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Education News

Teacher Union Tries To Block Online Courses 608

Posted by samzenpus
from the learn-in-person dept.
itwbennett writes "Facing budget problems, University of California officials and state analysts say that expanding online courses could help them 'innovate out of the current crisis.' But the lecturers whose jobs are at stake see it differently. Now the UC chapter of the American Federation of Teachers is fighting to block online courses."
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Teacher Union Tries To Block Online Courses

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  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:20PM (#37707774)
    Unions fighting to keep featherbedding [wikipedia.org] in place and prices high. Just another reason that unions have far outlived their usefulness.
    • by Cryacin (657549) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:25PM (#37707840)
      It is interesting to think that education by vending machine is turning out to be so successful. I can understand how degrees by coursework can benefit from this. It will be interesting if universities with real brands will ever allow master or doctorates to be via online study. When I did my post grad degree, I saw my supervisor for an hour every week, and I know I was lucky at that. I had a friend who was doing his PhD which saw his supervisor for a grand total of 20 hours during his entire research project. He basically just was included as a name in the research papers, and copied in on any and all email correspondence. Even thought is becoming ever more automated these days.
      • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:55PM (#37708176) Homepage Journal

        It is interesting to think that education by vending machine is turning out to be so successful. I can understand how degrees by coursework can benefit from this. It will be interesting if universities with real brands will ever allow master or doctorates to be via online study. When I did my post grad degree, I saw my supervisor for an hour every week, and I know I was lucky at that. I had a friend who was doing his PhD which saw his supervisor for a grand total of 20 hours during his entire research project. He basically just was included as a name in the research papers, and copied in on any and all email correspondence. Even thought is becoming ever more automated these days.

        The argument does fall a bit on deaf ears when you are a student in the first two years at university, sitting in a lecture hall of 900 fellow students, while a teaching assistant goes through the material and can't answer any questions for your.

      • by obarthelemy (160321) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @07:23PM (#37708514)

        Not so much vending machines as mass-produced. Which says a lot about the state of hand-crafted education. Way back when mass-production started, it actually was a way to get goods of better specifications and quality, at a lower price. It seems it's now education's turn, partly because mass-production is more efficient, and partly because hand-crafted education is controlled by cartel that has nothing but its members' interest at heart. Not its customers'.

      • by garyebickford (222422) <`gar37bic' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 13, 2011 @07:59PM (#37708852)

        IANAPhD, but I nearly was. Quote from a professor: "Getting a PhD is not mostly about learning although that is important, it's about getting things done. If you are a PhD student we in the department will essentially do whatever we can to prevent you from finishing your thesis. If you manage to finish _despite_ us, then you will get the PhD. You will have joined the club of 'people who get things done'. Thereafter schools and other institutions who are looking for people who get things done, and your PhD will tell them that you do."

        • by dadioflex (854298)
          But universities have discovered that PhD students are cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour. [economist.com]

          I find the subject of higher education in the US perplexing. We can all agree that more and more people are being encouraged into higher education, but as more students have entered college the costs, rather than coming down as you would expect, have risen dramatically, far out-pacing inflation or increases in income(remember when that was a thing?). In these sort of anomalous situations I usually figure
          • by xero314 (722674)
            There is any easier explanation for the rise in education costs, Supply and Demand. The supply of accredited schools has not rise at the same rate as the demand for degrees. Employers demand a degree to get past basic screening, and accreditation organizations artificially restrict the supply. When demand goes up higher than supply then prices go up.
      • by RingDev (879105)

        College, especially online courses, has its value determined almost exclusively by the effort that the student puts into it.

        We've see living proof that you can go to an ivy league school and leave a moron, and I'm sure we've all met folks who had limited community college experience and we brilliant.

        I had some online classes in my BS, and I'm likely going to go for my masters entirely online (looking at Western Goveners University at the moment). And in my experience, you could put in virtually no effort, a

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The solution to people getting paid to do useless work is to pay them to do useful work.

      • by robot256 (1635039)

        The solution to people getting paid to do useless work is to pay them to do useful work.

        The problem is their employer doesn't want to pay them at all.

    • Unions fighting to keep featherbedding [wikipedia.org] in place and prices high. Just another reason that unions have far outlived their usefulness.

      I'll never forget when my hometown newspaper laid off some people and the union "accused them of firing workers to save money." I mean, how dare a corporation stop giving money to people it doesn't need?

