Monday, May 21, 2012

Revenge Of The Underpaid Professor

I couldn't beat the author's title so I kept it. There is an interesting article in The Chronicle by Kevin Carey on new online education software and how it might transform the fortunes of the underpaid under appreciated teaching faculty.

He profiles Udemy, a web company that enables teachers to build customized courses along with an avenue to sell these courses to students.  He envisions a future wherein the best teachers will have the option to opt out of the traditional University setting and to market their teaching services globally.

One can imagine many scenarios unfolding. Professional and scholarly organizations might come together to create coherent curricula and endorse certain professors and courses. Old-fashioned guilds might become modern again. People without traditional scholarly credentials will have more access to the college teaching market. The effect on the existing professoriate will be asymmetrical, with the most-skilled teachers doing much better and the least effective losing their jobs. Those who seize the opportunity won't have to donate years of semi-unpaid labor in order to secure tenuous employment positions with organizations that don't value what they do in the first place.

This is mostly about improving undergraduate education. I can imagine a day when more and more students do buy a course or two from talented teachers. For many, they would still need to go to a physical building for lab courses. Maybe a degree might involve having the option of taking the lecture part from one of the many online choices available and then buying lab time from a University. That would mean though that Universities will have to hire faculty just to take lab work. I am reminded of just such a class of faculty known as "demonstrators" when I attended college. They were decent teachers but were underpaid and under appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to improve undergraduate education why would there still be a lecture part?