Sunday, July 30, 2017

4 Reasons Degrees Becoming Worthless…And Why

By Professor Doom

     Hey, it’s no secret we’ve got a serious problem in higher education right now. Our kids, trained from birth that they should go to college after high school, are doing their supposed duty by going to college…and getting destroyed. Many of them leave higher education with lives crushed by debt, and gaining nothing from their 4 to 6 years of higher “education” that will help with that debt. Teaching kids they must go to college once they hit 18 is about as abusive as teaching them they should jump into a volcano at that age.

     The Mises Institute usually focuses on theoretical Libertarian ideology or Austrian economics, but recently they posted an article on higher education:

     It’s a good enough piece, but it repeatedly neglects an important concept: why. So, let’s hit the reasons and fill in the missing details.
1.     Graduates have little to no improvement in critical thinking skills.

This is well documented:
According to the WSJ, “At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table”. The outcomes were the worst in large, flagship schools: “At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.”
     Absolutely, a college degree can’t maintain its value if you can’t distinguish a holder of a degree from a non-holder. It used to mean something, and now it doesn’t. But…why?
     The answer is pretty simple: a college degree used to be awarded by academics, demonstrating the holder was capable of jumping through a wide array of academic hoops, primarily by writing papers demonstrating understanding of a broad range of topics. That’s changed.
Assignment 1: “Fill in the names and capitals of the 20 southeast Asian countries on this blank map.”

Assignment 2: “Use techniques of advanced calculus to show how perturbations in the measurements of Mercury’s mass as it orbits the sun confirm the relativistic effects predicted by Einstein.”

---both of these assignments are from 4000 level, senior level, courses in state run universities with a reputation for partying, as capstone material for a degree. Assignment 1 comes from around 2014, assignment 2 comes from around thirty years ago. I totally concede neither has much to do with real life…but which of these assignments could a 10-year old complete with a bit of effort, and which takes years of knowledge and skill development before it can be attempted?

     It’s also well documented that many college courses have no requirements, no reading, no writing, no demonstration of any knowledge. We have classes with hundreds of students in them, watching Powerpoint presentations that, over the course of the semester, add up to around 30 pages of text (i.e., less than an hour of reading)…and students are tested on how well they can learn this material over the course of 4 months.
    The reason many campuses have courses like this is accreditation is broken, and no longer has anything to do with education. Even major campuses like UNC can operate academic frauds for decades with no significant penalty from their accreditor.
      This is why most students get nothing from college: colleges don’t have to provide anything.
2.     Shouting Matches Have Invaded Campuses Across The Country

     Absolutely, a degree from a school famous for race riots isn’t going to be worth much, and every year at least one more school goes into the “you don’t want this school’s name on your resume” category because of the ridiculous rioting—problematic when the degree from that school cost $100,000 or more.
      The article highlights one school, but it’s hardly alone:
     It seems that developing critical thinking skills has taken a backseat to shouting matches in many US colleges. At Evergreen State College in Washington, student protests have hijacked classrooms and administration. Protesters took over the administration offices last month, and have disrupted classes as well. It has come to the point where enrollment has fallen so dramatically that government funding is now on the line.
     The chaos at Evergreen resulted in “anonymous threats of mass murder, resulting in the campus being closed for three days.” One wonders if some of these students are just trying to get out of class work and studying by staging a campus takeover in the name of identity politics and thinly-veiled racism.

     Again: why? Please understand, administrators have incredible power on campus today, they’ve tossed faculty for the most idiotic reasons imaginable.
      If admin wanted to stop the riots, they could do so, trivially: remove students from campus, and keep removing students until there are no more rioters.
      Admin won’t do it, of course, since it cuts into those sweet, sweet, student loan checks. They’ll cheerfully degrade the value of a degree into nothing before that.
3.     Trade Schools and self-study offer better outcomes for many

