Trump supporting Republican Senator suggests we learn our history from Ken Burns DVDs instead of those in the “higher education cartel”. Ken Burns obliges with history lesson on Trump.

This past Thursday, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, warning against what he called the “higher education cartel” in an interview with WisPolitics, suggested that we change the college system in the United States so that our students encounter fewer live instructors, and watch more DVDs. Following is a clip from Inside Higher Ed.

…”We’ve got the internet — you have so much information available. Why do you have to keep paying different lecturers to teach the same course? You get one solid lecturer and put it up online and have everybody available to that knowledge for a whole lot cheaper? But that doesn’t play very well to tenured professors in the higher education cartel. So again, we need destructive technology for our higher education system,” he said.

Johnson added, “One of the examples I always used — if you want to teach the Civil War across the country, are you better off having, I don’t know, tens of thousands of history teachers that kind of know the subject, or would you be better off popping in 14 hours of Ken Burns’s Civil War tape and then have those teachers proctor based on that excellent video production already done? You keep duplicating that over all these different subject areas”…

Really, when you think about it, all we’d need is one good math teacher for all the United States, someone to teach english, and a few Ken Burns DVDs, and we’d be all set. Just think of how much money we’d save! Or, better yet, we could just have kids watch those history cartoons made by Mike Huckabee at home. And then we could turn all of our old schools into high-end shooting ranges! Because, really, aren’t the best teachers the ones that don’t take the time to know their students, but instead just shove facts at them?

[note: The above paragraph was mean to be read as satire.]

When I heard about these comments by Johnson, I was immediately reminded of Buzz, the “student-centered learning platform” purchased by our Governor’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA) for use by some 10,000 students in Detroit’s worst performing public schools. This computer platform, we were told, could achieve what teachers hadn’t been able to, saving us thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the process. This, they told us, was going to be the way of the future. Computer-enabled “Student Centered Learning” wouldn’t just give us incredible cost savings, as it would requirer fewer teachers and allow for larger class sizes, but it would also yield superior results. Of course, as we know now, none of that was true. Buzz was a colossal failure, and thousands of Michigan’s most vulnerable students paid the price.

But, in spite of experiences like this, people like Senator Johnson keep right on pushing the same narrative, telling people that teachers are expendable, and that kids can learn more from watching a Ken Burns DVD than they could from an engaging professor, who actually takes the time to know them, challenge them, and motivate them to do better work, think more critically, and grow as human beings.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, had the following to say about Johnson’s comments. “Leave it to someone from a party led by a reality TV star to confuse videotape with the learning experience of a classroom,” she said. “What Ron Johnson doesn’t get is that education happens when teachers can listen to students and engage them to think for themselves.”

For what it’s worth, I disagree about Johnson not “getting it.” I think he probably gets it just fine. I don’t think he’d consider, for even a minute, putting a child of his own in a school where instructors were replaced with DVDs. He’s smarter than that. He knows that there’s more to education that just reading from a script and conveying facts. But this isn’t about his kids, is it? This is about poor kids in cities like Detroit, who, let’s be honest, don’t really matter. This is just about saving as much as we can on their education before they can be pipelined into the prison industrial complex where they can be paid pennies an hour to pick our produce, sew the clothes that we wear, and staff our call centers.

But maybe it’s unfair to judge all such programs based upon our local experience with Buzz. Maybe we should look at all of the other players in the virtual education field, like University of Phoenix and Trump University. Surely they’re doing good things, right? [note: That was sarcasm. Follow the links for context.]

As Senator Johnson mentioned Ken Burns, and as I just broached up the subject of Trump, here’s a little news item you might not have seen. Apparently, not too long ago, Burns spoke to Stanford’s graduating class and had something to say about the Republican nominee for President. Here’s a taste.

…So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships. I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and – they feel – powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that – as often happens on TV – a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.

As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong. These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again – all happening at once. We know from our history books that these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral Internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.

