Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Teacher Union Tries To Block Online Courses

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the learn-in-person dept.

Education 608

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."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Union Featherbedding, Meh (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#37707774)

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

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37707802)

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

I would not disagree with your statement.
Posting as AC since I work for the University of California.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (4, Informative)

Cryacin (657549) | about 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#37708176)

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.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (2)

dr. chuck bunsen (762090) | about 3 years ago | (#37708372)

Agreed. I went back to school after 4 years in the workforce and finished the last year of my 4 year degree entirely online. And to be perfectly honest, while lacking the true social element, I learned just as well, if not better in the online courses. Having said that, I don't think there is a university that will allow you to complete an entire degree online yet, aside from University of Phoenix and a few others I know nothing about, I referring to a traditional university. I was lucky to even do a year online, and it almost didn't work out. I am a firm believer that the right teachers, with the right tools can make an online school just as good as a traditional one.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708230)

My adviser essentially lived in the lab, and though it was a pretty big place rare was the day that I didn't see him at least once in passing. And of course his door was always open. Rice University - great school.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708282)

http://www.eol.iastate.edu/
Iowa State is very vocal about their online Masters of Engineering programs, and it's been embraced by a fair number of companies within the state. The way it works is for an additional fee you are granted access to video files of the lectures that on campus students attend. All assignments are already submitted electronically so nothing changes there.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708444)

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.

Mine is about the same. He has a second job as department head at a major university in China, and he has spent more time there than here since I've been working with him.

However, the BIG (and this is BIG) is that post-qual PhD candidates are a hell of a lot more motivated, intelligent, and independent than any undergraduate--of course, some of those undergrads aspire to be PhD candidates themselves, but it will take them ~2 years of grad school to get to that level. Plus, a supervisor (or adviser) is just what it sounds like. He should be giving little bits of help and making sure the student is making progress. The rest should be up to the student, who will be 95% on his own in terms of research the day he gets his PhD and leaves grad school. There are no advisors as a postdoc or faculty member. As the latter, no one gets on your case about your research progress until you come up for tenure. The department is not saying, "Shape up or ship out!" They will only say, "Ok, let's see what you've done? Nothing? Time to ship out!" or "Nice work. Congrats on your promotion."

Of course, the teacher union has little to do with the quality of instruction. Unions get involved to protect jobs, nothing more.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37707866)

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

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 3 years ago | (#37708192)

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.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0, Flamebait)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#37708002)

If you think featherbedding is the norm among academic faculty, you don't know enough about academia to have a meaningful opinion on the subject.

BTW, the answer to the question in your .sig is, "Well, 'people like you' is a good place to start."

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (3, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#37708164)

If you think featherbedding is the norm among academic faculty, you don't know enough about academia to have a meaningful opinion on the subject.

I never said that featherbedding in academic faculty was the norm. Perhaps it is only starting here. But that clearly doesn't stop you from completely misrepresenting my statement into a form so that you can attack it.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708322)

For Daniel Dvorkin, that's par for the course.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 3 years ago | (#37708178)

Are you certain? What's been your experience with regards to the administrator to lecturer ratio?

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37708232)

I'm not going to jump to his defense, because the tone of his post (and his sig) represents exactly what I think is wrong with political discourse in this country. Treating politics like a team sport is not helping anyone except for the team ownership.

That said, what the hell is going on with the teacher unions in this country? I understand that they need to protect the interests of their members, but between this kind of blatant protectionist-at-the-expense-of-society and delusional expectation of being insulated from the health care costs that are hitting everyone else, it really isn't helping their image.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708376)

Not a team sport? I always thought it was like red vs blue, like Ohio State vs University of Michigan. "College football politics" I call it. (Not that I agree with it), but it does help people not think about things. Because thinking is hard.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#37708304)

Faculty and unions are not necessarily the same things. Sure, the Unions are composed of faculty, but that doesn't mean that they all share ideas or ideals.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | about 3 years ago | (#37708202)

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, a bad union falls way down near the bottom.