      I still think unions are a net positive; without them American workers might still be abused just the way those poor bastards in Foxconn factories are today. But some unions are certainly worthless, protectionist roadblocks on the road to progress. I have to admit that on the scale of stupid organizations

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They're trying to help students. I had dosage calculation online. It was horrible. It's a good thing I made the decision to drop and retake it -- I probably would have passed with enough of a grade to go on, but I did NOT feel confident with my knowledge of it. People could have DIED if I didn't decide that class was nonsense. Every single online course I tried was horrible. The best I could hope for was a hybrid class. Pure online is pure garbage for so many students. Cheating is so easy, too!

      Besides,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      corporations have outlived their usefulness. they are now slave drivers like they were nearly 100 years ago.

      we DESPARATELY need unions back again. how wrong you are young one (and I know you're young; only a kid would say this. a kid who does not know his history.)

      • by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:06PM (#37708936)

        Unions are a mixed bag.

        On the one hand, unions keep management from forcing unhealthy and unsafe working conditions on their labor pool to save money. (Chained to sewing machines, latex gloves instead of neoprine while using mek, etc.)

        On the other, unions are a potentially unchecked power that can quickly overwhelm an employer. (Demands for 6 figure incomes for installing rivets, pension plans to rival those of politicians, increased difficulties in termination of unproductive or poor quality workers, etc.)

        Unions are a necessary evil, barring very strict government involvement in private enterprise. (Arguably, having the government mandate work conditions is the single scariest thing a worker can hear...) however, when unions themselves become too large and too powerful, they can have a seriously negative effect on not only the industries they work in, but also for everyone else.

        For instance, the intractible 26 page proceedure to fire a union teacher in a public school enables a shocking amount of unsavory and unacceptable behavior to go on in those institutions. A policy enacted to help protect teachers from vindictive parents ends up being a mighty shield behind which people with no businss being educators hide to do deplorable things.

        (An example would be the events that transpired a few years ago in a nearby public school, concerning a computer science teacher touching female students inappropriately. Since physical evidence could be collected to prove the allegations, his teaching career didn't even miss a beat... until a few years later when he stopped just touching, and got a student pregnant. Even then, I understand it was still difficult to fire him.)

        Unions are a good thing when they are kept on the smaller side. When they grow up, they become dangerous, self-serving monstrocities in their own right.

        The GP appears to be referring to this latter stage of development in the maturation of unions, not the younger, where they serve an important and essential function.

        Much like medication, a little is good for the patient, but more isn't always better, and at a certain threshold more becomes downright deadly. The same is true of unions.

        • (Arguably, having the government mandate work conditions is the single scariest thing a worker can hear...)

          What the fuck? Perhaps I've misunderstood your point. Government regulation of working conditions has done an immense amount of good. Just look at the conditions of 19th century mills for comparison, for instance. A lot of the improvement was driven by unions, but it became law to protect everyone.

          (An example would be the events that transpired a few years ago...

          Plural of anecote is not data, etc. Spe

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:03PM (#37708896) Homepage Journal

      Just another reason that unions have far outlived their usefulness.

      Judging from the ever-increasing level of unemployment and underemployment in the developed world, there are a whole lot of people who have "outlived their usefulness" too.

      There was a time when people actually believed that automation, the Internet and increased productivity would lead to human beings living a higher standard of living, not having to work so hard, not having to work into their old age, having better health, etc. It does not seem to have worked out that way. Instead, we have developed countries, even those with stable or declining population levels, deciding that it's time for people to work longer, harder, and for less pay. Deciding that the retirement age is not high enough.

      Despite an enormous increase in worker productivity and unprecedented increases in corporate profits, we learn that workers - that people - have got it too damn good. Old people have it too damn good. My favorite one that I hear a lot lately is that poor people have it too damn good. If someone suggests that a hedge fund manager (who by the way has NOT been doing all that well) who makes eight figures (all to the right of the decimal point) has it too good, we are told that is "class warfare" however.