We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or ‘balance,’ or even of bemused disdain. Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism and the big ratings a media circus always delivers. In fact, they have given him the abundant airtime he so desperately craves, so much so that it has actually worn down our natural human revulsion to this kind of behavior. Hey, he’s rich; he must be doing something right. He is not. Edward R. Murrow would have exposed this naked emperor months ago. He is an insult to our history. Do not be deceived by his momentary ‘good behavior.’ It is only a spoiled, misbehaving child hoping somehow to still have dessert…

So, yes, by all means, learn from Ken Burns, and destroy these “retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process.” And, of course, fight your asses off to protect our public schools.

Two more things… One, Ron Johnson says he’ll be supporting Trump for President. Two, it looks as though the good people of Wisconsin are turning on him. [Thank you, Wisconsin.] According to recent polls, the very awesome Russ Feingold may kick his ass come November.

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34 Comments

  1. EOS
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Computer delivered instruction and an increase in online learning is today’s reality. Khan Academy videos teach math in a manner that engages students to a far greater extent than most primary and secondary teachers. Students are assigned the online videos as homework and then use class time to complete what used to be assigned as homework, but with a teacher available to help when they get stuck. Many students who were low performers in traditional math classes have been able to excel after switching to online instruction.

    I’ve taken a number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Some had classes as large as 30,000 with active discussion groups. The Instructors were from a variety of outstanding Universities and often the online course is a required part of their traditional bricks and mortar classrooms.

    Great Courses is a group that identifies the best Professors, often at elite schools, and then films a semester of lectures and makes the videos available for purchase.

    While at U f M, I had lectures that contained over 500 students and exams where all 4 lectures sat at the same time to take identical Scantron scored multiple choice exams. Does anyone really think you get more from showing up for an 8 am lecture three times a week, than you would get if you could watch 3 hours of lecture at a time that is more convenient, where you could stop and start the video to take more complete and more accurate notes?

    Although online learning has been around for a number of years, it is still in a rudimentary stage. Too often, the classes attempt to repeat instructor focused monologue lectures supplemented with lame PowerPoint slides. But it is changing to take full advantage of computer capabilities and will continue to improve.

    Today’s Universities have evolved to employ the maximum number of Professors and produce an even larger number of PhDs. They spend enormous amounts of money to compete for an ever shrinking pool of competent applicants. Costs have soared and many middle class families have been priced out of the market. There is great resistance from the Ivory Towers to online learning on wide scale usage, but the needs of employers to have a well educated workforce will drive them to value those whose self-directed activities have produced better results.

  2. Demetrius
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of back in the 90’s, when some congressman seriously proposed doing away with the federally-funded National Weather Service since, after all – we now have “The Weather Channel.”

  3. John Galt
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Anyone can read a script and hand out dittos. Why pay tenured teachers to do it when Teach for America interns can be had for a fraction of the cost? The free market has spoken!

  4. stupid hick
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Moocs and computer aided learning are valuable, no doubt, but a college education is more than just consumption of an educational “product” and acquisition of knowledge. Similarly, social networking and massive multiplayer online games are not really a substitute for a social life. Valuable enhancements, no doubt, just not a substitute.

  5. Citywatch
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    The schooling people like Johnson need is a lesson in economics. You can only put people out of work for so long before the whole system collapses.

  6. Steve Wellinski
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I think we can get a deal on the notorious Buzz software/program as a platform for this curriculum (i.e documentaries)

    Hmmm … Then, we could charge the EAA students for dual enrollment >>> increase enrollment, increase revenues, strengthen community relations AND fight the liberal menace infiltrating our university.

  7. Frog
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The war on teachers is real. The teachers union is the strongest union we have, and one of the biggest funders we have of progressive candidates. This explains why the Republicans are so against public schools. Not only do they “waste” our money by educating the poor, but they indirectly fund those candidates who oppose the Trumpification of the United States. The same is true of college professors, hence the work being done to weaken tenure protections, etc. This is all part of the plan.

  8. site admin
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Let’s not forget what’s being done on the ground here in Michigan.

    From the January, 2013 post, “Exploring Michelle Rhee’s destructive influence over Michigan education reform”.

