Friday, February 08, 2013

Implications of Online Learning

A WSJ article about the political/ideological implications of online learning:

More and more is written these days about the potential of Internet-based courses and supporting electronic technology to better educate American students. Among the tantalizing predictions: Instruction will be highly individualized, social promotion will be eliminated, and an Ivy League education will be available for pennies to anyone who wants one.

Remarkably absent from these scenarios is any discussion of the ideological implications of electronic instruction. Yet the political agenda of educators—including the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that agenda shades everything from the political endorsements of teachers unions to the actual teaching of subject matter—has always been influenced by the organizational structure in which educators operate.

It is no coincidence that America's K-12 and university systems, both of which bestow the security of lifetime employment (tenure) to those who master the relevant obstacle course, currently produce teachers who are disproportionately liberal. Nor is it a coincidence that political correctness is at its worst in the very learning communities supposedly dedicated to open-mindedness. Conservative criticism of a society managed by credentialed elites understandably stirs their intense hostility: The conservative opposition threatens the legitimacy of academic systems based on professional privilege.

Enter online instruction—which, by dramatically altering the economics of teaching, are likely to alter the political biases now built into the education system.

 Subscribe in a reader