I hate to use the word “conspiracy” because it connotes craziness, but sometimes it really feels like one exists. There seems to be a dumbing down effort by the elites in this country – and by elites I mean the 1% – who want to make sure they are the only ones to get a fine education. The steep incline in prices at both public and private institutions, have found parents discouraging their kids from going to college and instead to get a job out of high school.
Lack of a college education almost invariably means a lower-paying future. So what’s come along now, the panacea to all our educational & financial woes, is online learning, built on and in conjunction with the for-profit college model. Though for profits have been shown to have huge drop out rates, a much lower quality education and lower quality teachers, and higher prices to boot, they are being marketed as gateways for people who would otherwise not have access to higher education. A boon to democracy, that also has the all-American profit motive behind it.
Hold up: that sounds like how the subprimes were and are currently still being marketed. Interest only loans offered to people with low incomes and bad credit, with high default rates end up costing the buyer far more over time than a traditional mortgage. That seems to be the formula here, and whether it’s a conspiracy or not, it’s definitely a profit model to exploit the weak, the poor, the uneducated in order to make profits for the already wealthy so we can widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Not surprisingly, for profits generally attract poor minorities, just as subprime loans do. Yet both are being endlessly touted from Charlie Rose to the New York Times to the endless commercial bombardment on television as democratic levelers. Now MOOCs have joined in: billed as offering education to “people in Africa,” the truth is, MOOCs are mostly being used on our own soil to replace the traditional college experience, that is one on one learning. While the idea that something is better than nothing is appealing, the truth is that in practice, the MOOCs are inherently a poor replacement for in class learning. And a universe in which MOOC learning dominates will surely be a less educated one than we have today, and our nation is already in an educational crisis. Our literacy numbers alone are embarrassing for a developed nation.
MOOCs are another case of something that sounds too good to be true – because they are. Of course, some form of online learning can help as an adjunct, but corrupting education with corporate capitalism leads to oligarchy. Isn’t that what they’ve got in Russia? To think all the angst of the Cold War has only led both countries to the same corrupt place. Do old white men get together and plan these things out or is it simply the honest result of like minds thinking alike?