     Truth be told, this is a redundant criticism: the first criticism (college graduates gain nothing) sets a pretty low bar for a “better outcome” from doing something else, right?
     So, yeah, the “why?” is easy enough to answer regarding the better outcome at trade school. If you get nothing from college, then anywhere else is better.
     For a more satisfying answer, however, we need to consider how it happened that college became so devoid of skill development. There are many issues here, but primary is education hiring is no longer controlled by educators. Instead, administrators with administrative degrees handle that.
     Thing is, every dollar not spent on hiring educators is a dollar that goes into administrative pockets. You’re going to hire people as cheaply as possible, and obviously that’s best done by hiring people without marketable skills. This is why our campuses are bogged down with coursework on gender studies, ethnic studies, and deviant-sex studies—there’s no other place people who can bloviate about such things can get hired.
      On the other hand, you don’t see college courses on plumbing, air conditioner repair, or car repair. People with those skills can get high paying jobs, and thus won’t accept the crappy conditions and welfare-qualifying pay of your typical college professor.
     One might argue that such things are not academic, but what of computer science? That was an academic subject, but many campuses are thinning out, if not outright closing down their computer science departments…it’s just too hard to find people with computer skills that would subject themselves to working for admin.
    So, yeah, there’s a reason why you’ll learn better skills on your own or at a trade school.
     And now we come to the last reason:
4.     Tuition is increasing, but future earnings are decreasing.

     The article backs it up with charts and things, and it’s true enough, but there are two “why” questions worth answering here, “why is tuition increasing” and “why are earnings decreasing.”
     Tuition is increasing primarily because of the student loan scam: all the money flowing on to campus just raises prices due to increased demand, it’s very basic economics. I could, of course, blame the insatiable greed of admin as well but even if they had integrity or an iota of self-restraint, prices would still go up with all that money sloshing around in higher ed.
     The second “why” is the big question for this country: earnings are decreasing for a great many jobs. When inflation is factored in, the average pay in this country is below where it was at the turn of the century.
      For many kids, going to college is all about landing that “high paying job.” Hey, a high paying job is a good thing, but if you have a choice between a job paying $25,000 a year (a janitor, say), and a job paying $40,000 a year but also comes with loan payments of $16,000 a year…then janitor turns out to be a better deal, right?
      Now factor in the years spent in college spending that loan money, and the janitor deal is even better.
      “Why are earnings dropping?” is a complicated economic question and I can respect the article not even attempting to answer it (although, seeing as the site is named after an economist, they really should have tried…). That said, your average Trump voter believes it’s because our government has basically sold out the country, shipping those high paying jobs overseas and burying the whole country in debts to bankers rather than making decisions that would help the people of the United States.
      The evidence justifying this belief is pretty strong, but the ultimate question is what, if anything, can Trump do to bring those jobs back?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Remove Tenure By Changing Name of School…Seriously?

By Professor Doom

     In the Communist takeovers of the 20th century, the shapers of public opinion were targeted for either control or elimination. This is understandable, as socialist ideas generally can’t stand up to any intelligent challenge…getting rid of people with an opposing point of view, particularly those who can express that view to the public, is thus a necessary part of any transition to completely centralized state power.

      There are three major categories of the public: children, young adults, and adults. The last election showed that the control of the public schools/higher education/media (the main ways to influence the public as children/young adults/adults) was simply not complete enough to allow a candidate dedicated to the all-powerful state to simply walk into office. So…the control is not yet complete in at least one of those categories. Changes need to be made!

       I guess the control over public schools is complete, nothing new is happening there since the election.

     Recent “changes in policy” are choking out YouTube personalities giving an alternative point of view of things, and Facebook and other media are likewise doing what they can to silence opposing voices. Mainstream media keeps doubling down on the hate campaign, despite repeated backfires.
     So we have control of kids, and adults.

      And what of higher ed and control of young adults?

     Because we know history, academics sought to protect themselves from being targets long before the election, and the primary protection was tenure. Now, I grant a bullet to the head trumps tenure every time, but we’re not at that stage yet.

       In higher education, the control is already pretty strong, as administrative power is extraordinary, while faculty are mostly powerless temp workers now. That said, there are still tenure-holding faculty, some of whom hold those alternative points of views that need to be silenced.

      I’ve documented many of the ways to get around those tenure rules, to eliminate faculty who would have been executed if the control were complete. Most of the time the new methods don’t hold up in court, though it takes years to settle things, long enough that our aging tenured faculty usually walk away rather than fight.