Re:Union Featherbedding, Meh (0)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 years ago | (#37708412)

Amen to that! I was just telling someone at work today that right behind Indiscriminate Credit, Unions are the biggest cause of runaway inflation.(as far as I can tell). You end up with a L33T bunch of buttheads demanding regular raises in pay ,deserving no more than nice people like you or I, the cost of their highjacking industry gets passed on to you and I. Essentially we pay for the extra poor workmanship of UNION BABIES to get wealthy while we languish under inflation. You can bet if I ever hear one of those whining aircraft workers complain about high prices, I tear them a brand new asshole.

But, but... (1)

msauve (701917) | about 3 years ago | (#37707816)

just think of the children!

Re:But, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708210)

Hell No! We Won't Go [into the future]!

Shit...have they thought about idk, teaching a class online?

The Buggy Whip manufacturers called and want their Union back!

its not 'unions'. (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37707830)

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:its not 'unions'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37707896)

It very clearly is a union issue. The 'corporation', in this case university executives and state officials on behalf of the University system, want to implement online courses as a cost-cutting measure, but the union is threatened by teachers being made potentially obsolete and they're fighting tooth and nail.

The unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37707960)

The union is trying to protect its monopoly. Delivering a less expensive product to people that want it is capitalism.

Re:its not 'unions'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37707966)

What?
Capitalism (laissez faire) encourages to the government to avoid interference with the market and also encourages people to ban behaviors (via the government) that are considered competitive?

What a patently ridiculous thought.

Re:its not 'unions'. (2)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37708238)

Capitalism has nothing to do with "laissez faire." What you're thinking of is called the "free market". Capitalism is about the Owners controlling trade, which they do by having the government enforce their policies.

In a laissez faire free market, the market has no designated controller. Anybody that can produce can participate, and the marketplace takes on a life of its own.

Re:its not 'unions'. (4, Insightful)

sarhjinian (94086) | about 3 years ago | (#37708306)

Until such time as powerful, established participants in the market tip the scales in their favour and become a de facto government. Which would, you know, totally never happen, and you know that, like, real laissez faire would work, it just hasn't been tried.

Re:its not 'unions'. (2)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37708414)

Probably true - no pure philosophy has ever survived human contact.

What's your point?

Re:its not 'unions'. (2, Insightful)

fferreres (525414) | about 3 years ago | (#37707998)

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'. (0)

toadlife (301863) | about 3 years ago | (#37708270)

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

The free market consistently fails when the population is compelled to participate in the market.

See: energy, health care

Re:its not 'unions'. (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#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:its not 'unions'. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37708378)

in capitalism, every capital holder is a major interest out for itself. it doesnt matter whether the holder is an individual or a corporation. and all holders seek to protect their interests through any means. this is a corollary of wealth equating to power to affect things. you can never maintain any kind of 'free' market in an environment where it is possible to accumulate unbound or huge economic power.

Re:its not 'unions'. (2)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about 3 years ago | (#37708016)

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.

Re:its not 'unions'. (4, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 3 years ago | (#37708106)

How is a teacher preventing me from getting access to course materials from 1200 miles away providing me more value exactly?

Re:its not 'unions'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708096)

This is a brilliant way to associate ANYTHING negative with capitalism and remove ANY connection between "anything bad" and socialism. You simply label unions as capitalist whenever they do something people oppose, and label them as 'progressive' when they do things people like! Bravo! The rhetoric is as crazy as it is machiavellian.

Congratulations with inventing and demonstrating, in one stroke, the 'No True Union' fallacy.

Re:its not 'unions'. (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37708336)

This is a brilliant way to associate ANYTHING negative with capitalism and remove ANY connection between "anything bad" and socialism.

Congratulations with demonstrating, in one stroke, your personal political bias.

The logic is equivalently fallacious if you swap "capitalism" and "socialism" within your sentence.

One fallacy is employed by the left, the other is employed by the right. Each side spots the fallacy a mile away when the other side uses it, and accepts it as gospel truth when their side does.

Re:its not 'unions'. (2)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37708120)

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."

Re:its not 'unions'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708244)

Truth? Facts? Doesn't matter.

If you want capitalism to be considered badly with a desperate burning passion bordering on religious extremism, one way to achieve that goal is take everything people dislike, point to it and say "That is capitalism right there!"

Unity100 has marked himself for quite some time having a certain mindset and beyond-earthly motivation. So not surprising.