    I’m spending my evening getting acquainted with Michelle Rhee, the controversial former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, who’s gone on to a lucrative career as a hired gun in the fight to destroy teachers unions and privatize American public education. While I’d heard about her in the past, and I’d known that she’d been recruited by Republicans to help draft school reform legislation for Michigan in 2010, I wasn’t aware, until today, just how much she’d done in our state. Did you know, for instance, that her organization, StudentsFirst, operates a PAC, and, through that PAC, invested $500,000 in the campaign to defeat Proposition 2, the legislation that, if passed last November, would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in Michigan’s constitution?

    Maybe I’m unusual, but I find it interesting that an organization dedicated to the principle of putting children first would spend half a million dollars in an attempt to keep weaken labor, and, as a result, bring down the quality of life of countless families, many of whom have children. But apparently the right of workers to unionize is what’s been keeping the children of Michigan from reaching their full potential, and not the fact that resources are evaporating at an alarming rate, as class sizes rise and demoralized teachers flee. If I were a smart ass, I might suggest that her $500,000 could have been better to put to use i downtown Detroit, where we’ve been told that they’re considering class sizes of 60, or at the Catherine Ferguson Academy, where, not too long ago, we witnessed teen mothers being dragged away in handcuffs for refusing to just walk away, and accept that their beloved school was being closed. But, instead, Rhee invested in ads that warned how, if Prop 2 were to have passed, we couldn’t have fired drunk teachers that were putting our children’s lives at risk.

    If I were a cynical person, these facts might lead me to believe that the folks funding StudentsFirst don’t care nearly as much about the education of our children, as they do about destroying unions, containing costs, and driving down their own tax burdens. And, if I were really, really cynical, I might even go so far as to consider that they’re pushing Rhee’s agenda, which relies heavily on rote memorization and standardized testing, because they’d rather have good, obedient workers, than a bright, inquisitive citizenry capable of independent thought. But, clearly that can’t be the case, as the very name of the organization declares that that they’re all about putting the needs of the students first, right? I mean, an organization dedicated to putting corporate interest first wouldn’t be called StudentsFirst, would it? Unless of the tag line of the organization was something like, “Who shall we fuck?”

    Speaking of these good samaritans that are financially backing StudentsFirst… these selfless men who only want the best for America’s public school children… it’s hard to find much information about them. Rhee, it would seem, doesn’t like to answer questions about where her funding comes from. (Maybe these wealthy titans of industry are just shy, and she’s protecting them.) Despite that, however, some of them are know. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch, for instance, is a big contributor, as is New Jersey hedge fund manager David Tepper, and right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz, who helped make Rhee a household name by featuring her in his 2010 propaganda film Waiting for Superman. (Murdock has “pledged to spend more than $1 billion to bring for-profit schools, including virtual education, to the entire country by electing reform-friendly candidates and hiring top-notch state lobbyists.”)

    http://markmaynard.com/2013/01/exploring-michelle-rhees-influence-over-michigan-education-reform/

  9. Posted August 23, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Oh, of course he knows what time it is! Every time they talk about “distance learning”, I throw up a bit in my mouth. Kids in bad situations (poverty, whatever) are completely screwed if that happens. If they get internet access, what are they going to use it on? Computers and iPads can be stolen, sold, used by other members of the family, etc. But as you said above, certain kids don’t matter. Our state (and others like it) have already decided the kids have no future and have washed our collective hands of them.

  10. Mr. X
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    We like to pass laws to fuck the poor. The Republicans who keep trying to restrict access to abortions know that doing so won’t effect their families. They’ll always be able to send their daughters off to Sweden to have such things dealt with. The laws aren’t for them. They aren’t for rich white kids who just happen to make mistakes. They’re for poor people who have no self control. The same is true here. Education “reform” will never touch them. They’re above it. These are just laws for those who are too poor to find a way out.

