Laura McKenna flags a piece in the NYT on rising inequality in college faculty pay and adds her own two cents (see also here). As she says, for all the talk about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) the real paradigm shift in academia today "is that a whole lot of house elves are doing the teaching work, and some day, they are going to get really pissed off". Replacing adjunct faculty with MOOCs just isn't going to save a large amount of money.
McKenna's Atlantic piece points out that given the production values of most online video lectures today, online education is more complementary than supplementary. The typical professor at a research university is not necessarily the greatest public speaker, and making an online lecture engaging is so far a fairly laborious task. We may eventually reach the point where self-starters can complete their entire freshman year of college online, and that would be genuinely useful, but we have a long, long way to go before we get there.
the real paradigm shift in academia today "is that a whole lot of house elves are doing the teaching work, and some day, they are going to get really pissed off".
When enough of them realize how long the odds are against their ever getting a tenure-track position at any crummy school anywhere, you'd think it would happen. But as Jefferson said, people are disposed to put up with the crap they're familiar with, as long as it's bearable, rather than risk change.
(Paraphrased from memory, but it's in the Declaration of Independence.)
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