Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Disconnect of Higher Education




By Professor Doom

 

     Thank goodness for online news. There, it’s easy to find a major disconnect between what mainstream media presents, and reality: you just have to read the comments.

a tall white guy wearing a ski mask and a skull cap”

--a line from a news article discussing the attackers at mall.

     For example, the above snippet is from a mainstream article about a swarm of teenagers that attacked a mall en masse. Reading the article, you’d get no idea there’s anything racial going on; there is one, and only one, reference to race, and I’ve quoted it, above…somehow the witness determined the race of this one attacker through a ski mask. It’s possible.

      You have to read the comments to find out the actual story:

No mention that the howling mob was a pack of feral black teenagers. Yet, when some woman mentioned she saw a "white" it get immediately reported. I don't trust her version…”

     There are plenty of comments indicating the race of most of the attackers. Why doesn’t the article tell the whole story? Instead, the article insists that it was merely teenagers, and nothing else. Maybe it was all white teenagers, and this is a random, wrong, comment…but since the article has no problem mentioning one of the attackers was white, it’s curious to omit the other attackers. The comments reveal a disconnect between the article and reality. Another quick one, and then off to education:

 

The founder and CEO of American Title Services in Centennial was found dead in his home this week…from seven or eight self-inflicted wounds from a nail gun fired into his torso and head.


 

The above article doesn’t even question the possibility that this was NOT a suicide. Most folks don’t commit suicide via a very slow, very painful, very bloody, very unreliable method like this, and it just seems like a few details explaining why suicide is the only possibility should be given. Only in the comments section is the disconnect between what the article says, and reality, addressed.

Now, to education: consider the fundamental disconnect in an article by a Chief Innovation Officer in the University of Texas system, Marti Stein. A title of “Chief Innovation Officer” indicates “administrator”, as they love spiffy titles to go with monstrous salaries. The author is in the Institute for Transformational Learning—that sure sounds important, but it is just yet another administrative fiefdom. Much of the money in higher education gets soaked up by these fiefdoms, which do little beyond employing administrators who slurp up vast sums of money in make-work projects. I’ve written of the like before. Shut down these fiefdoms which do nothing but waste massive sums of money, and I bet institutions of higher education will have an easier time with their finances.

The article is Ready or Not, Change is Coming, and it’s filled with the edubabble that dominates administration in higher education. The title may as well be the whole article, as content is light. Instead of real discussion, the article is littered with lines and keywords like:

“…Not resigned to the passive receipt of knowledge, many are eager to interact with and utilize the world of content and experience around them. They have a firm belief in their own power to leverage networks of peers…”

--“utilize” and “peers” are important keywords, words that ever spew from bureaucratic mouths.

and

“…For these learners, the value proposition of traditional education…”

--“learners” is the blood-soaked upside-down flag, a sign that an educationist is speaking.

and

“…Inevitably, someone will implement the solutions that will pilot our next generation of learners...”

---if it’s inevitable, we sure don’t need to read this article, right?


Reading the article, it looks like a piece on something-or-other in Higher Education, and with all the big words, it’s easy to miss that not much is said here beyond “change is coming.” It’s only in the comments that, again, you see the disconnect between administration in higher education and that folks that actually know what’s going on:

 

Old wine in new casks-the author should define "we". Are they college presidents who have shown little or no leadership in leading these recommended changes?”

--faculty and administrators read this article, and you can really tell which respondent is from the serf caste, or the ruling caste.

 

Hear, hear! [Author], you make excellent points, thank you!

--it isn’t just that administrators are all supportive in their comments. It’s that administrators can use their real names. Faculty must post under pseudonyms (much like me), because the penalty for not supporting admin is fast termination, without due process. The supportive comments say nothing (no surprise considering where they’re coming from), so I’ll focus on the many more negative comments:

 

“…higher ed as an industry? - right there i stop reading . . .”

---this is the big disconnect between admin and reality. An administrator, using his name and picture, quickly responds to this comment to assert that yes, higher education is an industry, implying it needs titanic administrators.

 

“…Is it me, or are articles about the coming ed-tech rapture looking more and more like algorithm generated boilerplate?”

--the article really is written that poorly, and I must include a parody from the comments:

 

“…But have you considered that the metrics from institutional dashboards help to define the change agents who will propel student lifecycle management into a new platform to leverage the 21st century learner into a student centered space where they will flourish in the global knowledge economy through exposure to multiple instructional contexts?...”

--faculty are exposed to this gobbledygook nonstop, and so we often parody it…behind administrative backs, of course. This could easily have been an excerpt from the article, or from any of the last dozen administrative missives.

 

“…Methinks [the author is] part oft he problem.”

--The big disconnect reveal here. Faculty all know that administration is the issue. It’s like having pedophiles run day cares and operate ice cream trucks.

 

I certainly understand sites that don’t have comments—in my blog I have to delete comments from spammers regularly. That said, the comments on a story, especially unmoderated comments, give a much clearer picture of the reality of the situation.

I know, I tend to rant and rave about how bad things are, but I encourage the reader to see with his own eyes what administrators have to say, at least a few lines…much more than that might give eye cancer.