  11. jcp2
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Apples and oranges. The senator and EOS are pointing out that in post secondary education, some low level college courses might as well be taught online, as the instructor’s physical presence in the lecture hall can be largely irrelevant at times. As a person who used a note taking service in college, I agree with this.
    I also agree that the issue with primary and secondary educational achievement in disadvantaged communities cannot be solved with online learning. But putting qualified teachers in classrooms is also not an optimal solution, as the schools themselves have only a small impact on student outcome.

  12. EOS
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Teacher Patti,

    What if the students used computers at a monitored central location in the school 2-3 hours after the “regular” school day ended? Or maybe in smaller groups at different locations within the school. What if we ensured that the quality of content taught in the poorest schools was equal to the richest school districts? What if we increased the number of educators employed to accomplish this? What if we taught and tested for competencies before students were allowed to progress through independent learning modules that didn’t hold back students from their peer group, but allowed each to progress at their maximum rate and reach their full potential? Why do we assume that all the individuals in a classroom understands each topic at the same rate and level? We’ve known for many years that a teacher standing at the front of a class talking to 20, 30, even 40 students at a time is not optimal and under these circumstances sometimes more than 1/2 the time is spent in disciplinary actions. Why are you unwilling to consider using technology to create a new paradigm?

  13. Demetrius
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    What is most insidious about all this: We are no longer even be *pretending* that the purpose of education is to strengthen communities and our society by enabling citizens to understand the world, think critically, and make informed decisions.

    Instead (as EOS says) it is all about what need to happen to meet “the needs of employers to have a well educated workforce …”

    If we can save a few dollars by plopping kids down in front of computer screens or videos … so much the better.

  14. Posted August 23, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “Today’s Universities have evolved to employ the maximum number of Professors and produce an even larger number of PhDs. They spend enormous amounts of money to compete for an ever shrinking pool of competent applicants.”

    Lol. Then why are so many jobs going to adjuncts now who barely cross the poverty line?

    It would seem that the “cost savers” are doing a pretty good job of insuring that teachers don’t get paid very well.

  15. EOS
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Demetrius,

    Nice cherry picking, but I didn’t say , “… it is all about what need to happen…”

    Employers want to hire qualified people. Schools are not the sole means of educating and are often not the major influence in attaining high levels of proficiency. There is nothing I learned in school that I wasn’t capable of learning to a greater degree and at a far faster rate through other venues. I don’t need a teacher to write something on a board for me to comprehend a subject matter. If it’s not working, more money will not help. Try a different approach and maybe more people would be willing to invest.

  16. Bob
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Does Ken Burns speak in boring, sepia-tone? I like what he said but I can’t help feel that…..zzzzzzzzzzzz

  17. Jcp2
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    EOS does have a couple of points I agree with.
    1. Many low level college lecture courses might not derive any additional value from a live lecturer as compared to a recorded presentation.
    2. There are many studies that show that primary and secondary school quality, as defined by test scores, student funding levels, and/or teacher qualifications, only have a minor effect on student outcomes, with the major determinants being the student’s home environment, social class, and/or economic class.

  18. wobblie
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    With all the “school reforming” that has been engaged in over the last 20 years, (Clintonites love charters, new standards and privatization just as much as Republicans), what progress do we have to show?
    He discusses online education at about the 15 min mark.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_htSPGAY7I

  19. Posted August 23, 2016 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Before I forget–Demetrius, you helped me answer a question while I was at dance camp this week. Someone asked after whom was Ypsilanti named and I remembered your screen name so I had the answer. Thanks!

    EOS, I copied your comment so I can try to address what you said, so here we go:

    EOS: What if the students used computers at a monitored central location in the school 2-3 hours after the “regular” school day ended?

    TeacherP: I actually like this idea. But the problem is that many students, especially special ed kids, can’t stay after school because they are bussed in (is that spelled right? You know what I mean). And other students have after school jobs and commitments but in theory, yes, I agree with you that this would enhance learning.

    EOS: Or maybe in smaller groups at different locations within the school. What if we ensured that the quality of content taught in the poorest schools was equal to the richest school districts? What if we increased the number of educators employed to accomplish this?

