Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Ken Burns or Instructors? from Inside Higher Education
"He said that he favored "certification," in which people could demonstrate competency or skills in certain areas through testing rather than earning degrees. ... Johnson also said the education system could become much more affordable by changing the role of instruction. "We’ve got the internet -- you have so much information available. Why do you have to keep paying different lecturers to teach the same course? You get one solid lecturer and put it up online and have everybody available to that knowledge for a whole lot cheaper? But that doesn’t play very well to tenured professors in the higher education cartel. So again, we need disruptive technology for our higher education system," he said. Johnson added, "One of the examples I always used -- if you want to teach the Civil War across the country, are you better off having, I don’t know, tens of thousands of history teachers that kind of know the subject, or would you be better off popping in 14 hours of Ken Burns’s Civil War tape and then have those teachers proctor based on that excellent video production already done? You keep duplicating that over all these different subject areas.""
Sadly, I think Johnson is spot-on here about the future of history (and several other subjects) in academe.  The constituency for maintaining the current faculty/resource heavy commitment to history, literature, philosophy, etc. is collapsing. One dynamic professor on video shown to thousands of students and given a quiz will do.  Then use an army of $10/hr adjuncts to grade the damn things.  Channel the savings to STEM.  Problems solved!

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