Re:its not 'unions'. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37708346)

Unity100 has marked himself for quite some time having a certain mindset and beyond-earthly motivation

thank you - if that bolded part was actually perceptible regarding me, its 'oh merry day' for me.

Re:its not 'unions'. (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:its not 'unions'. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 years ago | (#37708448)

Unions and the media VOTE DEMOCRAT! God damn, are you that clueless? Yes, it is a left issue.

Unions College educated people (4, Insightful)

John.P.Jones (601028) | about 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Unions College educated people (4, Informative)

schwnj (990042) | about 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Unions College educated people (4, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Unions College educated people (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37708386)

This just isn't sustainable.

I don't think community colleges are supposed to be self-supporting - they are subsidized by design. They only charge about as much as you can get federal tax credits for; effectively, a community college education is free.

lying sacks of excrement (0)

corbettw (214229) | about 3 years ago | (#37707890)

Next time some union thug says that teachers teach "because they love children" or "love teaching", show them this article. They don't care about the kids or their education, they only care about their job security.

These are the same selfish luddites who would've smashed printing presses hundreds of years ago to save the jobs of scribes. It's pathetic.

Ummm (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about 3 years ago | (#37707974)

If that is what they cared about, why don't they just get MBA's or even law degrees? If you not only have a Ph.D. but actually become a professor, then apparently school comes to you easily. And if you are a professor, you probably get to go to school for free.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708212)

And if you are a professor, you probably get to go to school for free.

Not only do professors go to the school's campus for free, I hear they pay them too!

Re:Ummm (0)

reboot246 (623534) | about 3 years ago | (#37708256)

It could be because teachers come from the low end of the academic scale. They simply don't have the intellectual horsepower for those other degrees.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, administrate. Those who can't administrate, legislate. That's life as it's always been.

Re:lying sacks of excrement (1)

hexghost (444585) | about 3 years ago | (#37708114)

Really? Bullshit. Teachers care about the quality of students' education, which is why they're fighting the attempt to remove teachers and just send students to some online video.

Re:lying sacks of excrement (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#37708246)

God invented whiskey so the Irish would not rule the world.

And God invented Scotch to stop the Scots.
And God invented the Welsh tongue to stop the Welsh.
And God invented the Scots and the Welsh to stop the English.

Those lousy teachers (3, Insightful)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about 3 years ago | (#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!

Re:Those lousy teachers (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 3 years ago | (#37708288)

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's graves.

NEW tried this and failed (3, Interesting)

ross.w (87751) | about 3 years ago | (#37707904)

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?

Re:NEW tried this and failed (1)

ross.w (87751) | about 3 years ago | (#37707934)

New should read NSW. Damn T9

Re:NEW tried this and failed (1, Redundant)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37707984)

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.

Re:NEW tried this and failed (3, Informative)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | about 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:NEW tried this and failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708200)

yeah it wasn't that hard to learn calc from a text book.

Upon reflection (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#37707920)

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.

Re:Upon reflection (2)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | about 3 years ago | (#37708012)

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

Reading history books (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | about 3 years ago | (#37708208)

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!

Re:Upon reflection (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#37708292)

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.

Been here before... (2)

D-OveRMinD (1517467) | about 3 years ago | (#37707928)

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...

Re:Been here before... (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | about 3 years ago | (#37708036)

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"

I hope ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37707940)

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

The link is a tiny little blog post. (5, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#37707944)

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 (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 years ago | (#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).

Re:Stanford disagrees (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#37708066)

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.

Re:Stanford disagrees (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 3 years ago | (#37708352)

So they should change pricing where you are charged per minute of interaction. Like those late night commercials.

Re:Stanford disagrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708360)

So you have 2 positive cases. Remember I need only 1 negative case to prove you wrong.

Not sure about the Al course, but how much forum time do the iPhone course students need?

Re:Stanford disagrees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708438)

Well of course an AI course can be taught without an in-person lecturer. AI practically teaches itself!

Re:The link is a tiny little blog post. (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | about 3 years ago | (#37707996)

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.

Re:The link is a tiny little blog post. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#37708088)

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.

Re:The link is a tiny little blog post. (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 3 years ago | (#37708326)

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.

