Comment on inside higher ed
Thanks for the link to the Washington Monthly piece, but I wish I had a dollar for every gee-whiz article on "disruption" and MOOCs. Higher education is different from other sectors that can be digitized, like newspapers and music. The learner is not a mere consumer; both teacher and learner participate in an exchange of value, where the skill and understanding of the teacher is transformed into skill and understanding for the learner. This is a human event that can never be digitized or turned into an algorithm.
Additionally, the characters in the article can't even see that they themselves have been acculturated into forms of interaction and knowledge which allow them to do their work -- values, acculturation, and socialization that absolutely cannot be replicated "online." Most likely, they went to traditional K-12 and higher education institutions. Content knowledge is good and an essential part of what higher education is all about, but I see no credibility in someone who thinks what happens inside a server farm is the same thing as happens in the K-12 and higher education systems. A handful of employees and a server farm an education does not make. If books couldn't supplant education, then why would the internet?
And Carey, the author of the article, loses all credibility with me when he upholds Wal-Mart then Facebook as models. The former thrives on low wage labor, international and domestic, and while Facebook provides a good service, its share price has gone from $38 at IPO to $19 today -- the definition of hype.
Carey's final line hits home for me, though, as he describes the future of higher ed: "Everyone else will scramble to survive as vestigial players." Sounds like the same logic that turned a generation of young academics into adjuncts.