If you don’t have the stomach or the time to watch the whole video, I don’t blame you. Therefore, here’s the short version, as Audrey explains it:
But there’s an interesting twist with Courseload: schools that adopt its platform require students to pay, as part of their tuition fees, for their course materials. That means there’s no opting out of buying textbooks. There’s no looking for cheaper, used books. There’s no sharing the cost burden with your roommates. There’s no looking elsewhere for a better deal.
And when your school bookstore collapses (or at least becomes nothing but a branded clothing retailer) Courseload and their publishers can crank up the costs as much as they want.
Now let’s look specifically at the company’s pitch to get professors:
Courseload’s faculty dashboard enables new ways to teach and understand how students learn with real-time analytics and note sharing. Choose any textbook, workbook, article, publication, or video you like; we can handle it. Want to incorporate multimedia materials into your courses? We can do that too. Digital course materials provide the ultimate flexibility for instruction.
I have trouble believing that they can get the rights to digitize any book I might want to assign, but let’s assume they do. What if I don’t want all my students tapping on their phones and laptops during class since they could spend the whole period on Facebook and I wouldn’t be any wiser? What if I can provide media content myself at a much cheaper price?
Besides, logistical complications are almost inevitable: What’s the turn around time between submission and loading? Do you write your syllabi at the last minute? How much earlier will you have to get everything ready now that there’s a money-sucking parasite wedged between you and your students?
Why can’t they leave well-enough alone? Money, of course. This is my transcript of the above promotional clip, from about two minutes in:
“But there’s a whole second wave of cost reduction that’s possible. Right now, the proportion of proprietary content that’s used on college campuses is very high, and proprietary content is the highest cost. Schools are interested in using more open-source content and self-generated content which has become much more plentiful in the digital era, and that content is lower cost. So over time, schools would like to see the proportion of high-cost proprietary content go down, the proportion of lower-cost content go up, so there may be that second wave of cost-reduction for students over time.”
So they’re going to use a problem that faculty did not create, the high cost of college, as a wedge to destroy your prerogatives as an instructor. Sounds like The Shock Doctrine for higher education to me.
Update: For additional analysis by me about Courseload, click here.