    TeacherP: Yes, yes, and yes. I completely agree with the quality thing. The problem is this–you can teach the same content at different schools, but the kids may not be able/ready to receive it. This is not the perfect analogy, but here we are–it’s my baseball analogy (I love baseball). When you start school, we want you to be up at bat. If you are running towards or at first base, then great! Fabulous! I (and I suspect you) were firmly standing at first base on the day we waltzed into Kindergarten. Many kids I have taught were still in the locker room, some weren’t even on a team yet. So by the time they get to bat, you and I were running from second trying to steal third. So when the coach comes in to explain fielder’s choice, we get it, but they are still trying to figure out how to take their at-bat. Are they less intelligent than us? No. Not at all. They just got a late start and had less practice, fewer opportunities to practice, etc. (In real life, they may be homeless, being abused, neglected, not eating, have seen some serious shit go down, been raised in front of a TV, never seen a book, etc.).

    So the problem is that the best coach in the world can come up and teach the advance baseball techniques and we would get it. The kids who are just running up to first base will get it eventually, but they need more time, perhaps different ways of teaching, perhaps just some security. (And yes, here is where the after school computer thing would be great if the kids could safely stay after and safely get home).

    EOS: What if we taught and tested for competencies before students were allowed to progress through independent learning modules that didn’t hold back students from their peer group, but allowed each to progress at their maximum rate and reach their full potential? Why do we assume that all the individuals in a classroom understands each topic at the same rate and level? We’ve known for many years that a teacher standing at the front of a class talking to 20, 30, even 40 students at a time is not optimal and under these circumstances sometimes more than 1/2 the time is spent in disciplinary actions.

    TeacherP: They don’t all understand topics at the same rate and level, as I illustrate in my baseball analogy. And yes, the discipline issue is a huge one. How can the coach teach you and me about (sorry my mind is blanking so fill in some advanced baseball thing here) when Mark is over there peeing on first base and scratching Demetrius and eating the boogers of JCP2? Our coach has to stop Mark from doing that. And therein lies the rub…I don’t know how to address this other than making class sizes much, much smaller and/or adding other grown folks into the classroom.

    Given the discipline issues and the inability (either because of disability or because the kid is a dick) to pay attention, having a kid to sit on the computer and do computer modules is just unrealistic. Some would be able to–I suspect we would do just fine. But kids with disabilities would possibly really struggle, as would kids who need to do hands-on learning. I am an auditory learner, which means that I have to say and hear things to really get them. I can learn off of a computer, but I just learn it when I need it and don’t really retain it for any length of time.

    That said, in a perfect world, the teacher’s class would be small enough (and/or have enough other support) to be able to provide the different levels, different speeds, different methods by actually teaching (as opposed to having kids sit at a screen). Right now, this is not possible in most cases.

    EOS: Why are you unwilling to consider using technology to create a new paradigm?

    TeacherP: I don’t think I am. I am actually fairly open-minded, but have the concerns mentioned above.

    On another note, there is a lip balm called EOS! I forget what it stands for. I don’t think that is where your screen name is from, but that’d be pretty cool if it were.

  20. Mark H
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Ron Johnson appears to have re-invented, in his own mind, an educational fad of the 1970s: the fixation on providing lessons by TV, not live teachers. DVDs and video make this fantasy of a panacea for learning easier to imagine implementing, but no more realistic. The EMU classroom building PrayHarrold was built when this way of thinking prevailed; hence, nearly every classroom in it had a TV, handing from the ceiling. These were huge, clunky things, easy to hit your head on. Within a few years, none of them worked anymore, but they remained hanging, dead, from the ceiling for the next two decades, before finally being removed. May Ron Johnson soon be sent to the private sector!

  21. EOS
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Teacher Patti,

    A baseball team is comprised of individual players who each have their strengths and weaknesses. Some may not even be able to hold the bat properly, many can swing and make contact with the ball, and a few can hit the ball out of the park. I suspect someone with your management outlook would spend the entire practice with everyone doing batting practice and hope that those who can’t hold the bat will figure it out by watching the others, many may benefit from the additional practice and become better hitters, and the few home run hitters would maintain their existing skills.