     The long term plan here is just to not award tenure. Each year, the average age of a tenure holder goes up nearly 1 year, because so few new tenure positions are awarded; the average age of a tenured professor is 55 now, to get some idea of how much longer we’ll have tenure as a part of academia. The last election showed that the timetable needs to be accelerated, those who want to silence intellectuals are unwilling to wait another 20 years until “the end of history,” and so broader methods are coming online.

     The latest maneuver to silence opposing voices in academia wholesale is both ridiculous and, unfortunately, perfectly legal:

      The title is a bit misleading, so a snippet to clarify:

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit came in one of numerous such claims filed by faculty members whose positions were threatened when the system merged the University of Texas Pan American and the University of Texas at Brownsville and created the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

     The State judge flat out dismissed the case of skullduggery by the State school(s). Yeah, shocking, I know, but it did take 4 years of fighting for the professor to get to this point.

     So, what happened? In short, two State schools “merged” into one State school. I’ve been a part of these mergers, and it’s amazing. Faculty are told that mergers will increase efficiency, help students, and lower tuition, but, somehow, no administrator is fired (less efficiency), classes get larger (hurting students), and tuition rises much as before (because all the administrators get pay raises for being part of a larger institution…I wish I wasn’t making this stuff up).

     Oh, and faculty get fired—the classes get larger for a reason, after all.

     This “new” State school will operate on the same campuses as the previous two State schools. All the fiefdoms of the previous schools are still extant, with the same personnel.

      The students at the “old” State schools immediately transferred to the new State schools, no problem, and all their credits as well (I should note this is in explicit violation of accreditation rules for transfer to new schools, and in violation of policy of every school I’m aware of, and I’m aware of many). It’s curious the faculty’s lawyers don’t know this explicit rule from the school’s accreditor:

3.6.3 At least one-third of credits toward a graduate or a post-baccalaureate professional degree are earned through instruction offered by the institution awarding the degree. (See Commission policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards: Policy and Procedures.”)

--publicly available knowledge. If the new school is truly a different school, then many students should lose credits…or the new school should lose accreditation. Yeah, right: the only accreditation rule I’ve never seen violated is the one about being sure to pay the accreditor.

    The low paid adjuncts also transferred easily.

     So, let’s summarize this merger: same campuses, same classes, same rulers, same infrastructure, same accreditation, still part of the same State education system… beyond the changed name, you simply could not tell the difference without legal assistance.

      But the tenured faculty are removed, despite their contracts. Awesome, right? And this is now established as perfectly legal. These guys devoted their lives to the institution, and now are being silenced wholesale, with full approval of our court system, because apparently just changing the name of the school is sufficient to shred a contract. That’s how it works with all other contracts, right?

     The precedent here is clear enough: all you need do now to silence any opposing voices on campus is just change the name of the institution, and thereby instantly void any contract. Today, we still have little islands of sanity on most campuses, trying to explain that mass murder and trusting your Poo Bah are woefully dangerous methods of reaching the end of history. Those little islands are often populated, and led, by what remains of the tenured faculty—any non-tenured faculty on those islands have long since been kicked off by admin.

      I grant that this change-name-lose-tenure switcheroo isn’t the same as a bullet to the brain, but, if the control is ever complete, I suspect we’ll see such. Our Department of Homeland Security (note: this is not the U.S. Military) purchased well over a billion bullets, more than enough to kill off the academics…and I suspect quite a few other Americans, too. Seriously, the entire population of this country is well under one billion, so it’s fair to consider which Americans this Department, which can only operate on U.S. soil, is planning to shoot.

      All this ammunition was acquired perfectly legally, so it’s all good, right?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Florida Remediation Doubles Down on Doublespeak

By Professor Doom

     One of the best kept secrets of “higher ed” is how much of it is repetition of high school, or lower. It’s particularly bad at what are called (or used to be called) community colleges, institutions taxpayers were suckered into paying for in exchange for their kids being “taught” the same subjects taxpayers paid for their kids to be taught in the public schools.