      Well, now we are learning that students have it too damn good. That they don't need all that 4 year college stuff and graduate school. That the University of Phoenix is plenty good so why should we have them come to classrooms? After all, if they're just going to come out of school and be "underemployed" (I love that expression), then youtube classes are plenty good enough for them. Because we're wasting too damn much time and money on educating students, and anyway, those professors are just going to expect pay raises and pensions and health care and then they're just going to be liberals anyway. Plus, when those students see professors with nice standards of living, then they're going to want a nice standard of living too. Like those pesky unions we had to get rid of were just making other workers think they deserved pensions and health care and weekends, universities just end up making students who are going to want it too damn good.

      You guys really don't get it. You think your little service jobs are safe. That you're just in a temporary rut and that the 10% annual raises are coming back real soon now. That your job as a Java programmer is going to just make you impervious to the race to the bottom. That you don't need to aggregate your bargaining power with other workers because the world is always going to need network administrators and will always pay them more and more. That a brighter, healthier, more prosperous future is right around the corner because of computers and the Internet and you're all going to be entrepreneurs and corporate entities and be in the top 1%.

      For a bunch of people who value science and logic and math highly, you sure don't seem able to add two plus two.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Great post. Unfortunately too few people are able to realize the perverted nature of the economy and of those in power. We are being conditioned to make due with less and less, while they dangle false promises in front of us. Living standards for the masses are declining, so those few at the top can further increase theirs.

        They managed to turn us against each other. Most people are more likely to attack teachers or blue collar workers, rather than the crooked politician or unethical banker who ruin lives by

      • Oh, they can add two and two just fine. They just can't be bothered to read history. Just two generations back, we had working conditions in the USA that would have made any Chinese sweatshop owner proud. 16 hour days. Child labor. People literally chained to their workbenches. It can slip back to that in a single generation if we let it. In the USA, the way out was unionization and standing up to the unelected, unaccountable political power of concentrated wealth.

        This was not simple. Union members died whe

  • just think of the children!
  • its not 'unions'. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058)
    its not a left issue. its a right issue - its capitalism : in this case the corporation is lecturers' union. in the case of music, it is the music corporations. in case of movies, its hollywood corporations.

    its capitalism - if something may prevent your easy profits, prevent it even if it costs a major innovation for civilization.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fferreres (525414)

      Not capitalism. Capitalism is about accumulation of capital and reinvestment. This is more politics, and a monopoly of these segments. Actually, teachers Unions across countries are one of the most powerful entities slowing down civilization, in the name of too many good things taken ransom by this group.

      My solution is to give each student a voucher, and to employ free market regarding education. Not public schools, only public funding of education.

      • Re:its not 'unions'. (Score:5, Informative)

        by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @07:09PM (#37708342)

        My solution is to give each student a voucher, and to employ free market regarding education. Not public schools, only public funding of education.

        I definitely like the idea of vouchers, but it is not a universal solution. It really only works in areas with dense populations. Everywhere else, issues start to crop up.

        For instance, transportation becomes a huge problem... my district "solves" it by busing all of the charter kids to the central high school and then busing to the charters from the central high school, but it really racks up the total trip time and makes the main buses very dependent on a late feeder bus. Our district spends more on the special ed, charter, and private school busing than on the main public schools, despite fewer children.

        Another problem is class size. Some areas have such a low population that they can barely justify even a single public high school. Below a certain size, it becomes impractical to support many programs.

        So I think there still is a place for government-run schools.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)

        Do you have any evidence at all to support that claim, or are you just full of it?

        The free market is precisely what is ruining the educational system in the US. Generally, you don't need to be an expert to identify people that are well educated, however being well educated in the end tells you absolutely nothing about how that came to be.

        Vouchers are probably one of the most damaging things to come along in the educational world in a good long time. At some point the poor achievement needs to be addressed,

      • Re:its not 'unions'. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hrvatska (790627) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @09:43PM (#37709710)
        Teachers' unions can often be a problem, but there's no evidence that non-union charter schools are doing any better in producing well prepared students. The biggest impediment to student achievement in the US is a population that is increasingly intellectually lazy and generation of students that is being taught to pass standardized tests rather than master a subject. Bring back the slide rule to schools and get off my lawn.
    • Likewise, the university is trying to save money. So both sides are motivated by money.

      So the question is who is offering the students more value? I'd say the actual teachers. I mean you can go to Khan Academy and listen to lectures for free. I have trouble seeing why you should pay so much for an online course.

    • I think your definition of "capitalism" is a little off. Capitalism is, according to google,

      An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.

      It's hard to see how you could consider university lecturers "private owners."

    • by bonch (38532) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @07:16PM (#37708434)

      What a bizarre way of trying to twist this around and turn it into a critique of capitalism, and you even got modded up for it. The union is trying to protect its monopoly in the face of online courses. They're like the RIAA trying to defend CD sales in the era of internet downloads.

    • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:27PM (#37709138)

      its not a left issue. its a right issue - its capitalism : in this case the corporation is lecturers' union. in the case of music, it is the music corporations. in case of movies, its hollywood corporations.

      its capitalism - if something may prevent your easy profits, prevent it even if it costs a major innovation for civilization.

      Capitalism is the worst system ever invented. Except for every other system ever invented. The problem is that the current system the US is operating under isn't really capitalism, it's crony-capitalism, and people opposed to capitalism point to the crony-capitalists and claim capitalism is to blame, when it's actually the corrupt politicians who have caused the problems and allowed and covered for the crony-capitalists to continue their corrupt ways.

      Capitalism is the only system ever created where wealth is a renewable resource for everyone as long as they are willing to work and/or come up with an idea, skill, or invention thatâ(TM)s useful to someone else.

      Capitalism has raised more people from poverty than any other system ever created.

      Capitalism has allowed more people to live in freedom than any other system ever invented.

      Capitalism has allowed the US to provide more humanitarian assistance to those in need around the world than any other system or country in history.

      For these reasons and many, many more, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Islamic Caliphate, and the so-called âoeNew World Orderâ are doomed to failure and to taking their rightful places on the junk heap of other failed ideologies and social/economic systems which are based upon hate, greed, fear, and lust for power.

      Strat

  • by John.P.Jones (601028) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:28PM (#37707870)

    I will never understand the need for college educated knowledge workers to need union protections. This isn't a coal mine or dangerous factory job. I also don't see the need for unions for any government employee even dangerous jobs like Fire & Police. When you combine the two, high-education government employees it is insane.

    Disclaimer my wife is a Ph.D. working part-time lecturing community college Chemistry courses and fully supports online courses when she sees a whole class of students whose combined course fees don't cover half of her own salary, much less all the other expenses involved in running a college. This just isn't sustainable.

    • by schwnj (990042) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:53PM (#37708148)
      Community colleges are subsidized by property taxes, which is why the course fees don't add up. The idea of community colleges is that the bulk of the education is subsidized with only a nominal fee/tuition attached so as to encourage people to gain job skills.
    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:54PM (#37708162)

      "This isn't a coal mine or dangerous factory job. "

      You should really get informed.

      http://www.ivorytowerblues.com/ [ivorytowerblues.com]

      Right now corporations are trying to privatize education to limit political views so they can turn the world into a right wing aristocracy. Universities in Canada and around the world have become more and more dependent on corporate donors and this means freedom of inquiry will be stifled big time. Do you really think rich conservative right wingers want any criticism of capitalism or protection for the poor? There was a big thing at U of T about naming something after Tommy douglas (tommy was father of 'socialist healthcare' in canada which pisses off the corps and right wingers and they still hate him for it) and the administration said 'no' because they were worried about offending the ideals of their donors and the donors denying them future funds. This means universities will become hotbeds of corporatist and unchecked capitalist propaganda and damn the scientific evidence. No thanks.

      • Do you really think rich conservative right wingers want any criticism of capitalism or protection for the poor?

        No more than rich "liberal" left wingers want people to learn to think for themselves and no longer accept the word of the "authorities".

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:30PM (#37707894)

    In spite of all the efforts of our saint-like Wall Street speculators, bankers, and corporate executives; teachers are out to destroy everything! I don't know why people have so much trouble recognizing the scourge of people that actually want to engage the youth!

    And college professors are people who could have easily gotten MBA's but instead choose a life of intellectual exploration. These people are clearly insane!

    And everyone knows that everyone in a labor union is a lazy freeloader! At least unemployed people have the decency to not sabotage our economy by involving themselves in the affairs of the wealthy!

    • Unfortunately, all that seems to pass for common knowledge here at Slashdot. Techie simpletons think that everything should be done by machines. They won't realize that they have exterminated all the value in human labor until it's too late. No more teachers, no more farmers, no more artisans, no more doctors, and eventually no more engineers. Everything done by machines via iPhone apps or something just as stupid.

      The old adage is true: Scientists stand on each other's shoulders, engineers dig each other'
      • Techie simpletons think that everything should be done by machines.

        If one thing is more efficient than another thing (assuming, of course, that it actually is more efficient), I'd rather use the thing that is more efficient. I don't believe that halting technological progress just so that some people can keep their jobs is intelligent. I think that society needs to adapt.

  • by ross.w (87751) <{rwonderley} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:30PM (#37707904) Journal
    TAFE NSW tried this to cut back their high school equivalent course. Once it became clear that the much touted "on line course" consisted of a website that had no more than the contents of the textbook it was dumped, but only after the students protested. Ever tried to learn calculus from a textbook?
    • by ross.w (87751)
      New should read NSW. Damn T9
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Yes. I taught myself calculus from a textbook one summer in high school. Organic chemistry too. Textbooks are my favorite pleasure reading actually. Everything you really need to know is in the textbook.

    • by blind monkey 3 (773904) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:55PM (#37708174)
      In my opinion, TAFE NSW Tried to save money by cutting corners - governments have bled it dry and burdened it as a means of fixing unemployment numbers. I have done some TAFE courses and learnt a lot, had fun as well and not have any issues with any of the courses but there are lots of courses that I'm sure are there to "get kids off streets" for six months (no longer long term unemployed).
      Online courses, if designed as online courses instead of dumping text onto a site, can be quite good. The course will need to be designed for online consumption - tutorials, audio visual aids, help desk accessible teaching staff and students. . Face-to-face teaching given the right teacher would always be a better option though.
      IMO.
  • I think the 'Chuch' regretted when Gutenberg enabled reproducing so many Bibles that any clod (with enough money to buy one) could read id and come up with their own interpretations.

    History is like a supper of radishes, it repeats.

    • I think you need to actually read a history book. And not an on-line one.

      • History is like a supper of radishes, it repeats.

        I think you need to actually read a history book. And not an on-line one.

        Yeah, I'm reading a history book right now, and I don't see even one radish anywhere!

    • I think the 'Chuch' regretted when Gutenberg enabled reproducing so many Bibles that any clod (with enough money to buy one) could read id and come up with their own interpretations.

      You clearly don't know your history. The Church loved it - the moment they realized that it made the printing and sales of indulgences [wikipedia.org] far easier than it had ever been before.

  • The recording industry tried to sue everyone out of existence when they were too high. pushing out crap after crap, and online retailers with better access and better pricing threatened their models. Here we go again...
    • So you are advocating that performance artists should have to put their concerts on line for no money? But wait that is the pirate's motto isn't it? "They will make it up in live performances"

  • ... they f*king wait until I've finished with my classes [slashdot.org].

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:33PM (#37707944) Homepage Journal

    Here [insidehighered.com] is some actual coverage.

    Anyway. There's no doubt that a lot of courses can be taught effectively online. There's also no doubt, for anyone who's ever done any real teaching, that once the subject matter gets the least bit advanced, there's a sharp limit to how much you can learn in an online course. Introductory "101" courses, which are mostly taught in giant lecture halls anyway, can probably go online with no ill effect on the students. Once you get beyond that level, most people need face-to-face interaction to really understand the subject.

    • Stanford disagrees (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:38PM (#37707988)

      Once you get beyond that level, most people need face-to-face interaction to really understand the subject.

      Standford's AI course, currently ongoing, says otherwise.

      So does the Standford iPhone programming course which a LOT of people have used to learn iPhone development.

      None of this is 101 stuff (well perhaps the first few iPhone courses but not beyond that).

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Once you get beyond that level, most people need face-to-face interaction to really understand the subject.

        Standford's[sic] AI course, currently ongoing, says otherwise.

        So does the Standford[sic] iPhone programming course which a LOT of people have used to learn iPhone development.

        None of this is 101 stuff (well perhaps the first few iPhone courses but not beyond that).

        It isn't so much the teacher, it's the student. Some are good a learning online, without having a professor to interact with, while others need the interaction.

    • I find online courses enjoyable, mostly because I like to do my own research. Having a tutor available to ask questions is a nice support network. I'd guess a lot of /. people would do well, even in advanced courses, having little more than a textbook and the Internet as resources.
      • Having a tutor available to ask questions is a nice support network.

        Yeah, that's the key -- which means that universities that move a significant portion of their classes online really have an obligation to make sure tutors are available. AFAICT, most don't.