    But those who can’t even hold the bat won’t make any progress unless they are shown the proper technique. Spending the entire practice doing something that they are not able to do will make them frustrated and angry and they give up trying and just goof off and misbehave and disrupt the practice while the coach has to spend practice time to keep them in line and this results in everybody getting less time to practice hitting.

    The home run hitters who have already mastered the skill to a high proficiency aren’t allowed to progress to working on other game skills that would make them a better overall player. They don’t get a chance to work on base running or throwing or catching because the others haven’t yet mastered hitting. They remain stagnant until the majority of the team catches up with them. They are prevented from developing to their full potential and their future is thwarted by their teammates inabilities.

    A different style manager would realize that the whole team benefits most when each individual player is allowed to progress to the next level. This manager may spend a whole practice with those who can’t hold the bat, teaching them the necessary skill to catch up with the rest in a single practice. While he is focused on bat handling skills, his coach may pitch to the weak hitters and enable them to become stronger at the plate. And the home run hitters can practice pitching sliders or curveballs to each other and develop another necessary skill for a winning team.

    Online learning enables a classroom full of students to each receive lessons at the appropriate level until mastery is achieved and then progress to the next level. Everybody in the class can do math at the same time. The Special Ed kids can focus on fractions, while others learn algebra, and some master calculus. If some can’t handle independent computer work, teacher assistants can provide more supervision or directed learning activities. It is an optimal environment where everybody is learning and making progress.

    Bus schedules and school hours can be changed, parents and community members can be recruited to help, computer modules can be designed to accommodate all types of learning styles. We have the technology and ability to do a far better job at educating the next generation if only we had the will to think outside the box and enact necessary changes.

    Go team!

  22. wobblie
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    Another charter school success
    http://www.metrotimes.com/Blogs/archives/2016/08/23/students-scramble-to-find-new-high-school-after-last-minute-closure-announcement#.V7yd5TD5vYs.facebook

  23. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    “These [televisions] were huge clunky things, easy to hit your head on.”

    A convincing argument against the use of technology in the classroom.

  24. Posted August 24, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    ”Bus schedules and school hours can be changed, parents and community members can be recruited to help, computer modules can be designed to accommodate all types of learning styles. We have the technology and ability to do a far better job at educating the next generation if only we had the will to think outside the box and enact necessary changes.”

    Like firing humans and diverting public money to untested technology companies.

    Yes, this sounds like a great plan.

    Why spend money on black people?

  25. Dylan Strzynski
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Predictably, Ron Johnson’s education is in Business and Accounting.

  26. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    “These [televisions] were huge, clunky things, easy to hit your head on.”

    A very convincing argument against using technology in the classroom.

  27. anonymous
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    EOS’s revelations about his online education explain everything about his/her comments on here all these years.

  28. kjc
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    proved: baseball metaphors suck. zzzz.

  29. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment, which again puts on display, that the markmaynard community in general, is very accepting, even welcoming, of a particular brand of thinly veiled and totally self-unaware privilege and elitism. Maybe you and your genius college graduate buddies could put together a list of the people throughout history, who were wildly successful innovators despite being self educated out of financial necessity and sometimes just out of choice….Maybe you could put together a list of all the poor people who can better their lives with more technology aimed at education? That second list is going to be kinda long huh?

  30. EOS
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    anonymous,

    Thank you for the complement. Since obtaining a college degree with a very high GPA, I have continued to be a lifelong learner of a variety of disciplines through a number of venues.

    But I agree with everything Frosted Flakes just wrote and admit that I know many persons without formal advanced education that are significantly more intelligent and knowledgeable than the typical college graduate.

  31. JasonKosnoski
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I would normally not respond to a comment such as that posted by EOS, but I’m pretty sure that EOS is not a real person, but instead a marketing specialist paid by the MOOC industry, so I feel compelled to respond.