     It’s a massive fraud, and I’ve shown in this blog that most schools have around 90% of their coursework at the high school level or lower, often much lower. It’s well known these courses are frauds, just as it’s well known that over 90% of the students in such courses get nothing out of them but debt and wasted years of their lives.

     For the most part, the states don’t really care about the huge fraud they’re inflicting upon their citizens (it’s not like their citizens can do anything about it), but Florida decided to address the fraud of remediation in a simple way: get rid of remediation. This is basically bringing the idea of social promotion to college—just passing students through the system whether they’re learning anything or not.

     The effect of social promotion at the college level has, of course, been a disaster, but that doesn’t mean Florida will do what every educator told them to do in the first place: bring back entrance exams, so that only students on campus are those that want something more than the checks.

     They always rationalize keeping kids on campus with same crappy line: “potential loss of millions of state dollars.” No, it’s not. See, if the kids aren’t being trapped in remedial programs, the schools don’t need those millions of dollars. It’s no loss at all. Moreover, it’s a bonus, since instead of the kids wasting their lives not-learning the same crap they didn’t learn in high school, they’re out building lives, working at jobs…generating tax revenue, and making a happier and more productive citizenry. That would be good, right?

     But all the leaders of higher ed can see is all that tax money not going into their own pockets…they’ve long forgotten the whole reason we use tax dollars for education is because education is a public good. Public good is irrelevant to them, all they want is MOAR.

      And so, yeah, when presented with the knowledge that our kids aren’t being hurt by a predatory education system, their problem is the “loss of millions of state dollars.” It’s pathetic.

      The way how these colleges are trying to capture the loot “lost” from no longer hurting kids in remedial programs is by expanding their bachelor’s programs.

       I’m not a jerk, I don’t want to stand in the way of people getting degrees if that’s what they want, but these degrees are, well, questionable. The students can’t read, 
write, or do ‘rithmetic at the high school level, but nevertheless have college degrees.

     I point at that not only their degrees of little value, such a proliferation of degrees debases the value of people with actual college-level skills. That these people are being hurt is of no consequence to our leaders either.

      To governor of Florida won’t be helping much:

Governor Rick Scott vetoed a higher education bill that would have capped bachelor’s degree enrollments at the colleges,…

     Since these “community colleges” now have 4 year degrees in abundance, they starting to call themselves universities; the bill would have forced them to advertise again that they serve the community, but Governor Scott vetoed that as well. It’s not that big a deal, a fraud by any other name is just as foul, after all.

     Admin wasn’t pleased at not getting what they want, of course:

“We’ll continue to do the best we can with what we have,” said Jesse Coraggio, vice president of institutional effectiveness and academic services at St. Petersburg College.

--do note that Jesse’s title, vice president of institutional effectiveness and academic services, is well past twice the length of his name. If they really wanted to improve efficiency, they could close out positions with titles twice as long as the holder’s name…they’ve got fewer students, right? So…why not fewer vice presidents as well? That’s just crazy talk, I know.

     Please understand the big shell game being played here. The students that actually could use the help in remediation will no longer get it. Meanwhile, the scammers (30% or more of the community college student base, more like 90% when you consider how many kids get hurt in this system) will just fill out the extra forms to get the loan money for the bachelor’s program. And admin is sad that the governor was trying to cut into that:

“We’re experiencing declining enrollment, but one area that continues to grow for us is bachelor's degree programs,” Coraggio said.

     Ok, you’ve just admitted you have fewer students. Instead of whining about losing the tax dollars, why not boast of how you’re finally cutting back on administration? Why is cutting down administrators is never, never, on the table? Instead, the colleges find more money to hire more lobbyists to get more tax dollars.

A new report by Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success found a decline in the percentage of administrators who think the law that lifted the mandate on remediation is working. The researchers found that the proportion of administrators who agree or strongly agree that the policy has been effective has decreased from 74 percent in 2015 to 39 percent in 2017.

