undefined and out-of-date. Any pointers, soc-sci profs?

  2. The real problem for the professors is if someone figures out qualifications that count more than the ones that they provide. That’s what’s keeping them there. Not the learning – I have met programmers with degrees who were taught by fucking morons who shouldn’t have been teaching programming. The lecturers currently matter because they hand out the BScs and the BAs and that’s what gets you the foot in the door.

    If people just wanted to learn they’d spend 3 years backpacking round Europe with a Kindle.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Almond – “If people just wanted to learn they’d spend 3 years backpacking round Europe with a Kindle.”

    My long-ago experience of student life, backed by everything I have seen or heard since, is that most students do not learn unless they are forced to. They need the structure and discipline of lectures and tutorial assignments. Even then they don’t learn much. So they will never learn much back packing around Europe with a Kindle.

    Of course for this sort of cockend, the problem is that they will not learn the right thing. That is, they may come to appreciate Russian novels of the 19th century. In the original Russian. But they will not see them as monuments to the oppression of women, Gypsies and the colonial peoples of Central Asia as they should. That sort of education most people can do without and British would be better off if it ended.

    However teaching on-line has the same problems and it does not bring the social benefits. No shagging the co-eds. No drinking with the Rugby team. A lot of better Western universities probably provide a moderately good education that you could acquire by yourself if you read two books a week. But they also provide networking and I don’t see how that is going to work without a physical campus.

    Apart from the networking, British universities are little more than glorified day care now. It is next to impossible to fail. Your degree simply says you turned up. No more. But the networking matters.

  4. The online courses are run by tenured professors. They’re hardly a threat, more a very large funnel for elite university entrance. Bright Botswanians will be given scholarships.

    No, this isn’t about tenure. It’s about Marxism. The world resembles less and less the high Victorian Gothic of Marx’s conceit.

  5. ” A lot of better Western universities probably provide a moderately good education that you could acquire by yourself if you read two books a week. But they also provide networking and I don’t see how that is going to work without a physical campus.”
    Sorry, SMfS, but is this the feature or the bug you’re discussing here? If university education was some sort of height of perfection…just maybe with reservations. But in practice? Networking’s just another word for the self referential , self-acclaimed, academic class that’s grown to run everything these days. And, oh boy do they make a good job of it, don’t they?

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Sorry, SMfS, but is this the feature or the bug you’re discussing here? If university education was some sort of height of perfection…just maybe with reservations. But in practice? Networking’s just another word for the self referential , self-acclaimed, academic class that’s grown to run everything these days. And, oh boy do they make a good job of it, don’t they?”

    Hard to say really. But let me draw a distinction between the academic class who run universities – up their arses, given to prose you could beat an elephant to death with, indifferent to the real world or anything that looks like, regarding an honest opinion on anything as abhorrent, and completely irrelevant to society – with the student body. Many of whom ignore everything their professors say and merely parrot back whatever fashionable garbage will get them at least a pass mark. And who will go on to run the country some day.

    Most of those students are also useless. The closer they are to their teachers in outlook and politics, the more useless they are likely to be. But some of them are actually capable and worth listening to. That tiny minority ought to meet others of a like mind and get to know each other.

    Although it would be nicer if they could do it in a Guards regiment while doing their national service. But each to their own.

  7. “Although it would be nicer if they could do it in a Guards regiment while doing their national service. But each to their own.”

    Problem being, those were the networks in place when I first went to work in the City. Couple of our partners were Guards. Fine chaps if an armoured advance across the Low Countries was on the agenda (unless the plans actuyally included armoured advances across the Low Countries, in which case p’raps not..) But for running a global financial nexus?
    Benefit of this interweb thing is it does actually generate networks of folk who have some relevance to the stuff they’re concerned with & tends to include in those, fewer of the learned Prof Mark Thomas of the world in the process. A sorting system with merit, it could be said.

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Problem being, those were the networks in place when I first went to work in the City. Couple of our partners were Guards. … But for running a global financial nexus?”

    All the traditional British banks survived the Housing bubble fine. The more chaps from the Guards they had, the better they seemed to do. Unless, of course, Brown made them take over some other bank and so took them down. The banks that failed were the old Building Societies that sneered at the Old School way of doing things. I would prefer to bank at Coutts myself.

    Barclays is a good example. They used to love and respect tradition. The descendants of the founding families got a special clear run in promotions. Unfair I agree, but they brought something worthwhile with it – a commitment to the long term and the good name of the bank. That tradition was destroyed and all the interspaz networking they liked couldn’t save them.

    But in fairness, it is too soon to be sure. Get back to me in 200 years time.

  9. Thanks so much with regard to giving me personally an update on this subject matter on your web site. Please realize that if a new post becomes available or in case any alterations occur to the current write-up, I would be thinking about reading a lot more and learning how to make good using of those techniques you discuss. Thanks for your time and consideration of others by making this web site available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *