New School

A human conceit is that, well, we’re often conceited. A flaw in others, to be sure. And not so much for ourselves.

In the education industry, especially at the university level, our newness, our currency has never, ever been better or more timely.

We in education really think of everything. Which, doubtless, explains why we’re all at the university.

And today there’s nothing better than marshaling contemporary resources for purposes of educating others.

Hence online education: delivery of coursework via digital media.

But online education is hardly an innovation. Or it is, only if one is able to overlook a hundred years of media.

Today’s online education is little more than that offered at the turn of the 20th century. Back then, it was called correspondence school.

Lessons were mailed out, students completed them and mailed them back to the school.

Radio, by 1925, was widely touted as “the university in the home.” As was TV, 25 years later. And a quarter century after that, video cassette tapes sent through the mail were the thing-du-jour. Swiftly followed by satellite delivery.

The conceit that’s less well acknowledged is the human ability to game a system

Recently (September 2, 2016), The Chronicle of Higher Education offered reporter Brad Wolverton’s lengthy cover story entitled “The New Economy of Cheating.”

Not only are students paying to have their term papers and assignments written by others, the article reports, online education makes possible hiring someone to take the entire course for you.

Including, the article indicates, the Ph.D. dissertation. (No mention, thus far, of med school.)

Alarming, to be sure, the must-read story brings to life, in Wikipedia’s words, the “adage which began as a cartoon caption by Peter Steiner and published by The New Yorker on July 5, 1993.”

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