--Not all useless fiefdoms on campus are about diversity, there are also Centers for Postsecondary Success to load down with admin as well. This Center has 16 staff making far more than any academic will ever make. In addition, they have an advisory board with 7 more admin. They are partnered with several other expensive fiefdoms. Seriously, if our universities weren’t so dedicated to providing administrative jobs, they could be useful education centers. Just an idea…

      Admin know the new system isn’t working out well for them, even if it’s helping kids from hurting themselves. So, of course they don’t approve. Hey, why were administration surveyed at all? Shouldn’t educators’ opinions on education be relevant? It would in a legitimate system, but we’re talking about higher ed here, so, no.

“Florida has done a lot of work trying to rapidly reform developmental education,…”

      I should mention that the word “remedial” became a bit of a slur, and so admin, in their wisdom, eliminated remedial programs. These programs are now called “developmental.” But now “developmental” is being steadily removed from college (because it was the same fraud, by a different name).

      What will they call them now? The gentle reader can make a guess from the following:

“Bottom line is revenue saved through declines in remedial enrollment should not be considered a savings, but rather reallocated to support students in college-level gateway courses,” Jenkins said.

--Jenkins’s title is senior research associate at Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College.

      Isn’t it delightful that our tax dollars pay for senior research associates at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College to “research” changing the word “remedial” to the word “developmental” to, now, the phrase “college level gateway” courses? It’s a safe bet another dozen administrators or more are in that fiefdom, too.

      Like I said, it’s just a shell game. It’s a shame no educators were allowed to talk about what should really be done here.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Higher Ed As Party Trap

By Professor Doom

Admin, 1996:   “If you do not get your retention up to 85%, your contract will not be renewed.”

--why I had to leave a certain state university. “Retention” is the percent of students that do not drop the course and do not fail. On this particular campus of 50,000+ students, fraud was so rampant that some 20% of the names on the roster never actually came to class. If you wanted to remain faculty, you had little choice but to pass students who you never even saw, much less never did any work or took any test demonstrating they knew anything.

     I’ve focused so much on the politics infecting our campuses that it’s been a while since I’ve discussed how our campuses became overwhelmed with students who have no business being on campus. How did it happen?

      Admin worked to trap them on campus. Keeping a fake student on campus is called “retention,” and, as always, it started innocuously enough. Simpler courses, changes in policy, adding climbing walls and lazy rivers are common enough tactics, although they all needed approval because they went against the whole concept of education. How did they get people that knew higher education was about education to go along with it?

Admin: “Education is important. Thus, we need to work to improve retention.”

     Admin’s argument seemed reasonable enough. I mean, we’ve all been raised from birth to believe that education, any time at all spent in any classroom, is a good thing. So, faculty did nothing to stop the shift on retention.

      It started with mandatory meetings, but it was clear in these meetings that the primary means of increasing retention would be to reduce the education.

Admin: “The math department’s low retention numbers are not good. We need to bring in Education specialists to teach the courses.”

     Since education, actually learning anything, in the courses, was irrelevant, admin quickly realized that they no longer needed knowledgeable faculty. Educationists moved in, destroying courses that had been defined and refined over the course of a century or more, erecting new courses with the same names, but without the content.

     Admin: “Congratulations to Professor [Useless]. She got 100% retention this semester. We’ll be promoting her…”

--yes, this was at the same campus where 20% of the students never came to class even one time.

     Higher education on many campuses became a race to the bottom. Instead of challenging students (which might cause a student to drop the course), faculty were promoted, praised, even given awards for offering courses completely devoid of content. Content was irrelevant, you see, what mattered was no student dropping the course.

     All in the name of retention.

     Faculty with integrity have a hard time surviving in this environment. I concede I gave up much of it, hoping that I could accomplish some good by staying and fighting to return even one campus to honor. Many of my friends could not sacrifice their integrity, and I respect that (similarly, I understand that some of my friends had family to feed, and so held their nose and did all they could to increase retention).

      Coursework has degraded so much that if I dared to give a course like I did in the 80s, I’d lose 90% of the class, perhaps more. Back then of course, I wouldn’t lose so many students but campuses were different then: the bulk of students were on campus because they were interested in learning.

      The focus on retention over everything has changed the dynamic. Now campuses are bogged down with students holding little to no interest in learning, and, to judge by the riots, are only interested in advancing a violent and self-destructive ideology.