    EOS either didn’t go to college or is lying about his/her experience in a large classroom. Here’s the description:

    While at U f M, I had lectures that contained over 500 students and exams where all 4 lectures sat at the same time to take identical Scantron scored multiple choice exams. Does anyone really think you get more from showing up for an 8 am lecture three times a week, than you would get if you could watch 3 hours of lecture at a time that is more convenient, where you could stop and start the video to take more complete and more accurate notes?

    EOS is not mentioning the fact that he or she also had discussion sections (maybe he or she didn’t show up to those) with smaller groups of students where graduate Student Instructors helped him or her to understand the material on a face to face basis. I know I was a TA in grad school at the U of Virginia and the best learning went on in these discussion sections. Sorry about the scan-tron, that does suck (I teach at UM-Flint and I don’t use them, even in my intro courses) but to leave out this important aspect of the large lecture class really makes me doubt whether you ever attended a large lecture class at all.

    Next you go on to extol MOOCs without talking about the pretty relevant fact that universities and companies are abanoning them because students don’t learn and don’t finish them. Here’s one quick article which states that the typical MOOC completion rate is 7%. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/mooc-completion-rates-below-7/2003710.article
    They don’t work, and even the venture capitalists who thought they would make money on them are jumping ship: http://moreorlessbunk.net/technology/moocs/why-americas-mooc-pioneers-have-abandoned-ship/ Once again an honest appraisal of MOOCs would mention that. But working in PR or whatever EOS does does not require honesty.

    Finally, and I’m not quite sure what EOS means by this point, but s/he seems to be saying that Universities produce too many Ph.Ds and MOOCs will solve that problem and reduce university budgets and make them more affordable. Here’s the quote:

    Today’s Universities have evolved to employ the maximum number of Professors and produce an even larger number of PhDs. They spend enormous amounts of money to compete for an ever shrinking pool of competent applicants.

    So the “maximum number of professors” comment makes no sense because universities are actually employing fewer professors, at least if you define professors as full-time with tenure. Universities have been replacing full timers with tenure (and salaries and benefits) with part timers who get paid next to nothing. There isn’t a glut of Ph.Ds, and universities do not produce too many of them. It’s just that administrators have decided to cut costs by hiring fewer full time people. So this characterization of the university as somehow outmoded or dysfunctional because of its reliance on “professors” is off the mark and is a talking point one often hears from Republicans who advocate for MOOCS. By the way universities cost so much not because there are too many professors or that they get paid too much, it is that state funding has been cut and the number of administrators has ballooned. Read Benjamin Ginsburg’s Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All Administrative University and Why it Matters. Instead of MOOCS just turn part-time positions into full-time positions cut the number of Administrators, and restore the funding. That will make college much more affordable.

    So EOS, yes more people are doing computer delivered instruction. Hell I’m teaching on line for the first time next semester (30 person for credit class, mandatory weekly discussion boards, yada yada) that has nothing to do with you are your Republican buddies desire to destroy the university by advocating MOOCS. If if makes you feel any better, you probably make more money than me: marketing pays better than teaching at a regional state university.

  32. Lynne
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I need a reminder that a college education does not equal intelligence or knowledge level, I just look at UM Law School grad Ann Coulter. I admit though that sometimes my own cognitive dissonance causes me to suspect that her whole public persona is just an act because she couldn’t possibly be making such bad arguments as a graduate of one of the top law schools in the country. :)

    Generally, what I know about education is this. If your parents are stable and educated themselves, you will probably get a good education and it doesn’t matter much how that is accomplished. I’ve known people who have “unschooled” their kids which actually in one case did involve watching Ken Burns’s Civil War for a history lesson. Their kids are fine and test well academically. Yet, it often seems that no matter what we do for poorer kids, it just isn’t enough to get them to that level academically.

    I could go on and on about how poverty hinders education. Imho, the number one thing we can do for the poorer children in our educational system is to deal with their poverty as much as possible as well as supporting policies likely to make their home lives stable and enriching. Then, we may need to accept that poorer children need higher quality of educational resources than richer kids. It is almost criminal in my mind that rich public school districts are allowed to spend more per student than poorer districts. That is something that should be reversed.