        I'm not saying that traditional classroom teaching is the only, or even the best, way to educate people. I'm just saying that some kind of face-to-face interaction is vital, for most students and most subjects.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Introductory "101" courses, which are mostly taught in giant lecture halls anyway, can probably go online with no ill effect on the students.

      And that's fine. It gives the student a cheap/free way of dipping his/her toe in the water. Those that do well can attend the advanced classes in person. Those that don't get weeded out with a minimum of wasted resources.

      And by resources, I mean the teaching staff as well as student's funds. If Thrun and Norvig can run 50 to 100K students a quarter through their course, that will make the subject matter available to people that would otherwise have to wait for an opening.

      And this gives Stanford the abili

  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:39PM (#37707994) Homepage Journal

    Professors with tenure at universities are pretty much the last bastion of job security in North America. They've remained silent while everyone else's job was automated and offshored, only now that their own jobs are threatened are they speaking up.

    Unfortunately, half of my professors in University were not good educators. They'd slap up overheads for you to copy down while they read from the overheads, which could be done by any machine.

    The profs who actually discussed their topics with the class and explained things when people had questions were another story, but such professors only constituted maybe half of the ones I had.

    I'm all for well-paid educators, but I have no use for the dead weight whose focus is their research and paper-writing. If you want to do pure research, find a lab some where, don't drain the university and college systems. With the many thousands of dollars students pay for their education, they deserve better.

    If the colleges and universities switch to online courses, what's the benefit of paying them so many thousands of dollars for an education that you can get for free from something like the Khan Academy videos? People need and want an education, not a video lecture series.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      find a lab some where, don't drain the university and college systems. With the many thousands of dollars students pay for their education, they deserve better

      Which would basically be the end of graduate work.

      At least this way we'll fend off the "Ph.D Required for Entry Level Janitor" job ads (now that Master's degree is on the verge of becoming the new BS in several fields).

    • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:53PM (#37708144) Homepage Journal

      I'm all for well-paid educators, but I have no use for the dead weight whose focus is their research and paper-writing. If you want to do pure research, find a lab some where, don't drain the university and college systems. With the many thousands of dollars students pay for their education, they deserve better.

      The faculty involved in research are not even close to being the "dead weight" you claim. They bring money in to the university, as well as prestige.

      However you are also missing the value of being taught by a researcher. Sure you could take some of your courses from someone who hasn't acquired any new knowledge on the topic in the past decade, but you'll finish those courses with that level of knowledge yourself. It is important to have educators who are well versed in the topic and aware of where that topic is going. That is a big part of why faculty who teach also do research.

      • by Ed Bugg (2024)

        However you are also missing the value of being taught by a researcher. Sure you could take some of your courses from someone who hasn't acquired any new knowledge on the topic in the past decade, but you'll finish those courses with that level of knowledge yourself. It is important to have educators who are well versed in the topic and aware of where that topic is going..

        I think you missed the point of the poster. His complaint was that with some of his instructors there was no discussion happening at all. I can only assume he was alluding to people that felt that their research was their primary purpose and the teaching was a necessary evil, never putting any effort into it.

        I can stand on the same ground as him. I've had some instructors that couldn't seem to get done with class fast enough. I think that the only reason they even held the class for a full period was be

    • by schwnj (990042)

      I'm all for well-paid educators, but I have no use for the dead weight whose focus is their research and paper-writing. If you want to do pure research, find a lab some where, don't drain the university and college systems. With the many thousands of dollars students pay for their education, they deserve better.

      I think you're overlooking the fact that 1) teaching oriented schools usually focus on professors who can teach and who do very little research 2) research oriented schools are necessary for graduate education, which involves levels of complexity and skill beyond the realm of simply being a "good teacher." Some people have proposed separating graduate professors/researchers from undergraduate professors. That is something that could work, but at the same time, I would hope that undergrads would want to lea

    • by savi (142689)

      Actually, that's not true that they haven't spoken up. Professors regularly speak out on these issues. It's one of the reasons why the right-wing loathes and hates professors so much and demonizes them at every opportunity.

      There are plenty of cases of lousy researchers who are excellent teachers and excellent researchers who are lousy teachers. However, if you think dividing research and teaching will result in long term benefit, you don't understand academia.