     The American form of higher education—ridiculously expensive and low content, with all risk assumed by the students to pay loans while the schools are immune to malpractice suits—has spread to the UK. It’s been nauseating to watch every single mistake made in the US be repeated there, and the creepy focus on retention is no exception:

     The article I’ll be quoting from above is so totally wrong, I feel the need to make considerable corrections of the errors.

      First error is the article asks the wrong question. We shouldn’t ask “How can…” but rather “Why should…” The American version of higher education has trapped over 20,000,000 people into debt slavery, and even though a great many people now know that higher education is a trap, there’s still no serious effort being made to stop it.

      Instead, “free community college” movements are rising up. I grant that this will, technically, not put students deep into debt (instead transferring the debt to the taxpayer, and we’ll just pretend students won’t pay taxes ever), but much of community college is a fraud, as I’ve detailed extensively in this blog.

      Even without tuition debt, even without the fraud factor, we’re tricking our kids into squandering years of theirs lives partying in community college…this is so wrong.

      Anyway, the UK is now looking at retention, and, of course, doing it wrong:

“The UK is a world leader when it comes to student retention – it came top in the
 latest OECD data (from 2014), with 71% of the country’s students completing their undergraduate courses, in contrast with 49% in the US…”

      Ok, great, you’re the world leader in something that shouldn’t even be a competition. Stop. You’re done. That’s good enough. If there was any integrity, that’s where it would end, but the Poo Bahs only want one thing, ever: MOAR.

Students who drop out are costly to universities in terms of lost funding…”

    So now we’re off to the another error. No, universities are not losing a thing when a student drops.

     A publicly funded university is not in it for profit. A student who drops out isn’t “costing” the university anything. All the university is losing is the money that would educate the student. The university’s expenses drop by what it would cost to educate the student, so no loss at all.

     That’s how a steward with integrity would view a dropout. But, the leaders running our schools realize that every dollar that doesn’t go to the university is a dollar (or pound, in this case) that isn’t going into administrative pocket. See how backward the point of view is?

“Teaching Excellence Framework, which will use non-continuation rates as one its metrics,…”
     And here it comes, the fatal error. Retention (or “non-continuation rate”) is now going to be the measure of “good teaching” in the UK. Hereafter, an educator’s job in the UK will depend not on providing education, but on keeping butts in seats. How long until they, too, are going to be forced to have 85% retention to keep their jobs?

     The rest of the article tries to cover up the reality of what higher education will become once the focus is on retention (and, do keep in mind, they’re the best in the world, and still think retention, and not education, should be the focus of education).

    The article claims retention will be improved by telling the students what they need to do. Don’t get me wrong, letting students know what will be expected of them is all well and good but that’s just now how it will ultimately work out.

      There’s no way to quantify “I told the students what they needed to know.” On the other hand, an administrator can quantify what percent of students didn’t drop or fail the course…and that will be the precise measure of teaching.

     One comment sums up how the “problem” of poor retention can be quickly and easily fixed:

“Improve retention and standards by not recruiting virtual illiterates.”

     It really is that simple. It’s the same thing faculty in the U.S. said when admin here told them to increase retention. Admin then laughed in faculty’s faces, and opened enrollment further.

      One hardly needs a crystal ball to see what will happen in the UK in a few years.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Online Ed = Bad for Bad Students

By Professor Doom

     For decades, there’s been a constant push to bring coursework online. From an administrative point of view, online courses are wonderful: almost no overhead, a worldwide market, and possibly infinite class size. The big expense is you need an educator to run (note: I don’t use the word “teach”) the course, but you can use most anyone for that, so that’s cheaper than a traditional class, too.

     I brought one of the first courses online in the prior millennium (I apologize), but at the time I explained to admin that in order for an online course to be successful, you’d need to restrict the market. For a student to succeed in an online course, he needs to be willing to read the book and study on his own, putting at least the amount of time into the course that he would spend going to classes. So, you only wanted students who studied to be in online courses.

     (Yes, I know, there was a time when study was important for college, but many courses now are arranged so that a student need merely come to class and sort-of pay attention to the Powerpoint in order to pass the course…thus asking a student to study is now considered a special request for college courses.)

