Q&A is an irregular series on SOTA which will pose a question to a small group of faculty, staff or students from different campuses and compile their responses. If you would like to respond to the question, please do so in the comments section of this post or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the 2nd SOTA Q&A:
A: Peter Krapp (UCI) – This is a major scandal. If the US Senate hearings have started to shine a light on the practices of for-profit higher ed, then why is UC still indulging in dot-com fantasies? Who does [UC Dean Christopher] Edley hope to please with his authoritarian imposition of wage suppression, layoffs, and watered-down education?
A: Brett Stalbaum (UCSD) – My experience is that when faculty committees examine the application of online education to large undergraduate classes, they properly identify the hidden costs, the mixed experience of peer institutions, and very real concerns about quality. These same committees often find on the contrary that distance education could be a real revenue generator at the graduate level – especially in programs where producing a thesis requiring the student to be in a different location. (Say a deeply engaged, situated anthropology study or special collections.) Drafts and viva voce examination and support can be done with word processors, email, Skype, and other low cost tools. Using online technologies for “savings” is probably a folly tied to special interests who want to sell the UC on expensive platforms, and simultaneously distracts from the development of potentially very profitable, specialized graduate programs that are bound to our main mission as a research system.