Who is Driving the Online Craze in Higher Ed?

Reblogged from the Chronicle of Higher Education

By Rob Jenkins

Proponents of online learning often use train metaphors to describe its growing impact on the educational landscape. Those of us who teach at two-year colleges, especially, are constantly encouraged, prodded, hectored, cajoled—and sometimes even ordered—to get on board. Otherwise, we’re told, we’re likely to be run over.

As one who is skeptical regarding the long-term benefits of online learning, I would attest that the train metaphor is pretty apt. I sometimes feel as though I’m standing on the tracks, signaling “proceed with caution,” while the online locomotive bears down on me, air horn reverberating.

I suspect others share that vivid nightmare. But what makes it especially sobering now is that, with the advent of MOOCs, the train is picking up steam and we’re no longer alone in its destructive path. These days entire departments, disciplines, and even institutions potentially stand in the way, at risk of being pulverized along with the rest of us.

Thinking about that phenomenon has led me to wonder, lately, just who is at the throttle. I think that’s a question well worth asking, and the answer ought to inform our response as faculty members. It seems to me that there are only a handful of possibilities:

Read the rest of this post on the Chronicle of Higher Education

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