mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Professors Block Online Ed to Keep Their Jobs


A number of universities have been integrating online coursework into their programs in recent years. But Duke University has just pulled out of an online education consortium at the behest of its faculty, the New York Times reports:

While [Duke provost Peter] Lange saw the consortium as expanding the courses available to Duke students, some faculty members worried that the long-term effect might be for the university to offer fewer courses — and hire fewer professors. Others said there had been inadequate consultation with the faculty.

Faculty concerns about the spread of online courses may be on the rise. Just two weeks ago, faculty members at Amherst College voted against participating in edX, the nonprofit collaboration founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, citing concerns about costs and about how “massive open online courses” would affect a residential campus devoted to small discussion classes.

According to Amherst’s internal report, faculty members also worried that the introduction of MOOCs would “take student tuition dollars away from so-called middle-tier and lower-tier” schools, pushing their colleagues at these institutions out of their jobs.

The fears don’t end there. Some California professors claim that MOOCs would force them to give up their courses as their personal intellectual property, weakening their leveraging ability with university administrations. And 72 percent of professors surveyed by the Chronicle of Higher Education said that students who perform well in MOOCs should not be granted formal college credit.

But perhaps the most common criticism is that MOOCs diminish the quality of education because they don’t involve regular, in-person interaction with a professor. This would be a more persuasive argument if the traditional classroom model clearly provided a sterling education, but in many cases, it doesn’t. Students want and deserve more options.

It comes as little surprise that entrenched interests want to obstruct online ed to protect their careers, but they would do honor to their profession by letting it thrive instead.

Features Icon
show comments
  • WigWag

    College faculty (excluding those who teach at community colleges) are one of the most pampered, lazy, self-righteous and annoying groups in America. Watching them suffer as technology takes away first their undeserved privileges and then their jobs will be delicious.

  • Corlyss Drinkard

    “Others said there had been inadequate consultation with the faculty.”
    Right. Union, heal thyself.

  • Lorenz Gude

    As a prof retired from a career in Educational Technology – you remember hi tech stuff like overhead projectors – I am amused. And delighted. More seriously, I would point out that here in Australia they have been doing Distance Education for a lot longer and over serious distances at all levels – K through University and that institutions in US wanting to do MOOCs could well do some research studying Australia methods which are often more cost effective. I’m saying apply for a grant to go to Oz and study what institutions actually do in places like the NT and W.A as well as in the more densely populated areas of Australia. I did some research like that here for the Australian government in the 90s to find the most effective forms of Aboriginal distance education and discovered some unexpected winners who were doing more with less. .

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service