And you have never heard of webcams and Facetime[tm]? Oh wait, you're trying to outlaw that too.

Re:The link is a tiny little blog post. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37708084)

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 ability to cast a wider net for CS prodigies. A few people might take a course and find the subject interesting and a good fit for their skill set that otherwise might have just gotten an MBA and become a pox on society.

Re:The link is a tiny little blog post. (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 3 years ago | (#37708324)

I went to a regular 4 year college for mechanical engineering. I later wanted to do some graduate work not for a degree but just because I was interested. I took an online course in Intermediate Dynamics where they had the lectures available online and you submitted assignments online and had tests proctored. It was the best course I ever had.

I learn best by watching and listening. I don't do well taking notes so this was perfect for me. I could play the lecture and when I got confused I could play it over until I understood. If I really didn't understand I could email the professor. To me it was much better than going to class. Also the professor spoke very slowly and I found it difficult to pay attention. So I just played the video at two times speed and I could understand him much better.

Unions suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37707978)

nt

Professors, not high school teachers (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 years ago | (#37707994)

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.

Re:Professors, not high school teachers (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about 3 years ago | (#37708138)

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).

there's a reason for that (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#37708144)

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.

Re:Professors, not high school teachers (2)

schwnj (990042) | about 3 years ago | (#37708248)

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 learn from accomplished researchers, even if the material is dry. That being said, there are still deadwood types who are bad at both teaching and research, who should have never been tenured in the first place.

Re:Professors, not high school teachers (2)

savi (142689) | about 3 years ago | (#37708382)

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 bubble." Poor people have been told that if spend lots of money and get a degree, they will have access to good jobs. It isn't true.

Technology in education (aka text books) (1)

seifried (12921) | about 3 years ago | (#37708030)

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.).

What about lab work? (1)

ross.w (87751) | about 3 years ago | (#37708032)

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?

Re:What about lab work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708158)

Will we see a whole new generation of so called scientists who've never seen the inside of a lab?

Speaking from the inside as a UC employee (non-unionized, thank <insert deity here>), from what I understand the courses that UC wants to put online are the soft courses. You know, pretty much everything in the humanities and social sciences.

Educational development needs growth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708056)

Rather than embrace technology, professors are fighting it. Could you imagine if we could create a more efficient educational system that assists professors to focus on the students that need assistance, and the ones with talent rather than the ones just going right through.

If we changed the system to be interactive with a central database and professors working on making it better, we could essentially create the online database that tracks students and lines them up with the professors and classes that fit their talent, personality, and disability rather than doing a one size fits all approach with assistance that you have to seek on the outside. We've got the government data centers to support such an initiative, so the cost of doing so would be low. Just need to find a way to teach for every personality profile and make it interactive.

Um, Khan Academy and TED are free (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about 3 years ago | (#37708068)

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!

The machines are taking our work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708078)

I think I heard that one before...

If these teachers are stupid/ignorant enough to believe leaving repetitive tasks to machines is harmful, then there's no doubt they should be replaced.

online classes don't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708082)

As a student, I have only ever had two types of online courses.

The automatic A or the abusive teacher. Either the class is ridiculously easy, or the teacher uses the fact they don't have to talk to me in person to be an asshole.

Re:online classes don't work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708436)

As an IT dude at a college that has admin'd the LMS systems for almost a decade now and observed online curriculum during that time, I have to agree.

Very frequently the quality of education received from an online class pales in comparison to the face to face equivalent.

There are some technological issue behind this, but I think one of the primary causes is that colleges see online campuses as a cash cow instead of another way to help students achieve an education.

There are ways to overcome many of the technological limitations which hinder the effectiveness of the learning environment, but of course, it usually means spending money to do so. Schools all too often choose to spend a fraction per FTE with their online programs and put blinders on to the fact that the end product is inferior.

Libertarian Alarmists (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708092)

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 education is done in a fair and just way for our members".

Thats right, the union is not blocking online courses, but they do intend to do their job as a group representing the employees and try to retain jobs, pay and benefits as the online transition occurs.

