I am a Lord Jeff of course:
Yet Burgard is not alone in his concerns. Last month, when Amherst College turned down an invitation to join edX, it was by a faculty vote of more than sixty per cent. A lot of teachers, some of whom had been browsing Harvard moocs, worried that they threatened to centralize higher education to an uncomfortable degree, and that their giant scale clashed with Amherst’s small-class style. A single mooc could exceed the number of alumni, dead and living, that Amherst has seen in two centuries.
“I was surprised at the outcome,” David W. Wills, a professor of religious history at Amherst, told me. “It seemed to come down the road as something that was going to happen.” Wills started out being open to moocs, he said. But the more he heard the more his concerns grew, and none of edX’s representatives seemed able to address them. “One of the edX people said, ‘This is being sponsored by Harvard and M.I.T. They wouldn’t do anything to harm higher education!’ What came to my mind was some cautious financial analysts saying, about some of the financial instruments that were being rolled out in the late nineties or early two-thousands, ‘This is risky stuff, isn’t it?’ And being told, ‘Goldman Sachs is doing it; Lehman Brothers is doing it.’ ” The language he heard from edX, he said, was the rhetoric of tech innovation—seemingly to the exclusion of anything else—and he worried about academia falling under hierarchical thrall to a few star professors. “It’s like higher education has discovered the megachurch,” he told me.
He and others worried about what this might do to smaller preachers. “I have to say, it turned my stomach to think that we were going to be making decisions about other people’s jobs in a discussion to which they were not party,” Adam Sitze, a member of the department of law, jurisprudence, and social thought at Amherst, told me. “Some very brilliant people are at institutions that are not wealthy.” In a meeting, one of Sitze’s colleagues, the political theorist Thomas L. Dumm, described the conveyance of moocs to weaker universities as “eating our seed corn.”
It’s entirely hilarious that a fantastically enamored group of central planning navel gazers are defending themselves against the march of online education by appealing to the problems of centralization. By the way, the workers in the typewriter factors did not have a say when Bill Gates was tinkering in his garage.