I thought I’d write a little more about this tweet of mine from a few days ago:
My department chair just asked me to start teaching our department's senior seminar online. Obviously, he doesn't read my blog.—
Jonathan Rees (@jhrees) August 27, 2012
If you imagined that conversation ending in some kind of shouting match or fistfight, you’re about to be very disappointed. All I said was, “I prefer to spend my time doing other things.”
There was actually a brief moment in his long pitch that almost swayed me. It went something like this: “If you don’t do, they’re just going to hire some adjunct from the middle of nowhere. If you do it, we can keep control of our product and assure its quality.”
This is where I started to remember all the wonderful things that people are doing with online education out there, and I briefly wondered if I might want to do it their way too. Then I remembered that I work for the State of Colorado, which is chronically short on cash for higher education (and many other things) and that online courses in my system are nothing but a means to backfill brutal budget cuts brought about by politicians who don’t really care whether students learn anything in college or not.
Nobody teaches in a vacuum. You may be the best online educator in the world and that the money will come pouring in once you and all the other potential superstars out there prove its potential. I hate to break it to you: In the age of permanent austerity there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Apparently, my institution will be offering 30% of its courses online by the year 2020. That leaves 70% left for me to teach before retirement, or perhaps by then American higher education will have come to its collective senses.