Or you might stumble upon the OP ED in the LA Times [latimes.com] where an instructor who will be affected by the changes gives a balanced and skeptical view on the subject at hand. The instructor admits that "I have lectured by live videoconference when an unavoidable business trip left me the choice between teaching by videoconference or not at all. Each time I do this I am struck by the near miracle of reaching across time zones and miles to see and hear my students in a sunlit classroom in California. I speak and write on the board; they take notes and ask questions. Business as usual."

Oh well, let the Libertarian dunderheads flail their arms and scream their factually incorrect headlines from the roofs.

Re:Libertarian Alarmists (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708388)

"Thats right, the union is not blocking online courses, but they do intend to do their job as a group representing the employees and try to retain jobs, pay and benefits as the online transition occurs."

How ironic that a religious fanatic speaks of "facts", when you act deceptively yourself.

They are naturally going to block, in whole or in part (yet to be seen) online courses. Did you even read the article? They might have a motivation for doing so, they might label that motivation "justice and fairness" (a claim which does not, as you bizarrely imply, imply that they are 'factually' or 'truthfully' fighting for justice and fairness), but the specific act they are undertaking to further that goal, understood as giving every indication of wanting to undertake, and giving themselves the tools for undertaking, is to block online courses.

I can't even comprehend the level of crazy in someone's mind when they speak about "facts" but rewrite reality in their own minds to actively contradict what anyone can see. When you block for reason X, you are blocking. When you block for reason Y, you are blocking. You do not cease blocking just because you feel you have any given reason.

If people have perceptions about "communists and pinkos" that involve deception and propaganda dissociated from reality motivated by a political cause, then your mindset is an outstanding example. It's like you are truly a species apart, living in a different universe where mental magic reorders reality.

That's F*cked up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37708110)

So a guy like me who is a veteran and goes overseas repeatedly won't be able to go to school. Thanks.

Credits vs Education (1)

managerialslime (739286) | about 3 years ago | (#37708156)

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 noted above. You may still have good reasons to pursue online schooling. Your budget may be limited; your work schedule hellish; you may be disabled and without transportation or heck, maybe you hate sitting in a room with other people. But don't be fooled.

I've pursued both routes and learned a lot in both online and classroom environments. (I have multiple of the above excuses.). But don't be fooled into thinking that your learning experience without a classroom is as good (at least on the undergraduate level) as the traditional method.

And don't be fooled into thinking that I won't k ow that when I interview you for your first job out of college.

I guess.... (1)

surfdaddy (930829) | about 3 years ago | (#37708168)

...it's not about the children after all.

That's not an article... And second... (2)

eepok (545733) | about 3 years ago | (#37708182)

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.

Hyperbolic blog posting (2)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 3 years ago | (#37708234)

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

Re:Hyperbolic blog posting (2)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 3 years ago | (#37708358)

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 detract from the quality here. I know this isn't new, but I think it really is getting worse. Some story submitters very consistently point to a small set of terrible blogs that benefit from the traffic but offer terrible accounts of the real story.

I think that we need more editing done between story submission and publishing to the front page and a commitment to at least have a single editor spend 5 minutes looking at TFA and when appropriate adding a direct link to a real source.

As a teacher... (1)

killfixx (148785) | about 3 years ago | (#37708284)

This is troubling. One of the most important aspects of being a teacher is being able to tailor instruction based on the unique perspective of the student.

As an example, two students present two WILDLY different interpretations of the same material. It takes a more personalized approach to be able to correctly rationalize the origin of either the miscalculation or the brilliant, new solution. Without taking the time to understand, to really understand, how that persons mind works, you won't be giving them the education they deserve.

Online courses can be a godsend for some, but for most ends up being a frustrating and lacking experience.

I guess it boils down to is, do you want to pay for an education or a piece of paper.

Remember, many online "universities" will gladly sell you a doctorate for the right price [google.com] . And you need never attend a single class.

Business model under ATTACK! (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 3 years ago | (#37708354)

Red alert! Roll out the lawyers! Give'r all she's got! This is AMERICA! We will never stand for someone taking our business model away from us!

Why is it that whenever an incumbent institution is threatened by advancements in technology, the people involved get on the horn to the litigators? GROW UP! Learn how to adapt like big boys and girls.

I think that learning via the Internet is ok; however, obtaining a diploma/degree etc by that method is not.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?