      What we're actually seeing here is an "education

    • by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @09:18PM (#37709530)
      Amen. And this from a college prof.

      In my department there are profs that, in a meritocracy, wouldn't stand a chance of being employed another semester. How can you possibly teach a CS class and never once log into a class computer?

      Online classes are good for the disciplined students and those that have some prior knowledge of the course material and I'm glad my department is exploring offering more online. It frees the students' time to do other things other than spend gas money and time to warm a seat to learn stuff they already know. But it's really not for everyone. It is kind-of like the higher education equivalent of home schooling. It requires discipline and a routine in order to stay on top of assignments and do well. Some students just need that face-to-face verbal kick in the ass to get anything done. Like I say to my students "It's your time and your money. I don't care what you do with it, but I would rather give an A instead of an F"
  • I imagine when textbooks came out, the same argument was had. Most teachers rely VERY heavily on technology whether they want to admit it or not. Most teachers, without a textbook, would be up the creek without a paddle. I'm looking forwards to teaching my kids all the stuff schools fail miserably at (things like conflict avoidance and resolution, management skills, time and task management, cooking, information theory, etc.).
  • There is no substitute for hands on learning when it comes to science and engineering. Will we see a whole new generation of so called scientists who've never seen the inside of a lab?
  • The article is comparing the university to Khan Academy and the online TED talks.

    There's something different between university education and Khan Academy. What is it again? Oh yeah! One is free and the other costs more than a new automobile!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Gotta love the massive web of the Libertarian propaganda machine that has managed to infect slashdot with not only garbage propaganda but a flood of dunderhead commentators.

    If you manage to dig your way through a google search and make it past all the Libertarian alarms warning of the teachers union led commie pinko take over of the world you might stumble upon the actual UC-AFT web site [ucaft.org] where they specifically state "we will use our collective bargaining power to make sure that this move to distance educat

    • by superwiz (655733)
      You are an idiot. Libertarians are probably your best friends on this one. Being able to negotiate a contract for one's performance is a staple of a free society. If the unions simply negotiated residual payments for lectures per-view, libertarians would be on the union's side.
  • On the undergraduate level, college is around 40 opportunities to increase skills at every level. This includes reading, critical thinking, social interactive skills including active listening, and exposure to individuals with different backgrounds, cultures, and differing points-of-view.

    If you are looking for narrowly defined technical training or need to satisfy your employer's requirement for credits or a diploma, then online options abound.

    Every other option robs you of one or more learning aspects not

  • ...it's not about the children after all.
  • by eepok (545733) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:55PM (#37708182) Homepage

    First: That's not an article... that's a re-posting of comments.

    Second: It's not just "educator unions". It's everyone who actually has experience in education. I'm in no union of any sort and I think it's a stupid idea. Opponents are not simply trying to block it for blocking sake. They're preventing the massive investment required to build a UC-wide online class-delivery system when we already have a shortage of funds to hire lecturers. They're preventing a shift in education from content and quality to ease and profitability.

    Classes are overcrowded and fees are going higher-- this is no time for a financial gamble.

    And while the typical subsection of Slashdot may proclaim "I was too smart for school, my teachers held me back!" -- understand that people like you are such a small percentage of the human population that you're not worth directly catering to. Really. We're working to educate THE MASSES here. And the masses need human interaction to reinforce their education... or else they won't bother learning.

  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @07:00PM (#37708234) Journal

    Follow the links to a more balanced story [insidehighered.com].

    • Follow the links to a more balanced story [insidehighered.com].

      A lot of people like to complain about changes to Slashdot's interface or Slashdot's long lead time before posting breaking news and point to them as the end of the site. They're wrong, and while the interface may sometimes go through phases where only a few web browsers work well with it, these aren't even serious threats to the quality of the site.

      However, I think that the trend of posting stories based on tiny, screwy blog posts when there's a comprehensive primary source just a click away really does d

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @07:21PM (#37708498) Homepage

    The government wants to replace humans with video tapes, and when the teachers protest, this is somehow viewed as self-interested whining? Why aren't parents up in arms about their kids being supervised by a DVD?

  • Starving minds in Africa and India aren't going to give two whits about an educators union in California. Services such as MITs Open Courseware and Khan Academy will evolve and dominate the realm of higher education solely because it is not possible for a few thousand people to teach a marketplace that now measures in billions.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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