  33. EOS
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Jason,

    You are a hoot. I doubt anyone else thinks I’m employed as a PR rep for MOOCs. If you care to read the archives on this site I have already discussed the problem with the widespread use of adjunct professors and the huge increase in the number of administrators.

    I studied science. We didn’t meet for discussion groups, but we had labs. The TA’s monitored the labs, checked out our drawers full of equipment, and tried to make sure we didn’t do anything that would start a fire or blow up the lab. They took attendance and graded the lab reports that we turned in each week. It was a rare occurrence to have a TA that spoke English as their primary language and without a heavy accent. The labs were the same year after year, and half the class had copies of passing reports before they even showed up to run the experiment. I didn’t mention labs because they were not relevant to the discussion. Most of my learning occurred by reading the books and doing the problems at the end of each chapter and checking my answers with the correct ones at the end of the book. The lectures served mainly to show me what topics I needed to study and I often checked out additional textbooks from the library so that I could read different explanations of those topics and get more problems for practice. They also sold us course packs at the bookstore that had multiple versions of previous tests with answers provided.

    I’ve completed a number of MOOCs and I have the certificates to prove it. You do realize that the certificate is worthless, right? I take the classes for my enjoyment and for personal growth. I initially sign up for more courses than I can complete and choose the most interesting to complete. I probably have a completion rate of about 25% and have finished about a dozen. I’ve learned a lot.

    In the life sciences, less than 5% of those who obtain a PhD actually get a tenured track position as a professor. A professor can earn 100K and gets additional funding through grants and lab space to perform research. Because there is such an oversupply of PhD’s, the Universities have no difficulties hiring adjuncts. They earn about 3K a semester to teach a course. Many teach multiple courses at 3 or more campuses in order to make about
    $25 – $30K a year. They do it for their egos and to be able to tell their friends that they teach at the University. At least they are employed in the field that they worked more than 10 years to obtain a degree in. Others get a job running a lab for a tenured professor, where their continued employment is dependent on fabricating the results needed by their PI. Some end up in a repetitive job in a profit based manufacturing environment.

    The University Administrators are mandating a certain proportion of classes be offered in an online format. It is a very cost effective option. A single Adjunct can monitor 200 or more students paying full tuition for a 3 credit hour course.

    My comments about online instruction were more relevant to K-12 grade level. I am personally familar with a large number of families who buy computer curriculums and home school all their children. It is closely supervised by a very involved parent who supplements the material with significant community involvement, field trips, and high expectations. The kids are amazing, tend to score exceptionally well on standardized tests, and go on to complete a traditional college degree program. The maturity and social skills of these kids who haven’t been negatively influenced by an underperforming peer group is impressive. Most families participate in activities with other homeschooled families and their kids have opportunities to participate in sports and also work and volunteer in their communities.

    I never stated anything that suggested that I thought MOOCs would solve the University problems. Merely pointed out the fact that I had some experience with online learning. Republicans are certainly not to blame for destroying the Universities. They make up less than 5% of the faculty positions – to a large degree because the faculty vote on who to hire.

    Maybe you are an excellent teacher who is able to impart your knowledge to eager students via discussion sessions. That has never been my personal experience.

  34. Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    “In the life sciences, less than 5% of those who obtain a PhD actually get a tenured track position as a professor. A professor can earn 100K and gets additional funding through grants and lab space to perform research. Because there is such an oversupply of PhD’s, the Universities have no difficulties hiring adjuncts. They earn about 3K a semester to teach a course. Many teach multiple courses at 3 or more campuses in order to make about $25 – $30K a year. They do it for their egos and to be able to tell their friends that they teach at the University. At least they are employed in the field that they worked more than 10 years to obtain a degree in. Others get a job running a lab for a tenured professor, where their continued employment is dependent on fabricating the results needed by their PI. Some end up in a repetitive job in a profit based manufacturing environment.”

    This is fucking hilarious.

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