     Knowing this, I advised admin to restrict enrollment only to those students who’d already taken and passed “regular” courses with a good grade. Admin politely listened to my advice and explanation, and then ignored me, because they’re paid to expand enrollments as much as possible to get those sweet student loan checks.

     In the second semester I offered the course, I checked for cheating, and caught half the class. I was fired, and replaced with someone who wouldn’t check for cheating.
      Keep in mind, this was around 20 years ago…it was obvious then what online education was. So, it’s no surprise that a study shows that, yeah, you should restrict enrollment of online courses strictly to already successful students:

    I’ve certainly written quite a few times what an obvious fraud online courses are.  But the drive to push towards online work has been unstoppable, and we’ve grown this fraud to ridiculous amounts.   

     If I Google “online education,” no quotes, I get over 1.7 billion results. If I Google “pornography,” I get a mere 87 million results. Does anyone think it odd that there’s almost twenty times as much online education available than pornography?

      To be fair, online education does work for some:

“…students who are the least well prepared for traditional college also fare the worst in online courses. For top students, taking an online course didn’t definitively have a negative effect on a student’s grade point average. “

     So, much like I, or any educator, could have told any administrator many years ago, online coursework just isn’t going to work for everyone, and there’s an obvious way to determine if a student will be successful online. But, much like integrity, common sense also won’t stand in the way of anything that can increase the growth of the student base.

     Now, this particular study focuses on DeVry students, but the results jive with what my own eyeballs and common sense tells me. DeVry has over 100,000 students, and while their student base might not be applicable to a restricted admissions school (what few there are), the results are certainly reasonable for open admissions schools.

      The whole point of education is preparation. Today’s policies of saddling students with all introductory coursework that applies nowhere and leads to nothing is alien to the higher education of a years ago. It’s important to realize that not only does online education hurt students taking the course, it hurts them when they take future courses:

…next-semester courses in the same subject area or for which the online course was a prerequisite were observed to drop 0.42 and 0.32 points…

     What’s interesting here is online courses are generally sold most aggressively to the weak students: “you’ve failed this coursework in class time and again…now try it online!” is basically the sales pitch. Thus, despite what the study says, there will be no pullback even though it’s very clear selling these courses to the weakest students is evil.

The study found that the negative associations with online courses are concentrated in lower-performing students -- the same ones who are often a key demographic for recruitment to online courses and online universities…

     This naturally puts a black mark against the study: many of DeVry’s weakest students are proven weak students, so one could reasonably conclude that all the study has truly shown is that weak classroom students are weak online students. But this still doesn’t change the fact: online courses are particularly damaging to the weakest students.

      The article, like any legitimate news site, allows reader comments (and note CNN and quite a few other places don’t). I’m hardly alone in noting the issues of the study, or that the conclusion is fairly obvious, and a couple of comments sum it up nicely

Old news to anyone who's worked in undergraduate online education at any point in the past decade or more.

The grass is green…

      Because of all the propaganda, people are still fairly ignorant of the fraud of online courses. The study/article, for instance, doesn’t even touch on the immense fraud of all the websites that will do your online coursework for you. I stopped linking to such sites because a reader didn’t want me to encourage fraud, but I think it’s a pointless woorry; the whole reason I linked to such sites is to show how they never go out of business. It’s amazing how often when I link to a study showing the fraud of higher education the link breaks after a few months (sometimes even hours after I post), but I’ve yet to have a link to a “do your coursework” site fail…those businesses are always successful.

“I do not understand the unsupported comment that 'online courses lack consistency'. In my experience, they have the same curriculum and requirements as a physical classroom…”

     Another major ignorance is there’s some consistency across coursework. A study into community colleges showed that the coursework there is unhinged…what happens in the classroom is unrelated to any claims made on the syllabus, and even the official text may have little relevance to the course. This is because accreditation is completely broken, and doesn’t check on what happens in the classroom, only that the syllabus and text are appropriate to the course.

      Online courses are subject to the same scrutiny as community college courses, i.e., none at all. So why would anyone suspect online courses are consistent, much less have the same curriculum and requirements as a physical classroom?